Nuclear Doubts: Pakistani Weakness Is Eroding Internal Morale, Fast

Posted by Ahmed Quraishi on Nov 9th, 2009

Nuclear Doubts: Pakistani Weakness Is Eroding Internal Morale, Fast

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Seymour Hersh might have come up with some absurd findings, like concluding that religious extremism has multiplied in Pakistan because no one offered him Johnny Walker Black during his recent visit.  But apart from that, Pakistan’s national security managers should sit up and take notice of one glaring fact: The US media and some circles in the Washington establishment are behind the worst global demonization campaign against Pakistan.  This is denting national morale and forcing Pakistanis to question if their military is capable of defending the nation, since politicians have proven to be a disaster.



AHMED QURAISHI | Tuesday | 10 November 2009




ISLAMABAD, Pakistan—Two curious aspects of the New Yorker story on Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is that the report singles out the Pakistani military – and not the civilian government – as partner in alleged secret negotiations with the Obama administration to secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.  The other is the objective behind leaking the story – if indeed some US officials helped in leaking details – since the story only serves to make it more difficult for Pakistani officials cooperating with Washington on the nuclear question.


In May, when Boston Globe published a similar story quoting unnamed and unverifiable sources revealing that Pakistani officials have accepted a proposal to ship some highly enriched uranium to the United States for disposal, there was no reference whatsoever to Pakistani military.  The Globe depicted the talks as a government-to-government exercise.


For all intents, the latest story seeks to embarrass the Pakistani military.  This probably explains the immediate reaction of the US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne W. Patterson.  Not that she actually denied the alleged talks.  Her written statement was carefully worded to deny her government’s “intention to seize Pakistani nuclear weapons or material.”


The element of embarrassment also explains the statement of Pakistan’s Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Tariq Majid, who made it a point to respond to the question, ‘How much does US really know about Pakistan’s nuclear program?’  In a sharp public retort uncommon to Pakistan’s top military brass, Gen. Majeed answered, ‘Only that much as they can guess and nothing more’.


Important parts of Mr. Seymour Hersh’s investigative story remain unaddressed.  No government or military official has confirmed or denied the revelation in the New Yorker that former President Pervez Musharraf shared with US officials information about the number of warheads, their locations and their security plan.  Considering the embarrassing concessions that he gave the Americans [he allowed US diplomats, officials and military personnel unprecedented privileges at Pakistani airports at a time when Pakistani officials were humiliated on entry to US.  Pakistan has withdrawn those concessions.]


[It is also important to question some of Mr. Hersh's findings, which border on the ridiculous.  The last time Mr. Hersh visited Pakistan was five years ago by his own statement.  Yet he concluded that since the few politicians, journalists and retired generals he met this time did not offer him Johnny Walker Black this must be a sign of growing religious extremism in Pakistan and in the ranks of Pakistan military.  At other places, he has exaggerated the impact of two retired army officers that he interviewed on soldiers and middle rank officers.  Mr. Hersh appeared to have made little effort to use his visit to the country to try to understand the real Pakistan. Instead, he felt comfortable regurgitating media stereotypes. Which is fine since his report fits in with the overall US political and military policy thrust with regards to Pakistan.]


Mr. Hersh’s report comes six months after the Boston Globe story that broke the news on behind-the-scenes talks between Islamabad and Washington on US proposals to secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, including a US suggestion to ship out Pakistani uranium.  No one in Islamabad denied the story at the time.  The fixed Pakistani response to such stories has not changed much in recent years: that Pakistan has an excellent command and control regime and that Pakistan does not need outside help to secure its arsenal.


So, is the Pakistani government or military really talking secretly with the Americans on how to secure Pakistani nukes?


One explanation that retired military officers are giving is that Pakistani officers may be talking nukes to the Americans but not giving them the right information.  If true, this policy line seeks to keep the Americans engaged with Pakistan without allowing Washington any real access.


This is not farfetched. Pakistani civilian and military governments have perfected a uniquely Pakistani version of the American idiom, ‘to roll with the punches and survive to fight another day.’  Only that Pakistan never really fights even for what is its legitimate right.  Under this policy, Islamabad has accepted on several occasions to play along, live with the accusations and insinuations about its nuclear program, and hope to stall, engage, and win over the antagonistic elements of the Washington establishment, both political and military.


But the latest report takes the debate to a new level.  Pakistani officials grappling with the PR aspect of this story need to consider the following:


1.       The latest report is particularly demoralizing for ordinary Pakistanis, in the backdrop of an overall deteriorating strategic environment for Pakistani interests, internal and external.  Pakistan’s national security managers, civilian and military, need to pay attention to the hypothetical threshold of national morale.  Dangerously low levels of national morale could prove fatal in case of war with India or a US-led military invasion of Pakistani territory from Afghanistan.


2.      Is there someone in Washington, within its political, military and intelligence communities that might have an interest in embarrassing Pakistani officials who are allegedly engaged in secret nuclear talks with Washington?  Is someone trying to sabotage policy initiatives of the Obama administration?  In such a case, Pakistani officials – especially in the Pakistani intelligence community – need to give more weight to reports that anti-Pakistan activities orchestrated on Afghan soil cannot happen without some level of American involvement.


