The West Fears a Nuclear Iran, What about a Already Nuclear Pakistan
The Dangers in Pakistan
The refrain all over Israel and the west is that ‘we must prevent Iran from going nuclear’. The fears may or may not be unfounded, but the dread is real as there is a general perception that Iran may nuke Israel and later on the USA (If it develops the capability).
Nuclear Armed Pakistan
However, it surprises me that Israel and the USA are not that much concerned about another Muslim state which is already nuclear. The danger of a nuclear-armed Pakistan is much more than Iran. It must be remembered that Pakistan went nuclear to match India. But India is 5 times the size of Pakistan with a much a much more advanced industrial base and a GDP that is 10 times of Pakistan. The Indian Rupee has double the value in the international monetary market. In addition, India is a practicing democracy for 6 decades with an armed force that is the third largest in the world. So nuclear or no nuclear Pakistan cannot claim parity with India.
But the danger, by contrast, is that Pakistan is extremely unstable. During the last 6 decades of Independence, it has faced 5 military coups and 2 of its civilian prime ministers were hanged or assassinated. Pakistan as a matter of state policy also started terrorist movements with the philosophy to ‘bleed India with 100 cuts’. In addition, significant segments of the armed forces were indoctrinated with extremist Islamic thought.
Riding the Tiger
But as we all know those that ride the tiger are eaten by the tiger. Thus the terror groups being nurtured by the Pakistan army turned on their own mentor. The Pakistan Taliban and al Qaeda decided that the present Pakistan regime is to be replaced with an Islamic regime and the rule of the law should be the Shariat. Thus a massive terrorist movement is on in Pakistan to overthrow the present dispensation. These terror groups have also made the USA their enemy number one and have made no secret of their desire to lay hands on the Pakistan nuclear arsenal, which at present consists of about 35-40 warheads.
The danger of these warheads falling into the hands of these terror groups is real as the common soldier and seaman are greatly influenced by Islamic and Jihad rhetoric. This recently resulted even in the Pakistan Naval base at Karachi being infiltrated by extremist Muslim groups with the help of seamen of the Pakistan navy resulting in the destruction of naval planes and hostages and killings.
Right from Islamabad to Lahore and Karachi not forgetting the volatile Federal Administered tribal territory (FATA) in the North West the Islamic insurgents are waging a war on the Pakistan state. It will be interesting to know that this has resulted in the largest number of killings of political leaders and common citizens anywhere in the world due to terrorist activity. Even the political leaders are not safe as is evidenced by the killing of the Punjab governor by his own bodyguard.
Not much is known in Pakistan as to who in real terms controls the nuclear button. We are also not clear as to how to secure the Pakistan Nuclear warheads are with a part of the soldiery itself suspect and sympathizing with extremist philosophy. Many senior Pak officers of their army have been killed and it should not be forgotten that the previous President of Pakistan General Mushraff faced 3 assassination attempts by the Pakistan Taliban. The same people also assassinated the moderate Benazir Bhutto after a public rally.
Bhutto and the Bomb
Though the Pakistan leadership has made no bellicose statements, it should not be forgotten that ZA Bhutto (The hanged ex-premier) always talked of the Pakistan nuclear bombs as ‘Islamic bomb”. The real danger is of even 1 or 2 warheads falling in the hands of the Taliban or al Qaeda. The west must be alive to this situation, as it is not in the realm of fantasy. The situation in Pakistan is extremely volatile and Israel and the USA may have an ogre in their backyard. Once this happens the nuclear weapons of Iran will be a child's play.