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Pakistan's Fight, America's Fear
A Pakistani paramilitary soldier with a rocket launcher stands guard as local residents gather at close to the site of suicide bombing on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan Tuesday, May 5, 2009. A suicide car bomber killed four security forces and wounded passing schoolchildren Tuesday in Pakistan's volatile northwest, where the government is under pressure from Washington to crack down on militants. (AP)

A Pakistani paramilitary soldier with a rocket launcher stands guard as local residents gather close to the site of suicide bombing on the outskirts of Peshawar, Pakistan, on Tuesday, May 5, 2009. (AP)

The presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan are sitting down with Barack Obama today at the White House. One with a country in desperate trouble. One with a country in desperate trouble — plus nuclear weapons.

Pakistan is a significant nuclear power, with maybe a hundred very real nuclear bombs. It also has a Taliban insurgency on the march only 60 miles from its capitol, a military of uncertain capacity and uncertain loyalty, and a hovering Al Qaeda that all assume would love to have its own nukes for terror.

This hour, On Point: Pakistan’s frightening instability, and Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

What do you see coming from Pakistan? If the country blows up, what about its bombs? Do you fear they will be everywhere? Tell us what you think — here on this page, on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Guests:

 Joining us from Islamabad is Mosharraf Zaidi, columnist for Pakistan’s biggest English-language newspaper, The News, and for the Egyptian paper al-Shorouk. His work also appears in the Far Eastern Economic Review.

Joining us from Washington is David Sanger, chief Washington correspondent for The New York Times. He reported earlier this week on increasing U.S. concerns over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

In our studio we’re joined by Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, former director of intelligence and counterintelligence at the U.S. Department of Energy, where he tracked Al Qaeda’s efforts to obtain nuclear arms. Before that he spent 23 years at the CIA, where he was a senior officer sent to Pakistan to determine whether nuclear technology had been passed to Osama bin Laden. He is currently senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s Kennedy School.

Mowatt-Larssen contributes to an online discussion, “Pakistan’s Nuclear Scenarios, U.S. Solutions,” at NYTimes.com.

And from Washington we’re joined by Stephen Cohen, senior fellow in foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. His books include “Four Crises and a Peace Process: American Engagement in South Asia” and “The Idea of Pakistan.”

More links:

As Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari heads to the White House today, The New York Times reports this morning on his efforts to reassure Washington about his government’s stability and its campaign to repel the Taliban.

In an opinion piece in yesterday’s Washington Post titled “Pakistan’s Critical Hour,” Pakistani journalist (and past On Point guest) Ahmed Rashid writes: “Pakistan is on the brink of chaos, and Congress is in a critical position: U.S. lawmakers can hasten that fateful process, halt it or even help turn things around.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • http://www.richardsnotes.org Richard

    In all the discussion of this area we rarely hear of the great work of Greg Mortenson documented in his book Three Cups of Tea.

    He seems like an Obama-like community organizer of the region and his Central Asia Institute continues to do great work in the background.

    https://www.ikat.org/

    He took off where the movie Charlie Wilson’s War left off: building schools in Kashmir, one at a time. There’s a lesson to be learned here.

    I’d love it if Mortenson was included in discussions like these.

  • Lilya

    What a Horrible choice of Guests.

    If the conflict in that region goes on forever and get bigger, these guests will write more articles, write books, get more consuting/air-time. Therefore, they have vested interest for fueling the illegal presence of US Military in inappropriate parts of the world while we the taxpayers are paying the bill.

    Additionally, when the world is wrapped in militarization and more jihad more Islam vs. West is great for a little country in the middle east. They stay out of the Headlines while continuing exporting useless Security Hardware and Security Services to us, the fools, who are going broke and unemployed. I am sure David Sanger’s and Steven Cohen’s parents will be happy people.

    How come producers of the OnPoint miss such important crutial hidden agendas and refuse to book Peace Activists who have the real solution: “Withdraw – ASAP”.

  • Rosemary

    I second the request to hear from Greg Mortenson! While his mission is, nominally, about quality secular education for all (especially girls), his underlying goal is undoubtedly peace and security in the region. Any security discussion about Pakistan or Afghanistan (or radical Islam for that matter) that doesn’t touch on the great work of this organization is the poorer for it.

    The regions in which Mortenson’s group has built schools appear to be perilously close to those in which the Pakistani government has ceded control to the Taliban. What will happen to them?!

    Looking forward to today’s show in the meantime!

  • gabrielle

    in the US, mainstream media tends to beat the drums for war. why should the American public believe those who lied – and continue to lie – to us about Iraq to tell us the truth about the situation in Pakistan and Afghanistan? I can not seem to shake my skepticism now matter how much I try.

    Gabrielle
    Brooklyn, NY

  • Mike

    I read a article on national geo about Pakistan a few years ago, it was talking about the spread of recruitment of terrorist in the area due to corrupt government officials and no safety nets, officials rape and kidnapping, lack of care, hospital and ability to use the courts for justice .

    Does your guess think if we worked with pakistan government to curve human rights abuses there and create some forms of safety net,along with not just military aid but focus on civil aid and build hospitals?

    would not this have a better affect and create a more pro-u.s. attitude in the article it was talking alot about the recruiters will often pay for the family expenses or carry out and carry out justice on behalf of the victim if there son,father or whoever joins them.

    and does your guess think the un-man drones been helpful or actually caused more to support the Taliban?

  • Lilya

    Shocking news from Guardian.co.uk – front page

    Our elected officials are performing their Constitutional Duties… That’s what you get by not speaking out to protect our democracy against threats of losing your elected seat.

    vvv vvv vvv
    But Aipac has moved to counter any new White House initiative by trying to mobilise Congress against it through the letter, written by two people seen as extremely close to the lobby group – Steny Hoyer, the Democratic majority leader in the House of Representatives, and Eric Cantor, the Republican whip.

    The two men addressed an Aipac banquet attended by more than half the members of Congress on Monday, each standing in turn at a “roll call” of support for Israel.
    ^^^ ^^^ ^^^

  • Lilya

    about the letter that the elected members of congress are being forced to sign by AIPAC…last two concluding paragraphs of the article. It is so Sad….

    vvv vvv vvv
    “They’ll say, ‘Of course we believe there should be peace’. But then they’ll do what this letter does. “They’ll say, ‘When the Israeli government decides it is ready to have a two-state solution, then there’ll be a two-state solution’.”

    Aipac wields considerable influence in the US Congress. Its critics say that what amounts to bullying pressure tactics has narrowed the room for debate about Israel, and claim the group has played a leading role in unseating some members of Congress who were critical of the Jewish state’s policies.

  • mr.independant

    Lilya stay on topic please. This forum is not for your own private vendetta against Israel.

    If the program was on Aipac and it’s influence on the US Congress then it would be appropriate to make comments.
    However as Pakistan is not even in the Middle East and this is not about Israel, using your past analogies here of what is relevant and what is not, then this is not the place to voice your news flash. E-mail your congress person and senator.

