I've been so enraged at Karl Rove's successful manipulation of the SWIFT "scandal," that I missed the announcement that we are selling new F-16's Jets to Pakistan.
It has wanted to buy some for close to twenty years, and had ordered some. We canceled the order in 1989 because of their nuclear weapons program. Now that they have helped other countries develop nukes, we have decided to "sell" 18 of the planes to them. I called A.Q. Khan at his villa outside Karachi seeking comment, but his butler informed me that he was unavailable for comment at this time.
These new F-16's are able to carry nukes, and their acquisition will greatly increase the range of Pakistan's nuclear strike capability.
Next year President Musharaff, who has survived two assassination attempts, will face the electorate. Condi Rice is confident that it will be a free and fair election, and that Musharaff will win. Please remember that the Bush administration's definition of free and fair is special. In this case, it is important to note that the two strongest opposition leaders are in exile, and Musharaff's government has announced they would be arrested were they to enter the country.
So he may remain in power after the next "election." But for how long? A revolution, or a coup d'etat by Islamic fundamentalists would surprise no one. Musharaff has always been more secular than most of his population, and the bombing that the U.S.did in Pakistan this spring has only increased the accusations that he is "Satan's Poodle. (Satan is Bush or America, depending on the level of anger that day.)
One of our reasons for "selling" the jets is to express our gratitude to Musharaff and to help increase his popularity. (aka: Propping up a dictator)
Once again we are "selling" extremely sophisticated arms to a dictator. How stupid are we?
P.S. "Selling" is in quotes, because the administration is saying it's a sale, a sale that is part of a three billion dollar aid package.
P.P.S. Many have thought that it was George H.W. Bush, then former head of the CIA, who was instrumental in organizing the "October Surprise" that was so important in Reagan's election. Do we think that a "grateful" Musharaff might finally get serious about capturing Osama bin Laden, perhaps in October of 2006? I lean more to the idea that he will be captured in October 2008 - it would make Musharaff's life more difficult if we insisted he bring us Osama before his own 2007 elections. The timing could easily depend on poll results this September. Any bets out there?
The Post put it more gently "But U.S.officials have been wary about pressing Musharraf too hard, seeking to balance demands for action against extremist groups with tangible
U.S. rewards, such as sales of F-16 fighter jets, many analysts say."