NEW YORK - A US expert on South Asia says that there is no immediate threat of a military coup in Pakistan but if President Asif Ali Zardari's civilian government fails, the army could take over the country. "Not immediately," was how Bruce Riedel, a senior fellow at a Washington-based think-tank, reacted when asked if he saw any threat of a coup. "But if the Zardari government looks like it's failing - it faces extremely serious economic problems now - if it looks like it is unable to manage Americans, if it looks like it's soft on India and Kashmir, I could envision a situation in the midterm where the Army once more comes back and takes over the country," he said in an interview with, a website publication of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).  "We've seen this story before," said Riedel of the Brookings Institution who was a high-ranking CIA and Pentagon official having shaped US policy in South Asia in previous administrations. "This is the fourth attempt in Pakistan's history at a civilian government, he said. "Three previous attempts failed. There was a coup in 1958 led by Ayub Khan, martial law imposed by General Yahya Khan in 1969, and martial law imposed by General Zia ul-Haq in 1977, and most recently General Musharraf's coup in 1999. The track record of civilian government in Pakistan is pretty depressing. On the other hand, the track record of military dictators is also equally depressing. The country's caught in a cycle of failed civilian and military regimes. And that's a cycle which is progressively taking the country downhill." Riedel also called for putting pressure on Afghanistan to accept the border with Pakistan demarcated in 1893 by the British and get the Indians to work toward a Kashmir solution acceptable to all sides. "The problem in Kashmir has been in the doldrums for the past several years. It is now starting to boil really quickly, and when Kashmir boils, the result is Indian-Pakistani tensions that can produce war. We've seen that over and over again," the expert added. On Afghanistan, Riedel said the presence of Afghan President Hamid Karzai at President Asif Ali Zardari's swearing-in in Islamabad was a "hopeful sign." "It's a striking reversal. It would have been inconceivable that Karzai would have shown up at former President Pervez Musharraf's inauguration. The two men detested one another. It's a hopeful sign. Whether it becomes more than that, remains to be seen. It's certainly a hopeful sign", he said.