Skip to comments.Pakistan's nuclear history worries insiders
Posted on 11/06/2007 5:19:20 PM PST by F15Eagle
It is the most disturbing element in the mix that makes Pakistan the most dangerous country in the world: its stockpile of at least 30 and perhaps as many as 45 nuclear weapons. And it is always the element that captures the most attention from US intelligence officials.
The United States has essentially let Pakistans nuclear arsenal grow over the past three decades, as succeeding governments in Islamabad have supported US policies in neighboring Afghanistan, first in thwarting the Soviet occupation and then in driving out the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Still, the fear is that in the chaos that regularly afflicts Pakistan, al-Qaeda or other jihadis will somehow gain control of one of the weapons, some of the highly enriched uranium that forms the core of a bomb or the technology to make a bomb -- or even gain control of the government.
Its always been easier to steal a government in Pakistan than to steal a bomb, said one former senior US intelligence official.
It is not an abstract concern, one driven by war game scenarios. There have been two incidents in the past 20 years that call into question who controls the weapons, controls the technology.
Indeed, the incidents offer chilling precedents to what could happen now in a chaotic Pakistan. One is what Benazir Bhutto called a nuclear coup in 1990, while the other is knowledge from intelligence that al-Qaedas top leaders, including Osama bin Laden, met with Pakistani nuclear scientists in Afghanistan just before September 11 and offered the terrorist group advice on how to build a crude nuclear device.
For better or worse, the US is confident that it knows where the Pakistani nuclear arsenal is located and that it is secure. ... US secretly provided ... codes that prohibit unauthorized detonation.
(Excerpt) Read more at msnbc.msn.com ...
There was one author on John Bachelor the other night that claimed the Pakistan nuclear test in the 70s was actually a test for the North Koreans.
Yeah. We've let Iran's and North Korea's nuclear programs grow as well. Why we didn't snap our fingers and stop them I just don't know.
Pakistan didn’t get nukes until the 1980s or 1990s IIRC- the tests in the 1970s were done by India.
Yeah I don’t know what he expected us to do. We weren’t at war with them. Of course, Dr. Khan could have had an “accident”. We now see the fruits of his work in NK and Iran.
Way too expensive when a semi truck loaded with NH3/fuel oil yields about the same.
A few outsiders are worried as well.
We have a winner!
Thus the migration from Iraq to Pakistan by Al Qeda.
28 May 1998: Pakistan detonates five nuclear devices. Pakistan claimed that the five nuclear tests measured up to 5.0 on the Richter scale, with a reported yield of up to 40 KT (equivalent TNT)
That’s enough to level much of the downtown a medium-sized city I should think. 2-1/2 to 5+ times the size of the Hiroshima yield.
And the coup by Mushy was only about a year later. That’s pretty interesting. I remember when in happened in 1999 (at least I think that’s correct).
Welll, that’s as a direct result of India’s, so the U.S. would have had to have done something about India — which would make it all the harder (to do something about two countries at the same time). That wouldn’t have gone anywhere.
At any rate, what the U.S. better not be doing is criticizing Musharraf for his suspension of the democratic government or else the U.S. is going to find a bunch of al Qaeda people in charge of the nukes over there...
Yes I think we have to support Mushy. I don’t see any other choice.
It’s the post-Mushy world that really, really concerns me.
Uber-jihadist gets access, finds some pro-Osama types in Pak Army sympathizers, places it in a cargo vessel and sails it into New York’s harbor.
Here’s an interesting article that came by e-mail to me, from Stratfor ( http://www.stratfor.com/ ).
PAKISTAN AND ITS ARMY
By George Friedman
Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency over the weekend, precipitating a wave of arrests, the suspension of certain media operations and the intermittent disruption of communications in and out of Pakistan. As expected, protests erupted throughout Pakistan by Nov. 5, with clashes between protesting lawyers and police reported in Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad and several other cities. Thus far, however, the army appears to be responding to Musharraf’s commands.
The primary issue, as Musharraf framed it, was the Pakistani Supreme Court’s decision to release about 60 people the state had charged with terrorism. Musharraf’s argument was that the court’s action makes the fight against Islamist extremism impossible and that the judiciary overstepped its bounds by urging that the civil rights of the accused be protected.
