Washington, Feb 16 (PTI): Pakistan is probably the "most dangerous country" for the world, a former CIA official has said, citing the potential dangers emanating from its failing economy, rampant terrorism and one of fastest growing nuclear arsenal. Kevin Hulbert, a former CIA Station Chief in Islamabad, warned that the "failure" of Pakistan would have implications for the world.
Pakistan is like the bank that is "too big to fail", or "too big to allow to fail" more appropriately, because allowing the bank to fail could have catastrophic impacts on the greater economy, Hulbert wrote in the Cipher Brief - a website for the intelligence community. "We have big problems in Afghanistan with its population of 33 million people, but Pakistan has about 182 million inhabitants, over five times the size of Afghanistan," he said.
"With a failing economy, rampant terrorism, the fastest growing nuclear arsenal, the sixth largest population, and one of the highest birthrates in the world, Pakistan is of grave concern," Hulbert said. "In the end, while Pakistan is not the most dangerous country in the world, it probably is the most dangerous countryforthe world. There seem few levers to pull in Pakistan today, but if we pursue a strategy of containment or disengagement, things will only get worse," he said.
The US and the IMF have given billions of dollars in financial assistance because the specter of Pakistan collapsing presents US President with more nightmare scenarios than probably any other country in the world, he said. "So, we keep throwing money at it, trying to steer them towards good behavior, and with only limited success. But, we must keep trying," he added.
In Afghanistan, Hulbert said the only real mission today is to stop the country from falling to the Taliban and to prevent Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven for terrorists who might plan attacks against the West. "Meanwhile, if we stay, the death toll for the US continues as the casualties dribble in," he said.
"In Pakistan, in Western Pakistan, it's interesting. We haven't had soldiers there in over 10 years, yet we continue to diminish and degrade the capability of al-Qaida central to reach us strategically. I worry about this all the time, that without that presence there and the Pakistani army isn't in there very often either. Once in a while they come rumbling through, but that's not really that effective," Sheehan said.
"That they're there in those mountainous regions and what's interesting is we need Afghanistan almost as much as a base to attack the FATA than we need Afghanistan itself. Afghanistan has no strategic importance to the United States. However, the importance is that al-Qaida is there and blew up the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. We can't allow that to come back again," Sheehan said.
"They are in Western Pakistan and for a variety of political reasons we can't put troops on the ground there so we've had to come up with a solution to diminish AQ in Pakistan without one soldier on the ground. So sometimes you have to come up with solutions with no troops on the ground. "Other times if you have the ability to send 100,000 there it doesn't mean you should. So it's a matter of finding the right solution commensurate with the threat," Sheehan said.