Pakistan presents a problem
by Salim Mansur
One of the last reports to reach the desk of former president George W. Bush was titled World At Risk. This was the report of the U.S. Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation and Terrorism headed by former senators Bob Graham (Democrat) and Jim Talent (Republican).
The report examined the proliferation of two categories of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) – nuclear and biological – for posing the greatest peril to democracies. While the commission's mandate was analyzing the global situation, it found itself drawn to focus on Pakistan.
The report states, "Were one to map terrorism and weapons of mass destruction today, all roads would intersect in Pakistan." This finding should not be of surprise to anyone attentive to the situation in the greater Middle East and South Asia that has evolved at least since the 1979 Islamic revolution in Iran.
The immense threat to the West and its allies emanating from this region, and specifically from Pakistan, has been long in coming, and the warning signs were there in abundance.
In the summer of 1988 I travelled across the subcontinent from Sri Lanka to Nepal. It was a coincidence that I arrived at Islamabad, Pakistan 's capital, shortly after President Zia ul-Haq died in a mysterious plane crash. He was the military dictator who seized power in July 1977 from Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto and had him hanged.
Haq made Pakistan a front-line state in the war against the former Soviet Union following its invasion and occupation of Afghanistan in December 1979. Before his fiery death Haq had succeeded in assisting the defeat of the Communist giant by Afghan "mujahideen" or freedom fighters equipped with American-provided weapons supplied through Pakistan.
While staying in Islamabad I got to meet and hear opinions of many Pakistanis. The most revealing were, as I recall, in a seminar at a strategic studies think tank in which a retired military general and some academics participated, reflecting on the gains Pakistan had made in the Afghan war.
The panel members were exultant about Haq's farsightedness.
Afghanistan had emerged as a land bridge for Pakistan to Central Asia, and as the strategic rear in its unremitting confrontation with Hindu-majority India over Kashmir.
The Afghan war was also a boon for Pakistan to reverse its humiliating defeat of 1971 in former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), and seemingly unify the country behind Haq's plans for an Islamic order.
During Haq's tenure there was well-organized push for the Islamization of Pakistan. The unreformed shariah (Islamic laws) was made part of the constitution, and a federal shariah court established to deliver harsh Islamic penalty as practised in Saudi Arabia.
We know following post 9/11 disclosures how far Pakistan had proceeded at the time of Haq's death in its quest for nuclear arms. Hence, the present shape of things – an Islamized nuclear weapons state with mercenary Islamist terrorists at its bidding – was in place at the end of the Afghan war against Moscow 's communist rulers.
The fallout from 9/11 required the Pakistani elite under Gen. Pervez Musharraf to engage in elaborate deception with an enraged America. This deception continues since the same elite cannot disown its making of Pakistan into the original Taliban country before anyone in the West learned about Taliban warriors of Afghanistan.