An American newspaper columnist has proposed a $100 billion buyout of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals, saying these weapons had become "an inviting target” for Jehadists."
"Let’s buy their arsenal," wrote Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal in an op-ed article in which he highlighted the problems Pakistan’s atomic programme has caused, especially the situation resulting from the export of nuclear technology by the AQ Khan network.
"...Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal has made it an inviting target for the jihadists who blew up Islamabad’s Marriott hotel in September and would gladly blow up the rest of the capital as a prelude to taking it over."
"Since President-elect Barack Obama has already committed a trillion or so in domestic spending, what’s $100 billion in the cause of saving the world," the columnist has suggested.
Stephens, who interviewed Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari in September when he was participating in the UN General Assembly session, said despite some gains after acquiring a bomb, Pakistan didn’t gain greater security.
"Still, give Khan this: Thanks partly to his efforts, a country that has impoverished the great mass of its own people, corruptly enriched a tiny handful of elites, served as a base of terrorism against its neighbours, lost control of its intelligence services, radicalised untold numbers of Muslims in its madrassas, handed the presidency to a man known as Mr. 10 per cent, and proliferated nuclear technology to Libya and Iran (among others) has, nevertheless, made itself a power to be reckoned with congratulations," the article said.
Preventing the disintegration of Pakistan, "perhaps in the wake of a war with India (how much restraint will New Delhi show after the next Mumbai-style atrocity?)," will be the Obama administration’s most urgent foreign-policy challenge, Stephens said.
"This is the deal I have in mind. The government of Pakistan would verifiably eliminate its entire nuclear stockpile and the industrial base that sustains it."
In exchange, the US and other Western donors would agree to a $100 billion economic package, administered by an independent authority and disbursed over 10 years, on condition that Pakistan remain a democratic and secular state (no military rulers; no Sharia law).
"It would supplement that package with military aid similar to what the US provides Israel: F-35 fighters, M-1 tanks, Apache helicopters. The US would also extend its nuclear umbrella to Pakistan, just as Hillary Clinton now proposes to do for Israel."