Pakistan nukesPropagating nukes & ignoring core issues 

By Qudsia Farhat 

The Occident uses the pretext of “nuclear proliferation” as a whipping tool to impose unilateral economic sanctions against sovereign states that acquire nuclear technology but have fallen out of favour of the west. The current examples of Iran, North Korea and Libya (now under immunity) are clear examples, being targeted for punitive action for violating terms of NPT. Similarly any other country, especially with Islamic identity, aspiring to acquire nuclear capability is subjected to severe economic sanctions, political isolation and military action, rendering them incapable of acquiring nuclear expertise.

Pakistan’s nuclear assets are subjected to hostile propaganda linking them with psychologically premeditated threats and disinformation projecting them as unsafe and a threat for the region. Some propagandists like Michael Kugelman naively argue that Pakistani nukes may fall in the hands of terrorists attacking sensitive air bases in Pakistan. The absurd propaganda contents further assert that Pakistan is producing tactical nuclear weapons (TNW) meant for actual battlefield use with conventional forces (for short range use against India). Consequently these will be removed from locked-down and secured bases, making them tremendously vulnerable to seizure, attack, or accident. The aim of such propaganda is to depict Pakistan’s nukes as hazardous and risk prone.

Earlier, Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and one of America’s leading experts on U.S. security, South Asia, and counter terrorism had taken upon himself to target Pakistan’s nuclear assets. He has been preposterously attacking the security standards of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons propagating that terrorists are likely to get hold of them and use them against the west. Bruce Riedel went to the extent of demanding that the U.S. seize Pakistani nuclear weapons and place them in safe custody.

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Readers may recall that impressed by the harping of Bruce Riedel et-al, Frederick Kagan, a former West Point military historian had called for various options for an “unstable Pakistan”. His options included sending elite British or U.S. troops to secure Pakistan’s nuclear weapons capable of being transported out of the country and take them to a secret storage depot in New Mexico or a “remote redoubt” inside Pakistan; sending U.S. troops to Pakistan’s north-western border to fight the Taliban and al-Qaida; and a U.S. military occupation of Islamabad, and the provinces of Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan.  Kagan, who advised former US President George W. Bush, in 2007, had devised war games for the various scenarios. He argued that the rise of Sunni extremism in Pakistan, coupled with the proliferation of al-Qaeda bases in the north-west, posed a real possibility of terrorists staging a coup that would give them access to a nuclear device. He also surmised that sections of Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment continued to be linked to Islamists and warned that the army, demoralized by having to fight in Waziristan and parts of KPK, might retreat from the borders, leaving a vacuum that would be filled by radicals. Worse, the military might split, with a radical faction trying to take over Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
In September last year, International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) another detractor of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons’ capability, warned that Pakistan looks set to overtake Britain as the owner of the world’s fifth-largest nuclear weapons stockpile. In its annual strategic survey, the think tank asserted that “Pakistan’s prospective introduction of tactical nuclear weapons increases the chance that a nuclear exchange will occur if a conflict breaks out, perhaps sparked by an act of terrorism.”

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The detractors, who sporadically indulge in Pakistan bashing, need to examine what is the rationale for a nuclear clash between India and Pakistan. They ignore the core issue of Kashmir, which is the real flashpoint between nuclear weapons equipped Pakistan and India.

Pakistan needs to reiterate that its nuclear assets are under safe hands and any propaganda against Pakistani nukes is based on malafide designs. Pakistan must out rightly reject such propaganda and strongly protest against it. The critics must take cognizance of the fact that the core conflict issue between India and Pakistan is Kashmir which needs resolution as per the desires of Kashmiri people and UN Resolutions. If the opponents of nuclear weapons want genuine peace in the world and the region, they should endeavour to eliminate the root cause of the problem between Pakistan and India. Pakistan, which has gone to war thrice with India over Kashmir and has been on the brink of armed conflicts on numerous occasions, has cried hoarse over the past sixty seven years, urging India to abide by the UN Resolutions over Kashmir.

The anti-nuclear weapons propagandists should redirect their efforts towards eliminating the very cause, which has been the catalyst for conflict between Pakistan and India, rather than attempting to defang Pakistan. Various war games planned and executed by the U.S. think tanks, have reportedly come to the conclusion that Pakistan’s nuclear assets are safe and Pakistan’s Nuclear Command Authority has put into place checks and balances that preclude any nuclear accident, mishap or theft. Nuclear weapons are anyway highly sophisticated devices, which require a high level of competency to steal, reassemble and launch. The motley crowd of rag tag militias operating within al-Qaeda or Taliban is not likely to be capable of pulling off such a caper.

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If Kashmir dispute is peacefully resolved, tactical and strategic level nuclear weapons would become irrelevant in Indo-Pakistani perspective. So let us concentrate on real causal factor leading India and Pakistan to contest in the nuclear turf. Projecting Pakistan’s nuclear assets in bad light by giving ridiculous and absurd arguments of making Pakistani nukes risk prone is based on conjecture and malicious hypotheses

Kashmir being the core conflict issue between India and Pakistan must be resolved at priority. It will help remove fears of US, Western world and regional inhabitants that nuclear stint between India and Pakistan is a likely risk haunting the world. Indeed the people of the region will breathe easy, while the Kashmiris, who have borne the brunt of Indian oppression, will be able to enjoy the freedom guaranteed by the UN.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Qudsia Farhat is a graduate in Social Sciences, she writes on current affairs and lectures at the PAF Finishing School on Art and Crafts. She has been President of the Diplomatic Wives Association at Riyadh where her husband served as Naval & Air Attache.[/author_info] [/author]