Sunday, November 08, 2009

This Will Go Over Well With The Zaid Hamid/Shireen Mazari/Ahmad Qurashi Crowd: The US Has Plans To Guard Pakistani Nukes In The Event Of A Mutiny

Apologies for the long title. This is from Sy Hersh's latest piece in the New Yorker:
Obama did not say so, but current and former officials said in interviews in Washington and Pakistan that his Administration has been negotiating highly sensitive understandings with the Pakistani military. These would allow specially trained American units to provide added security for the Pakistani [nuclear] arsenal in case of a crisis.

That's not even the best part of the the story. This is:
A senior Pakistani official who has close ties to Zardari exploded with anger during an interview when the subject turned to the American demands for more information about the arsenal. After the September 11th attacks, he said, there had been an understanding between the Bush Administration and then President Pervez Musharraf “over what Pakistan had and did not have.” Today, he said, “you’d like control of our day-to-day deployment. But why should we give it to you? Even if there was a military coup d’├ętat in Pakistan, no one is going to give up total control of our nuclear weapons. Never. Why are you not afraid of India's nuclear weapons?” the official asked. “Because India is your friend, and the longtime policies of America and India converge. Between you and the Indians, you will fuck us in every way."

Alright, loyal readers. Set everything aside and try and figure this one out with me: who's this "senior Pakistani official"? You guys are very smart, so I know we can do this. We know that:

1. It's a man (ruling out Farahnaz Ispahani and Sherry Rehman).
2. It's someone unguarded enough to speak to Sy Hersh, even if it's off the record (ruling out anyone in an actual position of national power, such as Gillani, because they're all scared shitless of the Western press).
3. It's someone who is claimed to be to close to Zardari (ruling out 99.999999999% of Pakistan's population).
4. It's someone who feels comfortable using the word "fuck" in an interview (ruling out people who don't feel comfortable speaking in English in a natural way, such as Rehman Malik).
5. It's someone who has traces of anti-Indian sentiment (ruling out Husain Haqqani).

My guess is Salman Taseer. I know it's out there, but I always like darkhorses/underdogs in my betting schemes. Thoughts?

UPDATE: I just realized that in writing this post, I neglected to exhort you to go read the whole piece. It's really, really entertaining, and contains all sorts of juicy quotes. Say this for the New Yorker: their investigative reporting and feature writing is never, ever, EVER boring. Take twenty minutes out of your day to read the whole thing -- trust me.

UPDATE II: People may conclude based on the title of this post that the U.S. actually has contingency plans for safeguarding Pakistani nukes (uh, my bad for leading you on). If you read the actual piece, you'll realize very quickly that that is highly, highly unlikely. They (the Americans) don't actually have any real information because the military (quite rightly, in my view) refuses to be truthful on matters of nuclear security when discussing it with them. In a word, it's all bullshit.


Tazeen said...

Ah, Hersch is all over twitter today. everyone and their dog and fish and cat are tweeting re tweeting this piece. When I first read it, I actually said it out loud, "Who the fuck is crazy enough to use the word 'fuck' in an interview with Hersch' and I too came up with Salman Taseer. That's two out of 178 odd millions of us.

Jaydev,India said...

Who is Salman Taseer? Is he the Gov of Punjab with Indian-Pak cross son..
called Taseer who recently wrote a book or something..anybody?

Hebah said...

@jaydev yea eh you've come down to the right Taseer..Salman Taseers son Atish Taseer wrote the book Stranger to History.

Anonymous said...

y can't it be the defence minister?

Anon_for_good_reason said...

In a word, it's all bullshit.
US military continuously war games(with software) on all sorts of weird that "war gaming" for a contingency might have been misconstrued as an action plan by journos..
I have distinctive seen a Prithvi SS-150 launcher in Hyderabad, one Discovery Channel's show which describes US military's network centric warfare capability..(they were war gaming)dont recollect which one..where one target is a SS-150 launcher.
And if you leave aside the bombast of can see that..the US is concerned about safety situation in hair-trigger state when trigger+core warhead is actually mated on launch platform in deployed or enroute to deployment to launch sites..not in ordinary circumstances..

Deepak Kapoor said...

Think about the irony here!

Nuclear weapons were supposed to give "impregnable defence" for pakistan.

Now you need Americans to defend this "impregnable defence".


Anonymous said...

I think a more interesting quote was this one by a former Bush Admin source:

'The former high-level Bush Administration official was just as blunt. “If a Pakistani general is talking to you about nuclear issues, and his lips are moving, he’s lying,” he said. “The Pakistanis wouldn’t share their secrets with anybody, and certainly not with a country that, from their point of view, used them like a Dixie cup and then threw them away.”'

Did the US wargame the Iraq war? or the Afghan war? I assume the wars didn't go as planned. This stuff really looks good in the New Yorker magazine, but when you are trying to haul nuclear triggers out of Sargodha base or PAF Masroor, it's a little tough....

karachi khatmal said...


when will this end? why must every day bring a new barrage of ammo for the conspiracy nuts to masturbate furiously upon? within hours, the entire internet will be ravaged by these trolls denouncing americans and blackwater and blah fucking blah.

possible alternates to salman taseer... farhatullah babar, taj haider, any of the old commie types. though all those i've mentioned are completely toothless in the zardari regime. ahmed mukhtiar could be an outside bet - he's really dumb, but then he's really dumb enough to let loose such a colloquial barrage as well.

MIchael Collins said...

Thanks for this analysis. I posted it as a reply to a main post of the Hersh article on The Agonist blog in the USA. Your rejoinder is well stated.

The original post is here

and your response is here.

somethingrichandstrange said...

"The lives of about two million people were torn apart, and, during a summer in which temperatures soared to a hundred and twenty degrees, hundreds of thousands of civilians were crowded into government-run tent cities. Idris Khattak, a former student radical who now works with Amnesty International, said in Peshawar that residents had described nights of heavy, indiscriminate bombing and shelling, followed in the morning by Army sweeps. The villagers, and not the Taliban, had been hit the hardest. “People told us that the bombing the night before was a signal for the Taliban to get out,” he said.

Zardari did not dispute that there were difficulties in the refugee camps—the heat, the lack of facilities. But he insisted that the fault lay with the civilians, who, he said, had been far too tolerant of the Taliban. The suffering could serve a useful purpose: after a summer in the tents, the citizens of Swat might have learned a lesson and would not “let the Taliban back into their cities.”

wow. just... wow. so our president believes in collective punishment, among other evils. good to know.

anoop said...

The line which caught my attention was,"Our nuclear arsenal was supposed to be our savior, but we would end up protecting it. It doesn’t protect us"

Clearly sums up Pakistan's predicament.