PROFESSOR ALI SUKHANVER
A leading Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has said that .Pakistan’s nukes are at risk of being seized by extremists. He was talking to CNN in the second week of this December inWashington. He said, “My guess isPakistanhas well over 100 nuclear weapons. And that the Pakistani military is so penetrated by extremist elements you have no idea if one morning they’re going to lose three or four of them.” He referred to the Abotabad episode in support of his apprehension regarding the presence of extremist element inPakistanmilitary. He said, “Pakistani officials claim they did not know Osama bin Laden had been hiding there for years before elite US forces found and killed him in May.” Gingrich’s anxiety over the safety of Pakistani nukes is nothing new; it is the continuity of the same bed-time story which all American children have been listening to for the last many years. It is not in fact the anxiety over the insecurity of Pakistani nukes; it is the desire of getting hold on them. To be very honest and straightforward, the nuclear program is the most precious asset for the people ofPakistan. It is just like a dream based on hope and life. We, the Pakistanis know very well how to take care of our dreams. TheUSauthorities are very well aware of the reality that in the presence of the nuclear assets, it is almost next to impossible to cause any damage to the federation ofPakistan. Apparently they have no excuse for getting control of these assets but one; the danger of going these assets into the hands of terrorists. So the whole of theUSteam is busy in preparing a stage where it could perform a play, ‘Pakistan’s nukes at stake’. Somewhere in 2009, a statement of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen was reported by the New York Times. He had told the members of the congress in a confidential briefing that despite being racked by an insurgency,Pakistanis rapidly adding to its nuclear arsenal. Now it is the beginning of 2012; even after three years the story of blames and allegations is the same. In 2009 it was Mike Mullen and now it is Newt Gingrich. Our American friends are simply wasting their times in worrying about the insecurity of our nukes. Their worry, anxiety and concern regarding nuclear arsenals ofPakistanwould do nothing but add to their own problems. The situation could have been much better if they had shown just twenty percent of this anxiety and concern in the matter of the Indian nuclear program; that is the actual direction they must divert their attention to.
Over the years, apart from nuclear reactors, Indiahas developed facilities for mining Uranium, fabricating fuel, manufacturing heavy water, reprocessing spent fuel to extract Plutonium and, more recently, enriching Uranium. Moreover the security situation regarding various nuclear projects in Indiais so horrifying that even the workers at these projects feel insecure and at high-risk. The frail and fragile security conditions are seriously affecting the lives of hundreds of people including families of nuclear engineers and scientists. The Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu is the worst example in this regard. According to the Times of India there have been widespread protests against the two 1,000 MW nuclear power reactors that the NPCIL is building with Russian technology and equipment in Kudankulam. It was 10th of December 2011 when around 1,500 villagers laid siege to the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu to demand immediate cessation of all work at the site. Villagers fear for their lives and safety in case of any nuclear accident and the long-term impact it would have on the population. The protest was spearheaded by the representatives of PMANE; the People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy, reports the Indo-Asian News Service. Commenting upon the growing public resentment on nuclear projects The Democratic Underground says, “Resistance against nuclear power plants is continuing in Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh,Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, where nuclear power projects have been proposed at Fatehabad, Mithi Virdi, Chutka, Jaitapur and Kovvada, respectively.” India Today is also of the same opinion, “The public mood on nuclear power has globally changed after theFukushima disaster inJapan. The protest inIndia must be viewed in this context. First it was Jaitapur, now it is Kudankulam.” Unfortunately the Western and American ‘think tanks’ are never found worried over this horrible situation. They are always harping on the same string;Pakistan’s nuclear program is a grave security risk because it might fall into the hands of extremists. To be very honest and straight forward, the nuclear arsenals ofPakistan are always in very safe and muscular hands. The whole nation is guarding these arsenals. The only threat to these arsenals is from theUSA. The people ofPakistan are very well aware of the fact that getting control over the nuclear program ofPakistan is an evergreen dream and desire of theUS planners. To materialize this desire they are doing all they could do. Blaming the Pakistan Army for supporting the extremists, framing the ISI in every act of terrorism, portraying the Taliban as the ever worst enemies ofPakistan and defaming the democratic government ofPakistan; all are the components of a fruitless and futile struggle. Our American friends must reconsider their state of mind.
The writer is a Pakistan based analyst on defence and strategic affairs.