Pakistan coup rumors: Could the military take over again?(Read article summary)
Coup rumors come at a time of great public dissatisfaction with Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari and growing disenchantment among the military with the US alliance.
There’s never a good time to be worried about your health. But when Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari flew to Dubai on Tuesday to undergo tests after what his spokesman called a “minor heart attack,” the rumors grew thick and fast that President Zardari would be ousted in a coup.
Pakistan is a rumor-prone place, despite having a fairly independent press, and both Pakistani and US officials were quick to tamp down any rumors of a military coup. But Zardari’s health problems come at a time when he is deeply unpopular with his own people, both over the usual issues of corruption and over his handling of international relations with the US, which have reached a nadir.
In theory, the US and Pakistan are allies in the fight against the same terrorist group, Al Qaeda, and supporters of a democratic regime in Afghanistan. But a spate of recent events shows how much the US-Pakistani relationship has soured.
- The US capture and killing of Osama bin Laden on May 1, 2011, just yards away from a Pakistani military installation this year
- The arrest and release of a CIA contract Raymond Davis for killing two Pakistanis on a motorbike in late January 2011
- The continued US use of military drones over Pakistan, aimed at insurgents, but occasionally killing civilians as well
- The apparently mistaken November 2011 bombardment of Pakistani soldiers by NATO forces in Afghanistan
- And more recently, the withdrawal of Zardari’s ambassador to the US, Husain Haqqani, after news emerged that he supported the civilian government
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