Glick: In Pakistan, They Trust - Pakistan is a little more than a failed state with nuclear weapons
Tuesday, January 12, 2016
It is a testament to the precarious state of the world today that in a week that saw North Korea carry out a possible test of a hydrogen bomb, the most frightening statement uttered did not come from Pyongyang.
It came from Pakistan.
Speaking in the military garrison town of Rawalpindi, Pakistani Army chief Gen. Raheel Sharif said that any Iranian threat to Saudi Arabia’s territorial integrity will “wipe Iran off the map.” Sharif made the statement following his meeting with Saudi Arabia’s defense minister and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. According to media reports, Salman was the second senior Saudi official to visit Pakistan in the past week amid growing tensions between Iran and the kingdom.
Salman’s trip and Sharif’s nuclear threat make clear that following the US’s all-but-official abandonment of its role as protector of the world’s largest oil producer, the Saudis have cast their lots with nuclear-armed Pakistan.
When last October, the USS Harry Truman exited the Persian Gulf, the move marked the first time since 2007 that the US lacked an aircraft carrier in the region. Nine years ago, the US naval move was not viewed as a major statement of strategic withdrawal, given that back then the US had some one hundred thousand troops in Iraq.
While the USS Truman returned to the Gulf late last month, its return gave little solace to America’s frightened and spurned Arab allies. The Obama administration’s weak-kneed response to Iran’s live-fire exercises on December 26, during which an Iranian Revolutionary Guards vessel fired rockets a mere 1,370 meters from the aircraft carrier as it transited the Straits of Hormuz, signaled that the US is not even willing to make a show of force to deter Iranian aggression.
And so the Saudis have turned to Pakistan. It would be foolish to view Sharif’s nuclear threat as mere bluster. By every meaningful measure, Pakistan is little more than a failed state with nuclear weapons. Pakistan appears in every global index of failed or failing states.
To take just a few leading indicators, as spelled out by Basit Mahmood in a report last summer for The Political Domain, barely 1% of Pakistanis pay taxes of any kind. More than half the population lives in abject poverty. The government has no control over most Pakistani territory. Between 2003 and 2015, more than 58,000 people were killed by terrorism countrywide.