The fact that the U.S. and Pakistani intelligence service set up the meeting with Haqqani and discussed how to stop a Haqqani attack suggests a much more nuanced -- and very often, confounding -- relationship with Pakistan's intelligence service than Adm. Mullen and other military officials have publicly admitted in the last two weeks.
The Pakistanis, in turn, have tried to portray themselves as the victims of a smear campaign headed by Mullen. As Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari wrote in the Washington Post Friday, "While we are accused of harboring extremism, the United States is engaged in outreach and negotiations with the very same groups."
Complicating matters is the deteriorating relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghan officials have jumped on American criticism of Pakistan to threaten to cut off bilateral attempts to make peace. President Hamid Karzai, responding to massive pressure from political parties that have long opposed the Taliban, has slightly changed his tune on Pakistan in the last two weeks.
Up until the assassination of former President Burhannudin Rabbani on Sept. 20, Karzai was the most vocal Afghan proponent of a strong bilateral relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. As early as one year ago, a senior advisor told ABC News that Pakistan could "help deliver a peace that the U.S. can't."
But since Rabbani's death, Karzai has criticized the Pakistani government for not helping the peace process. In a nationally televised speech tonight, he repeated that criticism and named the many Afghan officials believed to have been targeted by Pakistan-based militants. Still, he said he hoped the two "brotherly" countries could work together.
U.S. officials are trying to encourage the bilateral relationship and reschedule a tripartite meeting about Afghan reconciliation that was scheduled for Oct. 8, but has been indefinitely postponed by Karzai. U.S. diplomatic officials argue that without a robust dialogue between all three countries, there is little chance that the violence in Afghanistan will reduce.
But still, they admit they have little to show for efforts to find a political settlement to the war.
Asked whether the meeting with Ibrahim Haqqani meeting produced any results, a U.S. official responded with a one-word answer: "no."
[Editor's Note: A previous version of this report said the U.S. asked Pakistani intelligence to set up the meeting with the Haqqani representative. An official told ABC News Pakistani intelligence actually requested the U.S. attend the meeting.]