Pakistan’s Heavyweights

Abdul Qadeer Khan, Pakistan’s national hero who peddled nuclear weapons secrets to Iran, North Korea and Libya (under Moammar Gadhafi), now has his own political party to promote his presidential ambitions. He is also a media columnist and his anti-U.S. lucubrations are read in both English and Urdu.

Khan’s close ally Hamid Gul is the former intelligence chief who invented (two weeks after Sept. 11, 2001) the world’s most preposterous canard: The CIA and Mossad, Israel’s intelligence service, staged the terrorist attacks against New York’s Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

The objective: global agitation against the United States and Israel.

Defying the logic that three people can keep a secret provided two of them are dead, and that a conspiracy of that magnitude would have required scores of players, Gul’s canard is believed to this day by an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis — and countless hundreds of millions in scores of countries.

Books by French and German authors, with the same inane thesis, sold millions of copies all over Europe.

Last September, a Pakistani Cabinet minister offered al-Qaida and Taliban $100,000, presumably out of government funds, to kill the California-based producer of a crude low-budget video that insulted Prophet Muhammad.

Under pressure from the prime minister and his Cabinet colleagues, the offer was withdrawn.

Khan is the “father” of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, based on plans stolen from a Dutch nuclear research facility.

His new political party — Movement for the Protection of Pakistan, or Tehreek Tahaffuze Pakistan — is the platform he is using to get himself elected to Parliament next April. He claims to have 2 million party members.

The national hero thinks of himself in the role of Lee Kwan Yew, the founder of modern Singapore, known as the Henry Kissinger of Asia, who turned a steamy tropical swampland into a vibrant city nation that is the envy of countless other countries.

As for Khan’s nuclear black market activities in favor of America’s sworn enemies, he explained recently that it was the late Benazir Bhutto, when she was prime minister, who gave him the order to sell nuclear secrets to America’s enemies.

This triggered an avalanche of protests from Bhutto’s myriad supporters. Two days later, Khan corrected his statement to say it was one of Bhutto’s military assistants who had relayed the order. The assistant wasn’t named.

The deal with North Korea made strategic sense for Pakistan. In exchange for nuclear wherewithal, North Korea gave Pakistan missile technology. Khan told Simon Henderson, as he reported in “Foreign Policy” magazine, that the North Koreans set up a plant in Pakistan to produce the Nodong missile, the delivery vehicle Pakistan sought for its nuclear warheads.

Successive Pakistani governments, Khan said, knew what he was doing. Former President Pervez “Musharraf gave all our highly classified and secret information to the U.S., the U.K., Japan and the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) and sent invaluable centrifuge samples to the U.S. and IAEA. He even gave them centrifuge drawings worth billions of dollars just to gain their patronage. For that, he is a traitor.”

Then, Khan says defiantly, “I don’t care what Western leaders think about me.”

But wasn’t he a rogue agent? Henderson asks Khan.

“The traitor,” he responds, “was Musharraf,” now in self-exile in Dubai and London. “He gave away all our highly classified and secret nuclear information.”

“Nobody in Pakistan doubts my integrity, honesty, sincerity or patriotism,” he tells Henderson.

Then, in a fit of modesty, Khan adds, “Pakistan historians will remember me by the nickname they have given me: Mohsin-e-Pakistan (Savior of Pakistan).”

There are two years left on the clock in Afghanistan to total U.S. and NATO withdrawal. There is no face-saving deal without Pakistan. But there isn’t one with Pakistan, either.

In recent years, China has quietly and gradually displaced U.S. influence in Pakistan. From the building of a new port and naval base at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea to a deal under negotiation for 250 JF-17 fighter bombers at $20 million per aircraft, two nuclear power plants at almost $1 billion each (all on long-term credit), China has moved quietly to become the dominant foreign power in Pakistan.

India doesn’t like what it sees as an emerging geopolitical horizon of Chinese power that would stretch in a semicircle from northwest to northeast. India doesn’t forget China invaded its northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh in 1962.

China’s strategic planning is 20 years ahead of Western thinking.

The average uneducated Afghan knows NATO is leaving. Thousands of heavy-duty items are being weatherproofed for shipment back to the United States. Many items are also being left behind for the Afghan army, already heavily infiltrated by the Taliban; witness the green-on-blue assassinations of their U.S. military trainers and advisers.

There are arguments about the proposed renaming of streets with the names of heroes of the anti-Soviet war in the 1980s and the anti-Taliban guerrilla campaign of the past decade. Why insult possible future friends and leaders?

Phase-out plans state Congress is expected to vote each year for 10 years $7 billion in economic aid and $4 billion in security assistance for the Afghan army — a grand long-range commitment of $110 billion.

A similar commitment to South Vietnam in 1973 lasted two years. Congress then pulled the plug and North Vietnam’s Communist army marched into Saigon.

The second Obama administration or the first Romney Cabinet will have to plan for a different ending.

Arnaud de Borchgrave, a member of the Atlantic Council, is editor-at-large at UPI and the Washington Times.  This column was syndicated by UPI.

Image: aqkhan.jpg