Sunday, March 05, 2006

Pakistan: A Friend or a Major Nuclear Threat?

In a visit to Pakistan, Bush praised President Pervez Musharraf and recognized Pakistan again as a major ally in the 'war against terror'. It’s undeniable that General Musharraf has been very helpful in fighting the former Taliban regime of Afghanistan and in reducing Al Quaeda capabilities, and deserves much credit for his courageous stance.

That being said, Musharraf has so far failed to transform Pakistan into a stable and long term friend of the United Sates:

- Pakistan is still home to thousands of madrassas teaching poor kids a very intolerant form of Islam. Financed by another ally of the US, Saudi Arabia, these madrassas have been a fertile recruiting ground for Islamo-fascists, and, in the recent past, were the places where young afghans later known as the Taliban, were trained.

- By suppressing democratic reforms while benefiting from an unabated support from Bush, Musharraf has increased the anti-American sentiment in his country. In January 2004, a senior US expert testifying before a Senate panel, suggested that “Pakistan is probably the most anti-American country in the World right now, ranging from the radical Islamists on one side to the liberals and Westernized elites on the other side”.

- While the father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, Abdul Qadeer Khan, is widely recognized as having been the main source of nuclear technology and know-how to the worst enemies of the US, Musharraf has always been protecting him. At a time when we are trying to gather facts against Iran and to limit nuclear proliferation, such a protection is highly detrimental.

Target of many assassination attempts, Musharaf’s life is obviously at risk. And if such an attempt succeeded, we would be facing the risk of having a nuclear Pakistan be led by Islamo-fascists. With that in mind, are we really doing the right thing in Pakistan? Are we effectively transforming the local madrassas, promoting democracy, spreading pro-US sentiment, and building a back-up plan to control Pakistan’s nukes? I am afraid that we are not, but let’s hope that I am wrong.

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