News that the U.S. has resumed drone strikes in
It may have been coincidence that the latest strike inside Pakistan took place just as a rapidly escalating domestic crisis there has dangerously split the country's civilian and military leaders. If so, the U.S. may have inadvertently waded into a minefield. Pakistan's generals are outraged over a memo, purportedly written at the behest of the government, seeking American help in stopping a possible coup by the Pakistani military, which was humiliated by the U.S. raid that killed
That memo, which the government denies any role in drafting, was delivered to former U.S.
The Pakistani generals' resentment over the
But Pakistan's military rejected that finding and instead called the incident a deliberate provocation, though it provided no evidence to back up the accusation. In retaliation, Pakistan's generals blocked the main border crossing into Afghanistan used to supply U.S. forces there. It remains closed.
The brewing caldron of resentments and mistrust stemming from these events came to a head on Wednesday, when Pakistani Prime Minister
But Mr. Gillani's actions may have backfired this time: Later that same day, the army put out a statement that stopped just short of threatening to overthrow the country's elected government. Given Pakistan's long history of military coups, few doubt the threat is real.
It may simply be bad luck that the U.S. chose to resume drone strikes in Pakistan just as the country's domestic crisis threatens to bubble over. After the November incident that killed Pakistan's soldiers, American commanders ramped down the drone attacks as a conciliatory gesture, in hopes the hiatus would give both sides time to cool down. That hasn't happened, however, and no one should be surprised if Pakistan's military chiefs now take the resumption of U.S. drone attacks as an opportunity to further pummel their civilian rivals.
The U.S. is right to attack militants on the Pakistan side of the border if that country's military can't or won't deal with the threat themselves. And there's no doubt that the
But American officials need to tread carefully if they are to avoid becoming ensnarled in the internecine hostility between Pakistan's Islamist-leaning military and the country's civilian leaders, who at least seem willing to engage with the West.