Musharraf’s critics, including the opposition’s top leader, former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, argued that Musharraf was using the Supreme Court issue to protect his own position in the government, avoid leaving the army as promised and put off elections. In short, he is being accused of staging a personal coup under the guise of a state of emergency.
Whether Musharraf himself survives is not a historically significant issue. What is significant is whether Pakistan will fall into internal chaos or civil war, or fragment into smaller states. We must consider what that would mean, but first we must examine Pakistan’s underlying dilemma — a set of contradictions rooted in Pakistani history.
When the British conquered the Indian subcontinent, they essentially occupied the lowlands and pushed their frontier into the mountains surrounding the subcontinent — the point from which a relatively small British force, augmented by local recruits, could hold against any external threat. The eastern line ran through the hills that separated Bengal from Burma. The northern line ran through the Himalayas that separate China from the subcontinent. The western line ran along the mountains that separated British India from Afghanistan and Iran.
This lineation — which represented not a political settlement but rather a defensive position selected for military reasons — remained vague, driven by shifting tactical decisions designed to secure a physical entity, the subcontinent. The Britons were fairly indifferent to the political realities inside the line. The British Raj, then, was a wild jumble of states, languages, religions and ethnic groups, which the Britons were quite content to play against one another as part of their grand strategy in India. As long as the British could impose an artificial, internal order, the general concept of India worked. But as the British Empire collapsed after World War II, the region had to find its own balance.
Mahatma Gandhi envisioned post-British India as being a multinational, multireligious country within the borders that then existed — meaning that India’s Muslims would live inside a predominantly Hindu country. When they objected, the result was both a partition of the country and a transfer of populations. The Muslim part of India, including the eastern Muslim region, became modern Pakistan. The eastern region gained independence as Bangladesh following a 1971 war between India and Pakistan.
Pakistan, however, was not a historic name for the region. Rather, reflective of the deeply divided Muslims themselves, the name is an acronym that derives, in part, from the five ethnic groups that made up western, Muslim India: Punjabis, Afghans, Kashmiris, Sindhis and Balochis.
The Punjabis are the major ethnic group, making up just under half of the population, though none of these groups is entirely in Pakistan. Balochis also are in Iran, Pashtuns also in Afghanistan and Punjabis also in India. In fact, as a result of the war in Afghanistan more than a quarter century ago, massive numbers of Pashtuns have crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan — though many consider themselves to be moving within Pashtun territory rather than crossing a foreign border.
Geographically, it is important to think of Pakistan in two parts. There is the Indus River Valley, where the bulk of the population lives, and then there are the mountainous regions, whose ethnic groups are deeply divided, difficult for the central government to control and generally conservative, preferring tradition to modernization. The relative isolation and the difficult existence in mountainous regions seem to create this kind of culture around the world.
Pakistan, therefore, is a compendium of divisions. The British withdrawal created a state called Pakistan, but no nation by that name. What bound its residents together was the Muslim faith — albeit one that had many forms. As in India — indeed, as in the Muslim world at the time of Pakistan’s founding — there existed a strong secularist movement that focused on economic development and cultural modernization more than on traditional Islamic values. This secularist tendency had two roots: one in the British education of many of the Pakistani elite and the second in Turkish founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who pioneered secularism in the Islamic world.
Pakistan, therefore, began as a state in crisis. What remained of British rule was a parliamentary democracy that might have worked in a relatively unified nation — not one that was split along ethnic lines and also along the great divide of the 20th century: secular versus religious. Hence, the parliamentary system broke down early on — about four years after Pakistan’s creation in 1947. British-trained civilian bureaucrats ran the country with the help of the army until 1958, when the army booted out the bureaucrats and took over.
Therefore, if Pakistan was a state trying to create a nation, then the primary instrument of the state was the army. This is not uniquely Pakistani by any means, nor is it unprincipled. The point that Ataturk made — one that was championed in the Arab world by Egypt’s Gamal Abdul Nasser and in Iran by Reza Pahlavi — was that the creation of a modern state in a traditional and divided nation required a modern army as the facilitator. An army, in the modern sense, is by definition technocratic and disciplined. The army, rather than simply an instrument of the state, therefore, becomes the guarantor of the state. In this line of thinking, a military coup can preserve a constitution against anti-constitutional traditionalists. If the idea of a military coup as a guarantor of constitutional integrity seems difficult to fathom, then consider the complexities involved in creating a modern constitutional regime in a traditional society.
