Published December 24, 2008

Challenges to Pakistanís Nuclear Assets

There are multiple dangers to Pakistanís nuclear asserts; risks from accidental nuclear war, risks from terrorists and risks to it from the perception that we are a nation of nuclear proliferators.

When I was in the government we signed an agreement with India in 1989 on the non-attack on each otherís nuclear installations, a centrepiece of which was exchange of information about nuclear sites in the two countries on the first of January each year. I believe that system is in place and has significantly contributed to the nuclear risk reduction from accidental war.

Ten years later the two countries signed an MOU in February 1999 on nuclear risk reduction. Almost another decade later, the two countries recently signed a nuclear risk reduction agreement to build on the foundations laid during democratic governments.

I realise that some commentators have pointed to the risk of nuclear assets falling into the hands of extremist elements. We need to ensure this does not happen.

In the current situation one of the major risks to our nuclear assets could emanate from a perception that Pakistan was not fully transparent with regard to the clandestine export of weapons of mass destruction. We must dispel that misperception as it can seriously undermine our nuclear assets.

General Pervez Musharraf has admitted in his biography that tons of sensitive nuclear materials, technologies and blue prints were clandestinely transferred in the decade of eighties and nineties from Pakistan to some countries in the region and far off. The graphic details of these transfers given in his book are most alarming and raise many questions in the international community.

In order to ward off such threats to our nuclear program Pakistan must cooperate with the international community through the IAEA in unearthing the full extent of the nuclear black market of which Pakistan is accused to be at the centre. That is why the PPP has demanded the setting up of a bipartisan parliamentary inquiry committee to probe the matter. We have also said that we will fully cooperate with the IAEA in unearthing the hands behind the proliferation network if further issues need to be answered.

Under the Benazir Nuclear Doctrine first established in 1989, there was to be no export of nuclear technology.

Ms. Benazir Bhutto was a twice elected Prime Minster of Pakistan. She was the first Muslim woman to be the head of the state. She left hundreds and thousands of people mourning when she was assassinated on December 27th, 2007. This is one of the most memorable pieces of writings given to the Pakistan Post by Ms. Benazir Bhutto. When we requested her to pen down her views on Pakistaní nuclear program, she most affectionately and lovingly obliged us. When she came to the US, she fondly made a point to note what the Pakistan Post has written in its breaking stories and editorials. We remember her - without ever forgetting her - and pay tribute to her. At the occasion of her first death anniversary, we present her views as expressed by her pen on October 31st, 2007 to our readers.