No Exit from Pakistan

America's Tortured Relationship with Islamabad

The story of the tragic and often tormented relationship between the United States and Pakistan, and a call to prepare for the worst, aim for the best, and avoid past mistakes.

Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

CFR Senior Fellow Daniel Markey tells the story of the tragic and often tormented relationship between the United States and Pakistan. Pakistan's internal troubles have already threatened U.S. security and international peace, and Pakistan's rapidly growing population, nuclear arsenal, and relationships with China and India will continue to force it onto the United States' geostrategic map in new and important ways over the coming decades. No Exit from Pakistan explores the main trends in Pakistani society that will help determine its future; traces the wellsprings of Pakistani anti-American sentiment through the history of U.S.-Pakistan relations from 1947 to 2001; assesses how Washington made and implemented policies regarding Pakistan since the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001; and analyzes how regional dynamics, especially the rise of China, will likely shape U.S.-Pakistan relations. By offering three options for future U.S. strategy--defensive insulation, military-first cooperation, and comprehensive cooperation--Markey explains how Washington can prepare for the worst, aim for the best, and avoid past mistakes.

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Reviews and Endorsements

In-depth, balanced, and insightful, No Exit from Pakistan is a must-read study. It will appeal to academics, diplomats, policy formers, strategists, and laymen alike--i.e., anyone concerned with the fate of the region. Few will be let down by its well-researched narrative, comprehensive analysis, and convincing recommendations; it pulls no punches and stands out from the growing crowd of manuscripts on the topic. This is without a doubt the best book I have read on the subject and I recommend it most strongly

Colonel Andrew M. Roe, British Army, Military Review

A well-researched and unbiased accounts . . . Markey provides an excellent commentary on the dilemmas faced by the U.S.-Pakistan relationship. He clearly understands Pakistan.

Muhammad Ali Qureshi, Asian Affairs

[Dan Markey] writes with a directness and honesty that should be appreciated in the context of one of Washington's most sensitive relationships . . . No Exit from Pakistan introduces some uncomfortable questions about ownership and blame in the U.S.-Pakistan relationship

Shamila N. Chaudhary, Foreign Policy

No other book in recent times has discussed the geopolitics of South Asia and the inter-relationship between US and Pakistan, Pakistan and China, China and India, India and the United States, not to mention Pakistan and Afghanistan with such objectivity and thoroughness as Daniel Markey has done in this remarkable study.

M.V. Kamath, Free Press Journal (India)

An insider's account of how the United States and Pakistan resemble characters in Jean Paul Sartre's play No Exit. They find hell is not a place of fire and devils, but a living room where they perpetually torment one another. It's a nice metaphor for how Pakistani and American diplomats often confide how they see each other… Some of the most fascinating details in Mr. Markey's account throw light on China as a moderating influence in spats between Pakistan and the United States

Jane Perlez, New York Times' Sinosphere

Much to ponder in this well-written and comprehensive account of U.S.-Pakistan relations . . . [T]he best part of the book is the cogent and informed recounting of the travails of the U.S.-Pakistan relationship since 9/11.

Donald Camp, American Diplomacy.

Easy to read and succinct… offers a critical appraisal of this difficult relationship but also addresses various aspects of Pakistan's political and societal problems that influence Pakisatn's domestic and foreign policy choices…the analysis has a lot to offer policymakers in both countries.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, Express Tribune (Pakistan)

Daniel Markey takes the title and opening remarks of No Exit from Pakistan, his book on the US–Pakistani relationship, from Sartre's Huis Clos, a work that contains the famous dictum 'Hell is other people.' Hell, for many U.S. policymakers, is having to work with Pakistan. As Markey writes, the degree of sheer personal animosity felt by parts of the Washington establishment toward Pakistan is beginning to have a serious effect on clarity of thought about that country.

Anatol Lieven, New York Review of Books

Had the U.S. used the Afghanistan surge to demonstrate a long-term commitment to the region, it could have assured the Pakistanis that they needn't fear Indian domination of Afghanistan, making Afghan insurgents less than vital to Pakistan's interests. America's eagerness to announce the timeline for military departure from the outset, Mr. Markey observes, was a crucial blunder.

Mark Moyar, Wall Street Journal

A first rate contribution to the existing literature on South Asia and United States-Pakistan Relations, Markey explains why the prospect of bilateral relations getting better grows bleaker by the day. All said and done, the author points to an even more disturbing question: Why Islamabad cannot and should not be written off.

