On the surface, the visit of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Washington in October was all smiles and warm praise about Islamabad's close relationship with Washington.

But the problems that make Pakistan America's most troublesome frenemy continue to loom over the Obama administration's policy goals, most particularly in the efforts to stem Islamist terrorism and build a stable Afghanistan. Sharif also did not give way on Pakistan's growing nuclear arsenal in his Oct. 22 meeting with President Obama, insisting it was still needed to deter India, Pakistan's nuclear-armed neighbor and chief rival.

"By inviting Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to the White House, President Obama may only have wanted to signal America's continued interest in the nuclear-armed country. But in Pakistan, it reignited the belief that Uncle Sam simply cannot manage the world without Pakistan's help," Husain Haqqani, a former Pakistani ambassador to Washington who's now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, wrote in an analysis of the visit for India's The Hindu newspaper.

"American readiness to offer aid has bred dependence and hubris. The U.S. has ended up as an enabler of Pakistan's dysfunction by reinforcing the belief of its elite that it is too important to fail or be neglected," he added. "Instead of telling Pakistan's elite how important they are, it might be more useful to stop footing the bill for Pakistan's failings."

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