- A Pakistani nuclear missile can now hit Tel Aviv, according
to a former Pakistani intelligence chief who is "strategic adviser"
to his country's Islamist politico-religious parties. Gen. Hamid Gul, the
retired head of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency, in his latest well-publicized
(in Pakistan) statement, says "we have the nuclear capability to destroy
Madras (India), surely the same missile can do the same to Tel Aviv. Washington
cannot stop Muslim suicidal attacks. Taliban are still alive and along
with 'friends' they will continue the holy jihad against the US. America
will destroy Iraq and later on repeat the same act of war against Pakistan,
Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia."
- A coalition of six extremist religious parties, MMA,
now governs two of Pakistan's four provinces -- a direct result of the
free elections the United States insisted be held after the President Perez
Musharraf endorsed the Bush administration's war on terror. MMS leader
and newly elected senator Sami ul- Haq has also declared jihad against
the United States and Israel. "If the US attacks Iraq, the MMA alliance
and all their supporters will attack Washington and Tel Aviv," he
- Another redoubtable MMA leader, Fazlur Rehman, said,
for his part, "the US better take seriously the consequneces of its
attack against Iraq because we are fully capable of taking revenge."
Arguably the most powerful extremist religious leader, Qasi Hussain Ahmed,
head of Jamat-e-Islami, warned President Bush he "will suffer the
horrible punishment of God."
- Pakistan possess between 35 and 60 nuclear weapons with
the missile capability (obtained from North Korea) to deliver them. The
nuclear arsenal is designed as a deterrent to India's older nuclear capability.
India conducted its first nuclear tests in 1974. This was the first time
an influential Pakistani, well known for his hatred of the United States
and Israel, had mentioned another nation besides india as a possible target
for Pakistani nukes.
- A number of Pakistani generals are Islami[c] fundamentalists
and resent President Musharraf's close alliance with the United States.
It was a "shotgun wedding" some of them have said. Musharraf
had no choice when Bush called him the day after 9/11 and asked him whether
he could count on him to pursue the new war against the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
Musharraf made a quick command decision, broke with the Taliban regime
in Afghanistan, and gave the United States the use of several bases for
Operation Enduring Freedom.
- The all-powerful ISI's culture has long been anti-American,
dating back to 1989 when the Soviets pulled out of Afghanistan and the
United States began punishing Pakistan for its secret nuclear buildup.
Ever since the collapse of the Taliban in November 2001, ISI officers have
spread the word among the tribal chiefs along their ill-defined Pakistani-Afghan
border that "America will be coming after Pakistan's nuclear arsenal
as soon as they have finished with Afghanistan."
- How safe is Pakistan's nuclear arnsel? Shortly after
9/11, Musharraf ordered the country's nuclear weapons to be detached from
their launchers and stored in six different secret locations with fail
safe security systems. But Musharraf has survived six assassination plots
since 9/11, and the CIA is clearly concerned about the very real possibility
that an Islami[c] general could take over one day -- and acquire control
of the arsenal.
- Pakistan has crefully refrained from signing the comprehensive
nuclear test ban treaty. Nor is it committed to the non-first-use doctrine.
India and Pakistan pulled back last summer from a face-off between one
million troops. There is little doubt if India were to humiliate Pakistan
militarily over the long standing Kashmir dispute, Pakistan would retaliate
with a nuclear salvo. Senior Indian national security officials accept
this possibility with equanimity. In fact, one of them, speaking privately
a month ago, said, "we could easily survive one or two nuclear hits,
but when we retaliate Pakistan would disapper from the map." The North
Korean crisis has been adjudged by Secretary of State Colin Powell as "not
a crisis." Pakistan, in that perspective, is even less of a crisis.
Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of United Press International.