Meera Kumar, Gateway House

A powerful book

Malik Siraj Akbar, Diplomat

Markey gives simple and clear solutions to longstanding problems…hard to ignore whether one agrees or not.

Telegraph (India)

A first rate contribution to the existing literature on South Asia and United States-Pakistan Relations, Markey explains why the prospect of bilateral relations getting better grows bleaker by the day. All said and done, the author points to an even more disturbing question: Why Islamabad cannot and should not be written off.

Sridhar Krishnaswami, Hindu (India)

Markey quite ably puts U.S.-Pakistan relations in a bilateral and regional perspective, lining up past compulsions and present realitites, which pose an immense challenge to the ties.

Priyanka Singh, Book Review (India)

Both internal developments within Pakistan and relations with the United States remain uncertain. Yet the United States has to stick around, because too many interests remain to justify throwing up our hands and saying to hell with it. That is what Markey is getting at… with his Sartrean title invoking no exit.

Phyllis E. Oakley and Robert B. Oakley, American Interest

A stern reformulation of U.S. policy on Pakistan

Farzana Shaikh, International Affairs

When writing his new book about the difficult relationship between the United States and Pakistan, Markey found an eerily apt metaphor in the famous Jean-Paul Sartre play No Exit

Louis Jacobson, Princeton Alumni Weekly

Markey, who makes it clear that the U.S. can't simply abandon Pakistan right in the title of his new book--No Exit from Pakistan--outlines a limited array of policy options: 'defensive insulation, military-first cooperation, and comprehensive cooperation.'

Ankit Panda, The Diplomat

The most striking feature of his book remains the realisation that a military-first approach towards Pakistan suffers from the crucial fact that the army has never run the country very effectively.

Amir Mir, News (Pakistan)

Markey identifies China (rather than India) as another key interlocutor. He cautions that if Beijing is unable to manage its ally, Pakistan may well turn into a North Korean-esque Frankenstein of South Asia with dangerous consequences not only for China but India and the US too.

W.P.S. Sidhu, Mint (India)

This book provides a profound analysis of the policies behind Pakistan-U.S. relations. It addresses why Pakistan is too important for the U.S. to neglect . . . It is a must-read for all policy makers of the region, students of the area or of foreign policy, and academicians concerned with the subject. 

Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi, Exemplar: The Journal of South Asian Studies

Dan Markey has produced a deep and rich policy analysis of Pakistani-American relations. It exceeds anything yet written on the subject and includes the best review of U.S. policy options that I have ever read. The book discusses in depth Pakistan's own problematic behavior and fairly acknowledges the many mistakes made by Washington. Dr. Markey does not offer a superficial 'fix' but shows the way forward, including a discussion of contingent policies should Pakistan suddenly turn hostile to vital American interests.

Stephen Philip Cohen, senior fellow, Foreign Policy Studies Program, Brookings Institution

In the years ahead, the United States may face no greater foreign policy challenge than Pakistan. Home to a variety of militant groups that attack both U.S. and Pakistani government targets, a growing nuclear arsenal, and a very precarious relationship between military and civilian authorities, conditions in Pakistan threaten its own stability, its neighbors, and vital U.S. interests. The U.S.-Pakistani relationship has been a dangerously uneven one. Dan Markey has written an invaluable analysis of conditions in Pakistan, likely trends, and options for the United States. Anyone in or outside government who cares about national security should read this book.

Ryan C. Crocker, former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan and Afghanistan

With compelling, clear common sense, Daniel Markey explains why Pakistan is too important to neglect and too complicated for some new U.S. grand strategy. This book is the best publication and the smartest offering yet on how to practically manage relations with a country as vexing as it is fascinating.

Leslie H. Gelb, former New York Times columnist, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations

Pakistan is a primary challenge for the United States and the world. Markey's book captures the complexities of U.S.-Pakistan relations in interesting and intelligent ways. There is an exit--and it is a rare case where a truly good book presents wise and solid prescriptions for the future. A must-read for anyone interested in South Asia and the conundrum of Pakistan.

Tom Pickering, former undersecretary of state and ambassador to Russia, the UN, and India

The United States and Pakistan have been tormented by a mutually vexing relationship now for some sixty years. During every crisis, exasperated analysts in both countries often demand that their capitals end mutual engagement--and are dismayed when their leaders cannot readily comply. If you want to know why, read Dan Markey's marvelous book. His penetrating analysis not only describes how the United States and Pakistan are bound by ties that cannot be broken without great peril to both, but his recommendations also offer a hopeful path that both countries must tread if they are to overcome the corrosive distrust of the past.

Ashley J. Tellis, senior associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

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