Pakistan’s relationship to terrorism parallels Saudi Arabia’s in virtually every respect. The government of Pakistan has in the past offered substantial indirect support to terrorists, but has now pledged support for the American war against terrorism. Like Saudi Arabia, the government of Pakistan had been one of the leading supporters of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan (which in turn supported Al Qaeda). Even after September 11th, officials in the Pakistani military–including its elite intelligence unit, the ISI–have continued to offer unofficial support, not only for Taliban forces attempting infiltration into Afghanistan, but for other militants attempting infiltration into Indian-occupied Kashmir. And like the Saudis, the government of Pakistan’s reluctance to take further measures to stop this unofficial support is said to stem from the threat of internal rebellion against the corrupt, dictatorial regime.
But one difference between Saudi Arabia and Pakistan stands out significantly. Whereas Saudi Arabia’s chief threat is its terrorist-sponsoring oil wealth, Pakistan’s is its open possession of nuclear weapons. The Pakistani arsenal was developed in reaction to India’s nuclearization, not as an anti-American weapon. But this has not stopped Pakistani nuclear know-how from threatening American interests on several fronts. Pakistan is now widely believed to have assisted in the development of both North Korea’s and Iran’s nuclear weapons programs. Even more ominous are rumors that elements of the Pakistani military have offered unofficial assistance to Al Qaeda in its attempts to gain nuclear capability (although there is little chance that these efforts were successful). And even if this nuclear assistance were to cease, the unceasing prospect of terrorists capturing these weapons in an Islamic revolution looms large as a threat.
Musharraf’s government has, in large part, brought this threat of revolution on itself. As a dictator who gained power in a 1999 military coup, and has since then been guilty of widespread suppression of political dissent, Musharraf is widely resented in Pakistan. At the same time, however, the Bush administration is properly cognizant that the Musharraf government may represent the “lesser of two evils.” Musharraf’s coup d’etat, after all, was launched against a popularly elected parliament that had promised to enact Sharia Islamic law. The prospect of a government like this gaining control of a nuclear arsenal was almost too horrible to contemplate. To its credit, the Musharraf government has maintained a regular, if somewhat half-hearted, support for secularism in Pakistan, declaring even recently that proposals for the institution of the Sharia in its Northwest Frontier Province would not be permitted. In Pakistan as in Iraq, there would be no value in the “democratic” election of religious figures who would erode individual freedom and threaten the outside world.
For this reason, it is likely that the continued functioning of the Musharraf regime is preferable to the only likely alternative. But this does not mean that the United States should give Musharraf’s regime a free pass. Instead of bribing the Islamist opposition by turning a blind eye to their actions in Kashmir and Afghanistan, Musharraf must confront them directly. To begin with, he must root out Islamist sympathizers within his own government. But to encourage Pakistan to clamp down on militant Islam, the United States has so far attempted to use Musharraf’s own ineffective method, by offering him a bribe. In late June, the Bush administration approved a $3 billion aid package, intended to reward Pakistan for its putative cooperation in the war against Islamic terrorists. While it is true that Pakistani intelligence played a crucial role in the capture of a figure as significant as Khalid Shaik Mohammed, this assistance had the air of a bone thrown to the Americans to convince them of Pakistani cooperation. Since the aid package was granted in June, however, there have been numerous allegations, mostly by the government of Afghanistan, of continued Pakistani support (unofficial and official) of Taliban insurgents. The aid package has done nothing to discourage this.
At minimum, therefore, the United States cannot continue this policy of bribery for bribery. To demonstrate the seriousness of its demands for Pakistani cooperation, the United States should immediately cease or revoke all economic assistance. To the extent that Pakistan continues to be implicated in assisting foreign governments such as Iran and North Korea in their development of nuclear weapons, the United States’ position should become even more punitive: it can reapply economic sanctions end official diplomatic relations, or worse. Unlike its past treatment of Saudi Arabia, the United States has at least been willing to punish Pakistan in the past. In the wake of the September 11th terrorist attacks, there is no reason for the United States suddenly to begin to tread lightly on Pakistan.
 “Pakistan lets Taliban operate unimpeded, critics say.” Chicago Tribune. August 11, 2003.
 “U.S. believes Iran’s nuclear know-how came from Pakistan.” Ha’aretz. July 23, 2003. On North Korea, see footnote 31.
 “Pakistan helps Al Qaeda nuke efforts.” Middle East Newsline report. May 29, 2003
 “President won’t allow