Columbia International Affairs Online: Working Papers

CIAO DATE: 09/2010

Prioritizing Strategic Interests in South Asia

Robert B. Oakley, T.X. Hammes

June 2010

Institute for National Strategic Studies


The focus on the war in Afghanistan has prevented the United States from developing a South Asia strategy rooted in the relative strategic importance of the nations in the region. India, a stable democracy enjoying rapid growth, clearly has the most potential as a strategic partner. Pakistan, as the home of al Qaeda leadership and over 60 nuclear weapons, is the greatest threat to regional stability and growth. Yet Afghanistan absorbs the vast majority of U.S. effort in the region. The United States needs to develop a genuine regional strategy. This paper argues that making the economic growth and social reform essential to the stability of Pakistan a higher priority than the conflict in Afghanistan is a core requirement of such a strategy.