An Odd Tale of U.S.-Pakistani Ties

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KARACHI, Pakistan — When Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan met President Obama this week, and both reaffirmed and reiterated everything that had been reaffirmed and reiterated many times before, I was reminded of America’s first attempt to win friends and influence people in Pakistan. In 1951, when Pakistan was merely four years old, some bright star in the United States Information Service got in touch with Saadat Hasan Manto, the legendary Pakistani short story writer and chronicler of partition with India. The officer proposed that Manto write something for the service. In past writings Manto had made fun of communists — including his own mentor, the seasonal revolutionary Bari Sahib — and that might have given the Americans the idea that he would be an ideal recruit for the cold war of ideas that was just beginning.