Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are already under American control even as analysts are working themselves into a lather on the subject, a well-regarded intelligence journal has said.
In a stunning disclosure certain to stir up things in Washington’s (and in Islamabad and New Delhi’s) strategic community, the journal Stratfor reported on Monday that the "United States delivered a very clear ultimatum to Musharraf in the wake of 9/11: Unless Pakistan allowed US forces to take control of Pakistani nuclear facilities, the United States would be left with no choice but to destroy those facilities, possibly with India’s help."
"This was a fait accompli that Musharraf, for credibility reasons, had every reason to cover up and pretend never happened, and Washington was fully willing to keep things quiet," the journal, which is widely read among the intelligence community, said.
The Stratfor commentary came in response to an earlier New York Times story that reported that the Bush administration had spent around $100 million to help Pakistan safeguard its nuclear weapons, but left it unclear if Washington has a handle on the arsenal.
Over the past fortnight, even since the crisis in Pakistan broke and eclipsed every other geopolitical story, including Iraq, US officials and analysts have been speaking in different voices on the subject of a jihadi takeover of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
Some officials have expressed deep concern at the possibility and suggested US is ready with contingency plans to defang Pakistan of its nuclear weapons, while others have tried to assuage Islamabad by saying they believe the country’s military rulers have good custodial control over their crown jewels….
Pakistans President General Pervez Musharraf declared a state of emergency on November 3rd after the Pakistani Supreme Court indicated it would overturn the results of an illegitimate election that would have extended Musharrafs term as president. Musharraf quickly fired the Supreme Court justices who planned to rule against him. And his declaration of emergency attacked the entire population of Pakistan by suspending fundamental constitutional rights to life and liberty, freedom of speech, assembly and association, and equal protection of the law.
As a result of Musharrafs action, Pakistani Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry is being held under house arrest, and over 2500 lawyers in different parts of Pakistan have been detained. The detainees include the President of the Supreme Court Bar Association and officials of the Democratic Lawyers Association of Pakistan. The government also ordered that journalists who brought ridicule or disrepute to Musharraf could face three years in prison.
The real motivation for Musharrafs declared emergency is not to defend the country against Islamic extremists, as he claims, but to maintain Musharraf in power. He acted to prevent public protests that lawyers and political parties were organizing. And his scheme is working. Musharrafs new brand-new, hand-picked Supreme Court ruled on Monday that Musharraf can remain in power for five more years.
Meanwhile, the Bush Administration is scurrying around in damage control mode. Musharrafs actions would be very embarrassing for Bush if Bush were the type of guy to get embarrassed. After all, Bush has been claiming for the past several years that he wants to spread democracy throughout the Islamic world. Somehow, Musharrafs declared state of emergency, followed by mass arrests of his political opponents, doesnt seem very democratic….
Bush claims that Musharraf is an indispensable ally in his war against terror, and that money sent to Pakistan supports that goal. It appears from my vantage point, though, that Musharraf is playing Bush for a fool. Musharraf tells Bush he will help destroy the Taliban. However, Pakistani Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy wrote in the November 18 Los Angeles Times that some people in Pakistan believe Musharraf is secretly supporting the Taliban as a means for countering Indian influence. Moreover, if Musharraf wants to regain and maintain support of the Pakistani people, he will continue to support the Taliban. Hoodbhoy also wrote, Most Pakistanis see the [Taliban] as Americas enemy, not their own. The Taliban is perceived as the only group standing up against the unwelcome American presence in the region. According to Hoodbhoy, For more than 25 years, the army has nurtured Islamist radicals as proxy warriors for covert operations on Pakistans borders in Kashmir and Afghanistan.…