Beyond Iran: The threat to Israel

In meeting with leading Jewish intellectuals in North America and some in Israel itself, I am struck by the lack of knowledge they have about Pakistan.

Al-Quds day Israel flag on fire in Iran 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Al-Quds day Israel flag on fire in Iran 370
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
The possibility of a future Iran armed with nuclear bombs consumes the attention of Israel’s political and military leadership. However, what lies beyond Iran, just east of the Strait of Hormuz is another threat that seldom causes a ripple either inside Israel or among the academics and experts in North America or Europe.
I am referring to Iran’s next door Islamic neighbor Pakistan that – unlike Iran – already brandishes over 100 nuclear weapons with Islamic zeal and barely concealed contempt for the “kuffar;” primarily Jews and Hindus.
In meeting with leading Jewish intellectuals and academia in North America and some in Israel itself, I am struck by the lack of knowledge they have about Pakistan, let alone its nuclear program. Few write about the internal dynamics of Pakistan that has emerged as the world’s number one source of jihadi suicide bombers and ground zero for the training of Islamic terrorists.
Allow me to dwell on the facts as brought to us by those who know.
The country’s leading anti-nuclear activist, nuclear physicist Pervez Hoodbhoy, in his book Confronting the Bomb, has this to say about Pakistan’s nukes: “The fear of loose [nuclear] weapons comes from the fact that Pakistan’s armed forces harbor a hidden enemy within their ranks. Those wearing the cloak of religion freely walk in and out of top security nuclear installations every day... The fear of the insider is ubiquitous and well-founded.”
Even non-fundamentalist elements are “soft Islamists,” he says.
Hoodbhoy describes the Pakistani army as “a heavily Islamicized rankand- file brimming with seditious thoughts.”
Pakistan is not an easy subject. It is a multi-ethnic country with a multilingual population dominated by Punjab; a civil war in Balochistan; a disputed border with Afghanistan; hundreds of thousands of troops on war footing at the Kashmir Line of Control against India; a slow slaughter of the country’s Shi’ite population and China’s strategic interests at the mouth of the Straits of Hormuz.
All of this makes the study of Pakistan a daunting task for any outsider.
Even Britain and the United States – who helped create the country to install a buffer state between the advancing USSR and India after the Second World War – have not been able to read the tea leaves with any degree of accuracy.
Pakistan produces more nuclear bombs than any other nuclear power while developing longer-range missiles.
On paper, these nuclear warheads and missiles are India-centric and pointed towards the east.
However, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is not at a static location and the warheads as well as missiles are constantly on the move. If there is one country that Pakistani politicians, both on the right as well as the left, hate more than India, it is Israel.
I fear Israelis are unaware of the vulnerabilities in Pakistan’s nuclear program that make it possible for non-state jihadi actors to strike at the Jewish State.
As if Pakistan’s sponsorship of worldwide jihadi terror was not enough, its rogue nuclear scientists have been involved in proliferation of nuclear technologies that has helped nuclear weapons programs as far afield as North Korea, Libya, Iran, and Syria.
Additionally, most Pakistanis identify the US, not India, as their country’s primary adversary, despite an alliance dating back to 1954 and nearly $30 billion in American assistance since 2001.
In April 2012, Pakistan fired a nuclear-capable Shaheen-1 ballistic missile, capable of hitting targets up to 3,000 kilometers.
Few commentators have raised the question for Pakistan’s need for a 3,000 km. missile. After all, New Delhi is a mere 200 km. away, as is Mumbai and even Chennai in south India is no more than 1,500 km.
The fact that Pakistan’s militarized Arabian Sea port of Gwadur on the mouth of the Straits of Hormuz is no more than 3,000 km. should be cause of concern to Israel.
In May 2011 a compilation of the handwritten memoirs of the disgraced Pakistani nuclear scientist, Dr. A. Q.
Khan, was published. Among some of the notes highlighted by the editor came the revelation by Khan that by May 2000, 50 percent work had been completed on Pakistan’s long range missile, the Ghauri-III, when he was ordered to stop work and all funding for the project was shut down.
Khan quotes Gen. Musharraf telling him, “Do you want to destroy Israel?” Israelis are justifiably worried with the rabid rhetoric that emanates from the Iranian Ayatollahs. However, they need to recognize that it is Pakistan that has 100 nuclear warheads and missiles that can reach Israel, not Iran.
Obsessing with Iran while shrugging off the threats posed by Pakistan and its jihadi sponsor Saudi Arabia, may be a mistake that Jerusalem can still correct while it has a chance.
Already there are reports that Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief Prince Turki Al Faisal is in support of cooperating secretly with Pakistan in developing a Saudibased nuclear program. This initiative has the backing of the current director of Saudi intelligence agency, Prince Bandar bin Sultan.
Israel needs to realize that Iran and Syria may be the dogs that bark, but it is Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who are the ones most likely to bite.The author is a weekly columnist for the Toronto SUN and author of the award-winning book The Jew is Not My Enemy.