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The U.S. and Pakistan face off
Will the Afghanistan conflict spread eastward?
W

hat happened
Pakistan’s military warned that U.S. forces would be fired on if they crossed into Pakistan’s territory again, after at least one cross-border incursion by Afghanistan-based U.S. troops. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made a surprise visit to Pakistan to discuss the rising tensions. (The New York Times)

What the commentators said
Clearly, the U.S.-Pakistan counterterrorism relationship “has broken down,” said The Economist online, with mistrust festering over both goals and tactics. But is “America’s go-it-alone strategy”—a response to Pakistan’s inability or unwillingness to kill or capture Taliban and al Qaeda fighters in its tribal areas—really the most effective option?

What choice does the U.S. have? asked Christopher Hitchens in Slate. The tribal areas are now "the incubating ground of a reorganized and protected al Qaida,” and it is “overwhelmingly probable” that Pakistan’s intelligence service is not only turning a blind eye but also helping carry out attacks in Pakistan. This “fantastically unacceptable state of affairs” requires some action.

This standoff won’t end the two countries’ “bad marriage,” said Manzur Ejaz in Pakistan’s Daily Times. They need each other. And Pakistan has lost control of its own tribal areas, so it can hardly make “a convincing argument to the international community against foreign intervention.”

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