Everyone is so quiet
Written by The Indian EXPRESS   
Wednesday, 18 February 2004


Everyone is so quiet

The present silence over A.Q. Khan’s misadventures is intriguing


Pakistan's misadventure on nuclear proliferation with countries like North Korea, Libya, Iran and Iraq and the speed with which General Musharraf pardoned Dr A.Q. Khan has left many questions unanswered. Including, of course, the extent of the complicity of the Pakistani establishment in it. What is equally shocking is that countries like Japan, Britain, Australia, Israel and Germany have preferred to remain mute spectators to these developments. One can appreciate Great Britain’s silence, since its foreign policy is almost drafted in the White House, but what about the others?


Japan has been the most vociferous against any nation treading the nuclear path, having physically suffered from the nuclear holocaust. Australia, New Zealand and Europe never missed an opportunity to threaten those they characterised as proliferators. Yet, not a whimper out of them this time!

In 1974, India carried out its first nuclear test at Pokhran. Economic sanctions followed almost immediately. The story was repeated in 1998. India’s justification for conducting these tests for peaceful purposes was drowned in loud squawks of protest. Australia went to the extent of recalling its high commissioner. The present silence, therefore, is perplexing — especially given the crucial developments involving Pakistan that took place in 2003. Investigation into Jakarta’s Marriott hotel car bombing showed that Pakistan had a role in it. The Indonesian government’s findings were not even contested by Pakistan. Similarly,the money used in the 9/11 attack was traced to Pakistani accounts.

But the most clinching proof, yet, of Pakistan’s involvement in nuclear proliferation came from the father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb himself. Shockingly, he held out a veiled threat that should he be put on trial, he’ll spill the beans and prove the involvement of military officials and political leaders in his nuclear misadventures. He was hurriedly pardoned and an embarrassed Musharraf went about appeasing President Bush. He fished out 500 Al Qaeda suspects from thin air, including Khaleed Sheikh Mohammad, Abu Zubaydah and Ramji Bin Al-Shibh, and simultaneously cracked the whip on 4,000 madrassas. He even went to the extent of appealing to Muslim nations to consider granting diplomatic recognition to Israel.

The US has generously reciprocated these gestures and helped Pakistan in rescheduling $2.5 billion in outstanding debts to the West, besides several other acts of generosity. But it would be a mistake to assume that America’s roar was tamed to a mew by Musharraf’s cooperation. One suggestion is that the silence of the G-8, Israel and others, over Pakistani proliferation, is in exchange for US control over Pakistan’s nuclear trigger.

Coming to India, while a peaceful neighbour could be a boon for shining India, it may be worth this country’s while to take a close look at America’s body language in the days ahead.
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