Pakistan is the most dangerous country on the planet. That’s old news. What isn’t old news — for me — is that it has been the most dangerous country for about twenty-five years. I learned this, amid a great deal of frustration, by reading Adrian Levy’s and Catherine Scott-Clark’s Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons,
Both Reagan and Bush 45 reported that Pakistan was not engaged in nuclear research and development even when there was ample intelligence to suggest — no, to prove — otherwise. Due to inter- and intra- department squabbling, the intelligence never made it to Congress.
Indeed, as some government agencies were trying to keep up with and report the nuclear development of Pakistan, other agencies slowed the investigations up — or worse. As some government agencies tried to shut down the Pakistanis’ purchase of equipment used in making centrifuges, the State Department was tipping off the various Pakistani purchasers. (167) Busts came to naught because the Pakistani purchasing agents never showed up or were long gone by the time authorities arrived.
In the meantime, Congress was pumping millions of dollars to Afghanistan through Pakistan, and providing additional direct aid to Pakistan. Significant portions of this aid was funneled to the Pakistani nuclear program. In other words, the US taxpayers financed Pakistan’s nuclear program.
Clinton was no better, and Bush 47 cozied up to the man who actively encouraged the creation of the Taliban and terrorist organizations. Bush repeatedly called Musharraf our friend and ally when he was anything but. However, Afghanistan once again trumped everything, and once again, we displayed a willful short-sightedness that is, especially in retrospect, ineffably stupid.
Just how bad was “Mush”? In 1988, Musharraf had a “tribal band of Pashtun and Sunni irregulars” reignite the Kashmir uprising. Rather than involve the army proper, Musharraf relied on the efforts of a mercenary named Osama bin Laden. Around the same time, Musharraf also had a plan to inject thousands of jihadis into Kashmir by graduates of the Markaz Dawa Al Irshad join the newly-formed Lashkar-e-Taiba. Twenty years later, Lashkar-e-Taiba would carry out an attack on Bombay, India that killed 173 people.
All the while, other intelligence agencies were warning us. Our first round of mujahideen funding in Afghanistan went so well that they eventually became the Taliban — we funded our own enemy. However, there were plenty of intelligence organs that saw this coming, and even warned America:
The joint intelligence committee in New Delhi […] presented a file of evidence to the US, warning that fundamentalist were being infiltrated into Kashmir and Musharraf was at the helm. They asked the US to consider where these fighters would go next, when they grew bored with the Kashmiri war or had been forced from the territory by the military reprisals that India was now planning. Naresh Chandra, India’s former ambassador to Washington, recalled: “The US was not interested. I was shouting and no one in the State Department or elsewhere could have cared less.”
The Clinton administration stood back. Pakistan escalated. The Islamic Republic’s strategy in Kashmir dovetailed with another of Musharraf’s policies, the promotion of the Taliban. (240)
Lastly, there’s Iraq and the question of proliferation. We went into Iraq for fear of WMDs and proliferation thereof. Supposedly, we had good intelligence. The problem is, we had better intelligence that Pakistan was proliferating like a rabbit:
- Iraq (attempted; Saddam thought it was a set-up and didn’t buy it.)
- North Korea
Pakistan was — and still is — the true danger. As the book concludes, if when there is a terrorist nuclear bombing of an American or European city, the know-how, materials, or even the device itself will be traced back to Pakistan.