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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Are Pakistan Nukes Safe?


How safe are Pakistan nukes? I am sure even the strong minded and straight speaking Pakistanis (who come every now-and-then on Indian televisions for various debates) would not like to answer. The establishments, the army, the authorities who are in charge of the safe keeping up the nukes cannot be decisive on the safety of the bombs not falling into wrong hands anymore. The ever precedence of law-and-order in the country getting out of hands was yet again evident from the Tehrik-E-Taliban attack on one of the biggest Naval base near Karachi. The PNS Mehran episode exposes the truth about the country’s vulnerability when it comes to terrorism and terror attacks.

The attack which have jolted many including India and US, has got more to it than just few terrorists entering a high security zone and creating mayhem. The fundamental and worrisome question it raised – if Pakistan can’t protect their imported fighter aircrafts (that too inside their Naval base), can they really protect their nukes from falling in wrong hands. Along with the fear of the nukes getting to the terrorists, it is the presence of a disturbed and volatile neighbor is equally worrying for us. The attack on the naval base has got even more significance, looking at the timing. Post Abbottabaad, the country was put on high alert with fear of terrorist attacks from all possible directions and groups to avenge the killing of Osama. It need not be explained, how strong and vigil the security must be nationwide. So at such situation where the nation is fully prepared to face any such attack can turn out sitting ducks as a handful of Mujahedeen could jump the high and secure walls of their naval base and start killing their defense personnel. If this is what the quality of security even at such important locations, one can imagine the standard and effectiveness of security at other places. Not trying to be a way bit cynical; the simple analysis of PNS Mehran incidence and the claim of security at its all-time high in Pakistan seems like an oxymoron and don’t furnish any short of confidence at all.

The policies of Pakistan have brought them to where they are and now they stand to be the biggest headache for almost the rest of the world. The army and their secret service agency call the shots leaving the democratically elected civilian government’s power and authorities add up little more than a naught. The government in realty has got nothing much to do than just being the face of Pakistan or many a times the begging bowls to go ahead and be on their knees before the western world for financial support. Even though the fascination of Pakistani government for all those radical elements including the Haqqani network is not quite clear, the army and ISI for sure seems to be hobnobbing with the terrorist organizations with most of the time nurturing them for inflicting future cuts and bruises to India. The closeness between the army and the radical groups did give us the feeling that the nukes which Pakistan pretend to be at the most secured locations in realty might only be at arm’s length of the terrorists and could possibly lay their hands on them the day they try with some seriousness. The once rosy and recently turned sour relationship between the Pakistani establishments and the terrorists group is there for the world to see via those deadly bomb blasts across Pakistan on daily basis. The radical groups which the Pakistani establishments always supported are now in a mission to bite the same hands which fed them for decades. There is a reason for such acts as the terrorists always treat Pakistan and its army as two separate entities. For them attacking Pakistan is not attacking its army which is their guardian for ages. If you ask them, they would agree they are not biting the hands that feed them but fighting against Pakistan and its government as they turned slave for Uncle Sam.

Having said that; as known to all, the nukes which Pakistan considers as its jewels can never be out of the watchful eyes of their top army base. As per David Southee, an expert in international politics; though it might seem too easy for the radical groups to lay their hands on the nukes, in realty could be real tough, let alone having one and firing at their potential enemies. While experts do give us some kind of relief with their assurances the ground realty talks the other way. The Osama assassination did gave birth to a considerable dissatisfaction in many sections of Pakistani society with all probability of few unhappy souls honoring high posts in their defense establishments, who in turn may be aware of the exact whereabouts of the nukes. As impossible as it may sound but there is every chance; one of those irritated individuals could end up handing over real nukes or at least the exact locations of the nukes to one of these radical groups. If that unfortunately happens, then it is Game-Set-And-Match.

The whole idea and the perception of the Pakistan army are anything but nonchalant. If the idea that the terrorists just can’t jump through them to their nuke storage units then it is about time they sit and introspect the PNS Mehran episode. The expected approach of keeping the nukes at undisclosed location amidst tight security and keeping them on mobile does help one shield them from bad eyes. But looking at Pakistan and their demographical and political interest I can only see the border area of Aaf-Pak as some kind of suitable place to have any such storage outlets. It is logistically viable even as all their nuclear test sites are present around this region. The recently concluded tests of mobile nukes and the easy transportation mechanism serve another angle to the persisting danger. Along with other nukes the Pakistan army keeps on transferring the mobile nukes to various undisclosed locations on regular basis so that the terrorists groups can’t possibly have the exact storage locations ever. But transporting such deadly weapons on regular basis in and around Khyber region has a huge downside to it. The region which primarily seems to be under the siege of various fanatic groups, it is only matter of time that they inflict mayhem in one such transporting party and run away with the nukes. I know it is easier said than done but so was jumping the walls of a Naval base and kill people in dozens and set fire imported fighter planes.

How remote the possibilities are, yet in the matter of such grave concerns and threat one should take account of all possibilities as the slightest of slack could result in the death of thousands of innocents. It is no secret, the moment these fanatics lay their hands on the nukes they would love to try the effectiveness of the weapons, both on India and USA. This is some pertinent threat which can make anyone lose his sleep, just by thinking about it. But the bigger question still remains – what the Pakistani government doing about it? What they think they should do to give some short of comfort to the rest of the world. Certainly, mere assurances from individuals like Zardari or any of their political figure who have lost their credentials and face value a long time back doesn’t going to help. All know who are ruling the nation in realty and who acting pseudo. And the set of people, who are ruling behind the curtains, seems to be hand-in-glove with the very idiots who are the primary threats from whom the imported nukes from China need some shielding. Precarious situation, I must say but ironically with no sign of any improvement in it in near future.

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