Pakistan is running out of friends in Washington. Recent publications by influential U.S. experts, Congressional testimony by officials and signs out of the Trump administration all point in the same direction: The U.S. will step up pressure on Islamabad to crack down on terrorist groups that target U.S. troops in Afghanistan and destabilize Afghanistan and India.
In the decade and a half since 9/11, a generation of U.S. military and intelligence professionals has witnessed the Pakistani army’s support for terrorist groups such as the Haqqani network, the Taliban and Lashkar-e-Taiba. The 2011 discovery of Osama bin Laden a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s top military academy cemented the narrative of Islamabad’s “double game.”
Pakistan ought to take this darkening mood seriously. If it acts against the terrorist groups that operate from its soil, it will begin to earn back trust in Washington. But if it persists with business as usual—distinguishing between “bad terrorists” who attack Pakistanis and “good terrorists” who attack Americans, Afghans and Indians—it should expect frostier ties with its largest export market and one of its biggest defense suppliers.