3.      That the US media continues to cause tremendous damage to Pakistan’s reputation and standing in the international community.  Pakistan is receiving enemy treatment from the US media.  Pakistani officials must understand that US media cannot mount similar attacks on other countries such as Turkey and Egypt because leaderships in those countries generally keep US officials on a leash and leverage Washington’s strategic needs to their favor. In Pakistan, we have a ruling elite that is micromanaged from Washington, thanks to a deal that former President Musharraf signed with Washington and London.


4.      The New Yorker report harms the image of the Pakistani military leadership in the eyes of the soldiers and officers in middle and lower ranks.  This is especially relevant to the debate raging in official US circles about a mutiny within the Pakistan army.  Some American policymakers are deliberately using Afghanistan to push Pakistan to the wall in the hope that instability in Pakistan would reach a level where it could trigger a mutiny inside the Pakistani military against both the military leadership and the government.  Anyone who knows Pakistan will instantly understand that this notion is exaggerated, but this US debate should tell Pakistan’s military leadership and people something about the destructive line of policy thinking that Washington is pursuing in Pakistan’s neighborhood.


Common wisdom in both the Pakistani political elite and some parts of the military bureaucracy says that ‘engaging’ the Americans on the subject of the security of Pakistani nukes can be beneficial to Pakistan. It would keep Washington engaged.  It would provide opportunities to milk the Americans of more aid money.


But no one in the policymaking circles is apparently weighing the downside: The ‘engagement’ is emboldening the Americans.  The ‘engagement’ – or secret talks, call them whatever you want – are sending the wrong signals to ordinary Pakistanis at a time when more of our people are convinced that Pakistan’s troubles stem from American failures in Afghanistan.


Pakistani schools and colleges are under attack when those in Iraq and Afghanistan are safe.  This is happening because of American policy blunders and not just because of extremism inside Pakistan.  Our problems are also the result of Islamabad refusing to submit completely to the US military strategy that wants to give India a larger role in Afghanistan.  Pakistan, with a strong military and intelligence setup, is an obstacle in this strategy.





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6 Responses for “Nuclear Doubts: Pakistani Weakness Is Eroding Internal Morale, Fast”

  1. WEBMASTER says:

    from DR. SHAHIDA WIZARAT via email:

    I think we had already anticipated what Seymour Hersch has now spelt out. I dont think he is adding any thing new to what I and many other Pakistanis knew about the American intentions. The only new insights we have been given is about the engagement of the army top brass in secret negotiations with the Americans. And the most heart breaking part of the story is the acceptance of $1bn as gratitude (shukriya) money in exchange for disclosure about the location of the nukes. (The Nation, 11 November 2009). Army leadership will have to address this issue. If that is the case the money given by the US for defense is helping to make us weak, defenseless and vulnerable. If the story is not true the journalist needs to be taken to a court for defamation. Inability of the army top brass to take such an action will bring the army top brass into disrepute.

    Dr Shahida Wizarat

  2. WEBMASTER says:


    Mr. Hersh can mix the real with the absurd, like when he condemned the whole country because no one offered him Johnny Walker Black this time in Islamabad. The same goes for his comments on Mr. Zaid Hamid. Did Mr. Hersh conduct an independent study that revealed Mr. Hamid\’s inordinate influence over Pakistani soldiers? I live in Islamabad and I am yet to mingle with the soldiers. So I am really stunned at the access Mr. HErsh has in my city. Besides, if Mr. Hamid has that kind of influence, that\’s really great. I encourage it.


    AQ- Hersh commented on your friend ZZ Hamid. Why is there a stony silence from you on this issue. HERSH WROTE: \”Officials and journalists said that soldiers and middle-level officers were increasingly attracted to the preaching of Zaid Hamid, who joined the mujahideen and fought for nine years in Afghanistan. On CDs and on television, Hamid exhorts soldiers to think of themselves as Muslims first and Pakistanis second. He claims that terrorist attacks in Mumbai last year were staged by India and Western Zionists, aided by the Mossad.\” AQ – YOUR REPLY TO THIS WILL BE APPRECIATED. THANKS

  4. WEBMASTER says:

    from ZEEBA KHAN via email:

    I think the problem in this country is that there is a race going on between the civilian and the military leadership to excel in terms of loyalty to the Americans. The interests of 170 mn people of this country is of no consequesnce. The most important thing is to pursue US interests, so that personal gains can be reaped from the situation. The accusation by Seymour Hersch has been accepted by the top military brass by stating that they are engaging the Americans. Whether these engagements lead to pursuing Pakistan\’s interests or the personal interests of the \’engagers\’ remains to be seen. In the past personal interests have triumphed over national interests.

    There is evidence to show that Pakistan army is totally committed to US interests. The military operations in Swat and Waziristan are proofs. Even when proofs of US involvement in Pakistan were found with the discovery of US arms from Swat (or Waziristan) ISPR spokesperson Gen Athar Abbas stated that these were stolen US arms. The army found the arms and ISPR spokesperson knew even before any investigation had been conducted that these were stolen arms. US interests are closer to his heart than Pakistan\’s.

