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Symposium: Losing Pakistan?

A symposium on Pakistan that I participated in has been published today at FrontPage Magazine. Other participants were Neil Doyle and Saifullah Mahsud, who recently traveled to Pakistan to speak with government and Taliban leaders. His input is particularly interesting and his work, in my view, extremely important.

A notable comment I made in conclusion can be (and is by me) applied in principle and practice in evaluation of other threats beyond al-Qaeda, the Taliban and Pakistan. Readers may find the threat risk equation useful and perhaps even familiar.

I was one of those sounding the alarm over the past year about the risks associated with the Taliban-al-Qaeda alliance's aims, (at the time barely impeded) momentum, and proximity to the levers of Pakistani power, Islamabad and all or part of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. Awareness began to grow here in America and people began to more clearly understand, either explicitly or implicitly, the threat risk equation. And that was the principal aim of my writing: Awareness of the threat. It's basic mathematics, not calculus.

Threat Risk = Consequences X Likelihood

The 'Consequences' of Taliban-al-Qaeda control of levers of power and thus nuclear weapons within Pakistan - either overt or in the shadows through men like Hamid Gul or Aslam Beg - remains at or near the gravest of scales. The factor of 'Likelihood' is the wildcard in the equation and remains a subjective, perception-based value. As one perceives the 'Likelihood' to increase or decrease, the overall Threat Risk greatly changes up or down based on the sheer graveness of the 'Consequences' half of the equation. This is why analyses from different sources can be all over the map on the very same day.

Right now, in my view, the Threat Risk of Taliban-al-Qaeda control of one or more Pakistani nuclear weapons appears to be relatively low - but the consequences require constant vigilance.

Thanks to Dr. Glazov and Frontpage Magazine for conducting the symposium, and for the gracious invitation.