Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Problem With Pakistan

Pakistan is an absolute mess. It is unstable. It has lawless areas that harbor terrorists. It has an intelligence agency that has odd ties to the Taliban, terrorists, and who knows what else. It also is a nuclear power. One thing I supported Prez O on was his renaming of the Afgan situation to the Afpak theater. He's playing Hamlet with Afpak now & going soft compared to his campaign bombast, but at least announcing it as one linked theater was good (even if we already were using drones in Pakistan in 07-08). Pakistan is important, and our press would do everyone a service to explain its geopolitical importance.

Pakistan was once a secular nation where women could wear jeans, the mosques were separated from the government, and they had beef with India. They still have beef with India, but everything else has changed. Read these two books and you learn why. Their dictator turned president Zia ushered in Islamic (sharia) law and officially Islamified much of their society. The Soviet invasion of Afganistan created the call to jihad for Arabs and other Muslims. Their entry point into Afganistan was Pakistan. These Arabs poured into border towns, created schools that only taught the Koran, and surprise surprise left a social infrastructure of rabid Muslims in a former British colony. The inclusion of Sharia courts rather than the nice Brit system suddenly infused by many more devoted Muslims in the nation lead to instability in the legal system. This is not good for any nation. The change in Pakistan was not overnight and cannot be blamed on one thing.

Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, Pakistan's leaders lied to the US (directly to our Presidents) about their drive for a nuclear weapon. The finally tested one in 1998. This was all started in reaction to India's nuclear ambitions, which goes back to the "beef with India" problem. This all goes back to the British leaving India and splitting it into Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan (not really smart). They have the weapons, they have the know how, and they have radioactive material. It's not just 'the bomb' that is a danger, but the idea fo radioactive material which could easily be slapped into a normal explosive device to create a dirty bomb. Well placed dirty bombs could create panic in high human traffic areas. These are the things to strategize for when considering Al Qaeda's desires and potential moves. The Pakistani Intelligence agency (ISI) could transfer material or just sympathetic scientists and government officials. This is why Al Qaeda and the Taliban's forays into seizing government and army buildings in Pakistan is a big deal. This is why countries looking to protect their people should be alarmed and active in stabilizing Pakistan.

This is also why it would help Prez O and our interests to reach out to India. While Pakistan could create a problem for us through transfers of information and material to terrorists, Pakistan is a direct threat to India. India is also a billion person, multiethnic democracy that is a growing economic power hoping to increase its influence on the world stage. God forbid we buddy up with them. Using regional powers to assist us in our goals is an effective tool. When those regional powers are democratic countries that we have had good relations with for 10 years is even better. This is important as a stable Pakistan means a tool to use against terrorists. Preventing terrorist playgrounds and terrorist friendly nations from popping up should be a national security priority. Let's hope Hamlet and the gang don't dwaddle too long and hurt us all.

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