Islamabad: A secret memo that claims President Asif Ali Zardari feared a military coup is a reflection that Pakistanis are "caught between a rock and a hard place: bumbling civilians on one side and hardline military men on the other", said a leading Pakistani daily on Saturday.
The Dawn editorially said that the air of conspiracy, "never far from the corridors of power here, has grown thicker in recent days".
Pakistani businessman Mansoor Ijaz has alleged that a senior Pakistani diplomat asked for help in getting a message from Zardari to then chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen. He claimed that Zardari feared a military takeover following the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May and brought unprecedented public scrutiny on Pakistani leaders.
The editorial said: "Perhaps the broader lesson to be learned from this entire sorry tale is that the civil-military imbalance in the country remains profoundly skewed."
"If the memo has some truth to it, it hints at the desperation of politicians at critical junctures and the profound errors of judgment they can make. It also hints at the utter inability of the civilians here to slowly win back space ceded to the military without outside assistance.”
"That would bode ill for the transition to democracy: if the civilians are not learning how to fight their own battles, they`re unlikely to ever win."
It went on to say that even if the memo was not authorised by the top civilian leadership, "the pressure that the government has come under clearly indicates that hard questions are being asked and possibly demands being made from quarters that in theory ought to be subservient to the civilians".
"Perhaps this is the inevitable consequence of a tacit arrangement in which the civilians have opted to rule in the internal political domain and surrender national security and foreign policy issues to the men in uniform.”
"...memogate has served to remind Pakistanis that they are caught between a rock and a hard place: bumbling civilians on one side and hardline military men, who believe they alone know what is good for Pakistan, on the other."