Pakistan's Political Turmoil Hurts U.S.

image5888999x.jpg
Pakistan's Army troops rush to take position near the site of a suicide attack in Rawalpindi, Pakistan on Friday, Dec. 4, 2009. At least two militants stormed a mosque close to Pakistan's army headquarters during Friday prayers, firing and throwing grenades before blowing themselves up in an attack that killed dozens of people, officials said.
AP Photo/Anjum Naveed

It looks like five American men arrested in Pakistan won't be coming home any time soon. Pakistani police said Friday they plan to pursue terrorism charges against them. The five are Muslims from the Washington, DC area picked up in central Pakistan this month after allegedly trying to contact al Qaeda.

While those jailed Americans ponder their future, the future of Pakistan itself hangs in the balance. Government corruption and terrorist attacks have shaken that fragile country even as the U.S. presses for help in its critical campaign against al Qaeda as CBS News correspondent Terry McCarthy reports from Islamabad.

Pakistan is in turmoil. Security cameras this week caught a suicide bomber at the moment when he killed three people in Peshawar. It was the seventh bombing in the city in the past two months.

But in the capital Islamabad, it was a political bombshell that dominated the news. A Supreme Court decision has left over 150 politicians - including four cabinet ministers - open to investigation on corruption charges.

Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar is on the list. He says he is innocent. He was meant to go on an official visit to China last week, but was prevented from leaving the country.

The Chinese "were not too happy," Mukhtar said.

The political crisis comes at the worst possible time for the United States, which needs Pakistan's help now more than ever as it pours more troops into neighboring Afghanistan.

60 Minutes Sunday, 7 p.m.: An Ex-CIA Operative Warns of New
Terror Attacks on the United States and Talks about
the Importance of Pakistan in the Fight against al Qaeda.

The top priority for the U.S. is more assistance in attacking Taliban and al Qaeda safe havens inside Pakistani territory, particularly with unmanned drone aircraft. But these attacks are causing an increase in anti-Americanism across Pakistan.

"Some of the work the drones have done is very good," said Pakistani Gen. Mahmud Ali Durrani, a former ambassador to the United States. "They have killed some bad guys. Your intelligence is good … But it is highly unpopular with the people of Pakistan. You are winning a battle but losing a war."

The stakes are high for both the U.S. and Pakistan.

"I think it is a very critical period," Durrani said. "We have to get over this. If we don't get over this level of mistrust between the two countries and the two governments we will have serious problems."

For the U.S., the problem is a Pakistani government preoccupied with fighting itself - not the Taliban.