It is dinnertime. As we squat on the floor about to partake of the meal, I cannot help noticing the dissatisfaction on your faces. Why? What exactly is your gripe? Why are you so upset? Each one of us knew well in advance that this would come to pass. In fact, we were asked specifically if we wanted to eat this meal. It was our conscious choice, made deliberately, proudly. We agreed. Why have we forgotten how vociferously and enthusiastically we agreed? Why are we now protesting and acting surprised? Perhaps a short reminder is necessary to jog our memories.
Remember October 1965? Remember a gentleman called Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto. As our Foreign Minister he had boldly proclaimed that Pakistanis would eat grass and leaves but would get themselves a nuclear bomb? Fast forward to 1971 when Mr. Bhutto, now our Prime Minister, asked us specifically if we were ready to eat grass. Remember our ecstatic cries of ‘yes, yes’? Remember our delirious proclamations that not only would we eat grass, leaves, whatever; we would also go naked and hungry if necessary but we would have a bomb? Why then this refusal, this denial. Why are we anguishing over the power shortages, the gas crisis, the lack of governance, the spiraling costs of essentials? Why do we get distressed when we see the misery, the poverty, the lack of education, the downslide of the currency, the flight of capital? Why are we surprised when mothers have to sell their babies, females (and indeed males) have to prostitute themselves for survival; starving individuals have to rob, burglarize, steal, cheat, accept bribes?
We asked for it. We begged Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto to put the pot on the fire for this unsavory dish following the 1971 debacle. Half the prospective diners would be spared the agony; they would go their own way. Bangladesh would separate to become a meaningful democracy with a vibrant economy and its citizens would be spared the green, vegetarian meal. Truncated Pakistan would not be so fortunate. Indeed, its desire would be given massive impetus when India, using the tongue-in-cheek codename ‘Smiling Buddha’ would carry out its first nuclear test on 18th May 1974.
Smiling Buddha was the red rag needed for the Pakistani bull to begin snorting. A competitive, juvenile nation vowed to match the Indian nuclear capability, once again reiterating its desire and resolve to eat grass if necessary. Acquiring the bomb became the dream and hope of the nation; the Pakistani nuclear program became as sacrosanct as its religion; in fact something more sinister happened. As the world recognized the intentions of Pakistan, it coined the phrase “Islamic Bomb” and we Pakistanis deliriously embraced this term, delighting in the belief that the horrific weapon would give us a position of dominance in the Islamic world. The Bedouins could have their wealth; the Heathen West could have its hedonistic life style, its socio- economic progress; we, the Pakistanis would have a bomb because then, quite magically, everyone would give us the respect we deserved.
Using complex, highly sophisticated cloak and dagger processes, the fledgling Muslim nation succeeded in achieving its aim and by the turn of the century, Pakistan began being viewed as having ‘nuclear ambiguity’; a status very similar to that of Israel. Sadly, for the juvenile state it was not enough to have attained a goal it had set for itself. It wanted to prove this fact to the world. We wanted adulation. India provided us reason when on Buddha’s birthday, on 11th May 1998, it carried out another nuclear test.
Pakistan could now show off its capability to the world. A hawkish but shortsighted foreign minister, Gohar Ayub Khan, had no problem motivating an amazingly naïve Prime Minister to make the defining statement that would go down in history as his most damaging utterance ever. On May 18th, 1998, the simpleminded Nawaz Sharif gave the go ahead to the Pakistan military for a nuclear test in equally simple terms,
“Dhamaka Kar Dein”. (Make the Explosion).
This order became known to the Americans almost immediately and prompted furious negotiations between the heads of the two countries. President Bill Clinton made at least four calls to Mr. Nawaz Sharif, entreating him to exercise restraint; to not conduct any nuclear testing. The last call was made on the night of Wednesday the 27th when, for over 25 minutes, the US president implored the Pakistani prime minister to back off. Nawaz Sharif did not acquiesce and at 3:00 p.m. on the afternoon of 28 May 1998, an obscure mountain in the lower Hindukush range trembled as a nuclear detonation took place within its bowels. The earth shattering explosion in a hitherto insignificant location of Chagai in Baluchistan was almost drowned out by the wild, stentorian cries of ‘Allah o Akbar’, (God is Great) of those conducting the tests. A horrified world watched a granite mountain shake of millineums of dust and debris as it tried to contain the massive explosion. Later, an overjoyed Prime Minister would tell his delirious nation that Pakistan had carried out five successful nuclear tests; that the nation had “settled a score with India”. The hawks of Pakistan, led by Mr. Gohar Ayub would term the nuclear detonation as “Pakistan’s finest hour”. An entire nation would dance euphorically.
