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Printer Friendly Version

Pak-India War May Threaten
Nukes Security


By Rahil Yasin

24 December, 2008
Countercurrents.org

Pakistan's weak political leadership, unwillingness to root out terrorists' soft havens from border lands, ISI and army's alleged attachment with terrorist groups like Lashkar-e-Taiba, recent increase in Taliban attacks on a crucial NATO transportation route from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and selling of nukes technology to Iran, Libya and North Korea in the past raise new concerns among the world leaders about the possible theft of Pakistan's nuclear assets by religious extremists which might be resulted in real threat to the United States and the West.
Barely a month before the 9/11 terror attacks, two Pakistani nuclear scientists, said to be close to AQ Khan, met up with al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and offered to supply him with atomic weapons, according to a newly-released book, authored by two investigative journalists--Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins.

Chaudiri Abdul Majeed and Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, who held a series of senior posts in Pakistani nuke programme, went to Taliban headquarters in Kandahar in mid-August 2001 and spent three days with bin Laden who was keen on acquiring weapons of mass destruction, the book says.

However, the so-called deal did not materialise as the meeting between the Pakistani nuclear scientists and bin Laden ended inconclusively when the al-Qaeda leader, along with some of his senior associates, had abruptly left for the mountains of north-western Afghanistan.

And, according to the book, The Man From Pakistan -- the true story of AQ Khan -- before leaving, bin Laden had told his followers that "something great was going to happen, and Muslims around the world were going to join them in the holy war". A couple of weeks later, the twin towers in New York were brought down.

However, Pakistani officials have assured time and again over the safety of its nuclear weapons. Retired Indian Air Chief Marshal Shashindra Pal Tyagi also voiced strong confidence about the safety of Pakistan's nuclear assets and said Pakistan's armed forces are very, very professional and they have put a lot of safety measures in place.

Speaking at the National Press Club as a panelist for Global Zero, an organisation advocating an end to nuclear weapons in the world, he said: "Pakistan's armed forces are very, very professional —- we know, we fought them —- and from all accounts, they have put a lot of safety measures in place."

On the other hand, leaders of the various political and religious parties termed that the Mumbai incident was a part of international conspiracy against the atomic assets of Pakistan and urged the government to not show appeasement policy towards Indian aggression.

Attending the All Parties Conference (APC), they vowed that they would ready to sacrifice everything for the sovereignty, stability and independence of the country. APC was held under the aegis of Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) Karachi at JI Karachi office, entitled "Mumbai incident - threats and steps of Pakistan."

Nuclear weapons can fall in extremists' hands in any country in the world because they are every where in every society. The US nuclear bombs also lack security requirements in European bases. According to a report obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, European air force bases that store US nuclear bombs are failing to meet basic security requirements to safeguard the weapons.

Pakistan will be a greatest single challenge for upcoming Obama administration. Asking President-elect Barack Obama to adopt a 'regional framework' to address the problem of violent extremism in South Asia, noted experts have called for bolstering security of Pakistan and Afghanistan through multilateral long-term assistance. The new US government would not afford any damage to its interests in the region. The US would have to work closely with Pakistan's civilian government. Stability in Pakistan is vital for the security of its nuclear weapons. War between India, Pakistan could provide extremists free hand to take control of nuclear weapons.

Rahil Yasin is a freelance columnist based in Lahore. He can be reached at rahil.yasin@gmail.com

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