The U.S. foreign policy toward Pakistan under President Bush can be classified to have reflected a weak-con attitude up until the terrorist attacks on Washington D.C. and New York on September 11, 2001. Pakistan was subject to a variety of sanctions due to proliferation-, democracy-, and economy- concerns. In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks, the Bush administration moved from a conditionality focus on aid toward an approach that did not seem to condition U.S. support to Pakistan either on Pakistan’s performance in countering terrorism or Pakistan’s performance in the areas of civil liberties, respect for the rule of law or conduct of elections. The U.S. Congress gave President Bush authorities resembling a carte blanche, which in effect resulted in approximately U.S.$15 billion in foreign assistance to Pakistan between fiscal year 2002 and 2009 (including the Coalition Support Funds).
This study explores three hypotheses derived from realist-, liberal- and constructivist perspectives in the study of International Relations and Foreign Policy, in order to explain the strong-pro attitude of the U.S. foreign policy toward Pakistan in the wake of September 11. Based on interviews with U.S. and Pakistani officials and policy analysts, in addition to studies of official documents, news articles and reports from various sources; I argue that security interests motivated the U.S. foreign policy toward Pakistan under President Bush. Short-term security concerns seem to have topped the political agenda and received priority above the stated idealist agenda of spreading liberal values like economic and political freedom. The strategic significance of the Afghan-Pakistani border and the U.S. need for supply lines for its operations in Afghanistan served as necessary factors for the Bush administration’s policy toward Pakistan, and perhaps even sufficient factors to explain the policy shift from a weak-con attitude to a strong¬-pro- attitude in the after math of September 11, 2001.