Pakistan Update: Nuclear Concerns

If you are wondering why I’ve not been covering Pakistan lately it’s because with martial law, the insurrection, the elections, and Musharraf’s retirement from the military they have been getting plenty of coverage from mainstream press, and the press has been getting it mostly right. It’s unfortunate situation that brings that coverage – but things are improving and some media are missing that part — so here it goes.

Benazir Bhutto is campaigning in the Frontiers, which means those areas are now somewhat safer than they were a month ago. She has also directly warned that foreign forces could invade if the Pakistani nuclear weapons are threatened by the tribal insurgencies in the frontiers, which means we can now talk about it here.

The election slates are filled up across the country from all parties, and while some parties are talking boycott that’s not likely to happen. Even religious conservative MMA party is split on whether to boycott, and they are usually the loudest in calls for that, preferring chaos and a split state to grow their party. (Does that sound familiar?)

The army is making slow progress in Swat against Mullah Fazlullah’s forces, taking an outpost or a mountaintop at a time, which is how such campaigns go. The TNSM/Taliban forces are melting before attacks, fading back through mountain tracks when the opposition gets too strong. While the army is having mostly success, they are failing in the same manner they always do – they are not killing and capturing the leaders. When they bring in Fazlullah and the hidden leaders guiding his hand then will the region be subdued.

The US is trying some wargame scenarios to protect Pakistan’s nuclear devices, those are not sanctioned by any government body because of the sensitive nature, but they are ongoing. All the scenarios played so far involve Pakistan’s army cooperating, with Musharraf’s retirement however you have to wonder if that would occur. The information on where the nukes are suspected to be is available, but I won’t share that here.

Nawaz and Bhutto will be meeting today to discuss boycott, and probably power-sharing, I doubt they will come out of the meeting with a plan to boycott however.

Various reports:

Wargaming Pak Nukes — WaPo

Opposition Heads Meeting — BBC

Why are we acting surprised? Hardline Op-Ed from ARI

Turkish President to visit Pakistan — China View

Metroblogging Islamabad Covers Musharraf’s retirement – read the comments for a feel of how Pakistanis view him – he is both revered and reviled, but like President Bush, his popularity is near an all-time low.