According to Bloomberg, Pakistan may be building a third reactor to produce plutonium, expanding its nuclear arsenal and accelerating a nuclear arms race with neighbor India. The Washington-based Institute of Science for International Security have alleged that the development of the reactor and other nuclear-related activities "imply" that Pakistan has decided to "increase significantly its production of plutonium for nuclear weapons". Work is progressing rapidly on the reactor at the Khushab nuclear site, roughly 100 miles southwest of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad and less than 100 miles southeast from Pakistan's lawless Taliban infested tribal areas along the Afghanistan border.
For the first time in two decades, and as temperatures rise, Pakistanis from all walks of life have now taken to the streets. This time around it not just the secularists who have taken to the streets, but the Islamic extremists as well with both sides now directing their anger at the United States for supporting Musharraf. What's at stake, quite simply, is the danger of a Pakistani civil war once Musharraf falls. For a man who has so far survived two Al Qaeda assassination attempts, Musharraf's days are clearly numbered.
The explanation for America's lack of a "finger on the pulse" on the situation in Pakistan is summed up nicely in a recent Washington Post article entitled "America's Bad Deal With Musharraf, Going Down in Flames". The ambassadorial appointment of Anne Patterson an expert on Latin America's "drugs and thugs" would sadly seem to support those allegations. Seemingly oblivious to the dangerous undertow ripping the country apart Ambassador Patterson has taken like a duck to water, doing what only she knows best, substituting coca leaves for flowers and "picking poppies" with our friend Pervez.
Other than showing America's strong commitment to the war on drugs and to sexual diversity, it's hard to imagine how President Bush's appointment of the diminutive Anne Patterson, head of the State Department's counter-narcotics bureau, as the new U.S. ambassador to Pakistan is going to accomplish the pressing issues at hand which are shutting down A.Q. Khan's network of nuclear proliferation, preventing a nuclear war between Pakistan and India, and forestalling a radical Islamic takeover of the government of Pakistan.