India is “worried” over the fast changing situation in Pakistan in the wake of what has been termed the ‘Mansoor Ijaz Memogate scandal,' in which a Pakistani-American businessman claims to have secretly conveyed to the U.S. the Asif Ali Zardari government's appeal seeking help to forestall a possible military coup. However, in India's assessment, at the moment a military takeover to prevent the country slipping into turmoil is highly unlikely.
Senior officials in the government closely monitoring the development in the neighbourhood maintained on Sunday that the latest crisis was yet another serious blow to the Zardari regime, which is confronted with the ‘steady' gains on the ground by Imran Khan, the cricketer-turned-politician, and fissures within the Pakistan Muslim League led by the former Prime Minister, Nawaz Shariff.
The Zardari government is embroiled in a controversy following the assertion by Mr. Ijaz that he delivered the message, seeking Washington's intervention on behalf of the civilian government in Islamabad, at the behest of Pakistan's Ambassador to the U.S. Husain Haqqani. Since the takeover of the regime in Islamabad by the Pakistan People's Party, the savvy envoy has been a trusted aide of Mr. Zardari.
The officials noted that the very fact that the military decided to dispatch the ISI chief to London to personally contact Mr. Ijaz in a bid to get to the bottom of the intent of the purported cable is a clear sign of growing distrust between the civilian establishment and the all-powerful military.
“However, we do believe it would not be easy for the military to wage a coup in the current international environment. When General Pervez Musharraf chose to dismiss the civilian government in 1999 and assume charge, it was a different scenario. It is much more viable for the military to install political elements trusted by it than take over the reins of power,” the officials said.
Asked about the impact of the political situation in Pakistan on India, the officials said India had weathered much tougher situations and there was no reason for concern. “The ISI has thrown every thing possible at us from 1989 to 1999 beginning with Kashmir to Kargil. We need to worry only if it gets worse than what we have experienced during the period.”