Monday, May 21, 2007

Pakistan Goes Down Hill As U.S. Taken For A Ride

Pakistan is beginning to get the U.S. media focus it deserves, and as more light is shed on what is happening in that benighted dictatorship, the worse it appears things are, or have been for a long time. Since Pakistan has a nuclear arsenal, any prospect that that could fall into terrorist hands, if the government of Pervez Musharraf was ousted, is exceedingly bad news for the whole world, but particularly for us.

Both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times devoted their lead stories Sunday to Pakistani subjects, and both stories were deeply disturbing.

The New York Times, in an article by David Sanger and David Rohde reported that ever since the attacks of 9-11, the United States has been giving about $1 billion a year to the Pakistan armed forces for the purpose of combating al-Qaeda terrorists lodged mainly in the Waziristan border areas of Pakistan next to Afghanistan.

There are no controls over how this money is spent, or even whether it is spent for the stated purpose at all. Last year, the Musharraf government most unwisely entered into a truce agreement with the tribes in Waziristan to suspend substantial armed intervention there in exchange for a supposed agreement by the tribes to rein in Al Qaeda, and the Taliban, and specifically prevent them from attacking across the border the U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

There has recently been some fighting between tribes and Al Qaeda or Taliban forces, but for the most part that agreement has not been honored. In fact, the NYT article reports, U.S. forces periodically observe terrorist elements preparing to cross the border, call Pakistani forces on the other side, and then they do nothing.

It is not at all surprising that tribal leaders would say they were going to follow one policy and then follow another, or that Pakistani forces would give the U.S. various assurances in exchange for money, and then not fulfill their part of the bargain. Duplicity is as much a part of Islam as apple or cherry pie are part of America. They are takers, seldom givers.

Now, however, some are saying that with the Musharraf regime under increasing pressure, suspending the $1 billion-a-year gift could be counterproductive, and this bunch of rogues would henceforth become even less friendly or reliable than they have been up to now.

It would, I think, be far more productive to use the funds to prepare for the possibility that Indian forces might have to seize the Pakistani nuclear facilities to prevent them from falling into Al Qaeda hands. The British, when they quit the Indian subcontinent in 1947, should never have permitted the Muslim fakir, Jinnah, to split Pakistan away from India, and, rather than see this unnecessary country become a terrorist headquarters, we may, sooner rather than later, have to work to dismember it. The Indians, recognizing the danger, would certainly be willing allies in such an eventuality.

Meanwhile, in the Los Angeles Times, Sunday, a story by Greg Miller reports on a special CIA task force which has fruitlessly been trying to find Osama bin Laden and run him to ground, but has been able in the meantime to track the increasing power of Al Qaeda within Pakistan.

It is possible, as I've suggested before, that bin Laden is living somewhere else, such as his native Saudi Arabia, or, for all we know, in Paris. But regardless of that, there can be no question that Al Qaeda is now a major force in Pakistan, which has been shown to be a training ground tor the Al Qaeda-inspired terrorists in Britain and other European countries, not to mention Al Qaeda activities elsewhere in the Middle East, Iraq. Lebanon and Gaza among the places.

On the L.A. Times Op Ed page today, the columnist Niall Ferguson, in an otherwise feckless column that tries to blame all the world's problems on President Bush, suggests that a crisis may soon occur in both Israeli-Iran relations and Pakistan. He states in his concluding paragraph, "With war looming between Iran and Israel, and Pakistan on the brink of an upheaval that could well end with Islamists in power, the worst bloodshed has to come."

The danger is becoming more proximate. Just today, there are reports of a standoff between an Al Qaeda-linked mosque in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad and the Pakistani police. The mosque is threatening Jihad if the police try to rescue two policemen that the mosque has kidnapped. Muslim kidnappings? Where have we heard that before?

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The Los Angeles Times and its Web site, despite the recent addition of LAT correspondents in the Middle East, is lagging behind the New York Times and Washington Post in covering some important Middle East developments. Just today, for example, while the NYT leads its paper with an account of the outbreak of major fighting in Lebanon between the Lebanese Army and the Al-Qaeda-linked Fatah-al-Islam (its leader was interviewed just in March in the L.A. Times by the way) in a Palestinian refugee camp in the city of Tripoli, the L.A. Times plays the story on Page 3. The Web site did not have it last night on its main page, either.

This won't do. By far, the most important developments in the world today are taking place, day after day, in the Middle East, and, the L.A. Times editors simply must give them the most prominent play in order to adequately serve its readers. The L.A. Times did have an excellent Iraq story on Page 1 today, but the Lebanon battles also belonged there.

The L.A. Times is often blinded to realities by a willful liberal bias that prevents it from thinking realistically. On Sunday, in the Opinion section, a new editorial calls for the admission of more Iraqi refugees into the United States, which, thankfully has kept most of them out thus far. Anyone who wants to let more Muslims into any Western country these days needs to have his head examined.

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