Continuing the article referred to in the first two units. If in Afghanistan New Delhi finds itself between a rock and a hard place, in Pakistan, the situation is even worse as several doomsday scenarios continue to be speculated upon, with endless variations: from a coup, the collapse of the economy, to nuclear weapons falling into the hands of assorted un-uniformed extremists and fundamentalists. After the fracas over Raymond Davis and the killing of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad and the escalation of drone attacks on terrorist targets in the badlands of Pakistan, Army chief Ashfaq Kayani is having to reassert his authority. There is a churning in the armed forces, and Kayani is using the widespread anti-American sentiment sweeping the streets of Pakistan to take a more belligerent posture against the Americans. Explains a senior diplomat: “Kayani knows the Americans need a denouement before the election schedules. He is playing big stakes poker, staring at the Americans to see who will blink first. He is using the Chinese card.”
A long-time watcher of Pakistan thinks that the Army seems to be toying with the idea of blooding a new civilian dispensation and is veering towards the Imran Khan option. Zardari’s best case scenario would be to try to get a second presidential term and he is working towards that by trying to enhance the PPP strength in the Senate to almost twice its present numbers. His re-election is due in September 2013, and Kayani’s extended term ends two months later — in November that year. The Army distrusts Nawaz Sharif’s PML variant, partly because they are seen as being corrupt but mainly because they feel that Nawaz would want greater control over several policy levers now firmly in the hands of the military and would consequently be less pliable than Imran Khan. The analyses in Pakistani media relating to the playboy cricketer who once got Pakistan the World Cup are distinctly gushy.
In this scenario, says Rana Banerjee, a former Pakistan hand at the Research and Analysis Wing, for Kayani “choreographing an endgame in Pakistan takes priority over creating trouble for India. Anyway, Pakistan’s economic situation is not healthy. India’s option here is to keep a low profile and let the Pakistanis set the pace.” It is not as simple as it sounds, though. A diplomat says as the Army steers a course amidst the ferment, with the Islamists rising against the Establishment, Karachi is in flames and under the effective control of Pakistani Rangers, “If the Army feels the need to demonstrate they are in control, they obviously do it best with respect to India.” The situation is not entirely bleak, however. China and Saudi Arabia, Pakistan’s two staunchest all-weather friends, cannot step into the breach, financially or otherwise, should the Army test the military and financial relationship with the US beyond a point, and will advise Pakistan, accordingly. China, is after all concerned about a fundamentalist blowback as a result of its ally flirting with fundamentalists of all hues, including Chinese. For the foreseeable future, India will continue its usual tango with Pakistan: one step forwards, two steps backwards, lock, break, cha cha cha. Once it becomes a pattern, it could even be mistaken for a stability of sorts.
Answer the following questions. No cut and paste job please. Let me know whether you have understood the lesson.