After a two month lull in the violence that has plagued Pakistan's border regions, Islamist militants appear to have resumed the violence when a recent suicide-bomb attack in the northwestern city of Bannu killed five.
Pakistan's new government is close to signing a peace accord with pro-Taliban militants as part of a softer counterterrorism policy from Islamabad that deemphasizes military strikes and calls for U.S. forces to show more restraint in the area.
In light of increasing instability in Pakistan and the apparent decline of President Pervez Musharraf's influence, American analysts say the United States needs to broaden its approach toward Pakistan to include aid not just to its army, but to civil society organizations, political parties, the court system and police.
The Caspian Basin energy equation is growing more complex, with Iran, India and Pakistan now renewing a commitment to build a natural gas pipeline across South Asia. On November 28, Indian officials confirmed that discussions with their Iranian counterparts were continuing.
Leaders of the Baluchi minority in southwestern Pakistan and southeastern Iran say their people are increasingly marginalized, discriminated against by the state, and suffer from limited access to the benefits of citizenship.
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf looks set to attend a "peace jirga" in the Afghan capital aimed at combating Taliban and Al-Qaeda violence in the two neighboring countries, after originally bowing out.
Musharraf had canceled a planned appearance at the tribal assembly's opening session on August 9 amid speculation that Islamabad might impose a state of emergency in Pakistan.