Although the British tradition of parliamentary government fell apart in Pakistan, one institution the Britons left behind grew stronger: the Pakistani army. The army — along with India’s army — was forged by the British and modeled on their army. It was perhaps the most modern institution in both countries, and the best organized and effective instrument of the state. As long as the army remained united and loyal to the concept of Pakistan, the centrifugal forces could not tear the country apart.
Musharraf’s behavior must be viewed in this context. Pakistan is a country that not only is deeply divided, but also has the real capacity to tear itself apart. It is losing control of the mountainous regions to the indigenous tribes. The army is the only institution that transcends all of these ethnic differences and has the potential to restore order in the mountain regions and maintain state control elsewhere.
Musharraf’s coup in 1999, which followed a series of military intrusions, as well as attempts at secular democratic rule, was designed to preserve Pakistan as a united country. That is why Musharraf insisted on continuing to wear the uniform of an army general. To remove the uniform and rule simply as a civilian might make sense to an outsider, but inside of Pakistan that uniform represents the unity of the state and the army — and in Musharraf’s view, that unity is what holds the country together.
Of course the problem is that the army, in the long run, reflects the country. The army has significant pockets of radical Islamist beliefs, while Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the military’s intelligence branch, in particular is filled with Taliban sympathizers. (After all, the ISI was assigned to support the mujahideen fighting the Soviets in the 1980s, and the ISI and other parts of the army absorbed the ideology). Musharraf has had to walk a tightrope between U.S. demands that he crack down on his own army and his desire to preserve his regime — and has never been able to satisfy either side fully.
It is not clear whether he has fallen off the tightrope. Whatever he does, as long as the army remains united and he controls the corps commanders, he will remain in power. Even if the corps commanders — the real electors of Pakistan — get tired of him and replace him with another military leader, Pakistan would remain in pretty much the same position it is in now.
In simple terms, the real question is this: Will the army split? Put more broadly, will some generals simply stop taking orders from Pakistan’s General Headquarters and side with the Islamists? Will others side with Bhutto? Will ethnic disagreements run so deep that the Indus River Valley becomes the arena for a civil war? That is what instability in Pakistan would look like. It is not a question of civilian institutions, elections or any of the things we associate with civil society. The key question on Pakistan is whether the army stays united.
In our view, the senior commanders will remain united because they have far more to lose if they fracture. Their positions depend on a united army and a unified chain of command — the one British legacy that continues to function in Pakistan.
There are two signs to look for: severe internal dissent among the senior generals or a series of mutinies by subordinate units. Either of these would raise serious questions as to the future of Pakistan. Whether Musharraf survives or falls and whether he is replaced by a civilian leader are actually secondary questions. In Pakistan, the fundamental issue is the unity of the army.
At some point, there will be a showdown among the various groups. That moment might be now, though we doubt it. As long as the generals are united and the troops remain under control, the existence of the regime is guaranteed — and in some sense the army will remain the regime. Under these conditions, with or without Musharraf, with or without democracy, Pakistan will survive.
Just about anything that comes from the MSM is suspect!
The weather used to be exempt... but with Global Warming becoming the Left's new Holy Gospel, even the daily forecast is tainted by the MSM--
This is also the case in Latin America, where junta formation is usually the act of an exasperated army commandanture in response to political paralysis in a nominally democratic state immobilized by the typically Latin obduracy, enmities and pretensions of dynastic and access-capitalistic personalismo politics. (This political style goes all the way back to the Roman Republic.)
Good post, thanks.
Did anyone see the path for terrorists to get into the USA. It is not rocket science - Cuba -> Mexico -> Short drive up and you are across the border from Tijuana and points beyond that with no checks.
Our leaders will get us killed. Any country that does not secure its borders cannot survive.
Yeah the border situation is just outrageous in the wake of 9/11. There’s no telling how many sleepers came across undetected. Obviously, many were already here before 9/11.
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