Take Pakistan’s Nukes, Please

The Taliban’s brazen raid on a Karachi naval base shows why the Pakistani state can’t be trusted with the world’s most deadly weapons.

BY KAPIL KOMIREDDI

For more than six decades, Pakistan has been at war with itself, torn between competing ideas of what it means to be Pakistani. In Pakistan’s volatile trundle through history, the events that have unfolded so far this year — the assassination of Governor Salman Taseer for expressing moderate views, the instant deification of his killer by a substantial cross-section of the country’s "civil society," the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan’s most conspicuously military town — may have resolved that conflict. The attack on Sunday, May 22, by Taliban fighters on the Mehran naval air base in Karachi — its audacity, the foreknowledge it implied, the militaristic precision with which it was executed — carried a message: Pakistan is no longer a contested territory; it is now emphatically their turf. The reins of official power may not be in their hands yet, but the men with whom they rest dare not challenge the extremists’ conception of Pakistan. The battle for hearts and minds is over. Moderate Pakistan, if such a thing ever existed, is dead.

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