What will happen to U.S.-Pakistan relations in a post- Bin Laden era?What will happen to U.S.-Pakistan relations in a post- Bin Laden era?
This is a timely question and one that can only develop speculation. In the end, the siege upon Bin Laden does demonstrate a challenge in the relationship between Pakistan and the United States. The fact that the United States did not alert Pakistan prior to the attack shows a level of mistrust, or at least a lack of confidence between both nations. If this happened in any other nation where the United States unilaterally carried out an attack on foreign soil without notification or advance warning, violations of sovereignty could be well warranted. In the end, there has been somewhat of a fray between both nations that the United States felt the need to carry out this attack without due notification.
Like all diplomatic challenges, there are one of two paths that can be pursued in the wake of the Bin Laden killing. The first could be one of mistrust and skepticism. This path involves the United States not feeling that Pakistan is a nation serious about its professed claims to eliminate terrorism and the terrorist elements that might exist in its nation. America could continue in a manner that isolates Pakistan as a willing and able partner in the fight against terrorism. This will cause relations between both nations to be degraded further. Certainly, this is something that would cause more challenge to Pakistan than the United States, given the economic and social challenges facing the former. Another path that could be taken could be one to bolster the relationship by recognizing that the death of Bin Laden could be a "wake up call" to ensure that better communication and trust is evident between both nations. Eliminating Bin Laden might give a "clean slate" to Pakistan and the United States in being able to start "anew" in their diplomatic and military goals of eliminating the threats of terror in the world.
One of the products of recent disputes between Pakistan and the US, over the Bin Laden operation, the supposed State Dept. employee exonerated of killing Pakistani citizens, and the incursions into Pakistani airspace of American drones, etc., is a willingness to question the utility of the massive amounts of aid sent to Pakistan from the United States every year. The Pakistani economy is entirely dependent on this aid and there are members of Congress suggesting that perhaps the disbursements ought to stop unless Pakistan, and the ISI in particular, begins to act more like a group interested in working against Al Qaeda instead of supporting them.
But the opposite side of that debate is the concern that a withdrawal of this ad will only leave Pakistan as a more fertile training ground for anti-American or other terrorist groups. There are also concerns within Pakistan about the heavy dependence on foreign aid in relation to the long-term outlook for Pakistan's future.