For reasons beyond me, Atlantic-Community.org asked me to take part in their expert survey on EU policy towards Pakistan. I hardly qualify as an “international expert”, but in case you’re interested, here’s what I wrote them:
How does Pakistan’s instability impact EU security concerns?
I believe the extent of Pakistan’s political instability is somewhat exaggerated. The Pakistani state is generally more robust and popular opinion in the country more anti-extremist than we in the West think. That being said, even if a sudden collapse of the state is unlikely, prolonged armed conflict in the tribal areas will have a slowly destabilising effect on the fragile Pakistani democracy. If the democratic institutions prove unable to withstand the pressures and Pakistan once again reverts to military rule, it will have an immediate effect on EU security concerns, as Pakistan’s generals have a history of supporting extremists to further their own agenda.
What should be the guiding principles of the European Union’s foreign policy in the region?
Bolstering democracy, good governance, economic development and human rights. War fighting — including counterinsurgency and counterterrorism — is already being taken care of by our partner across the Atlantic.
How could/should the EU’s policy vis-à-vis Pakistan complement US policy in the region?
According to President Barack Obama, the core U.S. goal in the region is “to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda and its safe havens in Pakistan, and to prevent their return to Pakistan or Afghanistan.” The recent change of American ISAF commanders in Kabul also points to a change in strategy from classic counterinsurgency / nation building to a more narrowly focused and kinetic approach. While a simultanious “civilian surge” has been promised, it is doubtful whether the U.S. at this time is capable or even willing to invest more in building the Afghan state. This is clearly where the EU should step up its efforts. Also, as the future of a non-Taliban Afghanistan hinges on fully capable security forces, the shortcomings in police training need to be taken seriously and addressed without delay. (The same applies to Pakistan — as the police there are on the frontlines in the fight against the militants, help is urgently needed.)