  • mr.independant

    Before you go off, I don’t support Aipac or it’s views on Israel.

  • Tom

    What does it take for nuclear weapons to be detonated or delivered? If a rag-tag group gets hold of such physical weapons, would they not lack the technology and sophistication to actually do anything with them? Can an expert speak to this?

  • Nucholas Bodley

    Let’s hope the editors at The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists don’t feel the need to add a second hand to their famed cover clock.

  • pravin mundkur

    My compliments on a very interesting and timely show (as usual). You are consistently one of the best.

    I did want comment on the Pakistani lady (Yasmin) who called in and indicated that everything would be fine if the Kashmir issue is “resolved”. As far as Pakistanis are concerned this is their code word for saying that India should simply give Kashmir over to the Pakistanis.

    This is simply an excuse for the Pakistanis to continue doing an abysmal job of managing their own country and economy. Now it is an excuse for them to not confront the Taliban who are regularly beating the pants off the Pakistani Army.

    Kashmir is worthy a separate discussion. In my view the Pakistanis should vacate Kashmir and do a better job managing their own business.

  • Nicholas Bodley

    I should proofread my name before posting; sorry!

  • R.M.

    here she goes again with her hateful obsession with Israel …

  • Mahesh

    Hi Tom,
    I tried to call, but did not get get the line.
    I want to comment to Ms. Yasin’s comments on kashmir and bringing India into the picture. Solution on Kashmir is not the issue here. And solving Kashmir will not solve the problem between India and Pakistan.
    There is so much hatred by Pakistani establishments on India. Because, the educational system in Pakistan is so distorted, the first thing a Pakistani child learns in an elementary school is why he or she should hate India. And if you go to any madrassa in Pakistan, the students are encouraged to by-heart the quran, not to ask questions. So unless the educational system changes in Pakistan, the enmity between India and Pakistan will not be over. It is continue to grow, even if we solve the Kashmir problem.
    That brings my question. How to change the educational system? Until now, the history is written by Pakistan Army establishments in a distorted manner.
    Sincerely,
    Mahesh

  • Alex

    Hi,
    I am very unhappily surprised with the tone and theme of today’s program. Tom seems extremely concerned with the Pakistan situation and his main guests are in complete agreement.

    We are not getting a fair look at what’s going on.

    It is very reminiscent of the fear-mongering we were saturated with during the run up to the Iraq war, especially in regards to the nuclear threat.

    I understand that Tom is personally very worried. I have no doubt the youtube videos referred to and news he’s read were troubling for him. But before he takes his personal and possibly not well-researched views on the air we need to stop and think rationally as Nora said. At the very least we need a few other voices on this broadcast.

    The broadcasting of fear and threat has historically been very unproductive for decision-making in this country. George W. Bush famously went with his gut not his head and his policies and actions displayed clear absence of forethought and rashness.

    The title of today’s show should not be America’s Fear but Tom’s.

    Thanks,
    Alex

  • Tom

    I agree with Alex. This show was one-sided. And, this recent focus on Pakistan reminds me of the run-up to the Iraq war.

  • Khalid

    Political rhetoric of West does sound like drums of war. India being an economic neccessity for the West seems to have a lot of cards in hand. In my opinion, India won’t pass any chance of subduing Pakistan as it seeks a dominant position in the region.

  • Kevin

    Wow. Reading these posts is enough to make a person depressed. Anybody who doesn’t realize the importance and danger of what is happening in Pakistan right now simply isn’t serious. And that’s not fear-mongering. Ask those in the Swat Valley if what is happening now with the Taliban isn’t important.

  • Lilya

    I hate Occupying other countries while we, the taxpayers are paying for the bill. I also hate establishing an illegal country on somebody else’s land.

    I passionately hate Interest Groups (AIPAC, AEI, Saban Center for Garbage, et. al.) based on the interests of another “foreign” country, at the expense of my own country, while we are literally paying for killing others and dispensing fear, pain and destruction, while also dying during the process.

    And you keep saying “Lilya hates Israel”

  • mr.independant

    And you keep saying “Lilya hates Israel”
    I passionately “hate” Interest Groups

    Your rhetoric backs me up on that.

  • Mitchell Harwitz

    I heard the show live this morning, and I want to comment negatively not about the general topic but about the behavior of the “host” Tom Ashbrook.

    Certainly in the last third of the show, Tom seemed determined to concentrate on the most frightening of scenarios and the most frightened possible responses. When receiving the calls of two women who did not wish to accede to his apparent intention to frighten the listeners, women who wanted to provide the persepectives of rational discussion (Nora, I believe) and (the other person) of someone who knew the ground personally over a long period of time, Tom became hurried, discourteous if not downright impolite, and just overrode the thread of both of their contributions.

    SHAME ON YOU, TOM ASHBROOK! It should not be the role of a good and creative radio host to force the discussion only into the channels he cares to pursue. Of the possible responses to those well-intnetioned contributions that might have led to creative development of the conversation, you chose one that was not far short of the behavior of Michael Savage. I just wrote something pretty mean, I know. I did it because what you did made me really angry.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I hope we don’t deter Tom Ashbrook from further efforts to shed light on the Af-Pak situation. There are a lot of books on the region, and I’ve read just enough to know to assume nothing. Reporters can’t cover it the way they do City Hall in Chicago. Like Lilya I worry that PAC’s, lobbies, are maneuvering the view that gets aired. I just have a knot in my stomach to the effect: Are we feeding the need for a functioning mliitary, justifying its expenses? Are we “just” doing a drumroll the better to secure an oil pipeline? Shouldn’t we be shifting our oil-consuming ways first? Where is our iffy planetary future in this scenario? Doesn’t it outweigh young women being beaten in the streets? (Sorry.) I would offer to be beaten if it would save the planet.
    The people who worry about young women beaten in the streets by clerics, are they serving the interests of big American corporate entities?
    As Nora said, this is all gut reaction, all tangled worry. But I’ve lived through the Vietnam era, and the Iraq deception. This feels bad.

  • Nicholas Bodley

    I agree with Kevin. While On Point does have a degree of sensationalism about it, at least this was a quite-intelligent show. Once again, we are at a near(?) crisis point that requires intelligence, calm emotions, reliable information, and excellent judgment.

    More than once, I have wished that a given hour could be continued, and not of necessity cut short. This show could have run for two hours, considering the extreme importance of the topic. I do hope On Point will consider more seriously giving two hours to uncommonly-important topics, although with some risk of giving unwelcome emphasis that could be misunderstood.

    As to the long delays in Tom’s opening dialogue, they were created by satellite phone, using geosynchronous satellites like those for satellite TV with fixed dish antennas. Even the speed of light (and microwaves) is slow when satellites are that far up. Those pauses are four trips, up and down, and include time needed to think before speaking a reply.

  • Robin Matt

    Is Mr. Ashbrook bucking for a job at Fox News? Hysteria has never been your style, why start now.

