Saturday, November 17, 2007

We're Getting All Mushie About Pakistan Again

It has to be tough to be Pervez Musharraf. He seems to live in a world where people are either his avowed enemies or just tolerate him, sort of.

One thing about the guy is that he gets everybody nervous, really nervous at the first sign of instability in his administration. The fact is, he's always made us nervous. Six years ago, on November 5, 2001, Gwynne Dyer explained why:

"...General Richard Meyers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Sunday that he is 'concerned' about Pakistan's stability and the safety of its nuclear arsenal. The Indian government said nothing at all, but you can guess what it is thinking.

It is thinking that if Pakistan should fall into the hands of Islamic fundamentalists as the result of a revolt against Musharraf, most probably from within his own armed forces, then India will have to 'preempt' - destroy Pakistan's nuclear weapons on the ground before it can launch them - within the first hours after a new regime comes to power in Islamabad. And Washington, of course, is thinking exactly the same thing.

Seymore Hersh has just published a report in the New Yorker magazine, strenuously denied by the Pentagon (but then it would deny it, wouldn't it?) that the United States already has a secret plan to destroy Pakistan's nuclear weapons immediately if they seem likely to fall into fundamentalist hands.

This is insanely dangerous stuff even if it is true, as every one assumes, that the preemptive attack would be carried out using only conventional, not nuclear weapons. Pakistanis in all walks of life... ...see their nuclear weapons as their last and maybe their only safeguard against far more powerful India.

A bungled or partial preemption would probably end with the new regime in Pakistan launching its [remaining] nuclear weapons ...while it still could. The targets could be Indian nuclear bases and cities, or even US troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

How real is the danger? It's not so much the civilian fundamentalists demonstrating against the West in the streets who pose the danger, but the generation of fundamentalist officers, brought into the armed forces by the late General (and President) Zia ul-Haq in the 1980s, who have now risen to command key army formations. Together with many senior officers of Inter-Service Intelligence - [the agency] that basically created the Taliban, ...they comprise a large fundamentalist presence inside the only Pakistani institution that really works."

And that's why we're getting all Mushie about Paksitan again because, in the six years since Dyer penned this particular column, things there haven't gotten a bit better.

No comments: