WASHINGTON – As the U.S. military marches warily toward the exits in Iraq and Afghanistan, the Obama administration is on an increasingly uncertain path in Pakistan. Islamabad’s suspected ties to Taliban and al Qaeda-linked militants risk drawing the U.S. deeper into conflict in that nuclear-armed nation.
Special Section: Afghanistan
The Pakistan problem is certain to surface Thursday when Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Adm. Mike Mullen, the soon-to-retire chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, testify at a Senate hearing billed as an examination of administration exit strategies for Iraq and Afghanistan. They also are expected to be asked about the implications of deep cuts in defense spending, potentially approaching $1 trillion over 10 years.
The testimony is Panetta’s first since he took office July 1. And it will be Mullen’s last. He will retire next week, ending a 43-year Navy career…