    Is a nuclear-armed Pakistan more of an existential threat to U.S. security than a nuclear-armed N. Korea, Russia, China, India, Israel,Iran, etc., etc.? This is not a rhetorical question, but a factual analysis of why it is or isn’t will be much more useful than setting off a fire alarm.

    Leave the hysteria to Lou Dobbs, he does it much better.

  • Ash

    I am a long time listener and supporter of NPR (more then 20 years) and often enjoy the thought provoking comments by the host’s and other commentators and yes sometimes by Tom as well, however today Tom seemed to show himself as just another ill-informed fear-mongering media con-artist…a Rush Limbaugh in disguise.
    Like “Condi or Cheney” and the gang of pundits who were implicitly involved in drumming up support by provoking “what if” and feeding on the fear of “the others” the only thing different that he didn’t say today was “mushroom cloud”
    He sounded like he had a rehearsed party-line and that has some other hidden perspective of jumping on a bandwagon of a “demoanising” campaign against Pakistan.

    Tom should take a step on the balcony and look inside or better yet listen to some of his tapes on “conversations he had with “guests” before “We the US invaded Iraq” and see how He was implicitly involved in propagating that hidden agenda”..and Now its back to the same old tricks of the trade !!
    We don’t like Pakistan because its a Muslim country with Nuke’s and who “wont do our bidding the way we want them to” !!. …Is that the problem that some concerned people have in the US media and Think Tanks…? ?
    That seems to me the elephant in room that no one wants to talk about….!! Haven’t we done enough damage in the world and to the Muslims and Islam in the past 8 years?? aren’t we guilty of some blame here for all this? Or do
    We have all the right answers and the right solutions.. and everyone should follow and do whatever is in the US interest and the way that we want it done …. no matter the cost or collateral damage !!… be carefull what you wish for…. for the Taliban was a US/CIA/British/Saudi creation that was imposed on Pakistan and Afganistan to win the war against the former USSR in Afganistan and India was the Russian alley in the region….!!
    What we seem to forget is that the situation in Pakistan that the US media is trying to feed us is far from the truth. There are other agenda’s at play… (The Clinton’s and all the money they got from the Hindu Nationalist Indian community in the US and Big Bussiness in India pouring money into her campaign and her husbands foundation for no special reason or favors !! Oh she will be very objective in her “expert opinion” she is a expert on Pakistan and knows the people and country very well…!! of course Hillary has to give some payback to her contributors…. that part of Our Sec of STATE and her comments never were explored in any conversation that I’ve heard by Tom.
    Have we not learned our lesson and paid a HUGE PRICE in Blood and treasure just recently with Iraq !! when will the media stop sensationalizing and spinning things so as to prevent us from doing some self reflection and really learn the “lessons of history” from our recent past so we don’t end up repeating it again.
    I guess no one like to admit to their mistakes and not let them happen again… but then again the lesson that Tom learned could be that fear mongering and pretending to be experts with all the answers works in the US media. Tom knows how to play the “provoking fear game”. I heard that loud and clear from his questions and where he was leading the conversation with the guests !! it seemed so obvious and shamefull.

    I think he should stand in front of a mirror and look at himself the same way he want us “to look at the other” or in this case Pakistan as a country.
    I for one have lost all respect for his opinion…!!
    I hope NPR takes him behind the barn and has a “serious chat” with him. Otherwise I am afraid it will turn into another Rush Limbaugh” show and lose more listeners like me. Ratings is not everything ….. !!
    Jay

    P.S. I know this is not going to be posted…. I dare NPR Producers and hosts to post it…!! and the Listeners to hear “some conversations of Tom before the Iraq war..!!

  • Margaret Ricks

    Thank you for giving some insight into events, however troubling. I’d like to hear a discussion with a representives from Obama, from Petraus and from IKAT (Greg Mortensen’s group).

  • Ellen Dibble

    I sort of like it that Tom Ashbrook doesn’t pose as sort of a father-figure, Walter Cronkite type. He lets himself be part of the fray. If he expresses the shock being elicited by media images we are all exposed to (9/11 or displaced children in northern Pakestan), he is doing a good job of representing that part of me. If he is being distressed, I can then call in more rationally. If he was all dispassionate, I would have to call in: “Oh, why aren’t you concerned,” very shrill and upset. Millions would have to do that. With him being live for 10 hours a week, the attitude he has chosen is not that of totally calm expert. I appreciate that; his shifting some of the burden for perspective onto the listeners elicits more pragmatism from us, I suggest.

  • Lilya

    Anybody who is afraid of what might happen in Swat Valley and not sure what to think of the fear spreading talking-heads, etc…..

    before going to sleep tonight….think of this…

    Why would a fundemntalist, islamic jihadist who believes in 45 virgins or 72 virgins be any danger to a single American. Why we should care about the political turbulance in that part of the world any more than an average citizen of Andorra or Peru?

    Get rid of the neo-zionist influence in our foreign policy, go back to Dept. of Defense, instead of Dept. of Offense, and those people will improve their traditions and womens’ rights, etc. gradually and slowly.

    By bombing them from the air, and installing centralized corrupt jerks as their puppet goverment, we are pushing them back to darker ages. During the entire process, we ask the Chinese for loans in order to buy more bombs.

    This is absolute stupidity.

  • millard-fillmore

    “Is a nuclear-armed Pakistan more of an existential threat to U.S. security than a nuclear-armed N. Korea, Russia, China, India, Israel,Iran, etc., etc.?”

    The issue being discussed wasn’t “nuclear-armed Pakistan” – that has been a fact for almost a decade now. The issue being discussed was the possibility of these nukes falling into the hands of Taliban and being used against India or any other neighbors, since Pakistan would be a failed state at that point. Not that hard of an issue to grasp, really, since Taliban is radical Islam that divides the world neatly into two – pious Muslims who see the world the same way as they do, and enemies who don’t, and there’s not much scope of reasoning with that position.

    Sometimes, I wonder how smart, intelligent people (like some of the comments above) can be so blind to the obvious and choose to stick their heads into the sand like ostriches, to avoid facing the uncomfortable reality.

    I’m sure if USA pulled out of Afghanistan and left it to Taliban, the very same people who want that, would start clamoring about human rights abuses and women being flogged and stoned to death in the streets of Afghanistan and Pakistan, and why America is not doing anything to stop those human rights abuses. That is known as the classic ‘having your cake and eating it’ – which, if history teaches us anything, is impossible to do.

  • millard-fillmore

    “Why would a fundemntalist, islamic jihadist who believes in 45 virgins or 72 virgins be any danger to a single American. Why we should care about the political turbulance in that part of the world any more than an average citizen of Andorra or Peru?”

    Lilya, I take it that you’re OK with the possibility of Taliban using nukes in the region (or a dirty bomb) to kill innocents, but you’re not OK with America taking some steps to prevent that possibility from happening. And what exactly is the reasoning, the framework, the basis that comes up with a conclusion like that?

