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A senior adviser on South Asia to three U.S. presidents is now warning about "Armageddon in Islamabad."
At the request of President Obama, Bruce Riedel, a former CIA expert on the region, also chaired an interagency policy review on Afghanistan and nuclear Pakistan. His latest assessment says, "A jihadist victory in Pakistan, meaning the takeover of the nation by a militant Sunni movement led by the Taliban ... would create the greatest threat the United States has yet to face in its war on terror ... [and] is now a real possibility in the foreseeable future." It would bolster al Qaeda's capabilities tenfold, Mr. Riedel concludes. It would also give terrorists a nuclear capability.
Pakistan's "creation of and collusion with extremist groups has left Islamabad vulnerable to an Islamist coup," concludes Mr. Riedel, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center for Middle East Policy in a lengthy study in the July/August issue of the National Interest. An Islamist coup would not be possible without the collusion of at least some army units in Rawalpindi, the garrison town 20 minutes from Islamabad. Pakistan has suffered four military coups in 60 years, living half its existence under military rule.