IT is a generally accepted view that the right of a country to resort to any means for safeguarding its security and independence cannot be challenged. Even Chanakhya would have conceded that. But no country can claim that it has exclusive rights to practice deception. In its self-imposed mission to protect what it claims are its interests, the United States has been, and remains, one of the most unprincipled nation in the world with a record of malfeasance that remains unbeaten since the turn of the century.
While claiming to be a champion of democracy, it has supported dictatorial regimes in Latin America as long as the dictators remained subservient to Washington. It has supported the most vile regimes in Pakistan for the same reason and conditions without the slightest compunction. Always the given excuse is: self-interest. A classic case is the manner in which the United States looked away while Pakistan was building its nuclear arsenal. The United States wanted Pakistan as a tool in its fight against the Soviet Union, expecially during the Cold War. Pakistan, as is well-known was willing to be an ardent accompanist as long as it was paid for its services and was allowed to harass its neighbour. Pakistan was lavishly helped with money and material for the asking. In its one aim to drive out Soviet influence in Afghanistan, the United States helped raise an army of fundamentalist Islamists without giving it a second thought on how that might ultimately turn out to be counter-productive, indeed an international menace.
The Taliban is wholly an American creation. The Pakistan programme to build a nuclear arsenal had the tacit support of the United States, and at every stage of the game, it turned a blind eye to what was going on in Pakistan, right under its nose. The man who was involved in building the Pakistan nuclear arsenal was one Abdul Qadeer (AQ) Khan, a scientist of mediocre skills but great ambitions with an unmitigated hatred of India that kept him going.
This book which reads like a novel, is the story of this man from the end of his academic career to his final incarceration as a proliferator of nuclear technology to some of the most unstable regions of the world from Libya to North Korea. Khan was everything: a thief, a liar, an unscrupulous and greedy monster who had no hesitation in cheating his country for his private gain. Khan started his scientific career in Amsterdam, in a research laboratory which specialised in manufacturing centrifuges, so essential for enriching Uranium; these are needed in thousands. Khan learnt the secret of manufacturing them. He had the full backing of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, another man who hated India with equal passion. As time went on, the US government came to know of what Khan was upto, but kept quiet.
According to the authors “the Dutch made it easy for Khan to steal everything he needed”. So did the Germans. Their lax attitude towards proliferation and general irritation with the US, helped Khan. He purloined documents and also found out names of contractors who could supply him necessary equipment. But the US looked the other way.Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, another India-hater went to the extent of even saying how grateful he was to Pakistan for its help in arranging his secret trip to Beijing in 1971. It was to that level that the US could stoops. Khan exploited it fully.
Reading this book, one is amazed at American’s duplicity. It is not that Washington was ignorant of what was going on. It employed about 150 diplomats, administrators and assorted spies to find out what Khan was upto and had full knowledge of his criminal activities. People who served Khan are named. News of his activities was even occasionally leaked out to the press, after one expose in the German news magazine Der Spiegel, Khan became furious. He wrote: “I want to question the bloody holier-than-thou attitude of the Americans and the British….” As the authors put it, President Carter and his national Security Adviser, Brzezinski were giving the Pakistan government earte blancbe to carry on its nuclear weapons development, in exchange for its help against the Soviets. The goal of stopping Pakistan’s nuclear effort was sacrificed and America’s moral authority to advocate the cause of non-proloferation was severely damaged. Carter’s policy was followed by his successor Ronald Reagan who, in order to keep Pakistan on his side, agreed to let Pakistan to concentrate on perfecting its nuclear bomb. Even worse, Pakistan was selling nuclear technology to Iran and Libya. American hypocrisy has to be seen to be believed. Khan could do anything and get away with it. The United States President even lied to his own Congress over and over again. Say the authors: “The gap between what Washington knew, and its public statements, was growing larger, yet the Reagan administration accepted this act of geopolitical expediency “. More than the US, it is India that is paying for Washington’s folly. President Obama says that he wants to see a nuclear-free world. it is now too, late in the day. if he means what he is saying, Pakistan must first be nuclearly-disarmed. Let him do it if he has the courage.
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