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Military Dictator with Nuclear Weapons? Our Ally, Pakistan

Reported by Ellen - January 12, 2005

I just read an interesting article on FOXNews.com called U.S. Mostly Mum on Musharraf Power Grab. It actually takes a somewhat critical look at our relations with this so-called ally, rather than just promote the RNC party line.

I knew I might be on to some real journalism on FOX at last when I read the opening paragraphs.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf's potentially explosive announcement last month that he would not step down as military chief and rule his country as a civilian drew barely a whisper from the U.S. media and Washington officials.

The silence, say foreign policy analysts, reveals as much about U.S. policy toward Pakistan since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks as any public remarks could. While U.S. officials may not wish to criticize Musharraf, analysts say it might be a mistake in the long term for the United States to turn a blind eye to Pakistan's military ruler.

The article continues, "Just before the new year, Musharraf, who has held office since taking over in a bloodless military coup in 1999, announced he would not honor a promise he made in 2003. He had pledged to hang up his uniform at the end of 2004 in return for broader constitutional powers allowing him to dissolve Parliament and the prime minister's office at his discretion."

According to the report, Washington has said little about this reneging. US Secretary of State Colin Powell said, "This is a judgment for the Pakistani people to make."

Since September 11, the US has given Pakistan $1 billion "to help beef up the Pakistani military's so-far unsuccessful search for Al Qaeda leader Usama bin Laden, who is believed to have been in hiding along the Afghan-Pakistani border." Comment: What have they done with all that money and why haven't they found bin Laden yet? The average private detective locates people for a few hundred dollars.

"What [the Bush administration is] struggling with is the brute reality of what they cannot negotiate around," said Tellis. "They recognize that if they push too hard, what [Musharraf] is likely to say is take a hike."

One of those areas where the United States refuses to push is related to Musharraf's response to the investigation of top nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan, who helped turn Pakistan into a nuclear power and has admitted to selling nuclear materials to countries like North Korea, Iran and Libya for decades.

In 2002, Musharraf announced that a government investigation had uncovered Khan's activities. Since then, Pakistan has been unwilling to let International Atomic Energy Agency officials question Khan, who had been in charge of Pakistan's nuclear program since 1976 and is considered by many to be a national hero. Musharraf instead assured the U.N. agency that Pakistan can handle the Khan inquiry itself. Powell suggested in his Dec. 31 interview that the United States is so far satisfied with Musharraf's attention to the problem.

Comment: Here we have a power-grabbing dictator who has admitted that his atomic energy program sold nuclear materials to North Korea, Iran and Libya "for decades," a dictator who refuses to allow the IAEA to fully investigate but, rather, insists on handling the inquiry on his own. We have invaded countries with less justification. But we are "satisfied" with this dictator. In fact, while the Bush Administration is looking to privatize our Social Security and cut Medicaid, I'm willing to bet there won't be a fiscal crisis when it comes to Pakistan.

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