Pak’s nuclear weapons can be seized as a bargaining tool

November 14th, 2007 - 10:23 am ICT by admin  

According to The Age, President General Pervez Musharraf took a huge gamble when he declared emergency rule last week. This has raised fears that control of Pakistan’s prized nuclear arsenal– estimated at between 45 and 60 warheads, but even a lower number is of concern –could be seized.

The daily said that Pakistan might be courted by the West as a front-line state in the war on terror, but it is also a nuclear weapons state with “an unhappy history of proliferation.”

Pakistani security analyst Ayesha Siddiqa Agha, who visited Melbourne this week, said that political environment is likely to remain in a state of flux, as “things are changing quickly, sometimes even on an hourly basis.”

Pointing out that the military plays a key role in Pakistan’s politics, Siddiqa said that Musharraf still enjoys the backing of the top brass, though it’s wary.

“He’s still looking good… They are definitely uncomfortable with what he is doing. So far, the message they are sending is that they are in it together,” the paper quoted her, as saying at a Monash University conference on civil and military relationships.

She reiterated that the military has entrenched its control of Pakistan’s economy, seizing land and taking over key posts in the civilian bureaucracy and local industries.

“(The) military has been in politics for almost half of the country’s 60-year history,” she said, adding: “Once military generals have economic power, they are not keen at all to let it go.”

Asserting that these problems do not justify military rule, Siddiqa said, “(There is a) perception created around the world that the military is the only institution which stands between disaster and breakdown of society. Nothing could be further from the truth.”

Meanwhile, Washington praised the election promise as an important step forward.

“We think it is a good thing that President Musharraf has clarified the election date for the Pakistani people,” a White House spokesperson says.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer also expressed worry over the prevailing situation in Pakistan.

Downer is concerned that Pakistan’s unrest will be exploited by al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters at a time when Australian troops are on the ground in neighbouring Afghanistan. (ANI)

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