    I bet you’re also a champion of human rights, just not of those people who may get killed by such an (preventable) eventuality.

  • Ellen Dibble

    What exactly do terrorists want, the al kaida (I believe it was bin Laden himself that Obama campaigned on, targeting the one who targets us) — or what do the Taliban want?
    Ask the Saudis. I heard this morning that Gitmo detainees are being sent to Saudi Arabia where they have excellent rehabilitation programs. And I think it was CBS that aired a segment on exactly how they do that (with lots and lots of money to each for cars and houses and so on). At least that doesn’t serve as propaganda for more hatred as Gitmo does. But bin Laden himself actually began his life in the Saudi lap of luxury, so if Obama is going after the seat of the forces out to attack the U.S., to destroy it or to de-fang it, we have to know a lot about why.
    Why did al-kaida want to attack the U.S.? Because we had supplied them in the struggle against the USSR? No, no, nothing like that. Why do American boys join gangs. Similar question.
    Nuclear threat is a long way from that sociological perspective, except again, the why. Is anyone thinking beyond the impressive prospect of hideous destruction? Then what? I say get back to why.

  • millard-fillmore

    BTW, Lilya, have you read this about Taliban imposing jaziya on non-Muslims in Pakistan? Here’s a link and you can find more if you do a search: http://www.pakistanchristianpost.com/headlinenewsd.php?hnewsid=1112

    How about the human rights of these non-Muslims that are being violated by Taliban? Or do you care more for the human rights of these Taliban killed by American drones?

    I’m sure in your mind and with your twisted logic, you’ll hold AIPAC and America responsible for these poor Talibanis who are forced to, against their will, indulge in human rights abuses on non-Muslims. *rolling my eyes*

  • mr.independant

    I watched this report by Correspondent Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy on the Frontline web site. It’s very good and moving. There is one point that she interviews two girls.
    If these kids don’t break your heart you better check your pulse. They are the reason that Pakistan needs to be a stable viable country.

    The Taliban have destroyed more than 200 government schools in Swat since they took control of the region. Walking through the rubble of a school that once taught 400 girls, the reporter comes across two nine-year-old girls who used to study there.

    “Why did you like school?” she asks one of them.

    “Because education is like a ray of light and I want that light,” she replies.

    http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/stories/pakistan802/video/video_index.html

    http://www.pbs.org/frontlineworld/blog/2009/04/pakistanas_tali.html

  • mr.independant

    moderate this…

  • mr.independant

    I watched this report by Correspondent Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy on the Frontline web site. It’s very good and moving. There is one point that she interviews two girls.
    If these kids don’t break your heart you better check your pulse. They are the reason that Pakistan needs to be a stable viable country.

    The Taliban have destroyed more than 200 government schools in Swat since they took control of the region. Walking through the rubble of a school that once taught 400 girls, the reporter comes across two nine-year-old girls who used to study there.

    “Why did you like school?” she asks one of them.

    “Because education is like a ray of light and I want that light,” she replies.

  • mr.independant

    It seems I can’t post the links to the video from frontline. OK BUR why is that?

    Anyway I urge people to go an watch Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s report from Pakistan.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I saw the frontline report and recall vividly the little girl talking about the ray of light.
    But haven’t we made things worse by the way in which we throw our weight around? I was deeply offended by the treatment of women by the Taliban well before the 9/11 attacks. We did not do anything then, but I was relieved the U.S. seemed to be extirpating, uprooting, these people in the process of chasing down al-kaida. Now everything seems to have backfired, not just in Afghanistan but in Pakistan too. People rally to the causes that oppose western interests. Again, there are certainly books out there, but there is enough “heat” to blot out any “light.”
    Americans seem to provoke anti-Americanism (and American money seems to stir up corruption) and the cause that rallies this sentiment is religious, and it is doubly difficult to value the religion and abhor its expression.
    If we could educate every child in the region, great. If we could educate every American child, super.
    If the United Nations were undertaking the stabilization of Af-Pak, it would look like a humanitarian mission, not American imperialism. I think we need the colors of global intention in order to deal with a dangerous quagmire. What is the State Department doing in this respect?

  • millard-fillmore

    mr. independent, try posting the link without “h t t p : / /” – there may be a filter in comments that’s blocking the URL out based on that.

  • mr.independant

    Ellen you asked what does the Taliban want. They want to rule with strict Sharia Law. Bin Ladin and Al-Qaeda want to crate another Caliphate (The caliphate was the only form of governance that had full approval in traditional Islamic theology, and “is the core political concept of Sunni Islam, by the consensus of the Muslim majority in the early centuries.)

    I agree our presence has made things worse. We blew it after 9/11 by not hitting Bin Ladin and Al-Qaeda hard and fast and letting them escape over the border into Pakistan. Instead of trying to contain the problem we have resulted yet again to using the military option.

    Afghanistan is also in a state of complete collapse. It’s government is corrupt, the people have endured over 30 years of wars and and a deterioration of there country.

    If you watched Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy’s report were you not struck how much the people just wanted to have peace and prosperity. How they are caught in this trap, the Taliban on one hand and the Pakistani government and the west on the other.

    It’s a mess that’s for sure.

  • Ellen Dibble

    I was struck. I am not surprised that they want a caliphate, though I understand there are many strands of Taliban, and I am not clear how targeting the United States is part of this. Failed states are terrible for peace-loving people who just want to live a good life. But how does a foreign country foist “successful state” on a place? I think we feel al-kaida is targeting the U.S., but do they want to establish a caliphate here? It seems they have a hard enough time keeping control when everyone is thoroughly indoctrinated.
    The evangelical aspect (I’m thinking of the spread of Islam in the 800s, swords and camels, flags and blood) is the stability it offers, which is quite a rebuke to what Pakistani and Afghanistani governments offer. Again, our fault, to some extent. We can’t offer diplomacy with its persuasions and courtesies to a hostile religious group, as far as I know. And governments…

  • Peter

    I guess I know where Pravin and Mahesh perspective is…
    India’s denial of Kashmiries right to self determination…!!
    would they care to tell me under what military presence (occupation) the last elections were held in Kashmir ?
    How heavy a military presence India has in Kashmir even now ?
    Or how many time has the Indian Gov. given grants to Indians to go settle in Kashmir ?
    Kinda reminds me of something in another part of the troubled world where peoples lives have been turned upside down because someone else (for some religious reason [Maha Baharat]) want to occupy their land and resources and expects the rest of us to buy their silly arguments.
    How come India the “world’s largests democracy” cares to ignore the will of the people of Kashmir and deny several UN resolutions… ?
    How do they reconcile that ? and yet proclaim to be a democracy? I guess its not surprising after all South Africa did it for a long time before and Isreal still is doing it…so they learned from the best of them and forgot Mahatma G’s lessons.
    I find it amazing that India has its subtle hands in the affairs of ALL its neighbours. One should look into the money and support (military and Financial) that the Tamil Tigers got from India (particularly the BJP…follow the money).
    Why the media is focused on Pakistan and Hillary C’s comments …follow the money… (her campaign got tons of money from the Tata group and other Indian in the US). Look at the number of Indian “so called embassies in Afghanistan”…. whats that all about… I don’t see a big Afghan immigration or Indian immigration going to Afghanistan….something tells me that there is more then meets the eye here again (But enough of these conspiracy theories). Lets all believe what we want to… and let history repeat it self again and again…!!
    Oh and

  • Putney Swope

    Ellen There is a difference between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda is a terrorist organization and the Taliban are more interested in the local political arena.

