There is evidence to suggest that neither the Pakistani army, nor the SPD itself, considers jihadism the most immediate threat to the security of its nuclear weapons; indeed, General Kayani’s worry, as expressed to General Kidwai after Abbottabad, was focused on the United States. According to sources in Pakistan, General Kayani believes that the U.S. has designs on the Pakistani nuclear program, and that the Abbottabad raid suggested that the U.S. has developed the technical means to stage simultaneous raids on Pakistan’s nuclear facilities.As I've said before, it's time to let India have at 'em. Read the whole disgusting thing.
In their conversations, General Kidwai assured General Kayani that the counterintelligence branch of the SPD remained focused on rooting out American and Indian spies from the Pakistani nuclear-weapons complex, and on foiling other American espionage methods. The Pakistani air force drills its pilots in ways of intercepting American spy planes; the Pakistani military assumes (correctly) that the U.S. devotes many resources to aerial and satellite surveillance of its nuclear sites.
In their post-Abbottabad discussion, General Kayani wanted to know what additional steps General Kidwai was taking to protect his nation’s nuclear weapons from the threat of an American raid. General Kidwai made the same assurances he has made many times to Pakistan’s leaders: Pakistan’s program was sufficiently hardened, and dispersed, so that the U.S. would have to mount a sizable invasion of the country in order to neutralize its weapons; a raid on the scale of the Abbottabad incursion would simply not suffice.
Still, General Kidwai promised that he would redouble the SPD’s efforts to keep his country’s weapons far from the prying eyes, and long arms, of the Americans, and so he did: according to multiple sources in Pakistan, he ordered an increase in the tempo of the dispersal of nuclear-weapons components and other sensitive materials. One method the SPD uses to ensure the safety of its nuclear weapons is to move them among the 15 or more facilities that handle them. Nuclear weapons must go to the shop for occasional maintenance, and so they must be moved to suitably equipped facilities, but Pakistan is also said to move them about the country in an attempt to keep American and Indian intelligence agencies guessing about their locations.
Nuclear-weapons components are sometimes moved by helicopter and sometimes moved over roads. And instead of moving nuclear material in armored, well-defended convoys, the SPD prefers to move material by subterfuge, in civilian-style vehicles without noticeable defenses, in the regular flow of traffic. According to both Pakistani and American sources, vans with a modest security profile are sometimes the preferred conveyance. And according to a senior U.S. intelligence official, the Pakistanis have begun using this low-security method to transfer not merely the “de-mated” component nuclear parts but “mated” nuclear weapons. Western nuclear experts have feared that Pakistan is building small, “tactical” nuclear weapons for quick deployment on the battlefield. In fact, not only is Pakistan building these devices, it is also now moving them over roads.
What this means, in essence, is this: In a country that is home to the harshest variants of Muslim fundamentalism, and to the headquarters of the organizations that espouse these extremist ideologies, including al-Qaeda, the Haqqani network, and Lashkar-e-Taiba (which conducted the devastating terror attacks on Mumbai three years ago that killed nearly 200 civilians), nuclear bombs capable of destroying entire cities are transported in delivery vans on congested and dangerous roads. And Pakistani and American sources say that since the raid on Abbottabad, the Pakistanis have provoked anxiety inside the Pentagon by increasing the pace of these movements. In other words, the Pakistani government is willing to make its nuclear weapons more vulnerable to theft by jihadists simply to hide them from the United States, the country that funds much of its military budget.
The nuclear shell game played by Pakistan is one more manifestation of the slow-burning war between the U.S. and Pakistan. The national-security interests of the two countries are often in almost perfect opposition, but neither Pakistan nor the U.S. has historically been able or willing to admit that they are locked in conflict, because they are also dependent on each other in crucial ways: the Pakistani military still relies on American funding and American-built weapons systems, and the Obama administration, in turn, believes Pakistani cooperation is crucial to the achievement of its main goal of defeating the “al-Qaeda core,” the organization now led by bin Laden’s former deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri. The U.S. also moves much of the matériel for its forces in Afghanistan through Pakistan, and must cross Pakistani airspace to fly from Arabian Sea–based aircraft carriers to Afghanistan. (In perhaps the most bizarre expression of this dysfunctional relationship, Osama bin Laden’s body was flown out of Pakistan by the American invasion force, which did not seek Pakistani permission and was prepared to take Pakistani anti-aircraft fire—but then, hours later, bin Laden’s body was flown back over Pakistan on a regularly routed American military flight between Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan and the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, in the Arabian Sea.)Public pronouncements to the contrary, very few figures in the highest ranks of the American and Pakistani governments suffer from the illusion that their countries are anything but adversaries, whose national-security interests clash radically and, it seems, permanently. Pakistani leaders obsess about what they view as the existential threat posed by nuclear-armed India, a country that is now a strategic ally of the United States. Pakistani policy makers The Atlantic interviewed in Islamabad and Rawalpindi this summer uniformly believe that India is bent on drawing Afghanistan into an alliance against Pakistan. (Pervez Musharraf said the same thing during an interview in Washington.) Many of Pakistan’s leaders have long believed that the Taliban, and Taliban-like groups, are the most potent defenders of their interests in Afghanistan.
