This paper assesses the United Kingdom’s policy towards Pakistan since September 2001 attacks on the United States—including its context, evolution, attributes and motivations. It makes four main arguments: First, the UK’s perspective on Pakistan is shaped largely by its military engagement in the Afghan war, in line with NATO’s exit strategy. Second, while the British policy towards Pakistan is essentially focused on counter-terrorism, it does cover other areas of enduring significance such as trade, development and education. Third, this policy is linked with Britain’s domestic security concerns arising out of Pakistan-linked instances of radicalisation and terrorism involving British Muslim/Pakistani community. Finally, the UK tends to mostly follow the US lead in its dealings with Pakistan—even though noticeable differences exist in their respective counter-terrorism stances. A related observation in this regard pertains to relative stability of UK-Pakistan relations as compared to the disruptive nature of US-Pakistan ties.
The UK is a principal US ally, and has been at the forefront of European states cultivating US interests in recent regional conflicts, including the Afghan war. Its relationship with Pakistan is also of long-standing nature, shaped by historical connections and the existence of a sizeable Pakistani Diaspora in the UK. Given that, any deterioration in US-Pakistan relations creates a dilemma for the British government, which is often resolved through mediating between the two countries—as reportedly happened during the most recent deterioration in US-Pakistani relationship from early 2011 to mid-2012. Theoretically speaking, the British counter-terrorism engagement in Pakistan seems to display both realist and liberal streaks—the former is driven by security interests as an outcome of British global alliance relationship with the US, and the latter is reflected in developmental pursuits denoting UK’s role as an important member of the European Union.
Only excerpts of this paper are available, as it is in the publishing stage.