Pakistanis across the globe partied. Replicas of the Chagai mountain sprang up in cities, towns and villages. Patriotic slogans were painted on taxis, buses, rickshaws, even donkey carts. Not many understood what thermonuclear explosions were; not many realized what having a nuclear bomb meant; not many cared. The nation argued with its usual childish naiveté; Pakistan had acquired a capability that the world did not want the Muslim nation to have. Ergo, it must be good. The citizens rejoiced in the fact that they had made the world sit up and take notice. Myopic Pakistanis were oblivious of world opinion. They could not care less.
A shocked world reeled at this unnecessary disclosure of capability by the Pakistani nation. An errant child had a new toy. Another third world country had acquired the ‘bomb’. What made the Pakistani acquisition worse than the Indian one was that it was a Muslim nation. There would have to be consequences. Unbeknownst to the joyous nation, even as the dust was settling in Chagai, another decision was being taken halfway across the globe. The Western world was resolving that the juvenile Muslim State would not be allowed to keep its new found toy.
And thus began a devious, highly complex, series of events that were designed to ensure that Pakistan would be stripped of its nuclear capability and until that final aim was achieved, the delinquent nation would be kept involved in situations where it would find it impossible to achieve any meaningful advantage from its highly prized achievement. Pakistan would be encouraged to go the South African route of a willing rollback of its nuclear capabilities but if that were not possible, other options would be exercised. All options would be on the table including, if necessary, a breakup of the Islamic State. Carrots and sticks would be used. Bribes, threats, loans, grants, favors; every possible tactic would be used to bring the nation to heel. If necessary, the nuclear armed nation would be put on a road of economic, social and political ruin. Patriotic nationals would be subverted, unyielding politicians and loyal military personnel would be removed from office; pliant individuals installed. Pakistan was propelled along a path leading from one disaster to another while simultaneously the global community was led into believing that the new nuclear power had failed to become a meaningful and productive member of the comity of nations.
The time has now come for the curtain to be raised on the final act. The final countdown has begun; the plan to neutralize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is nearing completion. All political processes have been subverted; the government, its bureaucracy, the military and the Pakistani judiciary are at loggerheads, each one is equally compromised. The population is in disarray, the citizenry deprived, jobless and facing severe socio economic distress. The national economy is in tatters, food, water, energy shortages are rife, the currency is on a slippery slide; chaos and anarchy prevails. A total breakdown of the writ of the State has already taken place in Baluchistan, other provinces are primed and ready to follow. Additional fracture lines aimed to divide even the provinces are being drawn. Stooges, moles, agents, a host of unsavory characters are proposing outlandish divisions of the Islamic Republic. A compliant government, oblivious or perhaps complicit in the nefarious plan that leads to the fracture of this unfortunate state, is now creating fissures within the pillars of the nation. A confused military, led by a general whose term of office had to be specially extended oversees the unfolding debacle. A notionally independent judiciary that picks and chooses issues that merit its attention presides over dubious cases of sedition and treason while lawlessness runs rampant across the beleaguered nation. The media; heavily infiltrated and massively vocal; holds spectacular talk shows nightly designed to destroy whatever remains of the dignity and sanity of the people of Pakistan.
The steps taken to engineer the failure of the Muslim nation have now reached fruition. Soon, the world community, the United Nations shall be tasked to take the final step. Foreseeing an impending failure of the state of Pakistan, the Security Council shall express its serious misgivings about the threat posed to global security by the chaotic and lawless nuclear armed Nation. The United Nations will order the IAEA to move into the country and take charge of the nuclear assets of a collapsing nation before they fall into the wrong hands.
The meal, having been served, will then be over. Someone will be needed to do the plates. This is not a problem. We have 180 million willing washer uppers.