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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 09/09/2012

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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) PERHAPS THERE'S one possibility that scares the US the most about the war on terror: Pakistan's nuclear assets falling into the hands of the militants.

The superpower has reiterated this concern time and again, but Pakistan has always been quick to rebutt this apprehension and claim that it is capable of protecting its nukes. Even security analysts and intellectuals in Pakistan have criticised the US for blowing the threat of the Taleban out of proportion to justify illegal drone strikes and covert operations in a sovereign country.

However, it seems like America's paranoia was not entirely unwarranted. On Tuesday, Pakistani authorities put security on high alert on one of its nuclear sites in Dera Ghazi Khan in Southern Punjab. The security forces surrounded the area and cordoned it off after a serious threat of an attack by the Punjab faction of the Tehreek-i-Taleban. Subsequently, an intelligence report revealed that the TTP had planned extensive rehearsals to target the nuclear site. Media reports in Pakistan have alleged that the country's intelligence officials intercepted a phone call which divulged that the Taleban had finalised their strategy to attack the nuclear installations at DG Khan.

This is very serious news and one that will definitely ring alarm bells - and justifiably so - in Washington. Recently, closed-circuit video footage of the attack on the Kamra air base showed that the TTP assailants had contacts with security personnel present at the base. While the authorities have said that complicit officers will be court martialled, this offers little consolation to the Pakistani people and the international community. It would be hazardous to world security if militants seize control of nuclear assets.

And since these militants are not powerful enough to wage a conventional full-fledge attack against the Pakistani state, they are probably desperate to get their hands on the nukes to aggrandise their bargaining power. It is of utmost importance that Pakistan's security establishment diligently protect its nuclear assets; it doesn't just owe this duty to the Pakistani people, but in fact, the entire world.


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