Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pakistan's Public Diplomacy in Washington by Pakistani-American Interest Groups

After decades of Washington tilting towards Pakistan under a Cold War mentality, Pakistani-Americans are now facing a challenge in order to maintain pro-Pakistan views in Washington. As a key nation in the War on Terrorism, the state of Pakistan is going to intense scrutiny as an effective U.S. ally. Pakistani-Americans insist that Pakistan is taking the right steps and it requires continued U.S. support in order to make progress. They warn that abandonment by the U.S., as in the past, will further deteriorate conditions and will ultimately hurt U.S. efforts.

In the past, Pakistani-American citizen groups did not get much attention because of the classic reasons of "mosque" and "military." First, because many Pakistani-Americans prefer to identify with Islamic organizations rather than Paksitani-American organizations. Second, Pakistani military generals have been able to walk into the Pentagon bypassing these citizen groups.

But now, with a democratic Pakistan under increased scrutiny, Pakistani-American groups such as the Pakistan Public Affairs Committee lobby in Washington support a change in U.S. policy toward Pakistan from the current transactional relationship to one that involves a strategic partnership and it supports a shift in U.S. engagement directed towards the people instead of the Pakistani government. They support a change in the way the U.S. looks at Pakistan by moving away from a tactically driven set of short-term exercises in crisis management to a deeper, broader, long-term strategic engagement.

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