Brushed aside were the legal, political and security ramifications of potential involvement by Pakistan's past and present military and intelligence officials in the package deal — negotiated behind closed doors — to close the controversy generated by Dr. Khan's decades-long illegal actions. The deal essentially forced Dr. Khan to admit his guilt alone and to exonerate any government officials, past or present, in the transfer of nuclear centrifuge technology (to enable the creation of enriched uranium), bomb designs or warhead components in exchange for a full presidential pardon issued by Gen. Pervez Musharraf and approved by his cabinet on Thursday.
Even more disturbing, however, was the apparent "free-pass" issued by the Bush White House to Gen. Musharraf in an attempt to keep his government alive and stable. The assumption made was that had Dr. Khan opted to defend himself and his actions at a trial for treason, he would have spilled the beans on everyone in government, military and intelligence circles that was involved in the approval — explicit or implicit — of the nuclear transfers. But the calculation that making Dr. Khan the fall guy, thereby ending inquiry and bringing closure to this nuclear scandal (because Musharraf is too valuable as an ally in the war on terror to let his government collapse), makes the assumption that there are no other countries or terrorist groups to which Pakistani nuclear assets have been transferred.
Despite Pakistani denials and statements to the contrary, this is far from certain.
The civilized world, led by an American administration that has made unraveling terrorism's nerve centers its central foreign policy goal, has a right to know whether or not other countries or groups have received nuclear technologies and intellectual assistance from Pakistan's rogue elements before Gen. Musharraf slams the door shut on any independent auditing of his nuclear books. That he feels the matter can be closed in such a cavalier manner is a slight to American taxpayers who are funding his very survival, and to civilized people everywhere who now have to wonder whether terrorists have the materials to not only build radiological "dirty" bombs, but to build functional nuclear weapons that can destroy the fabric of peace and humankind.
The Bush White House must be called upon by the American people to compel our ally, Gen. Musharraf, to open his records for independent verification and inspection so we can unravel the nuclear black market before more dangerous transfers are made, and to accept nuclear safeguards — like sensors, alarms, tamper-proof seals, safekeeping vaults and closed-circuit cameras — that insure at least Pakistan's nuclear materials are never again available for use by unauthorized parties.
To do otherwise would be to sew the same seeds for an attack of incalculable consequences on American soil by terrorists who received aid from an American ally — funded by American taxpayer money while America's political leaders looked the other way. It seems, at times, that we learned nothing from the lessons of the politicized intelligence failures that led to the death, mayhem and destruction we suffered on September 11, 2001.
Mansoor Ijaz is a Foreign Affairs Analysit for FOX News Channel. Mansoor's father (deceased), Dr. Mujaddid Ahmed Ijaz, was involved with the "Atoms for Peace" program for nuclear cooperation between the United States and Pakistan in the 1960s, and was present at the Pakistani conference where then-Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto asked his nuclear scientists to "build me the bomb." He taught many of the students that went on to run sensitive parts of Pakistan's nuclear program today.