Michael Barone

Not many foreign policy experts would argue with the proposition that the country with which the United States has the most problematic relationship is Pakistan.

Most Americans, when they have thought about it, have taken a similar view since Osama bin Laden was killed in a raid by Navy SEAL Team Six in May 2011.

Bin Laden was hiding in plain sight in Abbottabad, Pakistan, just a few miles from Pakistan's military academy. It is hard to believe that his whereabouts weren't known to Pakistan's military or its intelligence agency, the ISI.

It has been apparent for some time to those who are well-informed that elements in the Pakistani military and ISI have been aiding the Taliban and other terrorist elements on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, both before and after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But the problems began long before that, as Husain Haqqani, Pakistan's ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2011, explains in his just-published book "Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States and an Epic History of Misunderstanding."

"Since 1947," the year Pakistan became independent, he writes, "dependence, deception and defiance have characterized U.S.-Pakistan relations." That year was the year when Britain granted independence to India and agreed to set off several geographically separated provinces as a predominantly Muslim Pakistan.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan's charismatic first leader, died a year after independence; his successor was assassinated in 1951. Most of the time since then, Pakistan has been under military rule.

That's no coincidence. As Haqqani points out, Pakistan was given one-seventh of undivided India's resources but one-third of its military. The decision was made to keep the military despite the cost to economic development.

The military was furious that India retained most of Muslim-majority Kashmir. Ever since, it has directed most of its military efforts against India.

Pakistani leaders were convinced that their nation was the "pivot of the world" and reached out immediately and repeatedly to the United States for military aid. They used any arms they got to confront and, on occasion, fight India and to pry Afghanistan away from its alliance with India.

On occasion, this proved disastrous. When the military suppressed parliamentarians from the geographically separate East Pakistan, people there rebelled and, with India's encouragement, created the new nation of Bangladesh.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM