Watch CBSN Live

Expert: Pakistan needs U.S. to survive

The follow-up from the raid that killed Osama bin Laden has raised serious new questions about the future of U.S. relations with Pakistan.

Eza Aslan, a Middle Eastern expert and founder of, says he believes the relationship between Washington and Islamabad - shaken by the fact that the target of a worldwide manhunt apparently lived in a Pakistani suburb for five or six years - was on shaky ground to begin with but can be improved.

"I think it can be repaired - it must be repaired," Aslan said on CBS' "The Early Show on Saturday Morning." "Let's be serious: Whatever we think about Pakistan, it is really at the center of our war on terror strategy against both al Qaeda and the Taliban.

"Pakistan is where the problem lies, and in many cases. I think the situation with the Pakistani political establishment is that they're caught between a rock and a hard place," Aslan said.

"They need the United States' help in fighting the Taliban, because the Taliban is as much a threat to their stability as it is to the United States. And we know from the WikiLeaks documents that they're very adept at speaking with both sides of their mouth on this - to say to the public they're against the drone attacks, yet they're working with the United States intelligence to facilitate those attacks.

"I think that there is some reason to believe that perhaps with the death of bin Laden, that there is an opportunity now to purge the military and Pakistani intelligence of those problematic elements, and reframe this relationship.

"I think that you're talking about a country that is dealing with ethnic and political tensions. It's got a good crisis right now. It's still reeling from the floods. So the real issue here isn't so much about America's relationship with Pakistan, it's about whether Pakistan itself can survive."

Special section: The killing of Osama bin Laden
New Video: Inside bin Laden's compound
Video: CIA spied on bin Laden from nearby safe house

"I think the politicians in the United States want an answer. I think the American public wants an answer. But President Obama is right to go very slowly. This is a fraught relationship. It's been a fraught relationship for awhile," he said, "but it's an important one and it must be preserved."

When asked by Early Show" anchor Russ Mitchell if Pakistan - which receives about $1.5 billion in U.S. aid annually - can be trusted, Aslan said no.

"I don't think that we can trust Pakistan, because the military and the intelligence apparatus is focused clearly on its own national security concerns, and at this point it still believes that fostering relations with the problematic elements in Pakistani society is vital to its security interests - with regard to Afghanistan, with regard to India," Aslan said. "But I do think that there is an opportunity now to perhaps shift that concern on their side.

"But we're going to have to deal with Pakistan on a more organic basis," he said. "$1.5 billion, we have to remember, without this money the Pakistani economy would very likely collapse."