- The Washington Times - Monday, January 20, 2003

The premier geopolitical thinker and writer of Pakistan, Gen. Aslam Beg, the former chief of army staff after President Zia-ul-Haq was killed in a suspicious air crash in 1988, has apparently taken leave of his critical faculties.
Gen. Beg, always regarded as a voice of moderation in the hothouse of Pakistani politics, runs a think tank called "FRIENDS." Its charter is to "foster a culture of peace, security and economic cooperation in the South Asia region and beyond." His latest geopolitical ruminations a 5,000-word essay e-mailed this week to his worldwide contacts portray President Bush as a latter-day "Dr. Goebbels" who has "reduced Afghanistan to a wasteland as a consequence of the so-called War on Terror."
"The futility of outrageous war against Afghanistan is increasingly being felt, and the implicit irony comes to light that despite more than $20 billion spent on the savagery, termed war on terror, no gain has been achieved, except the ruthless massacre of innocent people men, women and children. The al Qaeda fighters have not been apprehended in any appreciable number. They either have melted into the crowd or have found safe havens elsewhere to regroup for fresh encounters against the Coalition Forces."
Gen. Beg argues that the U.S. offensive against Osama Bin Laden and Taliban was merely a pretext for long-planned U.S. strategic objectives "to consolidate its prestigious global unipolarity." He also describes in someone else's words how a Pakistani intelligence officer got angry about being ordered around by an American who reminded him there was "enough space for Pakistan on the [U.S.] hit list."
Pakistan is one of Washington's most important allies in the war on terrorism. But when a prestigious national figure of Pakistani reasonableness like Gen. Beg quotes Ramsey Clark, America's chief self-hating American, as an authority on Washington's ulterior strategic objectives i.e., world domination one can measure how artificial the Pakistani-U.S. alliance really is.
Ariel Sharon, writes Gen. Beg, "bubbling with rage and venom, has even programmed the invasion of Iran, the day after Iraq is crushed."
"Killing several birds with one stone," Gen. Beg continues, "may be the ostensible purpose of strategic sport that USA is playing in the post September 11 era, and targeting terrorists may only be a replay of Greek tragedy, depicting pathological passion 'as flies to wanton boys they kill us for sport.' Under the Bush Doctrine, and its auxiliary notion of pre-emptive strike, the world is transformed into Hobsonian jungle, making any country vulnerable and legitimizing war as weapon of national policy."
Gen. Beg's diatribe was just warming up when he compared president Bush's "pre-emptive passions" to Joseph Goebbels' Nazi propaganda rantings. "Protecting their own civilization, by hurling bombs and missiles on other nations, labeled axis of evil or rogue states, is based on conceits and delusions of grandeur," Pakistan's pre-eminent geopolitical sage said. He also accused the U.S. of providing "a model to emulate to Israel, India and Russia to suppress the sacrosanct freedom struggle of people in Palestine, Kashmir and Chechnya by labeling it 'terrorism.' "
It is hard to avoid the conclusion that Pakistan will be the first to make the list of unintended consequences when and if the U.S. invades Iraq. War on Iraq, Gen. Beg says, "is motivated by Bush's desire to please the arms and oil industries in the U.S." Pakistan's answer, he urges, must be "the urgent necessity" of an immediate alliance with Iran "to brave the storm gathering around us." Iranian President Mohammed Khatami paid a three-day state visit to Pakistan over Christmas.
Pakistan's principal terrorist leaders have long since been released from detention where President Pervez Musharraf, a former disciple of Gen. Beg, had pledged to keep them. Taliban, which Gen. Beg now praises as the instrument that "brought peace and stability to Afghanistan," no longer has to hide in Baluchistan and the Northwest Frontier Province. These are the two Pakistani provinces that border with Afghanistan and that are now governed by a coalition of six politico-religious parties that see the U.S. as the fount of all evil and al Qaeda as "freedom fighters."
"Minimum cooperation with the Americans" is the word that has gone out to Pakistani military units still going through the motions of assisting U.S. Special Forces find al Qaeda survivors in the unmarked, snowcapped sawtooth mountains that straddle the border. Anyone who's anyone in al Qaeda left the border area months ago and has found shelter in Pakistan's major cities or gone on to other countries.
The recent incident of a U.S. air strike on an abandoned border village mosque where a Pakistani border patrolman has sought refuge after shooting and wounding a U.S. soldier has further soured Pakistani-U.S. relations. And in New York where Pakistan joined the U.N. Security Council this month, its U.N. ambassador, Munir Akram, hit the front page of the tabloids by beating up his live-in girl friend. While the Secretary Colin Powell's seventh floor of the State Department was working hard to persuade Pakistan to support Washington's tough line on Iraq, another part of the building was asking Pakistan to lift the envoy's diplomatic immunity. In the blink of log on, Pakistani media reported back from New York that Ambassador Akram had been set up.
This month, too, India's defense minister stoked the embers of last year's near military showdown between the Subcontinent's two nuclear powers. "We can take a [nuclear] bomb or two or more, but when we respond there will be no Pakistan," said George Fernandes. Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed fired back, "India will be taught an unforgettable historic lesson if they ever launch a nuclear attack on Pakistan." President Musharraf kicked off the latest round of nuclear threats in a Karachi speech last month when he said he had personally warned the Indian prime minister during last year's hostilities to "not expect a conventional war from Pakistan." Next to that, the exchanges between North Korea's Kim Jong-il and President Bush seemed pretty tame.
The American and British intelligence communities believe that Abdul Qadeer Khan, the 66-year-old father of the Pakistan's "Islamic nuclear bomb" and premier national hero, is the evil genius who has passed on his knowledge to the three powers in Mr. Bush's "axis of evil" North Korea, Iran and Iraq. Mr. Khan has journeyed to North Korea at least 13 times. In return for a dozen North Korean Nodong missiles in 1993, Pakistan is believed to have supplied Pyongyang with blueprints for nuclear know-how. To maintain the fiction of non-proliferation, and to prevent relations from capsizing, Washington has chosen to accept Islamabad's strong denial.
But Mr. Khan's name also appeared in an intercepted letter to Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein offering to "manufacture a nuclear weapon." The International Atomic Energy Agency has a copy of a memo, dated Oct. 6, 1990, from Section B-15 of Iraqi intelligence to Section S-15 of the Nuclear Weapons Directorate that describes "a proposal from Pakistani scientist Abdel Qadeer Khan" to help Iraq "establish a project to enrich uranium and manufacture a nuclear weapon."
Mr. Khan has told interviewers his nuclear team purchased key bomb-making components from Western companies that were in it for the money. "They begged us to buy their goods," he said. So Western non-proliferators were foiled "by the greed of their own companies."
Looking for last-minute ways to scuttle American war plans, Saddam could be tempted to emulate Kim Il-sung and declare that he, too, now has a couple of nukes stashed away. He could also stage his own coup to overthrow himself. One of his crony generals would then announce "the tyrant is dead" and produce the body of one of Saddam's many pinch hitters trotted out to fire a rifle in the air from a balcony overlooking the cheering multitudes. Stay tuned.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor at large of The Washington Times and of United Press International.

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