    Al-Qaeda are the ones who planed and executed 9/11 and at the time the Afgan Taliban was giving them a safe haven to operate.

    While they are both extremist in their interpretation of Muslim law and ideology I think that they differ in how the operate. Al-Qaeda hates all things western and are basically out to cause as much mayhem as the can.

    I think the problem for the area with the Taliban is that they are so extreme in how they conduct themselves and they use fear and extreme violence to control the general population. It was apparently common for them to have beheadings in the town squares all across the region of Swat. They would also leave the bodies hanging, with warnings of not to remove them. These are very brutal people.

  • Frederic C.

    Why is a nuclear Iran, Pakistan, Lybia, troubling?

    There is something at the very core of Islam that requires reform before Islam can move forward on the road to progress.

    Islam need a Martin Luther, heck an Augustine or a Socrates to transform it into the religion that some unquestioning people want to believe that it is.

    The ‘ideal (of) Islam,’ is suffering. Though the number of Islam’s adherents may increase, they are just moving the faith laterally. There must be reform in Islam before the faith can move vertically.

  • Lilya

    If US Military only engages in Sunami help, will anybody ever think of bad things to happen to Americans?

    Does Al-Queda hate Japanese and Bolician people?

    Does Taliban have any interest in establishing Sheriat Law in New Zealand?

    Let’s bomb Hamburg, because 9/11 was planned in Hamburg.

    C’mon folks…. these are not valid arguments to bomb the hell out of poorest of the poor, who haven’t seen a foreigner in their lives.

    What are the chances that religious fundementalist get hold of nuclear bomb and attack Oslo? Why would they?

    Terrorism is not an Action, it is a last resort Reaction.

    Why would anybody hurt you accross oceans, if you don’t do anything bad to him.

  • Amit

    Peter, you might want to read what the other side has to say, instead of getting your views only from one side and making up your mind on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir. Here are some links:

    http://soulinexile.blogspot.com/2007/01/kp-exodus-day-19th-january-1990.html
    http://kaulonline.com/blog/2006/12/we-hold-on-tight/

    Once you have updated your knowledge of this complex issue and understood it, then a meaningful discussion can happen. Till then, happy reading!!

  • Amit

    Peter, you might want to read what the other side has to say, instead of getting your views only from one side and making up your mind on the issue of Jammu & Kashmir. Here are some links:

    (add http to the links below)
    soulinexile.blogspot.com/2007/01/kp-exodus-day-19th-january-1990.html
    kaulonline.com/blog/2006/12/we-hold-on-tight/

    Once you have updated your knowledge of this complex issue and understood it, then a meaningful discussion can happen. Till then, happy reading!!

  • millard-fillmore

    “How do they reconcile that ? and yet proclaim to be a democracy?”

    Peter, the same way we Americans feel so proud of our democracy by
    1. barring third-party candidates from appearing in debates,
    2. putting legal obstacles in their path to get on the ballot which should be a given in a free and democratic society,
    3. demonizing someone like Ralph Nader for simply exercizing his right in the Constitution to run for public office,
    4. appointing someone who voted for the Iraq war as Secretary of State,
    5. claiming to be a free press but not even covering the third parties and their candidates,
    6. having a Congress that’s beholden to big businesses and is morally and ethically corrupt, yet we are more concerned about who got booted off the latest episode of Survivor,
    7. not having those who broke the law when it comes to torture (unlawful) be held accountable,
    8. having the perception that the Democrats are better when they are as corrupt as Republicans.

    Want me to go on? I could write a lot more, but if you are smart, you should get the point. ;)

  • millard-fillmore

    Lilya,

    We Americans have a democratic system where if we are dissatisfied with American foreign policy, we have the freedom and the right to influence policy decisions being made and vote out those who made those decisions. And I will do what I can within my power to have my voice be heard, but one thing I will not do – because American foreign policy is at fault – is legitimize Al-Qaeda and terrorists who have medieval mentality and cannot be reasoned with.

    While I have my issues with American state and its wielding of power, I won’t fall into the trap of ‘an enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Those who flog women and stone them, and levy taxes on non-Muslim minorities may be your friends, but they aren’t mine.

  • millard-fillmore

    Peter,

    1. India had a woman Prime Minister in the 1970s.
    2. India has had Muslim (minority religion), Sikh (minority religion), Dalit Presidents – religion wasn’t an issue, whereas we in America still struggle with religion and Obama went to great lengths to distance himself from Muslims and disavow his Muslim roots and burnish his Christian credentials, with the liberal/progressive media not questioning him (enough).
    3. India has had many Chief Ministers (similar to Governor) from different minority religions and different social statuses. The current CM of the largest state is not only a woman but comes from a lower social status that was discriminated against.

    This is:
    1. within 60 years of achieving independence from colonial Brits. (interesting that till 60 years ago, colonialism was A-OK in the enlightened west)
    2. starting off as poor.
    3. experiencing a traumatic partition that led to mass migration and uprooting of people as well as up to a million killed.
    4. forming a country with states as diverse as countries within European Union and doing a decent job – though not without problems – of holding it together and ensuring rights of citizens. There are 29 different languages spoken in India and there are people with multiple ethnic and regional identities.

    So, if you want to look at Kashmir while ignoring all these facts about Indian democracy, you’re most welcome to it. But I doubt that you will be credited with having a perspective or understanding of India or democracy.

  • Putney Swope

    Lilya do you really believe in this stuff you just said?
    Or are you just saying it to be a provocateur.
    Do you know what it is to be a woman in a country such a Saudi Arabia? Or what is like to live under the Taliban?

    THe other issue is if you were living in Saudi Arabia and you were saying what your saying now about the royal family and the government you would be arrested.

    In Iran you could be arrested. You said you were Jewish, well there are some men in the Taliban and Al-Qaeda who want your head, literally.

    So you go on, you keep supporting an ideology that does not believe in the education of girls and women, just remember that for many of your counter parts on the other side of the world, they do not have your luxury.

  • Daud Sharif

    As I have said before, there needs to be a combined hard power and PRIVATE soft power effort to tame the situation in Afghanistan and Pakistan without forgetting Kashmir.

    Of course the soft power should be the major component, say, 80%.

    Americans, Afghans and Pakistanis have been continuing on their hard power / military effort for almost eight years. It has produced a few results, but this effort alone is not enough.

    A massive education and job creation program needs to be created, in parallel, in both countries to win the hearts and minds of the general populace.

