Washington must develop a coercive campaign that diminishes the advantages of Pakistan's use of militant proxies under its nuclear umbrella
Despite the fascination with Pakistan’s feckless civilian leadership, it is the Pakistan Army that controls all levers of power that influence the country’s foreign and security policies as well as key domestic policies that inform the same. Civilian opposition to the army’s preferences is but a speed bump for the army drive to prosecute its preferred policies. The Pakistan Army has three enduring objectives. First, it aims to resist what it views as Indian hegemony in South Asia and beyond. Second, it aims to cultivate “strategic depth" in Afghanistan, both to vitiate any Afghan ill-will towards Pakistan and to deny India any space from which it can destabilize Pakistan from Afghan territory. Finally, it seeks to seize that portion of Kashmir currently administered by India. As I have argued elsewhere, these goals are driven mostly by Pakistan’s ideology (the so-called two-nation theory) and less by strategic imperatives. To secure these goals, Pakistan has two tools. First, it has cultivated a menagerie of Islamist (as well as non-Islamist) militant groups acting as proxies on behalf of the state. Second, it has developed an ever-expanding nuclear arsenal which includes battlefield nuclear weapons.