American policymakers have a tendency to ignore the viewpoints of other nations. Such was the case when Gen. David Petraeus complained that Pakistan saw India rather than the Taliban as the more significant security threat. I made the simple but still important (in my view, anyway) point that Pakistan had reason to fear India, including the latter’s role in detaching East Pakistan from what had been a geographically divided state.
Yet there appears to be predilection by some pundits to read a lot into a short blog post. Matthew Yglesias apparently believes that to point to India’s role in the 1971 war is to gloss over Pakistan’s ignoble conduct in what became Bangladesh. Others may have seen “a happy Pakistan bouncing along” until victimized by a “rapacious” India, but my post said nothing of the sort. In fact, in contrast to Mr. Yglesias, I was alive during the war and remember stories about Pakistani atrocities.
Nevertheless, the point remains: there is a reason leading Pakistanis fears India more than the Taliban and other extremists. And lecturing them that they are misguided, that Pakistan’s artificial geographic and social configuration was doomed and that the Khan government’s brutality gave India good cause for intervening, is not likely to change the current threat assessment of those in power, especially in the military. So the point remains: Washington policymakers have to deal with rather than dismiss Islamabad’s fears.