The country has to turn its attention to extremism and violence within its own borders before it can hope to become a constructive international partner.
As the Obama administration choreographs a dignified American pullout from Afghanistan, all eyes are on Pakistan's critical role in maintaining regional stability by leveraging its influence inside Afghanistan to create an enabling environment for a relatively smooth withdrawal of American troops.
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Over the next 18 months, Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar will attempt to position Pakistan as a "willing and effective" partner in U.S. efforts to ensure regional stability in this transitional period. Meanwhile, Pakistan may also seek to protect its perceived interests in Afghanistan by talking to a number of stakeholders -- including some elements associated with the Taliban -- that could become influential in Afghanistan if the U.S. troop withdrawal turns out to be more messy than smooth.
Khar will face difficult questions on this delicate balancing act from the American foreign policy establishment during her trip to New York City this week (she'll be speaking at Asia Society on Tuesday, January 15). Her talking points will emphasize Pakistan's contribution to the war on terror and highlight Pakistan's commitment to ensuring a trouble-free American exit from Afghanistan.