The Associated Press reports: You know a friendship has gone sour when you start making mean jokes about your friend in front of his most bitter nemesis.
So it was a bad sign this week when the U.S. defense secretary joshed in front of an audience of Indians about how Washington kept Pakistan in the dark about the raid that killed al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden a year ago.
“They didn’t know about our operation. That was the whole idea,” Leon Panetta said with a chuckle at a Q&A session after a speech in New Delhi, raising laughs from the audience. The Bin Laden raid by U.S. commandos in a Pakistani town infuriated Islamabad because it had no advance notice, and it was seen by Pakistan’s powerful military as a humiliation.
The U.S. and Pakistan are starting to look more like enemies than allies, threatening the U.S. fight against Taliban and al-Qaida militants based in the country and efforts to stabilize neighboring Afghanistan before American troops withdraw.
Long plagued by frustration and mistrust, the relationship has plunged to its lowest level since the 9/11 attacks forced the countries into a tight but awkward embrace over a decade ago. The U.S. has lost its patience with Pakistan and taken the gloves off to make its anger clear.
“It has taken on attributes and characteristics now of a near adversarial relationship, even though neither side wants it to be that way,” said Maleeha Lodhi, who was serving as Pakistan’s ambassador to the U.S. at the time of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks and was key in hurriedly putting together the two countries’ alliance.