Bolton’s itch and Pakistan’s nuclear security | By Dr Farah Naz


Bolton’s itch and Pakistan’s nuclear security

JOHN R Bolton’s book ‘The Room Where it Happened: A White House Memoir’ clearly speaks about how American policymakers think about the world, its allies and adversaries.

Also, how they make war decisions and identify some of the reasons why America is in the middle of so many crises.

General Wesley Clark stated that the US Foreign Policy in a nutshell was about taking out seven countries in five years for whatever excuse they can come up with. When he asked his colleagues why they answered ‘we do not know’.

The issue is: does American war strategists have some brains or they are showcasing superpower muscles only?
The US diplomats serving as a torchbearer led to the fall of the US. Bolton raised concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons safety and warned the world with two possible scenarios: Scenario one: the military command and control over some part of the nuclear arsenal collapses and a relatively small number of nuclear weapons — two, three, four — could slip out into the hands of terrorists like Taliban or Al-Qaeda.

To me, it looks like Bolton has no idea about the safety and security protocols of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.

Surprisingly, the gentlemen have never read about the details of the nuclear bomb. If he had some rough idea, he would have guessed that a nuclear bomb is unlike a toy that is being sold in a tuck shop.

Where a militant/terrorist will come and purchase it. Secondly, how ill-informed Bolton is on the issue of carrying a nuclear bomb.

The Former Deputy Secretary Richard Armitage said that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are secure for two main reasons: 1) they are dispersed and 2) carefully guarded by the army.

Bolton needs to study in-depth the basic protocols of how, when and where nuclear weapons are securitised.

Pakistan’s nuclear weapon is in a foolproof security environment duly acknowledged by the superpowers, IAEA and several US officials such as Admiral Micheal Mullen, John D. Negroponte, General Petraeus, Robert Gates, P. J. Crowley, Micheal Flournoy, James Clapper, etc… Hence, Bolton should not be worried about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons slipping off at the hands of terrorists as if Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are displayed either in Target or Walmart.

He should invest his time and energies in other important security areas that the US is struggling with.

Scenario two: That if the instability continues, and the Taliban or other radical elements can take advantage of the disorder across the country and seize control of the entire Pakistani government, giving them control of all of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

I think perhaps Bolton has forgotten how the defence forces of Pakistan defeated the Taliban who ran away into Afghanistan seeking refuge.

It is indeed surprising that a person like Bolton who has served in administrative positions believes that the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan will defeat Pakistan along with its highly competent Army and will take over the nuclear weapons.

Honestly, is it a joke? To me, his arguments sound like a street crime scene from some Hollywood movies.

With such statements, it becomes evident that no wonder the US has reached a weak and frivolous position.

On the issue of growing extremism in the Pakistani military, I think the US needs to be more vigilant regarding the rise of extremism in its armed forces than worrying about the Pakistan Army.

I am highly astonished to read Bolton’s comments when he considers China as an existential threat to the West.

With such statements, on one hand, he has acknowledged the superiority of China while on the other hand exposed the vulnerability of the West.

Overall, the post-Afghan debacle looks like the US and its alias are badly threatened with the rise of China as an economic giant in the world.

On the question of China securing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, Bolton and his like-minded officers need to recognise the fact that China is not responsible for Pakistan’s nuclear security but the Government of Pakistan.

Post 9/11 Indians played the American terrorism vulnerability now in 2021 the US is following the same footprints.

But, America needs to realise that following those footprints may lead them somewhere else because Pakistan is no longer the same docile and fragile.

In 2021, the Indian design to malign Pakistan and showcase the vulnerability of its nuclear weapon narrative cannot be sold anymore.

They need to monitor and keep a close watch on the Indian nuclear weapons for being repeatedly sold in the market for a few pennies per media reports such as: on 30 August 2021, two persons were arrested for illegal possession of extremely rare Sealed Radioactive Source Californium which is highly radioactive and toxic substance; on 4 June 2021, 6.4 kg of uranium was seized in India and police arrested seven persons; on 11 May 2021, the Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS) arrested two persons with 7 kg of natural uranium.

Before these incidents in 2016, the Thane Police too had arrested two persons with depleted uranium.

The Pakistani spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed deep concerns and demanded a thorough investigation into the reports of illegal uranium trade in India.

Hence, rather than dreaming about creating a market to sell Pakistani nuclear weapons, Bolton needed to concentrate on India and shed his biases.

The fall of the US at the hands of the Taliban does not guarantee that the Taliban will increase their influence in Islamabad.

The Government of Pakistan and its people will stand with Afghans at all costs to bring peace and stability to the region. No matter if it is the Taliban or the US.

It is sad to see highly read people like Bolton living in a fool’s paradise who are oblique of the ground realities. This highlights no wonder America being the superpower of the world is on its decline.

I will strongly suggest that at least for a decade it’s time for the US to move on and concentrate on fixing its problems, put the house in order and improve its infrastructure that has been crumbled over the past few decades.

Redesign its strategy towards South Asia particularly Pakistan and Afghanistan, comprehend the Indian tactics and the current Taliban fiasco or if the US disdain all of these suggestions then can sit at peace, invest more time in educating its diplomats, warlords and analysts than spending money on useless/senseless/strategy-less wars. Seemingly, it’s hard for America to accept that nothing could be further from the truth!

—The writer is Assistant Professor, Department of Government and Public Policy, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Sciences and Technology.

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