In “An Unworthy Ally” (September/ October 2015), C. Christine Fair and Sumit Ganguly argue that the United States should cut off military aid to Pakistan. That is a sensible recommendation, but the authors’ discussion of Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear weapons is misleading. Fair and Ganguly give the impression that Pakistan, a defeated and partitioned nation after its 1971 war with India, unilaterally decided to develop nuclear weapons with diplomatic cover from the United States. In fact, it was India’s nuclear bomb test, in May 1974, that precipitated the arms race on the Indian subcontinent.
By ignoring this sequence of events, the authors gloss over regional complexities and arrive at a simplistic policy recommendation. They advocate American disengagement, yet this would only increase regional instability by expanding the range of strategic decisions that either state might consider.
The diminishment of U.S. military support and the enhancement of Pakistani civil institutions should be complemented by a new architecture for regional security arrangements. It should also include a framework for resolving territorial disputes, such as the one in Kashmir, that provide political legitimacy to nonstate actors.
AFZAL S. SIDDIQUI, Senior Lecturer, University College London