Nuclear safety

Published: September 6, 2012

The possibility of nuclear weapons somehow falling into their hands is one we simply cannot afford. We appear to be getting closer to this horrific reality by the day. DESIGN: MOHAMMAD SUHAIB

The scenario drawn up by think-tanks in the US, of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into militant hands, may just be more real than we think. This, of course, is a terrifying thought. So far, the possibility of such an event has been dismissed at home — but the high-level security alert put in place around Dera Ghazi Khan and the large-scale nuclear facility there, engaged mainly in mining and processing uranium, should force us to think otherwise. The local police chief of Dera Ghazi Khan, Chaudhry Saleem, has confirmed that a heavy contingent of police and army personnel has been placed around the facility after the ISI intercepted a telephone call suggesting an attack was planned on the site housing nuclear material. Experts point out that these kinds of conversations picked up by intelligence agencies have proved to be accurate in the past.

It is also a fact that just weeks ago, a daring attack was made on the Kamra air base, which also houses our nuclear assets. The ability of the militants to enter high-security facilities is terrifying. It appears that in the latest case, the attacks are intended to act as revenge for the death of Abdul Ghaffar Qaisarani, killed in an encounter with the Dera Ghazi Khan police some time ago. Information about Qaisarani’s whereabouts had apparently come after the capture of other terrorists.

What is alarming, though, is the fact that key nuclear installations are becoming definite targets of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Despite the death of Qaisarani, which weakened the TTP considerably in the area, it is said to have been able to regroup, and in some parts of southern Punjab, is stated to be growing stronger and more dangerous. This also raises questions about why more action was not taken in the past to defeat the TTP in Punjab and prevent the southern part of the province from becoming what many say is a safe haven for militants — no less so than the tribal areas in the north. It has become essential that we deal with the pockets where extremist groups gather. The possibility of nuclear weapons somehow falling into their hands is one we simply cannot afford. We appear to be getting closer to this horrific reality by the day.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 7th, 2012.

Reader Comments (14)

  • Amna
    Sep 6, 2012 - 10:56PM

    Let’s not create hype. Its SCARY!

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  • Jat
    Sep 7, 2012 - 12:09AM

    Hype ? What world are you living in ? All this is really happening; while you take out protest rallies for hizabs and burkas.

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  • soothla
    Sep 7, 2012 - 12:16AM

    Sir,
    Please do not allow Nuclear Assets to become a Nuclear Liability.

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  • sabi
    Sep 7, 2012 - 2:10AM

    “Our nuclear weapons are safe” and Now!!!

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  • sabi
    Sep 7, 2012 - 2:16AM

    It looks comprehensive war against terrorists is deliberatly delayed and allowed to reach some sort of boiling point, an excuse enough, to grab power from civalions “Yesterday Once More”.

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  • fhe
    Sep 7, 2012 - 2:18AM

    TTP like Qaeda is armed and funded by USA. Even admitted it.

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  • Feroz
    Sep 7, 2012 - 3:11AM

    Utmost seriousness must be given to security procedures not just here but at all strategic installations. What must be clearly understood is that the Taliban/Al Qaeda combine has supporters within all arms of the Government more so the Establishment. The threat is more from within which means that the nation simply cannot afford to take the eyes off the ball. While guarding the door it should be kept in mind the threat can also fly in through the window. A slow culling of all Taliban sympathizers from within is the need of the hour.

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  • Sameer Ali
    Sep 7, 2012 - 3:54AM

    I wonder y does not some one from you media people stand up and point out at the security breaches in the U.S. etc. , may be coz that wont make a headline for you guyz\may be coz Pakistan’s population does not actually feel a threat from some gora selling their nuclear technology to some one for the sake of money only
    y dont u people point out at that man ordering a T.V on amazon and receiving an assault rifle instead
    thank god he did not order an assault rifle, he might have ended up receiving some nuclear device
    stop puting things outta context
    given the increasing extremist tendencies in the U.S, no one is still pointing out at possibility of some extremist getting hold of their nuclear assets even though having witnessed a serious security breach at y-12
    yet Pakistan which is trying to respond to these threats timely is making u point fingers that the threat is actually real
    yes the threat is real but what matters is our willingness to go the last mile to counter that threat

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  • numbersnumbers
    Sep 7, 2012 - 7:07AM

    @fhe:
    Please give us some credible references to support your fantasy that “TTP like Qaeda is armed and funded by USA. Even admitted it” comment!

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  • SM
    Sep 7, 2012 - 9:41PM

    ET you need to stop trying to create hysteria. Our nuclear weapons are not assembled and stored so there is no way that terrorists can just pick up a few bombs and run away. Our assets are not only well protected but also will not help any one who just steals a few components. This is simplified and wishful thinking that a few terrorists can walk away with our crown jewels.

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  • observer
    Sep 8, 2012 - 9:21AM

    @Sameer Ali:

    I wonder y does not some one from you media people stand up and point out at the security breaches in the U.S. etc.

    Since you know about these ‘Security Breaches in the US’, why don’t you write about them. I am sure the Nation will pay for the article.

    In fact you can even get away with ‘Inventing’ some breaches of your own. Good luck.

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  • Zafar
    Sep 8, 2012 - 7:41PM

    Pakistan’s nuclear facilities are as safe as any other country. We should appreciate Pak efforts in strengthening security of sensitive areas. Should we be criticising if extra security measures are taken to ward off any possible threat even if it is benign. All attackers of Kamra air base were killed before they could reach any worthwhile objective. Please stand up and salute the heroes who fought/are fighting against enemies of the country. Mr. Sameer has a point in saying that sensationalism is sellable i.e. “if it bleeds it leads”. Indtead of creating undue hysteria, we should not fall prey to the Western media campaign of maligning Pakistan. The Y-12 incident is the recent example of lax security in some of the advanced countries. Also a US fighter aircraft flyinng from one state to another without authorization and with nuclear weapons onboard and then remaing without adequate guard for the whole night. US, Russia, and UK are the countries which have lost live nuclear weapons (approx 11 weapons lost so far). Having said that, I agree with Mr. Feroz’s comment that cleansing the enemy from within is as important as outside enemy.

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  • Sameer Ali
    Sep 8, 2012 - 8:02PM

    @observer
    bro do u really think i need to actually “invent” stories?
    truth is stranger than fiction

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  • Sep 8, 2012 - 11:31PM

    @observer:
    I am sure the Nation will pay for the article.. I am amazed that you still read this ‘The Nation’ newspaper. Are you doing research on lies, nothing but lies.

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