Millennium Post

Threat of nuclear terrorism

The attack by some terrorists, perhaps Taliban fighters, on the Kamra airbase of the Pakistani Air Force in Punjab, where possibly some nuclear warheads, a part of its nuclear arsenal, are stored, has once raised a question about the security of this country’s atomic weapons. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons have been attracting attention from extremist groups for this is not the first such attack on a Pakistani base. This attack is, in fact, the third on an airbase since 2007, whereas other  nuclear facilities have been attacked as well. As these attacks show, there is a real danger of Pakistan’s nuclear assets falling into wrong hands, which could then be used to spread terror on a large scale anywhere in the world. With Pakistan having dozens of nuclear warheads, the threat of these going out of control are very real, with increased terrorist and insurgent violence in the country as well as expanded areas within it under the Taliban control. Senior Al Qaeda leaders have also expressed an interest in taking over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Concerns about these weapons are shared by many, with the US defence secretary Leon Panetta having expressed the views of the United States when he said, ‘The great danger we’ve always feared is that if terrorism is not controlled in Pakistan, then those nuclear weapons could fall into the wrong hands.’ It is not just a question of supportive links between elements of the Pakistan state and extremist groups, though this, in itself, is worrying. The trouble in Pakistan is that the chickens are coming home to roost, for, having created terrorist groups in the past to further its geostrategic agenda, it is no longer able to control some of these  any more.

With Pakistan having had to aid the US in its efforts in Afghanistan and against international terrorism, some of these jihadi forces, to which it once gave support, have become hostile to it, leading it to be attacked as well. There is, in fact, a terrifying scenario, that could unfold in this country if it is not able to keep these elements in check, which is that of the country being taken over by Islamic fundamentalists, as Iran was, with horrifying consequences as far as nuclear weapons are concerned, for then they would take over the nuclear arsenal as well. It is important to prevent the spread of nuclear terrorism. It is, therefore, for Pakistan, as a nuclear weapons power, to become commensurately responsible. It must, as a responsible state, control and eliminate all forms of terrorism and not support any varient in order to minimise the nuclear risks it faces.
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