Given these grave challenges, Pakistan's upcoming parliamentary elections constitute a crucial test for its fragile democracy. Will the country's new government be able to address the rapidly deteriorating state of affairs in the country?
There is, in fact, nothing new in the way Islamabad has been squeezing Washington lately. It has a long record of getting the better of U.S. officials by identifying areas of American weakness and exploiting them successfully to further its agenda.
Compared with the previous year, Pakistanis did not see any improvement in their lives in 2011. The downward spiral continued and life became tougher. One can only hope that the year 2012 will bring some relief to their sad faces.
Politicians negotiating positions, impassioned youth taking to the streets, public debate about important issues -- these are the signs that the people of Pakistan have embraced democracy, not that they are turning it away.
Adm. Mullen may be right in saying that the Pakistani military "knows what it has to do" to rout the Taliban and al Qaeda from their Pakistani sanctuaries, but does the U.S. military know what it has to do? The answer is increasingly apparent.