- The Washington Times - Friday, December 13, 2002

The Bush administration appears to be astigmatically challenged when scanning the geopolitical landscape beyond Iraq. Inspector Blix Clouseau and his merry band of Keystone Kops in the land of the Arab world's Torquemada have produced all-Iraq news-all-the-time networks that are ignoring hair-raising developments in nearby Pakistan.
Last Nov. 16, Fazlur Rehman, a close friend of both Osama bin Laden and Taliban supremo Mullah Mohammed Omar, who is also the head of a coalition of six extremist politico-fundamentalist groups and a member of Pakistan's newly elected National Assembly, demanded that his parliamentary colleagues offer prayers for the man the U.S. executed Nov. 14 for killing two CIA agents in Virginia. The speaker of the Assembly, with foreign ambassadors looking on from the visitors' gallery, acquiesced.
Mr. Rehman's pro-Taliban team was just warming up. The prayers were quickly followed by a blistering attack on the U.S. by other members of the Muttahida Majlis-e-Amal coalition. "God, destroy those who handed [Mir Amal] Kasi over to America. May his murderers, whether in America or Pakistan, meet the same fate," said another MMA leader.
Kasi's execution in Virginia turned him into an overnight cult figure in Pakistan and opened up the sluice gates of anti-U.S. vitriol. When the plane carrying his dead body touched down in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan, tens of thousands of people broke through police cordons shouting, "Allah is great." With his coffin draped in a cloak inscribed with verses of the Koran, the cortege through Quetta was the biggest funeral procession Baluchistan has ever witnessed. "America Go Home," "Bush the Butcher of Afghanistan," and other anti-U.S. epithets were either banners waved or slogans warbled.
Next day, Nov. 19, another huge crowd gathered at the funeral venue. In a rare display of altruism, motorized rickshaws and buses ferried people free of charge. Even official Pakistan thought it would be appropriate to pay obeisance to Kasi. Baluchistan Corps Commander Gen. Abdul Qadir Baloch, Baluchistan Gov. Miruul Mulk Mengal, and the Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., led the official delegation.
For the past three weeks, thousands throng to Kasi's grave site daily and carry earth back as if from holy ground. Says Kasi's brother Hamidullah, "Every morning when we go to his grave, we find the soil covering his tomb reduced a few more inches and we have to build up the bulge afresh." Pashto and Baluchi poets are writing odes to the fallen hero, hailing him as second only to Osama bin Laden in the popular pantheon of larger-than-life Muslims.
The Foreign Office was at a loss to explain the presence of senior officials at Kasi's funeral. The official spokesman explained the ambassador happened to be in Quetta to visit his ailing mother. A former federal Cabinet minister said the response to Kasi's funeral persuaded the intelligence community to free Dr. Amez Aziz, the physician the FBI had been interrogating about his links to bin Laden.
Now that he enjoys parliamentary immunity, Mr. Rehman grows bolder by the day. All good Muslims should now "follow Kasi's example," he said Dec. 10, which clearly was a leaf out of bin Laden's fatwa "kill Americans."
Officially, Washington says President Pervez Musharraf is a loyal ally of the U.S. in the war on terror. But with new pro-Taliban, pro-al Qaeda provincial governments in the Northwest Frontier Province and in Baluchistan, it has become increasingly clear the transnational terrorists hunted by the U.S. have recovered some of the privileged sanctuaries they enjoyed prior to September 11, 2001.
Pakistan is a country where local police are reluctant to antagonize a religious group, however extreme. All the extremists detained following Gen. Musharraf's pledge to the U.S. last January to quench terrorism are now free men in a country where a Kalashnikov (AK-47) can be rented for $2.50 a day and any kind of a weapon obtained at one hour's notice.
In the tribal belt adjacent to Afghanistan, automobile salesmen push the envelope with stickers that say, "Buy one vehicle and get a rocket launcher free." The problem, said one former police chief now in the U.S., is "law enforcement in a lawless society where human rights are unknown and guilt is beaten out of those arrested." A cop on the beat makes $1 a day; an inspector-general of police for an entire province, $400 a month. A "fundamentalist" in Pakistani police parlance is a police chief who pays his personal bills out of police funds.
One of India's most influential officials, National Security Adviser Brajesh Mishra, was in Washington this week for talks with senior Bush administration officials. His lunch with National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice lasted more than three hours.
Trying to shift attention from the clear and future danger of Iraq to the clear and present danger of Pakistan was a thankless task. Mr. Mishra's other message was harmonious to Secretary of State Colin Powell and gratingly dissonant to Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz. A U.S. invasion of Iraq without U.N. approval would play into the hands of "crazies everywhere." American lives would be at risk in many parts of the world. Al Qaeda would have a new recruiting poster and volunteers would flock to bin Laden's bloody banner.
The logic of war in early 2003 now seems implacable. If Saddam Hussein were to concede a number of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), either chemical or biological or both, he's toast. If his 11,807 pages of documents and 60,000 pages on CDs demonstrate he has indeed destroyed all WMDs, he's dismissed as an incurable liar and still toast. And if President Bush doesn't toast him, Mr. Bush himself is toast at least for a second term.
U.S. strategic assets, including four carrier task forces, are still converging on staging areas around Iraq, and it is highly unlikely they will be recalled before the Iraqi dictator has been unhorsed. Between now and then, the burden of proof will shift from President Saddam to President Bush. It has to be incontrovertible.
Therefore, top-secret intelligence on Saddam's clear and present danger will have to be credible and made public. But the CIA remains unconvinced.

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