Regarding Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari’s Oct. 2 op-ed, “Talk to, not at, Pakistan”:
A bipartisan group in Congress would readily lend its support to a trade-based, rather than aid-based, Afghanistan-Pakistan economic strategy. Such a plan should explain how Afghanistan and Pakistan can develop the homegrown financial wherewithal to support themselves, and fend off violent extremists, with minimal American financial assistance. This might take the form of a bold effort such as the negotiation of free-trade agreements with Afghanistan and Pakistan, combined with a diplomatic offensive aimed at increasing trade between the two countries and India. Alternatively, the United States might advance a more modest approach, such as establishing the so-called Reconstruction Opportunity Zones mentioned by Mr. Zardari, which have been debated in recent Congresses.
Potential benefits to the United States include a reduced aid burden; a check on corrupt aid distribution; job creation to reduce recruitment of violent extremists and illegal poppy production; and enhanced credibility for civil authorities at the expense of Pakistani military leaders, the latter having demonstrated a penchant for giving aid and comfort to our enemies.
Todd Young, Washington