The gloves are off. US official sources have accused General Kayani of being aware of the ISI plot to bomb the Indian embassy in Kabul. There are three possibilities. General Kayani concurred with the plot. Or, he knew about it but was helpless to intervene against hardcore elements of the army and ISI. Or, he was incompetent and ignorant about what was going on under his nose. Regardless, the buck stops with him. He is responsible and accountable.
President Bush's sanction of US strikes inside Pakistan and the leaks of official US criticism of the ISI role in aiding terrorism will have the following effects. It will drive a wedge between the Zardari government and the army. The Pakistan government may continue to criticize the US to placate the army. It can do this only up to a point. If the US raids persist and escalate, as they are likely to, either the civilian government will surrender to the army, or its alienation from it will be complete. Much will depend on the attitude of Nawaz Sharif. If he seeks short term political gain and sides with the army, he will weaken not only Zardari but himself because he would be crippling civil society and returning full power to the army.
The new US hard line will also affect the Pakistan army. General Kayani will have to make a choice. If he does not retaliate against NATO forces to create full scale war, he will divide the army between moderate professionals and pro-jihadi fundamentalists. Thus far the Pakistan army has relied heavily on the material and moral support of China's People's Liberation Army (PLA). Beijing would be weighing future trade and cooperation with rising India against continued support to Pakistan's adventurism. Will General Kayani continue to rely on China's support? Without that, as a professional, he would know the costs of taking on the NATO forces in a full scale war.
President Zardari would greatly help General Kayani if he expeditiously presented a credible peace package offering greater autonomy to NWFP and Baluchistan. That might encourage Kayani to choose wisely. Ultimately, he holds the key to resolving peacefully the crisis in Pakistan.