Foreign Policy Blunders Update 3 – The Pakistani Powder Keg

Since the invasion of Iraq, I have been warning that Pakistan is potentially a far more important geopolitical linchpin than Iraq, Iran, or North Korea.

Now,following Rice’s pronouncements lauding Musharraf and his alleged efforts to lead Pakistan down the path of democracy, it was interesting to note the massive demonstration against his regime and against his unstinting support for the United States two days ago. Musharraf, now praised by Rice, was reviled by the United States in 1999 when he executed a military coup d’etat and appointed himself President and Chief of the Armed Forces. That tag stayed on Musharraf until the US woke up to the need for an alliance with Pakistan after 9/11. From that point until now, he has been slowly rehabilitated and repackaged as a regional beacon of democracy.

This political sleight of hand has not been easy what with the news that the Pakistani Father of The Bomb had been sharing and selling his expertise to all and sundry, from North Korea to Libya. Our erstwhile ally and great democratic hope, General President Musharraf, very likely was aware of his good friend Khan’s extracurricular activities.

For more on the subject of Pakistan, its nukes and Khan click on the following link:


Lying as it does between Afghanistan and India, with a population of 159 million, 97% of whom are Muslim, 80% of which are Sunni Muslims, makes Pakistan a geopolitical pivot point. With its large Muslim population, it is second only to Indonesia in that regard. The Western provinces, bordering on Afghanistan, in last year’s elections voted overwhelmingly for radical Islamic parties, and many areas have become no-go zones for Pakistan’s armed forces and a safe haven for Taliban and perhaps, Osama bin Laden. The Pakistan army and its intelligence services, have been thoroughly infiltrated by Islamic sympathisers and are considered to be of very doubtful reliability by the US. They would be the key to the overthrow of Musharraf.

Pakistan also possesses The Bomb and the wherewithal to deliver it to nearby targets, such as India, its longstanding regional foe which also possesses The Bomb and delivery systems. Pakistan is now working to develop a long range nuclear missile delivery capability that would extend that radius to the Mediterranean.

Thus, when one does a simple equation involving Pakistan and the following factors:

A= large Sunni population
B= a substantial opposition to the United States
C= growing opposition to Musharraf’s support of the United States
D= Neighbor and enemy of India
E= Already possesses The Bomb
X= The Apocalypse in various manifestations

any variation of the four constituent parts of the equation could add up to a very dangerous solution:

A+B+C = X these are theconstants. The large and increasingly hostile anti-American, Sunni population replacing the pro-US Musharraf regime with an Islamic Republic. From that volatile set of factors flow the following possibilities:

A+C+D+E = X1 = overthrow of the Musharraf regime in favour of an Islamic Republic which could precipitate a regional nuclear war with India. This variation would have a United States, without the necessary military resources to take on The Islamic Republic of Pakistan call upon India to act as the US surrogate and attack Pakistan’s nuclear facilities. India could well take such a decision fearing a preemptive nuclear strike by an Islamic Pakistan.

A+B+C+D+E = X2 = overthrow of the Musharraf regime in favour of an Islamic Republic which could lead to revived support for the Taliban in Afghanistan and a head on clash with the United States. Any attempt by the US to perform a surgical and preemptive strike on Pakistan’s nuclear facilities would trigger an all-out ground war and force the United States into another conflict when it does not have the resources to fight the one in Iraq; India would unquestionably be dragged into the war and quite possibly Indonesia.

The US would be well advised to “war game” this scenario, one that has developed as a direct consequence of the Iraqi war, and one potentially far more threatening than either Iran or North Korea. However, considering the US’s inability to look ahead farther than what captures its immediate attention, it is not wise to expect much in the way of forward planning from Washington.



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