A new report from The Washington Post, based on documents provided to them by embattled leaker Edward Snowden, has revealed the United States' large preoccupation with keeping tabs on Pakistan. Pakistan appears to have created a real renaissance opportunity for America's spying apparatus, raising red flags across the spectrum of concerns, from nuclear volatility to human rights abuses and many things in-between. "No other nation draws as much scrutiny across so many categories of national security concern," according to the article authored by Greg Miller, Craig Whitlock, and Barton Gellman.
The information comes from the same documents that revealed the government's "black budget" used to fund spying and surveillance programs, and the focus on Pakistan has as much to do with what the government doesn't know as what is does.
Pakistan appears at the top of charts listing critical U.S. intelligence gaps. It is named as a target of newly formed analytic cells. And fears about the security of its nuclear program are so pervasive that a budget section on containing the spread of illicit weapons divides the world into two categories: Pakistan and everybody else.
The report comes at a critical time for diplomatic relations between the United States and Pakistan. While the covert operation to kill Osama bin Laden ruffled feathers and raised questions of national sovereignty, the incident was just the most prominent example of American fears that the Pakistani government is not fully aware of what is going on inside its borders, which is especially worrisome given the cache of nuclear arms in the country. While "concerns persist that extremists could seize components of the stockpile or trigger a war with neighboring India," there is no specific credible threat fueling much of the monitoring.
The report obtained by The Washington Post also cites possible human rights violations in Pakistan, such as extrajudicial killings committed without due process.
Although Pakistan has been engaged for years in open warfare with Taliban factions and other domestic insurgents, the NSA placed the extrajudicial killings in a much darker category. Pakistani police forces “were reluctant to carry out the killings,” the report said.
If there were concrete proof of these allegations, it would trigger legislation preventing the U.S. from providing aid to Pakistan, possibly provoking a situation similar to the linguistic gymnastics being performed over the recent coup in Egypt.