Thursday, March 04, 2004

Are there US troops in Pakistan? 

Are US troops hunting for Bin Laden in Pakistan? Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, has denied it. But Seymour Hersh has a recent article in the New Yorker with a different tack:

According to past and present military and intelligence officials, however, Washington's support for the pardon of [nuclear scientist Abdul Qadeer] Khan was predicated on what Musharraf has agreed to do next: look the other way as the U.S. hunts for Osama bin Laden in a tribal area of northwest Pakistan dominated by the forbidding Hindu Kush mountain range, where he is believed to be operating.

Abdul Qadeer Khan, the "father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb," is the Pakistani scientist recently accused of selling nuclear secrets to North Korea, Libya and Iran. While it is pretty incredible that the US would sanction the pardon of a man who helped three so-called "rogue states" get nuclear weapons, this move was plausibly interpreted at the time as an attempt to avoid destabilizing Pakistan by further weakening Musharraf's already precarious position. But Hersh has an unnamed "former senior intelligence official" on the record as saying "it's a quid pro quo. We're going to get our troops inside Pakistan in return for not forcing Musharraf to deal with Khan."
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