Question: Is Pakistan really our ally?
Jere Van Dyk: No. I think that when you look at the
history of Pakistan, when it was formed in 1947, the only country that
voted against its being allowed entry into the United Nations was
Afghanistan, and that had to do with the border region. In 1948 when
Pakistan was trying to wrest Kashmir from India, it took men from the
tribal areas, Pashtuns, and used them to fight against India as a
guerrilla force. And they almost captured Srinigar, the capital.
the power of these Pashtuns, of these tribal men, their fierceness as
warriors, their tradition as fighters, and their belief in Islam, they
used them to create—they were the vanguard in the beginnings and the
leadership of the Mujahadeen, America's and Pakistan's ally against the
Soviet Union in the 1980s. When I returned from Afghanistan in the
1980s and worked as a consultant for the State Department, and the
National Security Council, in the Reagan Administration, the United
States and Pakistan took these Mujahadeen, these men that had been
brought up to power, and they created a government called the "Afghan
Mujahadeen Government in Exile." I was their guide when they came to
New York to present their credentials to the United Nations.
they—when the Mujahadeen disintegrated and began to fight amongst
themselves, out of this came the Taliban. The Taliban in a great many
ways are the sons, and the grandsons, and the younger brothers of the
most militant members of the Mujahadeen. One of the most prominent
members of the Taliban, a man named Hakani, who I lived with in the
1980's, who had an Arab visit... an Egyptian Army officer come and stay
with us, who I later figured out was one of the very beginnings of al
When this occurred, I began to realize the close ties
between al Qaeda and the Mujahadeen; this man today, Hakani, is one of
the leaders of the Taliban. Only three countries, when the Taliban took
over Afghanistan, granted it diplomatic recognition. Principal among
them: Pakistan. Secondly, Saudi Arabia. Thirdly, the United Arab
Emirates. No other country in the world.
policy is to prevent itself from being surrounded by India, afraid that
India would use Afghanistan to surround Pakistan. It wants to... In
2006, Major General Shaukat Sultan, presidential spokesman for President
Pervez Musharref told me: "All our invasions come from the West."
Pashtuns feel that the lands inside Pakistan that go all the way to the
Indus River are theirs. They do not accept the Durand Line, the border
between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Not one single legislature in the
history of Afghanistan has ever accepted this border.
Pakistani army is comprised of Punjabis, the Pakistani—it's led by
Punjabis. The main ethnic —the most populous, and the richest, the most
accomplished ethnic group in Pakistan—the bureaucracy of Pakistan is
run by Punjabis. They are at war with the Pashtuns to prevent the
Pashtuns from going back and taking the lands that were once theirs that
stretch all the way to the Indus River.
In a meeting I had with
President Karzai he lamented the fact that so many Pashtun lands are now
in the hands of Pakistan. So Pakistan has a geopolitical goal of
surrounding India, to prevent itself from being reconquered by the
Pashtuns, and thirdly it wants to, in my view, recreate the Mughal
Muslim empire... thereby establishing trade relationships with Sunni
Central Asia, taking over Afghanistan, to expand it's reach, and finally
in order to gain access to the most important resource it needs and is
desperately in shortage of: water. All water comes from—the main water
sources of Pakistan come from India, and they come from Afghanistan.
Question: How worried should we be about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons?
Jere Van Dyk: There have been many reports of how the
United States has contingency plans, we have to take over those nuclear
arms if something were to go terribly awry in Pakistan. Those arms
themselves cannot be directed against the United States. Pakistan is
too far away from the United States. It's not the Soviet Union, which
had missiles that were capable of reaching our soil.
that members of the Pakistani military are deeply religious and would be
aligned with al Qaeda and would try to help those people... help al
Qaeda get those weapons and access to them and therefore help them with
all their abilities to reach the West, yes, I do think that that's a
threat. But I think it's a long-term threat. I personally don't worry
about that. I think that a far greater threat is the continuation of
the war on television, which radicalizes young men in the West like this
man who went and tried to do what he did in Times Square. I think that
is a much greater threat to the United States in the short term than
any nuclear arms falling into al Qaeda.
Recorded June 29. 2010
Interviewed by Max Miller