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Why U.S. relations with Pakistan just got more complicated
The job of fighting terrorists on Afghanistan's border with Pakistan just grew more complicated, said Zeeshan Haider in Reuters.com, with a U.S. airstrike Pakistan says killed some of its soldiers. It
 

W

hat happened
The U.S. military released video footage it said showed men firing on Afghan troops near Afghanistan's disputed northeastern border with Pakistan. The clash ended with U.S. airstrikes that Pakistan blamed for the deaths of 11 of its soldiers. (The Washington Post, with a link to military video).

What the commentators said
This incident will complicate the task of fighting terrorists on both sides of the border, said Zeeshan Haider in Reuters.com. Pakistan’s Western allies are frustrated with Pakistan's new government for striking deals with militants in its lawless border region, because the pacts give Islamist extremists safe bases for launching attacks in Afghanistan. But the leaders in Islamabad are more interested in stopping suicide attacks on their own turf than in helping NATO and the U.S.

It’s time for the U.S. to stop tiptoeing around “in deference to Islamabad,” said Investor’s Business Daily in an editorial. Pakistan’s government has consistently “hamstrung our operations with unreasonable restrictions" while "al Qaida only grows stronger.” The Bush doctrine of preemptive strikes against terrorists makes sense everywhere else; it should be applied in Pakistan, too.

The disturbing thing about this clash, said Syed Saleem Shahzad in Asia Times, is that it suggests that “Pakistani soldiers were fighting alongside Taliban forces against Afghan army and U.S. units in the border area.” That will certainly bolster critics who say the U.S. is coddling Pakistan while its military “is playing a ‘double game’ and can no longer be trusted.” But Washington can only push Islamabad so hard, because losing Pakistan altogether “would be a devastating setback.”
 

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