  5. yahoovisitor says:

    Anti Islamic Community is at its best to declare Islam as a terrorist religion & followers of Islam as terrorists. They fear their own solemnity so much that wherever they find Islamic customs being followed regularly they try to declare that area as area of fundamentalist or terrorist community. In Gen Musharraf\’s era when religious parties won the election with visible majority in NWFP & Baluchistan India & USA were not at all happy at the result. These two main terrorists having contacts with Israel as the leading power to these two making them the three terrorists musketeers are day & night planing to get hold of Pakistan\’s nuclear assets. Besides Pakistan\’s political filth being represented by filthy people like Zardari & the interior minister are a great help to these terrorists as these devils not having any moral character can be bribed easily for a few million $ to put Pakistan\’s solemnity at stake. But the Anti Islamic Media forgets that in Pakistan Army majority constitutes of followers of Islam they may call them fundamentalists or terrorists. Plus the way India is constantly trying to involve in small battles off and on of which its losing the most keeps Pakistan\’s Army ranked as the world\’s best and the most active army awake at all times & ready to encounter any sort of internal or external threat whenever tested for it. These qualities of Pakistan\’s army further take their dreams off. Pakistan\’s public is also awake & can very well judge the difference between its friend & foe which is more startling for Anti Pakistan/Anti Islamic Community. Finally the time has come for the milk to be separated from any impurities in it regarding Pakistan\’s political leadership as can be seen from the daily quotes of our political filth presently ruling and past rulers of Pakistan. As per our media the game has reached to the STALEMATE level but some of our political filth wants it to remain at CHECKMATE position. How do they bring the game to this position is the main question. Let\’s see which way the camel sits or the wind blows.

  6. peterchamberlin says:

    American Psyops Destroying Pakistani Morale

    Peter Chamberlin

    Ahmed is a great patriotic defender of Pakistan and he always calls the political leaders out when they sell-out. Like most Pakistani patriots though, he is hesitant to criticize the Army for the trouble that is boiling over there, even though Army cooperation with the United States is perhaps the biggest problem of all. Like I have been trying to point out for a couple of years, if the Army continues to cooperate with US planners and behind the scenes maneuvers, then Pakistan will not likely survive much longer. The Army must convince Obama that it works for the Pakistani people and not for him. It does this by resisting American calls for civil war and restoring all the displaced Pashtuns back to their homes and filling them with the will to resist.

    Strange as it seems, that is the way that the CIA undermines nations–it purposely complicates situations it wants to change, so that it can knock them down later. It is of strategic value to keep the nuclear issue in conflict. It is not really looking for cooperation on the nuclear issue, rather it is looking for complete capitulation to American Zionist demands.

    Patterson was probably telling a diplomat\’s version of the \”truth,\” they don\’t intend to \”seize\” Pakistan\’s nukes, they expect the Army to simply hand them over.

    There should be no doubt in Pakistan, even within the Army, that Musharraf handed the country to Bush and waged war against the people afterwords, to please him. Why wouldn\’t the keys already be in US hands?

    Wearing-out an opponent, without having to actually fight, is the purpose of CIA and military psyops. When, and if, Pakistani morale sinks so low that agency planners expect complete capitulation with the next shock, then the final shock will soon come, psychological assault will intensify. It is the \”shock doctrine\” and the theory of \”learned helplessness\” rolled into one. The close cooperation between American and Pakistani military leaders makes it highly unlikely that Kayani and the generals don\’t understand what is happening. By looking the other way so often, whenever US operatives are taking actions that are harmful to Pakistan, the Army shares in the guilt for what is being done. This is the deadly problem that will finish Pakistan off, if left as is.

    Ahmed is being too generous concerning American intentions, but he is dead-on about US and NATO forces being complicit in any Indian action against Pakistan from Afghani soil. Launching attacks against Pakistan from US-controlled territory would require US consent, just like in the case of Israel attacking Iran through US-controlled airspace, it can\’t be done without American permission.

    Pakistan will continue to be a pariah nation because of the armies of Islamists that it has trained for the CIA. Until Kayani and the generals stop covering-up what amounts to a shared criminal enterprise run for the CIA, Pakistan will take the fall for the entire operation, by itself, America is off the hook. The world is slowly coming to realize what was done in FATA and NWFP, because the graduates of the militant academies which were established there have been plying the trade they learned there all over the world. The world is holding Pakistan accountable for the terrorism these militants are commiting, no matter what. Pakistan will go down alone, unless the generals prove to the world that this has been an American enterprise all along, which they merely been managing and operated under a deadly contract that began in 1979.

    Some of the attacks, even some being committed on the Army, are being done by \”former\” military and ISI men, usually blamed on Taliban. Consider the officers involved in the attacks on Musharraf and the attack upon GHQ . There is secret cooperation between the CIA and some unnamed officers of the Army on some level that amounts to waging war against the locals.

    That is precisely why American planners are working so hard to take Pakistan out of the way. If they succeed in destroying the morale of the brave people of Pakistan, then a whole new level of pain will sweep over the land, with the idea of washing Pakistan back upon Indian shores.

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