There's a beautiful kilim on the blogging room floor here at the stately Mead manor in Jackson Heights; I bought it in Peshawar about three years ago when I was giving a series of lectures on American foreign policy across Pakistan. I couldn't buy it in the market; the security situation in Peshawar was so dicey at the time that my State Department minders wouldn't let me set foot in the bazaar. Fortunately the head of the AID mission was a rug collector and he persuaded a dealer to bring the market to me: dozens of glorious Central Asian rugs were laid out across his carport and lawn as I wandered around trying to figure out how many of these dazzling rugs I could bundle into my luggage for the trip home. From time to time the ground would shake as heavily laden planes took off headed for the nearby warfront in Afghanistan just over the mountains.
This morning I see that they've bombed the market in Peshawar; some months ago a suicide bomber drove a truck into the hotel where I stayed.
There's no doubt that Pakistan is the toughest and most dangerous problem in American foreign policy; it's one of the most complicated, dangerous and engaging places in the world.