Expert Says 'Down May Be Up For U.S./Pakistan Relations'09:37
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Pakistani university students protest against the NATO airstrikes on Pakistani troops, outside the U. S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan in December. (AP)
Pakistani university students protest against the NATO airstrikes on Pakistani troops, outside the U. S. consulate in Karachi, Pakistan in December. (AP)

U.S./Pakistan relations may seem at their lowest, but Asia expert Adil Najam says they are likely to get much worse over the coming year.

Najam says there are a number of immediate causes: Both countries are in the midst of political seasons, the planned U.S. withdrawal from neighboring Afghanistan is fast approaching, and the weak world economy continues to have a severe impact on Pakistan.

But Najam says the deeper reason behind the worsening relationship is the fact that both sides have been dishonest to each other for many years.

Upside To A Downward Slide

The upside of a downward slide, says Najam, is that it may force both parties to start making realistic promises to each other, because neither party can afford a complete break in relations.

Najam says that Pakistanis are following U.S. elections closely, and for Americans interested in Pakistani politics, the man to watch is cricket-star-turned-politician Imran Khan, whose rallies are attracting vast, fervent crowds.

Khan has compared U.S. military actions in the region to terrorism, and liberals in Pakistan distrust him.  But Najam says that while, "Khan is very anti-American, but he may turn out to be America's best friend in Pakistan, because he's a real liberal," Najam said.

Guest:

  • Adil Najam, an expert on political and environmental policy, vice chancellor of Lahore University of Management Sciences in Pakistan, and founding editor of the blog, "Pakistaniat: All Things Pakistan."

This segment aired on January 5, 2012.

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