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Jonathan Power: The Great Khan of Pakistan's Nukes?

Whenever I introduced Munir Khan to a friend I would say light-heartedly "and this is the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb"—just to enjoy the pleasure of watching the reaction. Khan himself would give a self-deprecatory smile. As Hans Blix, the former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the world's nuclear policeman, once put it to me, Khan was "a cheerful soul."

The world has been told over and over again that the father of the Pakistani bomb was A. Q. (Qadeer) Khan, the famous metallurgist. But he, in fact, ran only one part of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, which Munir Khan chaired. More correctly, we have been told that Qadeer Khan secretly set up an international network to supply the likes of North Korea, Libya, and Iran with blueprints and materials for the manufacture of their own nuclear weapons. This was done for his private profit. Just over one week ago, after five years of house arrest for this offense, Pakistan's top court restored his freedom. Khan and Khan. Too many got the two men muddled. This worked in Qadeer's favor. He was a man who had no compunction about claiming every bit of credit for himself and who loved to woo gullible journalists and parliamentarians with his tales of achievement. No wonder that when he was finally exposed as a nuclear racketeer five years ago, President Pervez Musharraf couldn't have him formally arrested and tried. Musharraf, in fact, pardoned him for his alleged crimes. Qadeer—a popular icon in Pakistan—was untouchable.

Jonathan Power: Nuclear Matchsticks on the Indian Sub-continent

However tense the relationship between India and Pakistan becomes, the government of Manmohan Singh is highly unlikely to initiate or participate in a nuclear war with Pakistan. That would go against the deeply held moral beliefs of the prime minister. Both he and the Congress Party chairman, Sonia Gandhi, have told me privately that they both are utterly repulsed by such an act. Immediately after the Mumbai atrocities, tough talk towards Pakistan seemed to billow like smoke from the Taj hotel out of quarters of India's military and foreign affairs establishment—but, to his credit, Singh quickly fanned it away. On the Pakistani side, President Asif Ali Zardari appears to be in a peace-making mood. Not long before the atrocities in Mumbai, he publicly abandoned his country’s “first use” doctrine, which held that Pakistan could use its nuclear weapons even without an Indian nuclear attack. He has also, like General Pervez Musharraf before him, reached out to India for a deal on the central flash point: the disputed state of Kashmir. Neither this president nor Musharraf (once he was in power) ever showed they were the type to reach for their nuclear guns. Nevertheless, Singh has had few qualms about supporting the build up of India's nuclear deterrent—regarding it as an inevitable process given India's place in the world—and has been a passionate advocate of the new nuclear deal with the United States, which has recently lifted its 30 year-old embargo on nuclear supplies for India. But does that mean we don't have to fear a nuclear war between India and Pakistan?

Jonathan Power: The Triangle Of Madness

“Those whom the gods destroy they first make mad.” - Euripides There is a madness about the triangular relationship between India, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. They all have resented and often hated each other; made alliances against each other; worked together when it was opportune; supported or, at least, turned too much of a blind eye to terrorists in each other's countries; and became profoundly angry if terrorism was unleashed against them. These cleavages have their roots in the Great Game, the nineteenth century British-Russian struggle for supremacy in Afghanistan and central Asia. But ever since the Red Army invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and was finally defeated by the Taliban (aided by American, Saudi Arabian, and Indian arms and training), the intensity of the regional rivalry has been ratcheted up and extended to frightening proportions, worsened by America's decision to wage war in Central Asia. It is no longer just a Great Game. It has become a Great Madness. One hostile act impacts on another and then the two together create a third, then three together create a fourth...and so on. It has long been known that the Pakistan-based terrorists who have struggled to liberate Kashmir from India's grip have close connections with the Taliban. There is also little doubt that those Pakistani terrorists whose primary interest is a free Kashmir aim to wound India's growing political and diplomatic interests in Afghanistan. India, in turn, has aimed to encircle Pakistan in order to have a counter against Islamabad's Kashmir ambitions.



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