To be sure, Afridi’s Pakistani nationality also means the US isn’t going to view his detention in quite the same leave-no-man-behind terms. And the US does not have the same legal arguments of the Geneva Conventions as it did in the case of Mr. Davis.
But there’s also much less riding on the US-Pakistan relationship than even a year ago when the Davis affair erupted. NATO has managed to keep the Afghan war effort going, despite Pakistan cutting off supply lines through its territory. Then, too, trust has evaporated since the discovery of bin Laden in Pakistan and the unauthorized US raid to kill him.
America has had a roller coaster relationship with Pakistan for years. In the 1980s and early 1990s, the US and Pakistan were as thick as thieves, funding, arming, and training Afghan and Pakistani fighters to take on the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. After the Soviets withdrew, and after Pakistan successfully tested a nuclear device, the US imposed strict military sanctions against Pakistan, and left that country with tens of thousands of former militants, thousands of politically charged Islamic seminaries, and a Pakistani economy addicted to foreign aid.
Today, the US and Pakistan have spent a decade ostensibly fighting on the same side against Islamist extremist groups – some of whom use Pakistan’s less-well-controlled corners, such as Swat and Northern Waziristan, as their bases – and yet it is not clear how much these two countries share in common anymore.