The Pakistan Conundrum

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Photograph by Peter Hapak for TIME

In Biology, the term is symbiotic relationship--two different organisms that are mutually dependent. That pretty much describes the U.S.'s relationship with Pakistan. We depend on the Pakistanis for supply routes into Afghanistan and for support in the fight against terrorism; they depend on us for money and weapons. But the fact that Pakistan has proved to be a selective sponsor of terrorism, not to mention the host country for the past five or six years of Osama bin Laden, makes our relationship more fraught than ever before. The question is not only whether this marriage can be saved but whether it should be.

Aryn Baker's story goes to the heart of that relationship. Aryn, TIME's Middle East bureau chief, first went to Pakistan for us in 2003 and moved full time to the region in 2006. She has reported on every aspect of that troubled society, even tracking al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban on the country's border, where she interviewed a Wazir tribal elder who proposed marriage. (She declined.) In 2007 she was interviewing the head of a women's madrasah connected to Islamabad's Red Mosque when it was attacked by Pakistani security forces. "In the midst of the tear gas and shelling," Aryn recalls, "the young Pakistani women inside found the time and generosity to take care of the foreigner among them. Even when things are at their worst in Pakistan, hospitality never wavers."

Next week, TIME and CNN will return to our continuing focus on jobs and job creation. Tune in to CNN's American Morning and Newsroom beginning Wednesday, May 18, for stories on how to create jobs.

Richard Stengel, MANAGING EDITOR