Pakistan's Prospects

Richard Holbrooke, the Obama Administration's new point man for a troubled region, is familiar with tough assignments. But can he balance what the U.S. needs with what Pakistan wants?

Mohammad Sajjad / AP

Last spring, Richard Holbrooke outlined his prescription for what ails Pakistan in the Washington Post. In U.S. dealings with Islamabad, Holbrooke argued, "the message should be clear and consistent: democracy, reconciliation, the military out of politics, a new policy for the tribal areas--and more democracy."

It was a high-minded solution that would work at 30,000 feet. But the Holbrooke who arrives in Islamabad on Feb. 9, not as a columnist but as President Barack Obama's special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, will have to deal with ugly reality on the ground. Faced with a failing Afghanistan, the U.S. needs Pakistan's government...

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