Shuja Nawaz, Director of the South Asia Center at the Atlantic Council, testified before the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs this week regarding American strategy in South Asia. In his written testimony submitted to Congress, Mr. Nawaz makes several important recommendations for improving US-Pakistan relations including de-linking aid from political objectives and increasing investment in improving regional trade. At the heart of his recommendations, though, is a call for the US to focus on strengthening civilian institutions. The following paragraph, in particular, stands out.
The United States must put its interactions with civilian leaders and civil society on a much higher plane than it has to date. And it must increase its effort to help Pakistan rebuild institutions in civil society that have been damaged by years of autocratic rule. A better civil service and community-based police at the federal and provincial level are critical for security and development. Support mechanisms and systems for parliament and the Pakistan Senate, for provincial administrations, and key institutions such as the Election Commission and the Defence Committee of the Cabinet are needed to allow the civilians to provide the leadership that Pakistan deserves. In effect we need a civilian counterpart of the IMET (International Military Education and Training) program run by the Department of State, with dedicated resources to allow the US to be seen as a partner of democracy in Pakistan.