- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 24, 2005

“Nuclear Pakistan terrifies the world and this serves Pakistan well.” So spoke retired Gen. Hamid Gul, a former head of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency, on the eve of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s arrival in Pakistan.

Gen. Gul is an admirer of Osama bin Laden, a friend of Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, and A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal who sold nuclear weapons knowhow to North Korea, Iran and Libya. Gen. Gul, who hates the United States with a passion, is also promoting Mr. Khan, Pakistan’s most popular living legend, as a natural successor to President Pervez Musharraf.

As “strategic adviser” to MMA, Pakistan’s coalition of six Islamist extremist political parties, Gen. Gul appeared two consecutive days on the popular Pakistani satellite television network ARY ONE to hammer home his nuclear thoughts:

Iran should continue its quest to become a nuclear power by enriching uranium to weapons-grade quality.

• Muslim countries and smaller countries should develop nuclear capabilities to thwart America’s aggressive policies.

• Only Pakistan’s nuclear capability prevents war with India.

• Had Iraq possessed nuclear weapons, the United States would not even have thought of attacking.

• The largest uranium enrichment plant is in Pakistan.

• Mr. Khan is a “Moshin,” or “bestower,” of Pakistan. Thanks to him Pakistan is the world’s only nuclear Muslim country.

• Nuclear Pakistan terrifies the world, and this serves Pakistan well.

• Knowledge and technology cannot be prevented from traveling anywhere. It is like air, which can go in any direction.

The United States is still denied direct access to Mr. Khan to pin down an exact accounting of the nuclear knowledge he passed on to Iran’s “Mullahocracy.” He first began visiting Iran’s atomic energy agency in the mid-1980s and has made a number of trips to Iran since then.

Mr. Khan ran a clandestine nuclear black market for two decades. These secret activities made him one of Pakistan’s wealthiest men. Following repeated complaints from the United States, Mr. Musharraf, then chief executive before he made himself president, relieved Mr. Khan of his official nuclear responsibilities and made him a private adviser. Mr. Musharraf also told U.S. interlocutors he knew nothing of clandestine Khan activities and the U.S. could not prove its allegations.

In late 2003, then Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage confronted Mr. Musharraf with detailed accusations of Mr. Khan’s secret proliferation activities. Mr. Musharraf still claimed it was news to him, which stretches credulity, as he was army chief of staff prior to staging a coup in October 1999. Mr. Khan frequently traveled on Pakistani military aircraft.

Mr. Khan was allowed to go free and keep his nuclear black market gains in exchange for a televised apology — in English. The overwhelming majority of Pakistanis speak only Urdu.

U.S. attempts to have direct access to Khan to find out exactly how he assisted Iran’s nuclear ambitions have been rebuffed by Mr. Musharraf. During Miss Rice’s first visit to Islamabad, Mr. Musharraf agreed to send Mr. Khan detailed questions about his secret work in Iran. Direct access was denied.

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

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