    One should also realise that both the Afghan and the Pakistani governments are weak and relatively ineffective in this respect due to old habits and massive corruption. So, a PRIVATE effort needs to be started regarding long term education and job creation. Its time to setup a private company to undertake this massive effort.

    Giving money to the Afghan and Pakistani governments would just not do.

    One additional point: It is commonly said that the Afghan dilemma can’t be solved without Pakistan’s help. It’s true. But, Pakistani hearts and minds will not be at ease till the occupation of Kashmir by India goes on unabated without plebiscite.

    Simply put the problem is not just AfPak. It is US/EU + Afghanistan, Pakistan & India.

    Suggestion for resolving the situation in Afghanistan:

    Ask young Afghans if they would like to complete their studies in the US, Europe or Australia. I bet, even the so-called Taliban, will say yes to education in the West.

    Take these young Afghans, say 30% of all the teenagers, and give them world class education in US, Europe or Australia. These newly educated can then become beacons of democracy and civilization in Afghanistan. In one generation or two Afghanistan will rise up to be a shining star.

    In parallel, establish schools, internet kiosks and health clinics for the remainder.

    A similar effort needs to be taken in the affected areas of Pakistan, viz. the NWFP.

    Regarding the Taliban taking over Pakistan and the nuclear weapons: It’s a canard and is normally pushed by the Indians who have an axe to grind.

    Its false because the Pathan/Taliban are the majority population in Afghanistan but a very small MINORITY population group in Pakistan and have little following among the plains of Punjab or Sindh. Plus, Pakistan has a very professional army, thanks to the British Raj, which has kept India (seven times bigger than Pakistan) at bay for 60 years. Comparatively, the Taliban are a minor annoyance as they are a mere few thousand uneducated, poor, religious rag tag sort minor crusaders.

    There is a constructive role for Indians here too: borrow their massive army, sans heavy weapons, and have them patrol the 1600 mile Durand line (Pakistan/Afghanistan border) to keep any Taliban from crossing from Afghanistan into Pakistan in check or vice versa. Think of the Indian army as glorified border guards. They are well trained too in this respect with their continuous occupation of Kashmir and keeping down the native Kashmiri freedom fighters.

  • Lilya

    Putney Swope:

    While you were writing your message at least a few girls sexually mutilated and raped in Africa in front of their parents and brothers.

    Dutch people think we are medieval when we put innocent people with some herbs in their pockets in jail cells like uncivilized people.

    Why Afghanistan, why Pakistan, why Iraq?

    Russians came and wanted to change traditions so that the women can be treated better, but we helped Taliban to kick them out.

    9/11: Look at FBI’s web site… wanted Osama for minor and mickey mouse charges.

    You just cannot argue about assumptions of conveniences.
    Whatever real motive keeps us digging deeper in Foreign Soil, we have to get rid of those characters of interests.

    The bottom line is: we are “broke” b-r-o-k-e!!!

  • Amit

    Yes, “freedom fighters” indeed.

  • Lilya

    Additionally, it does not matter what we post here, what Putney Swope thinks, the important thing is what the guy you are fighting against thinks.

    If you ignore this fact, the best thing you can do is to kill them, right? But the problem is a good number of them are already willing to die for their cause anyway.

    They are religious, strict, uneducated, deprived people with strong value and conviction system. They are not evil or stupid or mental.

  • Ashish

    the irony: one of the guests said . . . “Pakistan has historically supported many of these religious groups . . . now they are threatened by the very groups they supported” . . .

    Yasmin: (one of the callers) . .”Pakistan needs to resolve the Kashmir issue before it can take care of taliban” . .

    @Yasmin: the kashmir issue has be dragging since 3 decades now . . . ( 2 wars fought and thousands dead) . what makes you think that it will be resolved just in time for PAK to start working on the Taliban ? ?

  • Ellen Dibble

    I believe Afghanistan was (comparatively) liberal, advanced, and educated before the Russians came. Then the educated class left, regretfully. I’m sure someone will correct me if I’m wrong. But there is one I’m familiar with, and several whose books I’ve at least scanned. The lesson being how close is social degradation when under siege.
    The kind of nuclear contingencies strategists come up with are hopefully more or less in place, hopefully not too publicly, in case of loose nukes.
    I cannot classify al-kaida and any of the Taliban groups as medieval. It takes two to tango, two to be medieval. If people expect them to be humane and reasonable, someone might elicit some vision, some motivation other than mayhem. I wouldn’t suggest elicitation by terrorizing them or hurting them. But I doubt their means are getting them towards their religious ends. We can look to the Puritan heritage in the U.S., see its shortcomings, its witch crazes and attitudes towards Native Americans. The City on a Hill might be in the goal of The Base (that’s the translation of al-Kaida).
    If Islam needs, as someone suggested, new blood. Excuse me. New breath. If so, we can see where that is badly needed and see who is trying to provide that. They should be challenged.
    Not being a Muslim, I am in no position to do this. But after a bonehead move like some that we’ve seen, I ask, what are the goals? A mother says this to her children, in disbelief but remembering their humanity. You painted the couch? You what?

  • millard-fillmore

    Here we go again – the typical leftist-liberal canard used by apologists, more so from feminists whose very rights these terrorists wouldn’t care for. But such are the wonderful paradoxes in life.

    Lilya: “They are religious, strict, uneducated, deprived people with strong value and conviction system.”

    And this strong value system is not only antithetical but inimical to the values we hold dear – freedom, democracy, equal rights without any discrimination based on religion, gender, sexual preference, or minority status.

    BTW, Osama is not uneducated or deprived – he’s a millionaire and he is quite educated. Neither is his second-in-command Ayman Al-Zawahiri deprived or uneducated. Nor is Omar Sheikh. Nor Khalid Sheikh Mohammad. Nor were the terrorists involved in the London and Glasgow attacks deprived or uneducated. Mohammad Atta studied in Germany and had a Master’s degree. Please do your basic research before making such ignorant statements – all this information is available on wikipedia. If they have money to buy guns and explosives, and train terrorists; then it logically follows that they are not deprived and the same money can be used to buy bread and open schools. People who attend these training camps are not stupid and neither are they little kids who are in need of moms – they know very well what’s the end result of their terrorist training.

    Please Lilya, enough of this bull about uneducated and deprived. It’s not borne out by any facts of known terrorists.

  • MT

    India has 24 consulate offices in afghanistan on Pakistani border to train talibans.
    All the media reports stating that India is funding and providing training and weapons to the damn talibans.
    Their salaries are much higher than Pakistani officials.
    They have most latest weapons and tactis.

  • Great Satan

    Argue all you want…when the cat’s out of the bag, don’t be there.

  • david w. canady

    Wow This is shocking. India is of course Pakistani known enemy…………………..
    India has 24 consulate offices in afghanistan on Pakistani border to train talibans.
    All the media reports stating that India is funding and providing training and weapons to the damn talibans.
    Their salaries are much higher than Pakistani officials.
    They have most latest weapons and tactis.

