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Petraeus Gives Stark Warning of Potentially Imminent Pakistani Collapse

Pay attention here, from FOX News, as General David Petraeus sounds the warning of Pakistan's potential imminent political collapse. The next couple of weeks, he says, are critical to Pakistan's very survival.

Gen. David Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, has told U.S. officials the next two weeks are critical to determining whether the Pakistani government will survive, FOX News has learned.

"The Pakistanis have run out of excuses" and are "finally getting serious" about combating the threat from Taliban and Al Qaeda extremists operating out of Northwest Pakistan, the general added.

But Petraeus also said wearily that "we've heard it all before" from the Pakistanis and he is looking to see concrete action by the government to destroy the Taliban in the next two weeks before determining the United States' next course of action, which is presently set on propping up the Pakistani government and military with counterinsurgency training and foreign aid.

Petraeus made these assessment in talks with lawmakers and Obama administration officials this week, according to individuals familiar with the discussions.

They said Petraeus and senior administration officials believe the Pakistani army, led by Chief of Staff Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, is "superior" to the civilian government, led by President Ali Zardari, and could conceivably survive even if Zardari's government falls to the Taliban.

This is the culmination of a long, patient slow-motion insurgency by the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance suddenly propelled into a fast-moving and aggressive push on many fronts and forms. The jury is still out on the level of commitment of the Pakistani military push to take back Buner and, presumably, the Swat district from Taliban-al-Qaeda control.

The manner in which the Pakistanis pursue that push is critical. Will they continue to rely heavily on area weapons, such as artillery and helicopter gunships which cause much collateral damage and limited precision? Or will it shift to a boots-on-the-ground fight between men for Pakistan's survival? And will those boots continue to be the less capable Frontier Corps paramilitary forces and local constabularies, or will the more professional and capable Pakistani Army assume the tip of the spear? These are important questions that we will learn the answers to over the coming days.

Pakistani military leaders, as we noted in today's DailyBriefing (April 30, 2009), are concerned that "if it ratchets up fight against the Taliban too much, the Army itself may disintegrate." See below, including a link to our earlier analysis on the effectiveness of al-Qaeda's psychological operations targeting rank and file members of the Pakistani Army to "come home to Islam" and abandon their roles as servants to the polytheist American infidels.

PAKISTANI ARMY DISINTEGRATION FEARS

There is trouble ahead. And, as General Petraeus is trying to warn, the next two weeks will by critical to whether Pakistan survives in the short term, let alone the long term. The clock is ticking and time is running out.

That said, there is still little we can do to mend or shape the internal Pakistani condition. We are not all-powerful, and Pakistanis must be allowed to determine their own course - though we must continue to assist those within Pakistan not aligned against us. They understand the consequences, and we - and they - must be prepared for them however this plays out.

Pakistan remains as it has been since 2001: An unlikely, unnatural and unreliable ally in the War on Terror, however critical and necessary that status continues to be.

The phone lines into New Dehli should be lit in the mean time. India is a much more natural American ally, sharing more of the same values, principles and systems. India is more stable, more reliable and does not suffer from an acute case of societal 'schizophrenia.' And, critically important, there is no question whether we share, face and defend against a common terrorist enemy.

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