The level of animosity between Islamabad and Washington has spiked in the days since the raid on Abbottabad. Many Americans, in and out of official life, do not believe Pakistan’s government when it says that no high-ranking official knew of bin Laden’s presence in Abbottabad; Pakistanis, for their part, see the raid on bin Laden’s hideout—conducted without forewarning—as a gross insult. Since the raid, the ISI has waged a street-level campaign against the CIA, harassing its employees and denying visas to its officers.
While the hostility and distrust have increased of late, the relationship between the two countries has been shot through with rage, resentment, and pretense for years. The relationship has survived as long as it has only because both countries have chosen to pretend to believe the lies they tell each other.
Pakistan’s lies, in particular, have been abundant. The Pakistani government has willfully misled the U.S. for more than 20 years about its support for terrorist organizations, and it willfully misleads the American government when it asserts, against the evidence, that “rogue elements” within the ISI are responsible for the acts of terrorism against India and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Most American officials are at this late stage convinced that there are no “rogue elements” of any size or importance in the ISI; there are only the ISI and the ISI assets that the ISI (with increasing implausibility) denies having. (The ISI’s S Wing, the branch of the service that runs anti-India activities, among other things, is said to have a very potent “alumni association,” in the words of Stephen P. Cohen, a leading American scholar of Pakistan based at the Brookings Institution.) A particular challenge the ISI poses is that while it funds and protects various jihadist groups, these groups often pick their own targets and the timing of their attacks. The ISI has worked for years against American interests—not only against American interests in Afghanistan, but against the American interest in defeating particular jihadist networks, even while it was also working with the Americans against other jihadist organizations.
“The problem with Pakistan is that they still differentiate between ‘good’ terrorists and ‘bad’ terrorists,” Mike Rogers, the Michigan Republican who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, told The Atlantic in October.
The ISI provides the U.S. with targeting information about certain jihadists—but only about those jihadists perceived to threaten the Pakistani state, such as members of the so-called Pakistani Taliban (the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan) and al-Qaeda. At one time, the ISI was on friendlier terms with al-Qaeda’s leaders. According to the report of the 9/11 Commission, the ISI reportedly played matchmaker in the 1990s by bringing together the Taliban and al-Qaeda, hoping to create an umbrella group that would train fighters for anti-India operations in the disputed territory of Kashmir. The 9/11 plot was developed at the training camps jointly maintained by al-Qaeda and the Taliban. But when Pakistan, under General Musharraf, formally (though, as it turns out, less than completely) aligned itself with America after the September 11 attacks, al-Qaeda turned against the Pakistani government. In an interview this past summer, Musharraf said the goal of Pakistan should be to “wean the Pashtuns”—the ethnic group that supplies the Taliban organizations in both Afghanistan and Pakistan with their leaders and foot soldiers—from radicalism, but Musharraf himself has condemned terrorism on the one hand while encouraging Kashmiri extremists on the other.
The leaders of Lashkar-e-Taiba (the “Army of the Pure”), which has launched attacks against India, including the ferocious Mumbai attacks of November 2008, live openly in Pakistan—the organization maintains a 200-acre compound outside Lahore, and has offices in many major cities—and evidence gathered by the U.S. and India strongly suggests a direct ISI hand in the Mumbai attacks, among others. The would-be Times Square bomber, the Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, was trained in a militant camp in Pakistan’s tribal area. The past two U.S. National Intelligence Estimates on Pakistan—which represent the consensus views of America’s 16 spy agencies—concluded with a high degree of certainty that Pakistani support for jihadist groups has increased over the past several years.
The ISI also helps foment anti-Americanism inside Pakistan. American and Pakistani sources allege that the ISI pays journalists in the Pakistani press, most of which is moderately to virulently anti-American, to write articles hostile to the United States. An American visitor to Pakistan can easily see that a particular narrative has been embedded in the country’s collective psyche. This narrative holds that the U.S. favors India, punishes Pakistan unjustifiably, and periodically abandons Pakistan when American policy makers feel the country is not useful. “America is a disgrace because it turns on its friends when it has no use for them,” says General Aslam Beg, a retired chief of staff of the Pakistani army, in an efficient summation of the dominant Pakistani narrative. A Pew poll taken after the Abbottabad raid found that 69 percent of Pakistanis view the U.S. as “more of an enemy”; only 6 percent see the U.S. as “more of a partner.”
Friday, November 4, 2011
With a title like ...
... "The Ally From Hell," you know the article is about Pakistan. And this article, a joint venture by The Atlantic and National Journal, is a doozy. Most disturbing section: