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July 24, 2006

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Comments

You don't have to wear a tin hat to worry about Pakistan on yet another score: it was one of two countries whose officials undoubtedly gave financial support to some of the 9/11 hijackers. These links were papered over and never satisfactorily explained. Not only do we have to worry about a nuclear conflagration caused by Pakistan and/or its Taliban/AQ allies over there, we need to worry about it happening over here.

Understood. But why don't the Bush folk see all that too? I just don't get why that can't see the seriousness of the Pakistan situation.

The militants inside Pakistan have also tried several times to assassinate Musharraf, and may succeed someday. Who would then rule the country? Pakistan also seems the most likely country to give a bomb or nuclear materials to terrorists.

John B

That's why it'll be interesting to see if Congress manages to override Bush's approval for the F-16 sale. I think they have been fooling themselves about Pakistan's cooperation (and about Musharraf's stability) because to do otherwise, they would have 1) had to forgo Iraq, and 2) had to contribute to building the civil society of Pakistan, or 3) risk setting off a regional war in South Asia.

There are, to be fair, no easy solutions to Pakistan (though there are no easy solutions to Iran, either).

And frankly, the F-16s make good policy on one point, keeping Musharraf in power. That's the dire situation we've gotten in, though, having to arm a country that offers us limited support.

well, not only do they offer us limited support, but they actively support some folks that truly do not have our best interests in mind.
They are playing a wicked double game, the Pakistanis...

John B

I don't blame Musharraf for it--it's a wicked game, but it's also a very delicate one. But that doesn't mean we should ignore the game he's playing.

How big is the Shia-Sunni conflict, outside Iraq? I don't know the history/culture, other than Iran had a recent revolution and the others didn't. I've read that Pakistan has had an ongoing military relationship with the Saudi's (probably including Khan, like Iran) and that Pakistan is 80% Sunni - thus all the Saudi madrassas. Maybe it's a more or less permanent antagonism like India and Pakistan, China and Taiwan, North and Sounth Korea, France and England :) ?

Pakistan's nuclear weapons and its nuclear weapons program are the most dangerous weapons in the world today!

Pakistan is fundamentally an unstable country. Post-colonialism it has had numerous military coups and several military dictatorships. The prior military dictator Gen. Haq effectively created an Islamic state and was the epicenter for the funding and arming of the jihadists when they were our friends fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan. Billions of dollars of US taxpayer funds and arms were funneled by the CIA through Pakistani intelligence ISI to the jihadists.

Post-Soviet occupation of Afghanistan as that country fell into a warlord driven civil war, the ISI to perpetuate Pakistani influence created the Taliban from Afghani's in Islamic schools in Pakistan. They provided the support for the Taliban to methodically takeover Afghanistan. The ISI has also continued to support and provide sanctuary to other jihadists that continue terrorist attacks in India. The ISI are deeply sympathetic to the jihadists. The AQ Khan nuclear weapons trading network also have deep links with the ISI. Part of the deal with Musharraf was that he was allowed to keep the tentacles of the AQ Khan network under wraps lest the complicity of the ISI and Pakistani military was exposed for his support of the Cheneyites military and intelligence activities.

Musharraf is playing both sides. On one side placating the jihadists on the other side providing the Cheneyites AQ suspects and military cooperation. If there is another coup and jihadist sympathisers in the ISI and military have more influence, these nuclear weapons and weapons technology could get into the wrong hands.

As usual our corporate media and political elite in both parties don't get the full story out.

ab initio, I agree with your analysis, but would add one additional factor, Pakistan since at least the 1970's has been in the process of disintegrating as a national state. Two states, Baluchistan and NWFP have been in a low level civil war with Islamabad, with much of this being about tribal societies unwilling to give up traditional power, in conflict with the center, and with the more developed and less tribal Punjab and Sind. And of course the Baluch and the NWFP tribes are closely related to the Afghani tribes across the border. All of these relate to the central government in both Pakistan and Afghanistan along the principle that anything that reduces the impact of the central government on the tribes is something to be sought and protected. Any strong government in Kabul or Islamabad is to be resisted.

Bush was very ham-handed in the way he proposed giving Nuclear assistance to India -- and right now that is the root of the problem. As I understand the Bush offer, he intended to offer India modern technology that would make its nuclear industry safer (much needed, India could easily have a Chernobyl) and he wanted to promote Nuclear Power as an electrical energy source so as to help resolve India's profound need for electrical generating capacity. India has a patchwork of Russian, French and homemade Nuclear stations -- much in need of safety upgrades. They have no waste disposal system except to pour the stuff into desert waste ground. Why he didn't couple that offer with similar technical assistance to Pakistan, I don't know -- just stupidity probably. Moreover he should have coupled it with tough negotiations on control and communications between the two countries (a working hotline.) I suspect the F-16 offer is a patch-up of the problems caused. Back during the winter of 2001 -- when both countries mobilized, India was able to get long term leases on Russian Backfire Bombers (we remember those) and technical assistance to build nuclear subs, thus giving India the same sort of triad the US and Soviets maintained during the Cold War. India was allowed to reverse engineer the Backfire -- improve it, and put it into inventory, after which the leased planes would return to Russia.

Since the train bombing in Mumbia two weeks ago, the Indian Press has been fascinating. They are doing all they can to prevent Muslim-Hindu communal violence, while day by day it becomes more apparent that Pakistani based insurgents were responsible. Not responding directly in kind is a high risk strategy for India, but necessary.

"Since the train bombing in Mumbia two weeks ago, ...... it becomes more apparent that Pakistani based insurgents were responsible. Not responding directly in kind is a high risk strategy for India, but necessary."

Sara why do you think the Indians are exercising restraint? Do you believe it has to do with concern about an escalation that could potentially lead to use of nuclear weapons? Pakistan does not have a "no first use" policy which India has. What was the real strategy behind the US nuclear technology deal with India? What did the Indians give up - military cooperation, basing rights, surveillance rights? I know the reported rationale is that the Indians open up their civilian nuclear program to an inspections regime. But half their nuclear reactors have been classified as military or dual use and will not be open to IAEA.

What is interesting is that Musharaff's coup came as a result of a Pakistani military incursion into India that got seriously escalated and Clinton then pressured the then Pakistani prime minister to withdraw Pakistani forces from Indian territory. Musharraf as military chief was apparently behind that.

The way I look at it of all the post-colonial countries India has had a vigorous domestic political environment with several democratic changes of political power as a result of elections. It's unlikely India will be a source of nuclear proliferation or a failed state.

Pakistan on the other hand is just another coup away from jihadist control of a large and growing nuclear arsenal and technology. And there is no evidence that the AQ Khan network was fully disbanded. I have also read reports that the resurgence of the Taliban may have something to do with support of Pakistani intelligence. For some inexplicable reason the Pakistani threat is downplayed.

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