ERAU expert: Bin Laden's power remains strong
PRESCOTT - A top Pakistani expert and Prescott university professor said Thursday that he believes Osama bin Laden is running the Muslim extremists' fight against Pakistan's military.
Phil Jones, chair of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University's Global Security & Intelligence Studies Department, was among the speakers at ERAU's 5th annual National Security and Intelligence Symposium Thursday.
The theme was "The Challenges for Homeland Security in the 21st Century." Panelists throughout the day included FBI agents and Congressional aides.
Jones' talk was titled "Pakistan: A U.S. Security Dilemma."
Jones also agrees with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's assertion that Pakistani officials know where Bin Laden is hiding out and could get him if they wanted to.
Jones specialized in the political and military stability between India and Pakistan while working for the CIA. He was raised in India, taught in Pakistan, and is fluent in Pakistan's national language of Urdu.
He spent much of his talk explaining the history of Pakistan.
Pakistan came into existence as an Islamic Republic in 1956, split off from India. From day one, it has seen India as a security threat, Jones noted.
Since Gen. Ayub Khan's coup d'état in 1958, Pakistan has been controlled by the military, Jones said. It brought in nuclear weapons and expanded its Inter-Services Intelligence to manipulate politics.
The U.S. and Pakistan became major allies during the Cold War in the 1950s, when the U.S. started heavily supplying Pakistan's military, he said.
But Pakistan stopped trusting the United States when the U.S. decided to stay out of the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, Jones said.
"They felt deeply betrayed and have never trusted the U.S. since," he said.
The Soviets' 1979 invasion of Afghanistan brought Pakistan and the U.S. back together somewhat, he said. After the war ended, Pakistan helped nourish the Taliban there.
When al-Qaida attacked the U.S. on 9/11, many Muslims thought the U.S. "got what was coming to it," including much of Pakistan, Jones said. Pakistan has the second-largest Muslim population in the world. The Pakistan government tried to take the middle ground by being "overtly compliant" to the U.S. while maintaining Taliban support.
But Pakistan opinion now is shifting away from the Taliban as it continues fighting there, he said.
"The Taliban was nurtured by the (Pakistani) Army, so now it is up to the Army" to stop the Taliban, Jones said.
The U.S. is trying to keep the Pakistani Army fighting the Taliban, and "that's about the best we can do," he said. The U.S. continues to give Pakistan billions of dollars each year, although some of that money is going where we don't want it to, he said.
At the same time, India is putting billions into projects in Afghanistan, including money for a road from the heart of Afghanistan to an Arabian Sea port.
Pakistan sees this as a threat to its very existence, Jones said. Both Pakistan and Indian have nuclear arms.
Pakistan is the only Muslim-majority state with nuclear weapons. The U.S. has given Pakistan technology to secure those nukes, Jones said.
"Our people believe that the Pakistan nuclear arsenal is safe in the hands of the Army," Jones said.