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> What Pakistanis Want US Policymakers to Know
   PILDAT-Stimson Centre’s Candid Conversation
Web Brief
July 15, 2008


PILDAT and the Henry L. Stimson Center together organised a discussion with Pakistani intellectuals, legislators and academicians on What Pakistanis want US Policymakers to Know – mainly about US policy towards Pakistan, the region, neighbouring regions and the global issues on July 11, 2008 at Islamabad.


The discussion was moderated by Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director PILDAT. Mr. Amit Pandya, Director, Regional Voices: Trans-national Challenges, Henry L. Stimson Center, also presented his welcome comments. An early draft of US Government’s working paper titled ‘Global Trends 2025: A Transformed World’ was distributed to participants ahead of the meeting.


The participants included Mr. Ayaz Wazir, Former Ambassador; Mr. Khurram Dastagir Khan, MNA, PML- N; Mr. Javed Hafeez, Former Ambassador; Mr. Sultan Hayat Khan, Former Ambassador; Ms. Marvi Memon, MNA PML; Mr. Omar Khan Afridi, Former Chief Secretary NWFP; Mr. Rustam Shah Mohmand, Former Secretary Interior; Mr. Khalid Aziz, Former Chief Secretary NWFP; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Talat Masood, Former Federal Secretary; Mr. Riffat Hussain, Executive Director, RCSS Sri Lanka; Dr. Farooq Sattar, MNA MQM; Dr. Nadeem Ehsam , MNA MQM; Mr. Mujib-ur-Rehman Shami, Editor-in-Chief, Daily Pakistan; Lt. Gen (Retd.) Asad Durrani, Former DG ISI/MI; Mr. Shamshed Ahmed, Former Foreign Secretary; Mr. Zafar Jaspal, IR Department, Quaid-e-Azam University; Professor Tahir Amin, IR Department Quaid-e-Azam University; Mr. Asif Ezdi, Former Ambassador to Germany; Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Jamshed Gulzar Kayani, Former Chairman FPSC; Dr. Donya Aziz, MNA, PML and Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Ali Muhammad Jan Aurakzai, Former Governor of NWFP.


The discussion mainly covered themes such as US approach towards Pakistan especially relating to Pakistan’s contribution to US-led war in Afghanistan. Participants believed that US policy has been taken over by belligerence and not appeasement and it has not managed to come out of the shadows of 9/11. Pakistanis wish to maintain US friendship but with respect and sovereignty. US should not just be a fair-weather friend and invest in areas such as socio-economic development, provision of jobs and technical training etc for the youth of Pakistan. Pakistan is the sixth largest country of the World with about half of the population under the age of 20 which puts Pakistan in a demographic window where there are more people in the working population rather than the dependents, and which establishes the base for massive potential. It is imperative for the US to live up to its WTO commitments.


Participants stressed that there is a need for the US to understand the peculiar socio-economic and political realities of Pakistan that make-up Pakistani society unique. US policy towards Pakistan has been too narrow and terrorism-oriented without taking into consideration the fall-out of their approach in the Pakistani society. Pakistan can not be an ally and the target of the United States at the same time. US policymakers should realise that human lives in Pakistan and its areas such as FATA or in Gaza in Palestine are just as precious as in the US. United States needs to employ its soft power and not hard power in dealing with the issues around the World. The participants also believed that Pakistan does not have the capacity to “Do More” at the US behest in the tribal areas. US has to trust Pakistan, its frontline ally, to use a combination of strategies in containing militancy in the tribal areas. Pakistanis have serious issues with the real objectives of United States being in the region which are largely perceived to be to contain China, and Russia in addition to Pakistan. If the US objective in Afghanistan is to contain militancy and improve law and order scenario, US too, needs to rethink its strategy.