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By Brahma Chellaney
Beijing's creeping aggression signals a challenge to U.S. presence in the Asian Pacific
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Topic - Ryan Crocker
A former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan is worried that the nuclear-armed South Asian nation could collapse as a growing number of Islamic terrorists are targeting soldiers, civilians and government officials.
The major candidates to become Pakistan's next prime minister oppose American drone strikes on Islamic extremists in their country, which bodes ill for the U.S. policy after Pakistan's historic parliamentary elections in May.
Talk of a diplomatic divorce has U.S. and Pakistani officials trying to patch things up, and maybe get a little counseling.
The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan created a political storm this week when he said that two leading opposition politicians would form a "pro-U.S. government" if either becomes prime minister in next year's elections.
Ryan Crocker, who came out of retirement less than a year ago to accept one of the most dangerous U.S. diplomatic assignments, plans to leave his post as ambassador in Afghanistan this summer.
The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan on Thursday accused a powerful terrorist group with suspected ties to Pakistan's spy agency of mounting a weekend assault on Afghan cities, and he demanded that Pakistan drive the militants out of safe havens.
The U.S. ambassador to China this week demanded that the Chinese government free a crippled human rights activist and her husband from prison and lift the house arrest of their daughter.
Even as another day of anti-U.S. violence saw seven NATO troops hurt in Afghanistan, the Obama administration on Sunday vowed to remain heavily involved in the country and defended the president's handling of a crisis sparked by the inadvertent burning by American troops of Muslim holy books.
The top U.S. diplomat in Kabul and a campaign adviser to President Obama said Sunday the United States isn't rethinking its commitment to Afghanistan after violent protests left more than two dozen people dead, including two American shot inside a government ministry.
President Obama apologized Thursday for the burning of copies of the Muslim holy book at a U.S. military base this week, as violent protests raging nationwide led a man dressed in an Afghan army uniform to kill two U.S. troops.
The death toll from last week's rare sectarian attacks on Shiite Muslims in Afghanistan has risen to at least 80, the country's president said Sunday.
From 2007 to 2009, a surge of 20,000 troops under the leadership of Gen. David H. Petraeus saved a mostly lost war in Iraq. Gen. Petraeus' counterinsurgency doctrine helped win over the population, as the surge in troops gave greater security to Iraq's government and military. Despite occasional violence, fewer Americans have been killed in Iraq in 2011 (53 in the most recent count) than in any year since the invasion - a quiet that could end with the departure of all American troops soon.
The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan on Wednesday blamed the Pakistani-based Haqqani network for the coordinated attack against the American Embassy and NATO headquarters in the heart of Kabul.
The 20-hour insurgent assault on the heavily guarded Afghan capital left 27 dead - including police, civilians and insurgents - when fighting finally ended Wednesday morning, officials said.
"I don't think there is much appetite in the Pakistani military to get itself involved in the electoral process," he said.
He expressed concern about reports that Pakistani Taliban are on the "ascendancy" in the country's largest city, Karachi, a seaport of 21 million residents.