Afghan Journal

Lifting the veil on conflict, culture and politics

Pakistan still the greatest worry, says Biden

(Outside the mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah)

(Outside the mausoleum of Mohammad Ali Jinnah)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told CNN this week that his biggest worry was not Afghanistan, not Iraq and not even Iran which is hurtling into a fresh confrontation with the West over its nuclear programme.  The big concern was Pakistan with  its nuclear weapons and  a radicalised section of society.

“It’s a big country. it has nuclear weapons that are able to be deployed.  It has a real significant minority of radicalised population. It is not a completely functional democracy in the sense we think about it.  And so….. that’s my greatest concern.”

Biden’s remarks are unlikely to go down well in Pakistan, which bristles at being  lumped with dangerous countries .  Indeed the vice-president has spoken just when reports were emerging that the United States and Pakistan were starting to feel more comfortable with each other after a rocky couple of years.  Pakistan has won praise from U.S. military leaders for its successful operation in the difficult terrain of  South Waziristan. It has  also sought a key role in a resolution of the Afghan war, offering to mediate with Taliban factions operating from its soil.

Indeed, a top expert has suggested that this is perhaps the time to offer Pakistan a civilian nuclear  deal on the lines of the one agreed to with India, to win its complete cooperation in the war on terrorism.  C. Christian Fair, a professor at Georgetown University, says  nuclear cooperation could deliver results where billions of dollars of American aid have failed. “More so than conventional weapons or large sums of cash, a conditions-based civilian nuclear deal may be able to diminish Pakistani fears of U.S. intentions while allowing Washington to leverage these gains for greater Pakistani cooperation on nuclear proliferation and terrorism,”  she wrote in an article in The Wall Street Journal