Is Pakistan gearing up for a return to military rule?

By Peter Duveen

PETER'S NEW YORK, March 12, 2009--A little birdie from the East told me recently that it would only be a few days before military rule returned to Pakistan and the democratic government was disbanded. What the little birdie said made sense to me, in light of recent events.

There is currently a lot of infighting taking place between the two major political factions in the country, Saeed Shah reports in a March 12 McClatchy Newspapers story. According to Shah, American and British diplomats were trying to help the opposing factions reach some kind of agreement. If what the little birdie says is true, however, there is not much hope of that happening.

U.S. policymakers are not likely to tolerate a disorderly political situation in Pakistan, the only nuclear-armed Islamic nation. Furthermore, the (now fully discredited) War on Terror has encountered resistance among the elite of that country, who believe, according to a recent article in the Middle East Times by Azeem Ibrahim of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, that the recent attack on the Pakistani cricket team was engineered by the Indian government, while other so-called terrorist events such as the 9-11 "attacks" are presumed by them to have been concocted by or with the help of the American intelligence agencies.

"Like much of the Muslim world, Pakistan is rife with conspiracy theories," complains Ibrahim. But he conveniently fails to mention that it was two prominent columnists, Robert Novak and William Safire, who launched such theories in the American press only a couple of days after the events of 9-11. Novak's column of Sept. 13, 2001 begins:"Security experts and airline officials agree privately that the simultaneous hijacking of four jetliners was an 'inside job,' probably indicating complicity beyond malfeasance." William Safire ends his column of the same day by saying, "...knowledge of code words, presidential whereabouts and possession of secret procedures indicates that the (9-11) terrorists may have a mole in the White House--that, or informants in the Secret Service, F.B.I., F.A.A. or C.I.A."

Naturally, these beliefs, while probably reflecting the true situation, do not dovetail with American expectations. A nation full of officials that harbor such thoughts cannot go very far in helping the United States in its War on Terror.

As a result, there are heightened expectations that some time in the next few days, there will be a military takeover of Pakistan. The new government formed under such a takeover is far more likely to support a War on Terror, just as that war's creator, the United States, has become, all but cosmetically, a military dictatorship itself.