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Thursday, May 16, 2024

Pakistan’s nuclear security amidst the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan

The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan has raised not only regional security concerns but also distrust and doubts about Pakistan's nuclear security and safety. This skepticism has not recently erupted. In fact, it has been chastised by the world community since Pakistan became a nuclear state. So what is the reason behind this concern especially after the Taliban's takeover?

The takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban has not just brought up regional security challenges, but also brought up skepticism and suspicions regarding Pakistan’s nuclear security and safety. This skepticism did not erupt lately. In fact, the international community has been criticizing it since Pakistan became a nuclear power. The international community must understand and realize the motives behind Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear power status.

The recent appointment of engineer Najeebullahas head of Afghanistan’s atomic energy by the Taliban has raised concerns among the international community. But experts remain deeply skeptical of such an endeavor at this point. Besides, the porous boundary between Pakistan and Afghanistan has also brought up various “naïve” concerns which include; the possibility of the Taliban overrunning Pakistan and stealing its nuclear nukes, possible transfer of fissile materials and the possible involvement of the establishment in leaking the secrets to the outsiders.

Read more: Pakistan nuclear technology helped country earn $7.4 bn

What happened when the US announced its withdrawal?

Soon after the peace deal treaty with the Taliban, the U.S. declared its focus primarily on the containment of China from potentially becoming a global power (particularly, by pressurizing Pakistan over the security of its nukes). This shift not just created a power vacuum in the region (ironically, the blame has been put on Pakistan again), but also created greater security concerns for Pakistan by both the internal and external threats. It is not the first time, since the U.S. has been pointing distrust over the safety and security of Pakistan’s nukes.

In 2009, American Secretary Hillary Clinton claimed a possibility of Islamic militants taking over Pakistan and its nuclear weapons. The international community must accept and realize the risks that the American withdrawal has brought with it for Pakistan. Although, those risks and challenges are nowhere going to affect Pakistan’s nuclear safety and security because the matter is a national concern and is in safe hands. Therefore, it should not be interfered with or debated internationally.

Instead of showing distrust over the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, the international community should collectively focus on resolving and removing those irritants out of its way which might potentially destabilize the region. People like Ronald Jacquard will, however, raise their concern over an unstable Afghanistan and its consequences on the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals, but will never raise their voice for the humanitarian assistance that is the ardent need of time in Afghanistan.

The international community must acknowledge that Pakistan has been living in a security-sensitive environment. A country, that lives next to its archrival, is bound to defend its sovereignty, territorial integrity and secure the lives and properties of its citizens. Pakistan became a nuclear power not to achieve the status of becoming a global power, but to deter the growing threat from India for its own survival. Despite the threats, that Pakistan has been facing from both internal and external elements, it is obligatory for the international community to realize, accept and appreciate the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and program. Unlike India, where several incidents of Uranium theft have taken place.

It is tempting for people like Bruce Riedel (CIA analyst) and Ronald Jacquard to say that Pakistan is the most dangerous country in the contemporary world and that the international community should watch Pakistan’s nukes. But it makes it very difficult for them to show concerns over the Uranium thefts in India.

Similarly, besides the incidents of Uranium theft, the Kenyan authorities apprehended a container ship on 17th December 2021 upon detection of heavy radioactive levels, where one of the containers was filled with nuclear waste which was loaded by an Indian firm called ‘Perma Export Limited.’ This shows how reckless and immature India is regarding the safe disposal of its nuclear waste. In fact, the international community should be worrying and showing their concern over the recklessness of the Indian authorities. They should question and find out the true motives behind India’s such actions.

Read more: 100 million deaths and more: The cost of an India-Pakistan nuclear war

Pakistan, on the other hand, not only guards its locations and practices against any external influence but is also keen in enforcing international standards, unlike India. Pakistan has also established ‘Pakistan’s Centre of Excellence and Nuclear Security’(PCENS) for strengthening its nuclear regime and the security of nuclear and radiological materials. If the international community wishes to adopt a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy for the loss of nukes, it must be then for every nuclear state and not be biased and focused on Pakistan only.

The National Command Authority (NCA), which is the highest authority to decide when and when not to go for nuclear readiness, oversee the policy formation, exercises, employment, research, development, deployment and operational command and control of Pakistan’s nukes through its secretariat Strategic Plans Division (SPD). Therefore, suspecting that the establishment is involved in leaking the secrets is naïve as it sounds and it is illogical to suspect NCA’s credibility.

How India is excelling in its modes of warfare?

The modes of warfare are evolving and India can be seen taking advantage of the 5th generation warfare, thereby, spreading its web of disinformation on the digital media and inducing panic and fear among the people. Whether it is the progress of CPEC or the question of Pakistan’s nuclear safety and security program, India has left no opportunity in spreading disinformation and panic among the people.

It is a great strategic accomplishment and advantage for Pakistan, that both its military and civilian leadership is on the same page like never before. Perhaps, this is why Pakistan’s adversaries, particularly India have lost all their hopes in manipulating the leadership and are now focusing more on manipulating the citizens of Pakistan.

The U.S. must accept that Pakistan is a responsible state when it comes to handling its nuclear weapons. Pakistan has the ability to secure and safeguard its nukes from any mishap and threat from terrorists. Hence, saying that the U.S. might take measures of taking control over Pakistan’s nukes does not only create distrust but also portray a negative image all over the world, which is unpalatable to Pakistan. Taking any type of measures against Pakistan’s nukes will be even more dangerous.

Read more: India & Pakistan swap lists of nuclear facilities

The international community must understand Pakistan’s concerns over the policies of the fanatic Modi government and the RSS ideology that is prevailing in India. Instead of accusing and showing distrust over the safety and security of Pakistan’s nukes, the international community should work on removing those irritants that might actually provoke Pakistan and India. Hence, prevent letting a possible catastrophe in the region. Moreover, the international community must shift its attention to providing humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, rather than questioning the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear program. Hunger will kill more people in Afghanistan than in any other catastrophe.


Muhammad Adil Khan is working as a Research Assistant at the Balochistan Think Tank Network (BTTN), Pakistan. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space (GVS News).