...Petraeus expressed the view that the Pakistani army could survive the fall of the government of President Ali Zardari and that the army, led by Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, is “superior” to the civilian government.
This statement echoed the position indicated by President Barack Obama at the Wednesday evening press conference marking his first 100 days in office. Obama said he was confident that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal would remain secure, “Primarily, initially, because the Pakistani army, I think, recognizes the hazards of those weapons falling into the wrong hands.” He added, “We’ve got strong military-to-military consultation and cooperation.”
In contrast, the American president described Zardari’s government as “very fragile” and lacking “the capacity to deliver basic services” or “gain the support and the loyalty of their people.”
Obama concluded by saying of Pakistan, “We want to respect their sovereignty, but we also recognize that we have huge strategic interests, huge national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don't end up having a nuclear-armed militant state.”
To prevent catastrophe will require considerable American effort and unquestionably provoke resistance from many Pakistanis, often for widely differing reasons. We must strengthen pro-American elements in Pakistan's military so they can purge dangerous Islamicists from their ranks; roll back Taliban advances; and, together with our increased efforts in Afghanistan, decisively defeat the militants on either side of the border. This may mean stifling some of our democratic squeamishness and acquiescing in a Pakistani military takeover, if the civilian government melts before radical pressures. So be it.