Sunday, September 02, 2007

Lal Masjid: The British begin to distance themselves from Musharraf

The negotiations with Benazir are stalled yet again. The British are slowly learning their irrelevance to events in Pakistan. The pretence of being relevant is becoming ever harder. So out of spite, the British have stuck at General Musharraf. In an article in the Times British anger pokes out:

Britain had privately been pressing America to tell Musharraf it had to stop. In October 2003 MI6 uncovered Pakistani nuclear material on a boat heading for Libya. But the consensus in Washington was that saving Pakistan’s vulnerable (and valuable) president mattered more than prosecuting the guilty. A senior British Foreign Office source explained: “He would come up with his own framework for survival and we would help him get through it, as long as the dirty deals were wound up. It was a compromise struck in the world of realpolitik.”

All sorts of allegations are leveled against President Musharraf himself and against those close to him.

The truth was that Musharraf had been reducing Khan’s role in the nuclear enterprise and had pushed him into official retirement. The nuclear programme and trading were – and are – completely under the military government’s control. And proliferation did not stop.

And then we have these allegations

General Khalid Mahmud Arif, formerly in charge of the nuclear programme and still an influen-tial figure in military circles, said: “Once we skulked around. Now we have a new generation of men and the technology. We have labs and the industry to rival the West.”
He said Pakistan was producing super-strength maraging (low carbon) steel which is primarily used for making centrifuges with which Pakistan enriched uranium to weapons grade. It was also making high-frequency inverters which regulate power to the centrifuges.
“They used to come from the UK and now we are selling them ourselves,” he said. “Maraging steel too – once we struggled but now, finally, we are manufacturing it at the People’s Steel Mill and exporting it. It is better than you can get outside.”


And then there are these wonderful lines

Musharraf has consistently hidden bad news from his American backers. Two particularly worrying incidents were recently disclosed by sources close to those involved. In 2001, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Pakistan’s powerful intelligence agency, had proof that Osama Bin Laden had received in person two retired Pakistani nuclear scientists at his secret HQ in Afghanistan. Both had become Islamist radicals in retirement. According to the son of one of them, Bin Laden told them he had succeeded in acquiring highly enriched uranium from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and he wanted their help to turn it into a bomb. Amazed, they explained that while they could help with the science of fissile materials, they were not weapons designers. Soon afterwards, a secret army audit discovered evidence that 40 canisters of highly enriched uranium (HEU), the feedstuff for a nuclear bomb, were missing from the Kahuta enrichment labs outside Islamabad after A Q Khan retired. Dr Muhammad Shafiq ur-Rehman, an insider who is the son of one of Khan’s former key aides, revealed: “They could only account for 80 out of a supposed 120 canisters.” The ISI reasoned that some of the drums had probably gone to North Korea, and some to Iran and probably Libya, according to a former ISI officer. Enough highly enriched uranium remained at large to fuel 1,000 dirty bombs or a sizable nuclear device. All it would take for a doomsday scenario is 100lb of HEU – a mass the size of a sugar bag as the material is heavier than lead – to get into the hands of terrorists with the right expertise. Split into two loads to prevent accidental fission, it could be machined into semi-spheres, loaded into a cannon-style device, and driven in the back of a van to a western target.

This is the first time - deliberate incompetence by Musharraf - is being linked to a WMD attack on "Western" soil. This is a complete shift from the traditional propaganda line, which stated that Musharraf was the only thing that is standing between the West and a Jihadi nuclear bomb.

This is the first time Musharraf is being accused publicly by a reputable western newspaper of being duplicitous on the issues of Jihadi WMD access.

I watch with some amusement as the number of americans visiting Gen. Haq grows with each passing day... but at what point will we see a similar admission of irrelevance from the Americans.

4 Comments:

At 11:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick,

What do you think of the situation in South Waziristan where about 150 or so PA regulars have been captured?

A small handful of soldiers getting captured is one thing but a whole company sized unit is entirely another. In whatever way this situation came about to be, it reflects very poorly on the PA's hold on things in FATA. I for one had never though that their situation had become so precarious.

 
At 1:50 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Hi,

I suspect the unit sought to avoid a confrontation with a fraternal tribe and that led to this capture drama.

Yes, it does reflect poorly on the PA and its ability to control things.

Incidently Gen. Musharraf allegedly offered the post of PM to Maulana Fazlur Rehman in exchange for supporting Musharraf's position.

I suspect that Fazlur Rehman rejected it because he felt Musharraf was more keen to use Fazl's nod of approval as a bargaining chip with Benazir.

Has anyone given thought to what kind of pressure Nawaz's imminent return places on Benazir's negotiations with Musharraf?... the same applies to the offer of PM to Fazl. The utter transparency of Musharraf's hand is a truly terrifying prospect.

The MMA is playing a very sophisticated hand - they are deliberately underplaying their cards. They somehow seem to know that the military and the feudals will overplay their own cards in a bid to discredit each other.

I don't think either the military or the feudals realise that playing with such a transparent hand utterly discredits them in the eyes of the people .. and not to mention makes them totally predictable.

 
At 10:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maverick,

I agree that the MMA, by hedging their options, is playing a very smart game.

The way I see it, Benazir, Nawaz, and Musharaff, the feudals and the Army more generally, are locked into this escalating spiral of political oneupmanship that will likely spin out of their ability to manage and keep under control. All the players are so highly leveraged in this game that no one can back off without handing a political victory to the other.

Eventually a winner will emerge and that winner will carry an unbearably heavy burden of expectations from the people. Quite predictably those expectations will go unfulfilled and the winner will thus stand discredited in the long run.

By keeping out of this mess the islamists retain their ability to project an image of moral authority to the people and retain the flexibility of entering the fray when all the existing players have discredited themselves.

I make the following proposition for your consideration: The islamists will not make their long overdue claim to power until the feudals and the Army have completely lost all moral authority in the eyes of the people to govern. Until then they will bide their time and hedge their options on all sides.

 
At 2:20 PM, Blogger maverick said...

Anonymous,

Yes, the MMA will make their claim for leadership appear as natural as possible.

 

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