Thursday, March 5, 2009

Security in Pakistan. What security?

Christopher Gourgouras, Nashua
The March 3rd attack on the Sri Lankan national cricket team in Lahore, the second largest city in Pakistan and the capitol of the Punjab province that Congress needs to pay attention to the growing problem with Pakistani security forces. The country has become increasingly unstable since 2006 when the Taliban created strongholds in the Swat Valley and caused a near civil war that has recently been brought to an end at a price. Pakistani officials have allowed the Taliban to Institute Sharia Law in the former tourist location. Sharia or Islamic Law is the same law that allows the courts to order the death of rape victims on charges of adultery or the removal of a thief’s hand. This shows the Pakistani governments growing inability to deal with militants and keep its country stable at the same time.
One major concern is Pakistan’s nuclear weapon program. If there was a coup initiated by the Taliban or another militant group the weapons would become vulnerable and the country would become a danger to nearby countries and also NATO and US troops in Afghanistan. If a militant group allied with Al-Qaeda gained control of nuclear material the Middle East could become even more unstable than it already is. Israel would be at a much greater risk of attack from more powerful groups using the Gaza Strip as a staging ground. Security in Pakistan needs to improve its technology and allow US forces to enter its borders to deal with threats on the border of Afghanistan.
The attack against the Sri Lankan team was an embarrassing event for Pakistan, cricket is one of the national sports in Pakistan and a foreign team was allowed to be attacked in a major city. The security given to the team was not enough to defend against this attack, the attackers escaped after killing five police officers without having one attacker caught or killed. The attackers shouldn’t have even gotten near the team with the weapons they carried, which included assault rifles and anti-tank missiles. This security gap needs to be fixed as soon as possible, until then foreign sports teams should not play in Pakistan.
One thing that should be done by the government is to increase pay of security forces. This is because the people protecting civilians and tourists from attacks are less effective when they are underpaid, the enemy can just bribe them a month’s salary to be somewhere else during the time the attack takes place. Families of police and soldiers should be protected also because terrorists do not fight with honor, if they see your face they will blow up your home or kill your children. ''The average salary of police in Pakistan is 3500 rupees a month,'' or about $60, Moinuddin Haider, a senior Pakistani police official said to the New York Times
Even though the attacks in Pakistan continue, the country will not cooperate with NATO forces in Afghanistan; they accuse NATO forces of being too aggressive. This is because NATO forces are launches raids into Pakistan to kill top Taliban officials ordering attacks in Afghanistan or hunting down insurgents who cross the border and kill people than return to Pakistan. The country needs to increase border patrols and allow the US have unmanned drones patrol the area. This would greatly decrease the threat of enemies crossing the border and forcing NATO to follow them. An agreement needs to be made between the US and Pakistan so relations between the two countries don’t become strained.
Overall, this is an issue that needs to be watched closely by intelligence agencies and congress; if it gets worst the country can become dangerous to neighboring countries including India and Afghanistan. Pakistan is estimated to have over 50 nuclear weapons in possession according to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), if one of these weapons went missing during an attack or due to corruption it could be used to cause greater destruction than what was caused by the 9/11 attacks.

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