An opportunity at Nuclear Summit

PRIME Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington to attend the 4th and final Nuclear Security Summit, a biennial conference series initiated in 2010 by Barack Obama administration, has become one of the casualties of the gory terrorist attack in Lahore. His address to nation, conveying firm determination of Govt to tackle the menace of terrorism, indicated that the PM rightly intends to focus more on the issue of terrorism and extremism.
Of course, the country would be represented at the summit by an experienced and seasoned diplomat — Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Syed Tariq Fatemi — but it is understood that there would be low key bilateral engagements, depriving the Prime Minister of an opportunity to showcase Pakistan’s comprehensive, robust and foolproof arrangements to ensure nuclear safety and security. Propaganda of anti-Pakistan forces notwithstanding, the fact remains that the country has in place an enviable command and control system and that is why US Assistant Secretary of State for International Security and Non-Proliferation, Thomas Countryman has lauded Pakistan’s measures adopted for the security of the nuclear weapons, adding that the country takes seriously its responsibility to provide security for both nuclear weapons and nuclear materials. This is in sharp contrast to the findings of a recent report by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government cautioning that US officials ranked Indian nuclear security measures as “weaker than those of Pakistan and Russia”, and US experts visiting the sensitive Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) also described the security arrangements there as “extraordinarily low key”. Ahead of the Summit, Pakistan has also signed 2005 Amendment to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials. In this backdrop, it is hoped that Pakistan delegation would avail of the opportunity to present the case of the country in a convincing manner with a view to rebutting the sustained propaganda campaign by some vested interests including Indian lobbies. This is despite the fact that incidents of nuclear material smuggling in India have been reported by the world media. Therefore, a systematic effort is required to project Pakistan as a responsible nuclear power, allaying misplaced fears that its nuclear weapons or material could fall into hands of extremists and terrorists.

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