November 30, 2007

Playing Pakistani Roulette

Filed under: Opinion — Volt @ 11:04 am

Robert Scheer, TruthDig, November 27, 2007

It was a very good week for Saudi Arabia. The royal family’s favored Pakistani “president-in-exile,” Nawaz Sharif, returned in a triumphant homecoming, throwing down a major challenge to the rule of Gen. Pervez Musharraf, who’s still favored, for the moment, by the United States.

Although Sharif can claim to be the true pro-democracy choice, given that he was deposed as prime minister by Musharraf’s 1999 military coup, the U.S. is hoping to throw the deeply corrupt but Westernized Benazir Bhutto into the mix out of fear that Sharif is soft on Muslim fanatics in his own country as well as on the Taliban.

Those fears are well founded, given that Sharif, inspired by Saudi-style Wahhabism, attempted to introduce sharia, Islamic law, in his last years in office. It was his administration that green-lighted the test of the Muslim nuclear bomb and condoned bomb builder A.Q. Khan’s nuclear proliferation efforts, which aided the nuclear weapons programs of North Korea, Libya and Iran. Finally, it was Sharif who strongly supported the Taliban, sponsors of Osama bin Laden, in securing power in Afghanistan.

Now, to be fair, Musharraf and Bhutto also favored Pakistan’s nuclear program and actively supported the Taliban. I am not referring to the fact that Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates were the only countries to extend full diplomatic recognition to the Taliban. No, Pakistan’s sponsorship of the Taliban, under all three leaders, goes far deeper than that, as revealed by the release in August of declassified portions of seven years’ worth of cable traffic between the U.S. State Department and its embassy in Pakistan. As the National Security Archive, based at George Washington University, summarized the new information, “The declassified U.S. documents … clearly illustrate that the Taliban was directly funded, armed and advised by Islamabad itself … including the use of Pakistani troops to train and fight alongside the Taliban inside Afghanistan.”

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