Friday, November 09, 2007

Pakistan "emergency"

There's an emergency alright, but not in the way that President/General Musharraf suggests. Events in Pakisan are taking on the drama of the Cedar Revolution or Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The world is watching as electronic media, fanned and heated by videos, text messages, blogs and the rest of the Internet, turn up the heat like Santa Ana winds whipping up a California wildfire.

This morning we hear that Benazir Bhutto has been detained by police and a planned demonstration is being thwarted by Musharraf's uniformed forces. Tick. Tick. Tick.

It's tempting to watch from afar and regard these events as not having any impact on us. But the fact is that two very important consequences can easily reach all the way to North America, not decades in the future but possibly in the next few years...possibly before the end of next year. Nuclear weapons proliferation is the first concern and bird flu is the second.

I'm sure others smarter than I are studying these two issues. As a layman, all I can do is point and suggest. I already pointed to the bird flu issue. Here is a link to the nuclear issue.

Richard Barlow, Nuclear Weapons and Pakistan

The declaration of emergency rule in Pakistan has focused new concern on the status of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal. It may also bring renewed attention to the case of Richard Barlow, the former intelligence officer who attempted to warn Congress two decades ago about Pakistan's clandestine acquisition of U.S. nuclear technology and who was punished for his trouble.

In a classic whistleblower tale, Mr. Barlow's security clearances were suspended, the state secrets privilege was invoked, and he was personally vilified after he attempted to notify Congress of irregularities and illegalities in Pakistan's U.S. acquisitions program. Yet his allegations about Pakistani export control violations and official attempts to conceal those violations were ultimately corroborated

More at the link.
Something that journalist Ahmed Rashid said during the Terry Gross interview keeps drumming in my head. He said that Pakistan, which has had nuclear weapons for some time, had not always subscribed to the NPT principles. In years past Pakistan has helped other countries develop nuclear capabilities, including China, North Korea, Libya and Iran. Since the ascendency of Musharraf this spreading has stopped (which I suppose is why the US officially likes the guy) but the individual in charge of the program was still very much involved with Pakistan's nuclear program. I have the image of a killer dog with an owner whose ability to control the animal is getting shakey.

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