  • david w. canady

    I believe India needs to get out of Kashmir and Afghanistan and stop funding these bad talibans…

  • Lilya Lopekha

    Of course, India may do fishy stuff with the Taliban.

    Because in many fronts they are adversaries. Some factions do hate each other. They are competing neighbors with historic anymosities. They have religion based issues and ecomomic issues. It is normal, it will not be surprising. They may even think that India will benefit if Pakistan has a civil war.

    The key phrase is “geographical neighbors”.

    But countries/people do not become enemies without reasons and accross oceans. Taliban will have no interest in Sumatra and USA if they are left alone.

  • Buddha1974

    Just some of my opinions

    1. The hype in this matter even though it may sound excessive, it’s real. The threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons is real. Once they get it, they WILL use it (first in Afghanistan and then in India). There is no way to reason with them. These are people who believe in eternal salvation if they push a button, whether it’s a button of a suicide bomb or a nuclear detonator is irrelevant here.

    2. ‘Islam is a religion of peace’. It is. But not what we see now. This hardcore Islam does not believe in making peace. There is one way for them and that’s written in a book written centuries ago. They follow it by the word. The so called ‘mainstream muslims’ (like one of the callers) are either naive at the best or delusional at the worst.

    3. The credibility of the Pakistan army (the ones we pay to defend their own country) is highly doubtful. These are the same worthies who once created the Taliban and now when their own dogs have started to bite their bum, they are now caught with their pants down.

  • Ellen Dibble

    Way way back there was a post about Tata (the Indian car manufacturer?) being a big contributor to Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Why wasn’t India present today in the discussions with Pakistan and Indian foreign ministers at the White House? (Rhetorical question.) Why do we talk when we are talking about violence and abuses? Because. (That’s a 3-year-old’s answer.)
    Someone who has been treated dictatorially by a father who brooks no reason and will not be crossed, such a boy will grow up emulating that, wanting to be like that, and having no other model. Within a family, with a cowering female figure, it happens. Boys with parents who teach dialogue and reason, by example, they have a better shot at meaningful relationships and productive lives in many ways.
    Am I insinuating something? Maybe.

  • Arnold

    I think Obama needs to stop killing innocents in Afghanistan. That’s going to be his Iraq/Vietnam. It’s a waste of time, money and lives.

  • millard-fillmore

    Ellen Dibble, would you use the same reasoning and employ the same (deferential?) tone you used in your 8:14pm comment, when talking about sexism or racism in our country, or talking about those religious extremists in the US who hate gays?

    Here’s another hypothetical question for you:
    Would you feel comfortable wearing a t-shirt out in the open market during daylight that featured one of the famous Danish cartoons while you’re in a Muslim-majority country? How about in Times Square in NYC? Or in a city in Texas or Alabama? You don’t have to answer it here, but I hope you can answer these questions *honestly* to yourself, and maybe explore a bit as to the reasons “why” for your answers.

    As for moderate Islam, it’s called Sufi, though that has been under threat in Pakistan and elsewhere as more radical Wahhabi version has been replacing it – not always peacefully. Also look up the concept of fitna and that should explain the lack of vocal moderate Muslims.

    Lilya, here’s an excerpt from Peter Bergen’s (a reputed writer) essay he co-wrote with Swati Pandey, titled “The Madrassa Myth”:

    “We examined the educational backgrounds of 75 terrorists behind some of the most significant recent terrorist attacks against Westerners. We found that a majority of them are college-educated, often in technical subjects like engineering. In the four attacks for which the most complete information about the perpetrators’ educational levels is available – the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, the attacks on the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, the 9/11 attacks, and the Bali bombings in 2002 – 53 percent of the terrorists had either attended college or had received a college degree. As a point of reference, only 52 percent of Americans have been to college. The terrorists in our study thus appear, on average, to be as well educated as many Americans.

    The 1993 World Trade Center attack involved 12 men, all of whom had a college education. The 9/11 pilots, as well as the secondary planners identified by the 9/11 commission, all attended Western universities, a prestigious and elite endeavor for anyone from the Middle East. Indeed, the lead 9/11 pilot, Mohamed Atta, had a degree from a German university in, of all things, urban preservation, while the operational planner of 9/11, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, studied engineering in North Carolina. We also found that two-thirds of the 25 hijackers and planners involved in 9/11 had attended college.

    Of the 75 terrorists we investigated, only nine had attended madrassas, and all of those played a role in one attack – the Bali bombing. Even in this instance, however, five college-educated “masterminds” – including two university lecturers – helped to shape the Bali plot.

    Like the view that poverty drives terrorism – a notion that countless studies have debunked – the idea that madrassas are incubating the next generation of terrorists offers the soothing illusion that desperate, ignorant automatons are attacking us rather than college graduates, as is often the case. In fact, two of the terrorists in our study had doctorates from Western universities, and two others were working toward their Ph.D.”

    It doesn’t help the discussion at all and we are no closer to a solution if people are dishonest and use obfuscations instead of facts. So, no more mention of destitution and lack of education from you please – I’ve challenged your comments twice here and refuted them with facts. Please don’t insult the intelligence of others with your political correctness – that’s also condescending/patronizing to Muslims.

  • http://tombstone001.blogspot.com MOHAMMED N. RAZAVI

    Dear Tom

    05/06/2009

    LESSONS NEVER LEARNED

    With the meetings underway between the US leadership and that of Pakistan and Afghanistan it is time to review how we got here.

    Late in 2001, a friend of mine that used to work at the Pantagon was visiting and he asked me where I thought Osama was and I told him, without hesitation, that i thought he was in the NWFP. And i gave him all my reasons for that belief.

    Years before that at a Joint Forces Tactical Exercise, at Hulbert, one of the airmen had this comic strip up in his cubicle. It became my all time favorite Calvin and Hobbes comic strip.

    [Calvin and Hobbes are careening in their red wagon through the woods.]
    CALVIN: “It’s true, Hobbes, ignorance is bliss! Once you know things, you start seeing problems everywhere. And once you see problems, you feel like you ought to try to fix them. And fixing problems always seems to require personal change. And change means doing things that aren’t fun! I say phooey to that! But if you’re willfully stupid, you don’t know any better, so you can keep doing whatever you like! The secret to happiness is short-term, stupid self-interest!”
    HOBBES: “We’re heading for that cliff!”
    CALVIN: [covering his eyes] “I don’t want to know about it.”
    CRASH!
    HOBBES: “I’m not sure I can stand so much bliss.”
    CALVIN: “Careful! We don’t want to learn anything from this.”

    So here it goes,

    What does the United States now expect to happen in the Pakistan Afghanistan conflict, for years I have written on the topic, but it seems that the US politicians still believe in miracles, because their “think tanks” and the “specialists” and experts tell them they will happen. I had recently commented on the CNN blog, in a reply to Peter Bergen article “Pakistan Is Not Falling”. CNN did not publish my comments even though by looking at the time stamps i would have been second or the third person to write. Same is the situation with our politicians they only listen to what they want to hear.

