A flurry of commentary has appeared in recent days concerning Pakistani policy in Afghanistan. Analysts are wondering if Pakistan’s intelligence cooperation with the U.S. and its military operations in the tribal areas signal some sort of shift in the Pakistanis’ strategic mindset. Of course, some analysts question if Pakistan’s recent actions can even be considered helpful (for example, the capture of Baradar did more to hurt peace negotiations than help.) Newsweek’s Fareed Zakaria is in the optimist camp, claiming that there has indeed been a shift in Pakistan’s Afghan policy and that this is largely the result of the White House’s well-orchestrated Pakistan policy. (Note: There are eerie similarities between the current Obama administration policy in Pakistan and the recommendations made by the Center for American Progress report on Pakistan published in November 2009.)

Max Fisher at the Atlantic wonders the same: “Is Pakistan finally on our side?” Fisher, more pessimistic, believes that Pakistan has not really changed its strategy at all. There may be short-term cooperation between the U.S. and Pakistan, but “the underlying factors that led to Pakistani support of the Taliban may very well remain: Poverty and all the rage it creates, anti-Western sentiment, religious fundamentalism, and fear of India.”

Finally, Jeffrey Dressler and Reza Jan of the American Entreprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project provide an overview of the main arguments for and against the possibility of a more U.S. friendly Pakistani policy in the region. Dressler and Jan think that “[t]here appears to be a fissure in Pakistan’s long-standing support for the QST,” but how and why this fissure exists is unclear. They stress that the outcome–of Pakistan’s anti-Taliban stand–is more important than why Pakistan is shifting policy.

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