New Delhi: Pakistan may be headed for a real crisis, with Islamists openly targeting secular forces and the Pakistan Army unwilling to combat Islamic zealots, says a strategic year book.
The time has come for Pakistan to choose between a nation of Mohammed Ali Jinnah`s vision or a Talibanized state, says Pentagon`s South Asia Defence and Strategic Year Book 2013 (Pentagon Press, New Delhi).
"Pakistan`s seemingly uncontrollable slide into a sectarian nightmare appears to have gained further momentum," says the overview at the start of the 359-page book packed with scholarly articles and military data.
Although the focus of the year book is on South Asia and China, the country studies also cover Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.
The book says that the militant Deobandi Islamists in Pakistan have now launched a campaign to cow down sources of potent social and political resistance such as the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM).
"What is very worrying is that the army is clearly abandoning its earlier pretence of readiness to take on Islamic zealots head on and sections of the establishment seem more willing now to be just silence accomplices."
The book says there appeared to be "an unholy nexus" of the Pakistan Army with Islamic radicals.
It said some retired generals had entered into secret deals with Taliban factions to either secure the release of captured Pakistani soldiers or to prevent army units from being targeted.
"Apparently, these deals have been cemented by transferring large amounts of money to Taliban commanders."
It said that in other instances, the spirit of camaraderie between the two sides emerged under the influence of the military`s propensity to treat a part of the Taliban as "good Taliban" that could prove to be a "strategic asset".
"The Pakistan Army is the only national institution that retains its cohesiveness and, therefore, it is expected to protect Pakistan from internal and external threats.
"Any hopes of Pakistan pulling out of the present sectarian crisis require the army to not only keep the Islamic zealots under check but also support and protect the winds of moderation.
"However, the Pakistan Army appears neither willing to play this role nor seems to have confidence in its own capabilities.
"This is a new phenomenon in Pakistan and does not augur well for the country`s fight against Islamic sectarianism and radicalism and for upholding moderation."
The book also states that the Pakistani military and public generally viewed India as the nation`s primary security threat, and opposition to India was often a greater source of social cohesion than Islam or Urdu.
"India`s far greater military capabilities have been a source of both fear and frustration, and many suspect that this imbalance has prompted Pakistan to engage Indian forces indirectly through supporting insurgents morally, financially or otherwise."