Panic In Pakistan

( – promoted by On The Bus)

Has the financial crisis created by de-regulation and the economic policies of the past 20 odd years moved the world closer to nuclear weapons in the hands of al-qaeda?

While financial markets crumble worldwide, Pakistan is in the grips of a terrible economic crisis which threatens to destabilize the country. Pakistani officials have reached out to its richest allies for support, China, Saudi Arabia and the United States. All three countries, dealing with economic woes of their own, have denied this request, leaving the country to negotiate an emergency loan from the IMF. Sunil points out that the other major source of income for the Pakistani military leadership is the drug trade, a practice that is made possible by the billions in aid that the leadership receives from foreign governments every year.

October 27, 2008 – 11 min 55 sec

Pakistan in a panic

Sunil Ram: Military ruling class is dependent on international aid that is now in jeopardy

Sunil Ram is a military and security expert with Alexis International, an international consulting firm. He is the Contributing Editor of SITREP, the private defense journal of the Royal Canadian Military Institute, and has served in the Canadian Forces as both a soldier and officer between 1980-86 and 1997-99. Sunil also served as a military adviser to the Saudi Royal Family for over ten years, including involvement in the 1991 Gulf War and the Yemeni conflict in the 1990s. He has won a series of awards, including the UN Global Citizen Award presented to him in 1995 by the UN. He has also published a variety of articles and books and has had columns on military affairs published in newspapers, such as Canada’s Globe and Mail.


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    • Edger on October 28, 2008 at 3:45 pm
    • Robyn on October 28, 2008 at 4:29 pm

    This is Diary #9999 at Docudharma.

  1. I spent a couple of years in Pakistan during the 1980’s when General Zia al-Haq was running the show for the benefit of the Pakistani Army–er, the military caste. I found it astonishing that such a hodgepodge of a nation state could avoid disintegrating and doubted then that it could survive another generation.

    I’ll now give Pakistan a maximum of another five years before it goes the way of Yugoslavia. It is hard to predict which constituent parts will wish to become independent, which ones will wish to be essentially autonomous within a rump Pakistan or within a neighboring state, or which ones may seek to become fully integrated with a neighboring state. Here is one of many possible scenarios:

    (1) Punjab could become a rump Pakistan, just like Serbia has become the rump of Yugoslavia.

    (2) the Northwest Frontier Province (NWFP) could join politically with Afghanistan as a largely autonomous province. The Pashtuns would thereby be politically united under the Afghan umbrella.

    (3) Baluchistan is a primitive tribal area with few resources, but it could conceivably integrate into Iran.

    (4) The Sindh, the commercial and industrial hub of the country because of the city and port of Karachi, could probably sustain itself as an independent country with substantial commercial ties both to the Gulf and to India.

    (5) The Pakistani-occupied portion of Kashmir could revert to India, or perhaps be retained at great cost by the rump Punjabi nation state.

    Could this disintegration occur peacefully, as with the separation of the Czech Republic and Slovakia or with the disintegration of the Soviet Union? I doubt it. There are no Vaclav Havels or Boris Yeltsins available in Pakistan to mold such a peaceful transition. But there are plenty of hotheads for whom force and violent confrontation are the preferred midwives of change. Yugoslavia is the much more likely template.

    Any observer with the slightest appreciation of reality in South Asia has understood for years that the most dangerous potential flashpoint on the planet is probably South Asia. A disintegrating Pakistan could draw in military engagement by the nuclear power on its border, i.e., India. Iran might feel compelled to provide security to Baluchi brethren across the border in Pakistani Baluchistan. A resurgent Taliban along the Afghan border could make continued occupation by the Pakistani Army simply untenable in the NWFP and in Waziristan. And in the ensuing chaos, the physical security of Pakistan’s several dozen nuclear weapons could very well be put at risk.

    In short, Pakistan is the very best place on the planet for al-Qaeda to seek to steal–or perhaps even buy from a sympathetic rogue Pakistani military officer–a few “loose nukes.”

    Sadly, the Bush Administration seems not to have comprehended the problem, much less addressed it and sought to influence the eventual outcome.

    Perhaps an Obama Administration will appoint some reality-based adults to start pondering potentially less disastrous outcomes in South Asia.

  2. Really great work.

    I certainly hope we develop a more coherent set of strategies in Pakistan/Afghanistan quickly.

    • Edger on October 29, 2008 at 1:55 pm

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