Pakistan and Nuclear Terrorism

Shamsa Ishfaq

Pakistan as an Islamic nuclear power was always anathema for India, the US and much of the Western world. The US, of all, worked ceaselessly to reverse Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programmes despite fact that Pakistan has been closest ally. It is worth mentioning that endeavour to roll back Pakistan’s nuclear programme has intensified since the emergence of the American alliance with India.
Apart from the discriminatory technological and political restrictions it has long imposed against Pakistan’s strategic programmes, the US now demands that Pakistan unilaterally halt fissile material production and the development and deployment of short and long-range nuclear-capable missiles. On the other hand, it is actively assisting India in enlarging and modernizing its nuclear arsenal, its missile and anti-ballistic missile capabilities, its air and naval forces, as well as satellite and space capabilities. Notwithstanding that, arms deals with US including nuclear submarine and drone sales to New Delhi will increase Indian hostility in the region and insecurity of neighboring countries while completely upsetting the regional strategic balance.
There are credible and unclassified reports about the US having formulated plans to seize or destroy Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in a crisis. American think tanks have concocted scenarios of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists or, even more absurdly, of the Pakistan Army turning into an ‘extremist’ or ‘jihadi’ force. Indeed, such scary scenarios could be engineered as an excuse to execute the ‘seize or destroy’ plans.
As far as Pakistan is concerned, its nuclear safety and security is the cornerstone of its nuclear program. There has not been a single incident to date where the IS, Daesh, Al-Qaeda or any other terrorist organization could have an access to the nuclear assets. As a matter of fact, the credible security standards do not allow a room at all for such an eventuality. Pakistan’s security measures to protect its nuclear assets against internal and external threats are among the best in the world.
Contrary to this, diversity of freedom movements currently in progress in India are not only an open display of India’s compromised internal security but also speak volumes of its unstable nuclear security protocols. Incident of Indian nuclear submarine (INS Chakra) with six other incidents concerning nuclear safety, violating IAEA standards, raise serious question about its security protocols as well. Most importantly, if the danger of a terrorist takeover exists due to breach of ‘normal nuclear status’ in South Asia, questions should be raised about India’s nuclear arsenal which are held under loose civilian control.
Pakistan has adopted potent measures as part of Nuclear Security Action Plan (NSAP), Mobile Expert Support Teams (MEST) and Nuclear Emergency Management System (NEMS) to respond and manage nuclear emergencies and securities. Also Pakistan is part of the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and is playing a leading role in global nuclear safety and security and export control regime according to the standards of NSG and Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). It is due to potent security measure that despite political turmoil in Pakistan the international consensus on Pakistan’s nuclear program is obvious as neither terrorist networks, nor any external power is capable to seize its nuclear weapons. The negative voices against the programme are results of hostile efforts to undermine Pakistan’s nuclear security in the garb of terrorism and Western and Zionist fear of a Muslim country holding nuclear weapons.
Amid this scenario, it is India whose political and military leaders continue to speak of ‘surgical strikes’ and a ‘limited’ war against Pakistan, which needs to be tamed. It is US that needs to be checked and made to realize that its support of India’s unilateral membership of the NSG pose a serious threat to regional stability. Global powers must understand that chasing Pakistan’s nuclear programme on the pretext of nuclear terrorism would reap no benefit and if international non-proliferation regime is to retain both its legitimacy and control, it is vital that the culture of ‘exceptionalism’ be discarded.

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