    The United States WILL lose in Pakistan as it will lose in Afghanistan and has already lost in Iraq because

    We failed to secure the borders of the countries, the Iraqi insurgencies were getting arms and support from Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia, while we were going around in circles trying to figure out who was on our side, all sides were against us.

    Same thing was happening in Afghanistan, by the time we decided to do anything about the open border with Pakistan, it was too late, we were losing in Afghanistan and Pakistan was also lost.

    We supported the local politicians we could buy cheaply, regardless of their ability to deliver, we ended up creating more enemies who hated us for what their politicians were doing in our name. It was bad enough in Iraq and in Afghanistan, we supported Bhutto in Pakistan and ended up with a known criminal as the head of state there too.

    WE ARE THE CHUMPS, why was Clinton even mentioning Baliwal , who the hell is he any way, how do we support democracy by meeting with him in any capacity.

    Time and again I have mentioned the injustice and corruption in Pakistan, which is actually the same for many if not most of the regimes around the world, have we not learned that such regimes can not be supported and maintained, and as the corruption, injustice, bribery nepotism and elitism and the difference between the poor and the rich keeps growing will US also become more like a third world country?

  • upro

    finally PAK is getting a taste of its own medicine . . . . . ISI (PAk intelligence agency) was funding groups like the taliban not so long ago . .(actually they do that even today . . Bombay attacks) . . PAK possessing nukes is a major issue for the US and the rest of the world as chain of command is next to nothing in PAK . . . military coups are a common thing . . . (generals becoming Prez . . ! !) . .nuclear scientists selling weapons grade Uranium/plutonium and enrichment equipment on the black market (Abdul Quadeer Khan) . . and the biggest fear is taliban taking control of thermonuclear device . . . ( what shocks me is that some of the local population
    actually support the Taliban)

  • Mike

    Don’t listen to the critics here, Tom & producers. You have recently done a show dealing with on-the-ground social factors in Pakistan. The thrust of this show was specifically the level of threat to stability in Pakistan and resulting threat to the U.S. and other countries. It’s not wrong to steer the discussion in that direction when that is explicitly the topic. And when callers with alternative viewpoints called, not only did you put them on air (two of them), you engaged them at length. It’s simply factually inaccurate to say you dismissed them. You did defend the attention you were giving to particular questions regard security this hour, but that is your prerogative. Critics here are responding to those explanations because the don’t like them by misrepresenting what went on on air. They should be ignored.

  • Ann-Marie

    Tom,

    your first caller was right-your apoplectic tone had my blood-pressure sky high. You are usually able to express fear and concern while maintaining some grasp of reality. In this show, I felt that you somehow crossed the line. However, everyone has an “off” day and you are only human.

    This is not to say that the situation isn’t serious and alarming. However, you cut off BOTH of your first guests while they tried to explain why the chance of the nukes falling into the hands of the Taliban is so low. Your anxiety seemed to have left you unwilling to listen to the big picture.

    The bottom line remains that the “low-tech” weapons of these terrorists and thugs are MUCH more dangerous than any nukes. Asymmetric warfare is the new danger that large armies and organized nations have to get used to. We can spend months worrying about nukes but have the whole nation be held hostage by some teenage pirates with nothing but AK-46s. Or our entire economy brought down by the take-over of airplanes by a bunch of thugs!
    So keep some perspective on these issues.

  • Ann-Marie

    oops sorry, I meant to write AK-47 NOT AK-46.

    Anyway Tom, I will consider this show your “Joe-biden-swine-flu-freakout-moment”. You were due!

  • Putney Swope

    millard-fillmore thanks for posting that.
    I was going to write something along these lines, however your post does an admirable job.

    The other thing I think that is getting mixed up here is the difference between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.

    Al-Qaeda for the most part are Arabs. The Taliban are a Pashtun fundamentalist religious and political movement.

    The Taliban implemented one of the “strictest interpretation of Sharia law ever seen in the Muslim world” including the complete ban of education for girls.and is widely criticized internationally for its treatment of women.

    The ban music, and kite flying as well. In short these guys seem bent on taking all the joys of life out.

    Lilya, your post on May 6th, 2009 at 7:00 pm EDT
    You should read this again and ask yourself some serious questions. First off your comments on the USSR’s failed occupation in Afghanistan is so off base and lacks any credibility. I have to say that your intellectual curiosity seems to be pretty low, that coupled with seems like a complete lack of understanding of geopolitics and history seems to be a hindrance.
    It is clouding your responses with jargon.

    We are in Afghanistan because of 9/11. Of course one could debate how this thing has been badly planned by the US government, our military leaders, the UN, and NATO, that is fair game in my view. Huge mistakes have been made in this arena.

    I’ll paraphrase millard-fillmore;
    Please don’t insult the intelligence of others with your political correctness – that’s also condescending/patronizing too Muslims,…and to me.

  • upro

    PAKs C&C is secure ? ? the link goes to a pak defense forum and you want me to listen to that **bull** . . . get your sources straight before posting them.

    @Ann-marie
    Maybe its just me, but i think you are underestimating the significanse of a nuclear device . .

  • millard-fillmore

    Here’s a relevant quote from Karl Popper:

    “Unlimited tolerance must lead to the disappearance of tolerance. If we extend unlimited tolerance even to those who are intolerant, if we are not prepared to defend a tolerant society against the onslaught of the intolerant, then the tolerant will be destroyed, and tolerance with them. We should therefore claim, in the name of tolerance, the right not to tolerate the intolerant.” — Karl Popper, British philosopher

  • Phil

    Alarms & Alarmism:
    I have a fire alarm in my house. If it goes off, I do not get excited and run around–I check my planned escape route and exit in an orderly way.

    Maybe the alarm is false. But if it is true, it has saved my life.

    Same with planning beforehand. I’m not going to refrain from it because some people think preparedness is alarmism.

    My take: program not alarmist. Alarm warranted. Better heeded and rationally discussed. Best if solved by Pakistan itself.

    Phil

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Aug 19, 2014
Police wait to advance after tear gas was used to disperse a crowd Sunday, Aug. 17, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer last Saturday in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

“War zones” in America. Local police departments with military grade equipment – how much is too much, and what it would take to de-militarize America’s police force.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Your (Weird? Wonderful? Wacky?) Roommate Stories
Tuesday, Aug 19, 2014

We asked, and you delivered: some of the best roommate stories from across our many listener input channels.

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Our Week In The Web (August 15, 2014)
Friday, Aug 15, 2014

On Pinterest, Thomas the Tank Engine and surprising population trends from around the country. Also, words on why we respond to your words, tweets and Facebook posts.

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Nickel Creek Plays Three Songs LIVE For On Point
Wednesday, Aug 13, 2014

Nickel Creek shares three live (well, mostly) tracks from their interview with On Point Radio.

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