The last decade has seen frustration in Europe and the United States (US) about Pakistan’s role in the Afghanistan conflict and in the fight against terrorism. The 2003 European Security Strategy lists a series of security threats facing the European Union (EU): terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, regional conflicts (with Kashmir listed first), state failure, and organised crime.
Pakistan, in conjunction with its neighbour Afghanistan, is a potential worry for everyone. While newspaper headlines may give the impression that these problems are acute and unsolvable, however, Pakistan today is actually better placed to cooperate with the EU in confronting these threats than at any time in the past decade.
Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program continues to be a worry for the international community, but progress has slowly been made in recent years. As North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces count down the days to their departure from Afghanistan, Pakistani opinion has become increasingly focused on the need for shaping some kind of durable peace. Most Pakistani leaders recognise both the improbability and undesirability of a new Taliban regime in Afghanistan and recognise that it is in Pakistan’s interest to have a stable Afghan neighbour. Following the sharp increases in internal militancy since 2007, Pakistan has also slowly started to recognise the costs of sheltering and supporting terror groups that can attack India or other targets. Now that Pakistan has transitioned from military rule, Pakistan’s international partners have an opportunity to increase engagement with Pakistan and develop a better relationship.