Washington, March 14 Calling Pakistan “the most dangerous place on earth”, Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call’s executive editor Mort Kondracke has suggested that the Obama administration should give “top priority” to the South Asian nation in its Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy.
“US intelligence officials say Pakistan is the likeliest source of terrorist attacks on the United States. It’s the most dangerous place on earth: nuclear-armed, menaced by terrorists, economically in crisis and mired in political turmoil,” said Kondracke.
He said protecting Afghanistan from Taliban advances is important – and US troop commitments will be a major domestic concern – but preventing chaos in Pakistan is vital to US security.
US President Barack Obama’s promised Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy is to be delivered to the April 3-4 North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) summit.
“For more than 20 years, US aid has been almost entirely military and even that was not used to establish a counter-insurgency capability but to buy conventional weaponry that Pakistan’s military wanted to counter India,” Kondracke said.
While Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has declared himself America’s ally in the war on terror and has permitted the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to use Pakistani territory to stage missile strikes on Al Qaida targets, “he has not been able or willing to crack down on extremist groups such as Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), which perpetrated last year’s Mumbai terrorist attack”.
Noting that “those groups originally were created by Pakistan’s military intelligence service, the ISI (Inter-Services Intelligence), to stage attacks” in Kashmir, Kondracke said: “They are widely believed to still have ISI connections.”
It may well cost a lot of money and effort to rescue the Pakistani economy, invest in education and infrastructure and persuade the army to concentrate on fighting terrorists instead of India, he said.
But all this seems a reasonable investment – assuming the money is not squandered – in view of what it might forestall, Kondracke said, noting: “If we’re worried about Iran’s developing a nuclear weapon, contemplate Lashkar-e-Taiba in command of an entire arsenal.”