Nuke Outlaw as Pakistan's President? Floods and Fighters Force New Realities beyond U.S. Control

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), September 21, 2010 | Go to article overview

Nuke Outlaw as Pakistan's President? Floods and Fighters Force New Realities beyond U.S. Control


Byline: Arnaud de Borchgrave, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Pakistan's nuclear weapons renegade, who sold nuclear secrets to America's enemies (Iran, North Korea and Libya) and spent the best part of the last decade under house arrest, is still Pakistan's most popular man. Two weeks ago, Abdul Qadeer Khan, now a free man, was a guest on ARY, one of Pakistan's most popular TV channels, with a strong anti-U.S. bias. A frequent guest on ARY is another notorious anti-American, Gen. Hamid Gul, long retired as a former Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI) chief and self-appointed adviser to Pakistan's anti-U.S. Islamist political parties. Not only did he get 90 minutes of airtime, but Mr. Khan talked openly of when he might be president or prime minister, enough to give official Washington conniption fits.

The flood-ravaged country of 180 million has been set back by five to 10 years by the worst disaster in the country's 63-year history, decimating its buffalo herd of about 26 million, which produced about 70 percent of the country's milk, a staple diet for newborns and the country's youth.

Entire villages, along with flimsy dwellings, cars, trucks, livestock, bridges and roads were washed away, leaving a gooey mud over an area the size of England. For a truly biblical catastrophe, the loss in lives was small: 1,600. But 6 million are in desperate need of food. And 3 million children are at risk from waterborne diseases.

About 16 million people lost their meager livelihoods, and estimates of damages ranged from $20 billion to $40 billion. Total U.S. aid is $7.5 billion over five years. As Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton told her opposite number in Islamabad, There is acute donor fatigue In Congress.

Pakistan's civilian government never got its act together for flood relief, and the army had to cut down drastically on its operations against the Taliban on the Afghan border. One estimate put the number of soldiers withdrawn from the tribal areas at 60,000, leaving 67,000 to cope with the Taliban's privileged sanctuaries in FATA, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Afghanistan. The only one crowing about victory was the reclusive Taliban chief Mullah Mohammed Omar, still in hiding after nine years of guerrilla warfare.

In a message read out in mosques throughout Afghanistan to mark the celebration of Eid ul-Fitr, the official end of the monthlong Ramadan fast, Mullah Omar said, The strategists behind the nine-year war now realize they are mired in complete failure. The victory of our Islamic nation over the invading infidels is now imminent, and the driving force behind this is our faith in the help of Allah and the unity among us. The Taliban's elusive chief, a veteran of the war against the Soviet occupation (1979-1989), added that his fighters were forbidden to harm common citizens.

The Taliban's insurgents already have killed scores of their fellow Afghans for the perceived crime of collaborating with American and other allied soldiers. Calling on all Afghans to expel foreign occupation forces, Mullah Omar said, Put all your strength and planning behind the task of driving away the invaders and regaining the independence of our country. …

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