Pakistan Crumbles as al-Qaeda Marches
The fear: Will al-Qaeda command nuclear weapons before Iran develops them?
What was apparently struck by an American armed Predator drone(s) as well as helicopters that Pakistan had claimed were their own was no ‘madrassa’ serving simply as a school to educate the youth of Pakistan. It was most certainly an al-Qaeda/Taliban terrorist training center. How else to explain the narrow escape of Bajur al-Qaeda commander Faqir Mohammed, who granted an immediate interview on the scene as one of his chief terrorist lieutenants lay dead beneath the rubble?
While the demonstrations against the killing of ‘teenage students of the Quran’ – as put forth by one Pakistani Islamist member of parliament – continue apace and with much fury, it is important to note that the Bajur district of Pakistan was days away from becoming the next al-Qaeda-owned province of Usamastan. The ceremony was planned to take place in similar fashion, with similar parties and with similar conditions as those that were seen in the handover of North Waziristan.
Within this context, the Taliban-al-Qaeda line that 'Bajaur elders were ready to rein in militants' as put forth by a Pakistani news service should be dismissed.
The five conditions listed in the draft would have tied the hands of the tribal militants in Mamond area and made their Maliks and other elders accountable for any violations of the undertaking. Issues such as existence of military training camps run by militants, misuse of Madrassas or presence of wanted foreigners in the area would have been effectively tackled had the undertaking been signed on the day of the aerial strike on the Madrassa in Chenagai village. There would have been no need for such missile attacks and bombings, which invariably cause collateral damage and contribute to the intensity of hatred against the attackers.
The article cedes "misuse of Madrassas or presence of wanted foreigners in the area," and that the attack would have had no purpose had the peace accords been allowed to go through. We are left to believe then that the 'tribal elders' would have expelled al-Qaeda and the Taliban and returned the madrassas to their role of educating ‘teenage students of the Quran.’
But it was not ‘tribal elders’ who made the North Waziristan ‘peace agreement’ with Musharraf, and it was not going to be tribal elders seizing the next piece of al-Qaeda’s strategic Pakistani puzzle in Bajur.
General Musharraf’s hold on power is inextricably tied to his influence within and over the Pakistani military. The significance of the fact that it was a Pakistani Air Force general involved in the last al-Qaeda assassination attempt on Musharraf can hardly be understated.
Once more it bears repeating: Volatile Pakistan has nuclear weapons.