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U.S. Institute of Peace: Pakistan, the United States, and the End Game in Afghanistan: Perceptions of Pakistan's Foreign Policy Elite

Authors: Moeed Yusuf, Huma Yusuf, and Salman Zaidi
July 25, 2011

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This brief by the U.S. Institute of Peace and the Jinnah Institute in Pakistan, summarizes the perceptions of Pakistani foreign policy elite about Pakistan's strategy and interests in Afghanistan, its view of the impending "end game," and the implications of its policies towards afghanistan for the U.S.- Pakistan relationship.

As the so-called “end game” in Afghanistan approaches, the momentum is growing to find an amicable solution to the conflict. The U.S. and other troop contributing countries are committed to transferring primary security responsibilities to Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) by December 2014. While an internal consensus among Afghan actors remains the most crucial element of any settlement, regional players also have an important role to play in facilitating progress. Among them, Pakistan’s role is pivotal.

This brief captures the perceptions of Pakistani foreign policy elite who were invited to participate in roundtable discussions and interviews as part of the USIP-JI project described in the summary above. Given Pakistan’s centrality, such an exercise holds tremendous value for those grappling to identify ways to secure a successful transition in Afghanistan.

Specifically, the USIP-JI project focused on four themes:

i.   America’s evolving strategy in Afghanistan;

ii.   Pakistan’s short-term and long-term interests in Afghanistan; and how Pakistan is pursuing these interests;

iii.   In light of America’s strategy and its implications for Afghanistan and the region, how can Pakistan best pursue its interests going forward;

iv.   Policies that the U.S., Afghanistan, India (and other regional actors) would have to pursue or accept for Pakistani objectives to be met.

Project findings are based on discussions with a wide spectrum of Pakistan’s foreign policy elite—retired civilian and military officials, analysts, journalists and civil society practitioners—with established expertise on Afghanistan and/or with knowledge of the modalities of policymaking in the U.S. The project also solicited views of senior politicians.

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