Neighbours in arms



Mohammad Jamil

ON Oct 25, 2017, launching ceremony of the book written by Larry Pressler former US Senator was organised at Hudson Institute, Washington DC, titled “Neighbors in Arms: An American Senator Quest for Disarmament on Nuclear Subcontinent”. The event was moderated by former Pakistani ambassador to USA Hussain Haqqani, presently Director South and Central Asia Hudson Institute. The speaker of the event was the author of the book Larry Pressler, who in his address towed anti-Pakistan line throughout the event. He suggested the US should declare Pakistan a state that sponsors terrorism; Pakistan was more dangerous country than North Korea; Pakistan does not have a clear nuclear chain of command; and that Pakistani nuclear weapons can be bought for few million dollars. Larry Pressler is a former Republican U.S. politician, and is well known for maintaining anti-Pakistan views, especially in relation to Pakistan’s Nuclear Program.
Larry Pressler was the architect of the Pressler Amendment which stated that “no military or technology equipment was to be provided to Pakistan unless the US president certified that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear explosive device, and that the assistance provided by America would reduce significantly the risk that Pakistan will possess a nuclear explosive device.” During Afghan jihad the US presidents were obliged to certify as they needed Pakistan’s support. In fact, it was because of Pakistan’s support that the US became the sole super power after the demise of the Soviet Union. However, today Larry Pressler and Hussain Haqqani are part of anti-Pakistan lobbies, and never raised voice against the role of US Military Industrial Complex and lobbies in providing nuclear technology to various countries. The book under reference is a project of Penguin Random House India, and has been funded by RAW.
It has to be mentioned that the US and IAEA officials have at number of occasions acknowledged effective command and control mechanism enforced by Pakistan. It was also admitted that the National Command Authority (NCA) of Pakistan has an excellent command and control function, and Pakistan has substantially strengthened its nuclear security in the past two decades. Former US President Barack Obama and the then Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff during their tenure repeatedly expressed confidence in the nuclear security arrangements by Pakistan, which is the only nuclear state with zero incident of nuclear mishap. The fourth nuclear security summit was held in Washington from 31st March to 1st April 2016. In a policy statement on Pakistan’s nuclear program, the US State Department had said: “Islamabad is well aware of its responsibilities with respect to nuclear security and has secured its nuclear arsenal accordingly.”
Few days before the summit, prestigious Harvard Kennedy School had released a report reviewing global security measures had stated: “US officials have reportedly ranked Indian nuclear security measures as weaker than those of Pakistan and Russia.” The report concluded that Pakistan’s nuclear security arrangements were stronger than India’s; yet efforts were made by anti-Pakistan elements in the US and elsewhere to create doubts about Pakistani nukes. In March 2016, US Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottenmoeller had told a congressional panel that “Pakistan has really done an excellent job of establishing a program for nuclear security”. Nuclear Security Summit process was initiated by President Barack Obama. In his speech in Prague on April 2009, he had underlined security of nuclear materials as a priority of his administration. He had set the target for securing all vulnerable nuclear materials from the world within four years, but failed to meet the target.
The fact remains that big powers have arrogated to them the right to decide about the quantity and kind of nuclear weapons developing countries would have. The US leadership would like other countries not to develop nukes, and destroy whatever arsenal they have, because it feels that nuclear weapons represent gravest threat to US security. But those countries who feel their security threatened by the hostile neighbors or war mongers also seek to develop nukes to counter hegemonic designs of big powers or those having an edge in conventional weapons and forces. Since big powers wish to have the monopoly of nuclear devices they do not have moral high authority to convince other countries not to produce atomic bombs and destroy the existing ones. The problem is that the US has double standards, one for its strategic partners and the other one for rest of the world.
Israel is an undeclared atomic power; yet America would not like to see Iran or any Arab country develop nukes to meet the challenges from her. Secondly, the US concluded so-called civil-nuclear deal with India and facilitated to make it member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. India now enjoys the privileges of those states that have signed NPT. Since Donald Trump is at the helm, Pakistan is the target. While responding to a question during a presidential debate, Donald Trump had said: “If he was elected to the White House, he would keep the country’s troops in Afghanistan to protect Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. I think you have to stay in Afghanistan for a while, because of the fact that you are right next to Pakistan, which has nuclear weapons and we have to protect those.” He had once suggested that the US should seek India’s help to secure Pakistani nukes.
—The writer is a senior journalist based in Lahore.

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