Distant drums

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Distant drums
Distant drums

Few in Pakistan in these torrid days of cheapskate politicking will raise their eyes to the horizon and take note of events on the Korean Peninsula. It is far away but it could be where the horror of horrors in the end plays out — an exchange of nuclear weapons. This is not empty or idle speculation. North Korea is testing missiles that are of increasing sophistication and range. It has already tested a nuclear device. Marrying missile and bomb is no easy matter nor is the mastery of re-entry and targeting, but it is eminently possible that the North Koreans could do all of that — and if they do then the world becomes perceptibly more dangerous. The country is led by a man for whom the 11 years of sanctions in an effort to curb nuclear ambitions are meaningless.

Further sanctions are now imposed by the UN, and Pyongyang has vowed to extract a ‘thousands-fold’ revenge against the US which it sees as the architect of its misfortunes. National sovereignty is threatened, says North Korea and there is a ‘heinous plot to isolate and stifle the country.’ For once there is a grain of truth in the statement, and this is not run-of-the-mill paranoia. There is a concerted attempt to stifle and isolate North Korea in an effort to persuade it that nuclear disarmament is the best path to a rosy future, but North Korea is having none of it. The country is supported by China, and the last thing that China wants is a regime collapse followed by a massive influx of refugees.

There is not a shred of evidence that sanctions have done anything to alter the prevailing mindset in Pyongyang. Indeed there is a body of evidence to suggest that sanctions have done little to alter the collective minds of the states at which they are targeted. A nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan is unlikely. Look to the east for the clear and present danger.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 8th, 2017.

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