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Four negative scenarios in future .

Reader comment on item: Israeli Jets vs. Iranian Nukes

Submitted by Ranet (India), Jun 12, 2007 at 19:21

There are four possible negative scenarios:

Scenario #1: (Worrisome Probability): Musharraf is removed from the scene either by death due to natural causes or through assassination either by a terrorist or an accomplice of the jihadi terrorists inside the armed forces. Another Army officer will takeover, hold elections after an interregnum and hand over power to the political parties, while retaining the control of the Army and the ISI over the national security and nuclear establishments. This is what happened when Zia-ul-Haq died in a plane crash in August, 1988.

Scenario #2: (Medium Probability): The Pakistan Muslim League (Qaide Azam) created by Musharraf and its allies, who are loyal to him, do badly in the elections due later this year or even lose them. A coalition consisting of Benazir Bhutto's Pakistan People's Party, Nawaz Sharif's Pakistan Muslim League, and the religious political parties is voted to power. Musharraf will have only two options: Either prove his democratic credentials by handing over power to them or refuse to do so or avoid doing so. If he adopts the first option, the world may not have much to worry about. If he adopts the second option, there could be a mass uprising as happened in East Pakistan in 1971 when the Army refused to honour the election verdict. There would be considerable instability of which the beneficaries could be the fundamentalists and the jihadis.

Scenario #3: (Low probability): A group of Army and ISI officers unhappy over his perceived co-operation with the US overthrow him, assume power and stop co-operation with the US in its war against terrorism. Such a coup will have some public and political support in the interregnum. It will particularly enjoy the support of the fundamentalists and the jihadi terrorists. But, the new Army leadership staging the anti-Musharraf coup will retain its control over the nuclear establishment and will not allow the fundamentalists and the jihadis to come anywhere near it. It will step up terrorism against India and the Hamid Karzai Government in Kabul, but will try to ensure that there are no acts of terrorism from Pakistani territory against the US, its nationals and interests outside Afghanistan.

Scenario #4: (Even lower probability): There is an Islamic uprising similar to what one saw in Iran in 1978-79 and the Sunni/Wahabi terrorists take over power and assume control over the national security/nuclear establishments. Such a scenario will have very serious consequences for the international community, but is unlikely in the short term, but one cannot rule it out in the long term.

The most likely scenario as of today is that Musharraf will continue to be in power; he will manipulate the next elections, with the US closing its eyes, in order to ensure the victory of the parties loyal to him; will continue to use terrorism against India while making a pretence of stopping it; will continue to keep the Neo Taliban alive and kicking hoping one day it could come back to power in Kabul and carry out the Pakistani agenda; and will extend co-operation to the US in its operations against Al Qaeda to the extent he can do so without undermining his own position. Jihadi terrorism originating from Pakistan will continue in the short term.

I have always held the view that if there is an act of jihadi terrorism anywhere in the world in which a WMD is used, it would have almost certainly originated from Pakistan or Chechnya. In Pakistan, the military has effective control over the nuclear establishment and I visualise no danger of the jihadis getting control of the nuclear material. The danger at present is of Al Qaeda or other organisations getting hold of WMD-capable material from elsewhere and managing to convert them into usable weapons with the knowledge, expertise and experience of serving and retired Pakistani scientists. Many Pakistani scientists, who are religiously inclined, are members of the Tablighi Jamaat and do missionary/charity work for it during their annual vacation.

Past reports in the Pakistani media had referred to the participation of some unidentified Pakistani scientists in the annual conventions of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET).Documents reportedly recovered by the US troops in Afghanistan in 2001 exposed the contacts of two retired nuclear scientists---Sultan Bashiruddin Mohammad (Canada trained) and Abdul Majid-- even with Al Qaeda. Retired senior officers of the Army and the ISI such as Lt.Gen.Hamid Gul, ISI chief under Benazir Bhutto during her first tenure as the Prime Minister, Lt.Gen.Javed Nasir, the chief of the ISI under Nawaz Sharif, and Lt.Gen.Mahmood Ahmed, the chief of the ISI under Musharraf, who was removed by Musharraf in October, 2001, under US pressure are among those actively assisting the Al Qaeda, the Neo Taliban and the jihadi organisations active in India. They share two qualities---a hatred of India and an equally strong hatred of the US. Musharraf is aware of their activities, but is keeping his eyes closed, because they have many supporters among the serving officers of the Army and the ISI.

Similarly, there must be many retired scientists who must be in touch with the jihadis---either for money or out of ideological affinity. I am most worried about them. Bashiruddin and Majid were the tip of the iceberg. Neither India nor the US knows much about the jihadi influence on the Pakistani scientific community. The intelligence agencies of the two countries should pool their efforts to find out more about the WMD iceberg and neutralise it in time.


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