It may have been a nightmarish year for Pakistan but it has been a pretty good one for the country’s inscrutable chief of army staff, the most powerful man in the Land of the Pure, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.
For a start, the army’s response to the floods has compared well to the usual corrupt incompetence of Pakistan’s civilian politicians, guided by their chateau-hopping president, Asif Ali Zardari (while minister for investment, he was nicknamed “Mr 10 Per Cent”; he has now been upgraded to “Mr 110 Per Cent”). This has led to discussion in army circles about whether it is time to drop the civilian fig leaf and return the country to the loving embrace of its military. So serious is this threat, that one of the country’s most senior and well-connected journalists, Najam Sethi, editor-in-chief of the Friday Times, went on the record this month to warn that elements in the army were plotting yet another coup. “I know this is definitely being discussed,” he said.