Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 08/2009

The Future of Pakistan-U.S. Relations: Opportunities and Challenges

Maleeha Lodhi

April 2009

Academy of Political Science


Relations between Pakistan and the United States are today defined by a paradox. Never have ties been more vital for both countries. But never has the relationship been so mired in mutual mistrust and suspicion. Both countries acknowledge the crucial importance of each other for the attainment of their respective national objectives. Pakistan is pivotal for the achievement of the key U.S. national security goals of defeating terrorism and stabilizing Afghanistan. But its importance goes beyond that. Pakistan is the world’s second largest Muslim nation and its newest nuclear power. It has a critical role to play in many of the pressing issues of our time, such as countering violent extremism, bolstering democracy and development, addressing issues of international peacekeeping (as the largest contributor to United Nations troops), encouraging nuclear nonproliferation, and improving relations between the West and the Islamic world.