Pakistan's arrest of CIA informants: The last straw for U.S.-Pakistan relations?

Islamabad and D.C. were already at odds, and now, Pakistan's detention of informants who fed America intel on bin Laden will likely make things worse

Pakistani Army patrol the compound where bin Laden was killed: The country's top military spy agency arrested Pakistani informants who fed information to the CIA.
(Image credit: RAHAT DAR/epa/Corbis)

Pakistan has arrested five informants — one of them a Pakistani Army major — who fed information to CIA spies before the raid in which Osama bin Laden was killed last month. The informants' detention could further damage the troubled relationship between Washington and Islamabad, just as the Obama administration is trying to secure Pakistan's help in preparing for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from neighboring Afghanistan. Is this a sign that U.S.-Pakistan relations are broken beyond repair?

Yes. Pakistan is acting like our enemy: We've been asking for Pakistan's help fighting terrorists in Afghanistan, says Richard Fernandez at Pajamas Media, but could it be that Pakistan is "the real epicenter of terrorism in Southwest Asia"? The Pakistanis won't help monitor al Qaeda suspects; they're "threatening to shut down the drone program"; and now this. Maybe we should treat Pakistan like an enemy instead of an ally.

"Sign and countersign"

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Hold on. Pakistan's actions are reasonable: From an American point of view, these informants should get medals, says Juan Cole at Informed Comment, so it seems unreasonable, even suspicious, that Pakistan has thrown them in jail. But it's easy to understand why Pakistani leaders would see things differently. "They can't be having nationals working for a foreign intelligence agency" and keeping their own government in the dark. We would do the same thing.

"Pakistan arrests CIA informants in bin Laden case"

But it's still part of a troubling trend: On the face of it, few would say that arresting some informants who copied down the license plates of cars that visited bin Laden's Abottabad hideout is an unpardonable offense, says Julie McCarthy at NPR. But this is just another piece of evidence showing "the ever deepening quagmire that the U.S.-Pakistan relations are in." This crucial strategic alliance is "crumbling," and at the worst possible moment.

"'Crumbling' U.S.-Pakistan relations highlighted by arrests of informants"

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