Friday, December 04, 2009

"IIPM News" - Nukes under fire

But the military says the weapons are safe and they are not allowing access to any foreign entity or state

Seymour M Hersh’s 7,000-word investigative article “Defending The Arsenal” published in The New Yorker magazine had a chilling effect in Pakistan, especially in the military establishment that denied its contents. It also prompted the academia and the media to enter into a debate arguing to what extent Pakistan’s nuclear assets are in safe hands.

“Seymour Hersh’s article reflects the continuing concern about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons that continues to be entertained in the semi-official circles and the think tanks in the United States,” Dr Hasan-Askari Rizvi, Pakistan’s top defence analyst and scholar, told TSI.

“This thinking also runs into lower echelons of the official circles who write briefs for the policy makers. Therefore, his article does not reflect the official US perspectives,” he said. “However, it definitely shows that there are circles close to the American government that continue to toy with the worst case scenario of the terrorists getting access to Pakistan’s nuclear weapon-system and fissile material,” he added further.

“On April 29th, President Obama was asked at a news conference whether he could reassure the American people that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal could be kept away from terrorists.

Obama’s answer remains the clearest delineation of the Administration’s public posture. He was, he said, ‘gravely concerned’ about the fragility of the civilian government of President Asif Ali Zardari,” wrote Hersh. “Their biggest threat now comes internally,” Obama said. “We have huge… national security interests in making sure that Pakistan is stable and that you don’t end up having a nuclear-armed militant state,” Obama added further, according to Hersh.

“A senior Pakistani official, who has close ties to Zardari, exploded with anger during an interview when the subject turned to the American demands for more information about the arsenal,” wrote Hersh.

“Why are you not afraid of India’s nuclear weapons?” Hersh cited Pakistan’s unnamed senior Pakistani official as saying. “Today, he said, ‘you’d like control of our day-to-day deployment. But why should we give it to you? Even if there was a military coup d’etat in Pakistan, no one is going to give up total control of our nuclear arsenal. Never. Why are you not afraid of India’s nuclear weapons?” the official asked, according to Hersh. “Because India is your friend, and the longtime policies of America and India converge. Between you and the Indians, you will f*** us in every way. The truth is that our weapons are less a problem for the Obama Administration than finding a respectable way out of Afghanistan,” the Pakistani official has been cited as saying.

Hersh’s article was prominently published by Pakistan’s national media and generated a debate. However, the American apprehensions were refuted by Pakistan’s military establishment. In a terse statement, Pakistan’s chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee General Tariq Majid called The New Yorker’s report “absurd and plain mischievous.” Said he: “As overall custodian of the development of our strategic programme, I reiterate in very unambiguous terms that there is absolutely no question of sharing or allowing any foreign individual, entity or a state, any access to sensitive information about our nuclear assets.”

It seems Hersh’s article was a feeler to assess the reaction in Pakistan about American concerns as to what extent its nuclear assets are in safe hands and how the largely anti-American people in Pakistan would react if the Americans intervene militarily in time of a crisis.

“It is not very difficult to conclude that the Americans are very seriously concerned about the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan,” Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmed, chairman, Pakistan Study Centre, University of Karachi, told TSI. “On one hand, high officials of American Administration, including a person no less than the secretary of state says that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is in safe hands, but other segments of the administration have reservations in this regard. Hersh has indicated that some Americans have apprehensions about a coup within the army that can go against the Americans,” he said.
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Source :
IIPM Editorial, 2009

An IIPM and Professor Arindam Chaudhuri (Renowned Management Guru and Economist) Initiative

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