Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Peter Galbraith: US needs to get tough with Pakistan

Senior Diplomatic Fellow at the Center, Peter Galbraith, recently wrote an interesting op-ed in the Boston Globe, arguing that Pakistan “should be treated like the national security problem it has become.” He suggests that the U.S. should insist that Pakistan’s elected leaders have total control over all of the country’s national security programs, make clear that the U.S. does not believe A.Q. Khan acted alone, insist that Khan and his records are made available to the IAEA, and sponsor a Security Council resolution appointing a UN investigator to look into the assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

President Bush recently described Pakistan's president, Pervez Musharraf, as an "absolutely reliable ally" in the war on extremists and a man of his word. In fact, Pakistan's record under Musharraf is one of broken promises while tolerating acts harmful to US interests. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto, weeks after a US-brokered deal for her return to Pakistan, underscores the bankruptcy of the current approach. Instead of treating Pakistan like the ally it isn't, the country should be treated like the national security problem it has become. Moreover, Bush should be careful with his language. The United States needs to be tough with Pakistan, not gullible.


The United States should get tough with Pakistan. Bush should insist that Pakistan become a real ally in the war on terrorism. In recent years, the Inter-Services Intelligence and Pakistan's nuclear establishment have been pursuing their own anti-American agenda, in violation of Pakistan's supposed official policy. The intelligence agency has supported the Taliban and continues to maintain contact with Islamic radicals, including possibly Al Qaeda. A.Q. Khan, head of Pakistan's nuclear program, sold nuclear weapons technology and materials to America's worst enemies: North Korea, Iran, and Libya. It is not remotely plausible that Musharraf did not know or acquiesce in these activities.

The United States should insist that Pakistan's elected leaders have full control over all of Pakistan's national security programs, including the nuclear file and the Inter-Services Intelligence. The agency should be restructured, or better, abolished. It is a bastion of anti-Western and antidemocratic sentiment. And, Bush should make clear that he does not believe that Khan acted on his own. At a minimum, the United States should insist that Pakistan make Khan, and his records, available to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The United States could signal its new approach by sponsoring a Security Council resolution appointing a UN investigator to look into the murder of Bhutto. When a suicide bomber blew up former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri in 2005, the Bush administration helped lead the effort to pass such a resolution. The Bhutto killing raises similar questions, including as to why there was no Pakistani security or police protecting her.

Instead of praising Musharraf as a man of his word, Bush should tell him that he will no longer tolerate unkept promises or be satisfied with obvious lies.

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