In December, a Wall Street Journal columnist suggested that the United States should “buy” Pakistan’s nuclear weapons for $100 billion. In return, Pakistan would get a $100 billion economic package. The small problem here is that no leader in Pakistan can “sell” its nuclear arsenal and still hope to live in the country.
The danger of a failing Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into jihadi hands is the ultimate nightmare for the US and the West. Still, America is far away from Pakistan, but India is at its doorstep.
“Taliban influence over Pakistan’s nuclear arms is the most dangerous scenario for India. The government of the day must prepare for such an eventuality,” Brajesh Mishra, former national security adviser, told Hindustan Times.
Mishra, the architect of improved relations with Pakistan in 2004, believed that a spike in jihadis crossing into India and a rush of refugees to our borders in Punjab and Rajasthan were eminently plausible outcomes of a state of dysfunction in Pakistan.
Twelve years ago, Pakistan recognised the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and today the Taliban are firmly entrenched in the Swat Valley, parts of the frontier province, the federally administered tribal areas and southern Punjab.
The arrival of millions of Afghan refugees in Pakistan, the birth of the Taliban in camps and madrasas are a model Delhi should not forget, an Indian analyst, who preferred anonymity, said.
Mishra is convinced there is a nexus between jihadi elements and Pakistan’s armed forces. “They (Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI) have been very attached to many of these extremist organisations, and it’s my belief that in the long run, they have got to completely cut ties with those in order to really move in the right direction,” America’s top military official Mike Mullen said on Friday, echoing India’s concerns.
Former Indian diplomat T.C.A. Rangachari, however. thinks Pakistan would not fail. “There will be no collapse of Pakistan as an organised State. But it’s likely that the army will be running the country again”, told the Hindustan Times.
The Obama administration has been making noises, but so far has not signaled anything new or novel in its approach to dealing with Pakistan, or Afghanistan-Pakistan, or Afpak, as it’s now known.
Pakistan is teetering precariously. India has to watch out for itself. The current political crisis could prove to be a sideshow for the larger design of jihadis capturing State power in Pakistan.