Welcome back to my continuing look at Afghanistan and Pakistan. I want to turn my attention towards Pakistan. Much of my base of thinking for this post comes from two books Descent into Chaos by Ahmed Rashid and Deception by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott Clark. It’s an open question: Why should we trust these guys? Both books reveal a Pakistan that has half-truthed and lied to the United States for decades, sliding between military and civilian rule, though truth be told the military has often hung over the civilian leadership like a weighty bag of cement, meaning that the military remained an unquestionably strong institution even as civilian leaders try to relegate it to the shadows. Even when a so called “friendly” general is in charge in Pakistan, American requests for assistance in both the War on Terror and preventing rouge states like North Korea from getting nuclear weapons are greeted with Western friendly rhetoric in public as the ISI supports Al Qaeda and various other groups that operate in the lawless Afghanistan-Pakistan border region.
Our “friend” can’t crack down too hard on this activity because they control the guns and he can be assassinated or driven from power by coup, so he offers rather cosmetic measures hoping to appease the West, with a wink to his generals who know that nothing really changes. The most distressing incident occurred during the 2002 State of the Union address when George W. Bush declared Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and Syria members of an Axis of Evil that needed to be stopped from acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Bush made these statements as the infamous A.Q. Khan- Pakistani nuclear scientist who stole most of the material used to create Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program from Europe, had or was preparing to sell nuclear plans and materials to North Korea and possibly Iran. A.Q. Khan meanwhile for such deeds was allowed to slip into a quiet retirement with a vaguely worded apology airing on Pakistani television, still a hero figure for many Pakistanis.
The United States was no dream in the development of Pakistan’s nuclear program every President from Carter through Bush II was aware of Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions, spurred by its’ series of wars of with India. They where also handed intelligence that AQ Khan and the Pakistani nuclear establishment where engaging in nefarious deals with Iran and North Korea, Libya came calling at one point as well, but didn’t do much about it because Pakistan was vital to the security interests of the United States…first providing a valuable base for operations during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan during the 1980’s and following September 11th 2001. That’s why we have to trust these guys its’ in our security interests, so what if they sell nuclear secrets to rouge states and support the very people who want to kill us? As long as our leaders turn a blind eye to such behavior, how can we expect anything to change?