Propagating against Pak nukes
International media and academics are continuously are bent upon writing against nuclear safety and security situation in Pakistan and seems concerned about terrorists getting access to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals.
Propagandists blindly take an unpleasant event or other occurring in Pakistan and relate it to lax security arrangement around Pakistani Nukes without having knowledge or understanding of safety and security mechanism in Pakistan or they don’t want to.After the incident of 9/11, Pakistan became US ally against war on terror (WoT). And (WoT) became Pakistan’s own war where the theorists threatened the writ of the government by targeting government official, army personnel, law enforcement agencies and civilians.
The turmoil and instability in Pakistan provided an opportunity to the critics of Pakistan to propagate negative image of Pakistan in the world. Unfortunately incidents like attack on General Head Quarters (GHQ), Merhran Base and attack on PAF base at Kamra by the extremists added some logic to their propaganda. Even the propagandists went on saying that a few number of nuclear weapons were kept at Minhas base, Kamra. Internally Pakistan is engaged in countering terrorism which is a menace that is not be wiped out in a short span of time rather it requires a long term strategy. On the other hand Pakistan is facing a propaganda campaign about the safety and security of its nuclear arsenals.
Pakistan nuclear establishment is fully aware of the instable security situation, and has taken several measures to ensure nuclear safety and security. Strategic Plan division (SPD) has established standard procedures to ensure safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Pakistan has established an effective command and control system. Personnel Reliability Program is in place and individuals entering any strategic organization linked with Pakistan’s nuclear program, are required to be screened out by intelligence agencies, and once they are inducted they are continuously monitored through security clearance after a particular time period. Permissive Action Links (PALs) are also developed by Pakistan, which are launching codes for nuclear weapon, to be authenticated by two or three persons (two / three man rule).
The preposition that terrorists might get access to Pakistan nuclear facilities becomes irrelevant against the measures taken by Pakistan. Secondly Pakistan nuclear weapons are in unmated form. Warheads are kept separated from delivery vehicles it also minimizes the possibility of unauthorized use. Thirdly, managing nuclear is a complex phenomenon which is beyond terrorist capacity. Lastly, secrecy about the location of nuclear weapons mitigates the chances of terrorist’s access to nuclear weapons or material.
Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority has also been established to ensure nuclear safety. It is also collaborating with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Pakistan is working on Nuclear Safety Action Plan (NSAP) in collaboration with IAEA since 2006. Under this project, PNRA has established Nuclear Security Training Centres with the assistance of IAEA. Pakistan has also established Nuclear Security Emergency Coordination Centre (NuSECC). These are the step forward to and in commitment with nuclear security. In 2011, Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security IAEA stated that Pakistan’s nuclear program was safe and secure and appreciated the efforts made by PNRA in this regard.
Pakistan with active progress on export control regime has presented itself as a responsible nuclear weapons state. Dr. AQ Khan episode has become a past, and Pakistan’s ongoing non proliferation efforts are overshadowed by the perceptions. Pakistan’s inclusion in export control regimes will strengthen their cause, as Pakistan is eagerly taking measures to cope with the international export control laws. Pakistan export control measures regime is capable of meeting the criterion set by international export control regimes i.e. Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), and Australia Group.
On the issue of nuclear safety and security Pakistan has largely been discriminated and negatively portrayed vis-à-vis India by the international community.
India there has been incidents related to safety and security e.g. theft of nuclear materials from facilities, murder of nuclear scientist, many nuclear power plants are not under IAEA inspection/safeguards etc. While in Pakistan there is no example of such incident embarrassing for the nuclear establishment. Despite that India is granted with Civil Nuclear Deal and also the discussions are going on within NSG about the Indian membership in the regime.
Despite the concerns, no incidents of theft of nuclear material any objectionable regarding nuclear safety and security occurred in Pakistan. After the incident of Kamra in August 2012, the State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland stated that U.S. had confidence in the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals. Though, U.S officials sometimes highlight their concerns about nuclear security in Pakistan, led by the doubts created by the propagandists. Pakistan’s nuclear command and control is robust and effective. International media need to look beyond mere propaganda.
(Waqar-un-Nisa-The writer works for Strategic Vision Institute)