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LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

And for the view from Pakistan on how the border incident has strained relations, we turn to NPR's Julie McCarthy. She filed this report from Islamabad.

JULIE MCCARTHY, BYLINE: Pakistan's top brass says the deadly November 26th attack was no accident. Army Chief General Ashfaq Kayani and spy director Shuja Pasha are deeply suspicious of American unilateralism of the sort exercised in Osama bin Laden's killing. Both were humiliated by the secret U.S. raid. But Mohammad Malick, Islamabad editor of the national daily The News, says a tough stance now over the NATO attack on the border posts at Salahla is restoring their tarnished image as guardians of the nation.

MOHAMMAD MALICK: The public sentiment, the killings, they have really caused a furor in the country. It should not be underestimated by any account. And Salahla in one way, ironically on one level, it was best thing that could have happened to the military.

MCCARTHY: Pakistan's blockade of NATO trucks into Afghanistan has shut down half of all NATO supplies. And Pakistan continues to refuse to oblige the Americans in their Afghan strategy, pointedly not pursuing the Haqqani militant network that picks off NATO troops before retreating to bases inside Pakistan.

That has provoked accusations of Pakistani complicity. Analyst and newspaper editor Rashed Rahman says the central problem in the relationship is what he calls the proxy war that the Pakistan military is waging through the Taliban in Afghanistan

RASHED RAHMAN: That is the core issue: it's the unstated elephant in the room. So unless you get to grips with that, everything else is fraught and liable to go through ups and downs.

MCCARTHY: Mohammad Malick maintains that the army is not anti-American. But he says the cost of being an American ally has become too great.

MALICK: They realize that if they do what the Americans want them to do in the manner they want it done, in the long term the consequences will be too grave for us. We want the same things, but we know what can be and what can't be done.

MCCARTHY: Julie McCarthy, NPR News, Islamabad.

WERTHEIMER: You're listening to MORNING EDITION from NPR News.

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