As a nuclear weapons’ state, Pakistan faces a number of challenges, which if unaddressed could cause a severe damage to Pakistan’s international image as well as to the safety and security of nuclear weapons of Pakistan.
It is acknowledged secret that Pakistan has a robust command control system with its weapons kept unassembled and dispersed at different places with multilayered security arrangements. As a result potential terrorists would have to toil a lot to obtain access to those weapons. These are extremely complex challenges and next to impossible for the terrorists to cross all the thresholds and layers of security undetected. Thus, the strict security arrangements around nuclear facilities and lack of nuclear knowledge may hinder terrorists to steal fissile material and attempt to manufacture a workable nuclear weapon. In a more plausible scenario it could be that terrorists may assemble an RDD (radiological dispersal devices) or dirty bombs.1 For the said purpose, terrorists would need fissile material and a lot of technical know-how to fabricate such device.
A Case Building Scenario: Threats of Nuclear Sabotage against Pakistan
Immense hype by global media, presence of agents like Raymond Davis and private forces like Blackwaters and DynCorp in Pakistan are the crucial reasons to forecast the alarming scenario vis-à-vis security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets. The literature reveals that US opinion makers like David Albright, David Sanger, Frederick Kagan and Michael O’Hanalon, Thomas Ricks and Peter Wonacott has raised the same kind of queries over the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets.2 The following discussion reveals the western efforts and covert agenda by the different tactics to discard Pakistan’s security arrangements. Thus, the prospects of filing a case of nuclear material’s theft/transfer or sabotage against Pakistan could be built.
Global Media Hype over Insecurity of Pakistan’s Nuclear Assets
Osama Bin Laden episode and PNS Mehran attack has added fuel in the ongoing crisis in Pakistan. The global media started raising questions about the role of Pakistan in WOT as dual or suspicious. There had been number of evidences which reveal that global media is creating sensational hypes to tag Pakistan as rogue state. For instance Mariot Leslie, who was the director general of Defence and intelligence at the Foreign Office but is now Britain’s ambassador to NATO said that recent intelligence indicates that Pakistan is not going in a good direction. He believed that “The UK has deep concerns about the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, and China could play a big role in stabilizing Pakistan.”3 According to Wikileaks, UK, USA, and France have raised high concerns that Pakistani nuclear assets may fall into the hands of terrorists. The leaked documents revealed that in 2008, the US ambassador to Islamabad, Anne Patterson, cabled to Washington that a rogue scientist in the Pakistani nuclear programme could gradually smuggle enough material out to eventually make a weapon for a terrorist group.4 In another cable released by the Wikileaks, concerns has been raised that two main sources from which nuclear materials or a weapon could be obtained are Pakistan and the states of the former Soviet Union.5
Moreover, Pakistan as a nuclear state has also been described as a “Nightmare” and a “Headache” for the international community.6 The Russians shared concerns that Pakistan was highly unstable. Yuri Korolev, from the Russian foreign ministry, told U.S. officials that “Islamists are not only seeking power in Pakistan but are also trying to get their hands on nuclear materials”.7 Furthermore, Seymour Hersh’s report suggests that the Americans are determined to take control of Pakistan’s nuclear assets. In one sense, it gives credence to the conspiracy theory that the Americans are out to nullify Pakistani sovereignty and security, the nuclear weapons epitomising Pakistan’s sovereignty and security.8 Likewise, former US Secretary of state, Condoleeza Rice has stated that the US has “contingency plans” in place to deal with the possibility of Pakistani nuclear weapons falling into unauthorised hands.9 So all in all, out put of this kind of half truths has resulted in anti-US sentiments in Pakistan since they are being disclosed.
CIA Ingress in Pakistan with Clandestine Agenda
The War on Terror gave a gateway to US officials to visit Pakistan as per the requirement. It is assumed that since than CIA has launched the covert agents in Pakistan to spy over different US concerns. It is reported that at the end of 2009, a special presidential order was issued to give 7,000 visas and the same order was passed through the PM’s office to Mr. Hussain Haqqani.10 This bestowed the CIA an opportunity to get her agents penetrated in Pakistan, disguised as diplomats etc. The captured CIA agent Raymond Davis episode has become an open secret to the world. Following is the brief analysis of what Raymond Davis, DynCorp and other Blackwater private contractors have been doing in Pakistan?
a) Blackwater/Xe illicit Activities
Blackwater Worldwide, formerly Blackwater USA, is a private military company founded in 1997 by Erik Prince, and Al Clark.11 In October 2007, Blackwater USA renamed itself Blackwater Worldwide, and was known simply as “Blackwater”. The intelligence official says Blackwater came to the tribal belt for two reasons. “First, to track down Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders, which US agencies believe, are hiding along the Pak-Afghan border. Secondly, to provide security to the various projects launched by USAID in NWFP, and some tribal areas.”12
According to media anchor Hamid Mir, an Islamabad-based Defence and security analyst, this is a huge threat for our national security. He claims that Blackwater is not only operating in Peshawar but is also active in the southern port city of Karachi. Mir believes that unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, Blackwater would not operate with impunity in Pakistan. “In Iraq and Afghanistan, Blackwater has had the cover and support of occupational forces, but the situation is different in Pakistan,”.13 Sources believe that the number of Davis like CIA and Blackwater agents are high and may be around one hundred. However, there is no exact number available with the authorities.14
The terrorists and non state actors operating in FATA and other parts of Pakistan are equipped with highly sophisticated weaponry. It is assumed that Blackwater provided such weaponry to these groups. Moreover, it is believed that Blackwater gain information from the local sources regarding lucrative targets in FATA for drone attacks. This enables us to conclude that when so strong US organizations would maintain relations with non state actors, and then non state actors (NSA) would surely gain strength and influence, which would complicate the struggle in the war on terror as well as the efforts to curb nuclear terrorism.
b) DynCorp Spying key Nuclear Facility of Pakistan
DynCorp is a Blackwater type private security agency that works for American CIA outside the United States. It was allowed to operate in sensitive areas, including the Sihala Police College by Musharraf. DynCorp’s activities under the cover of Anti-Terrorism Assistance Programme (ATAP) have been found suspicious. In 2009, three Americans along with a Pakistani had tried to trespass into the restricted area of Kahuta but the official security agency deployed at the check post got alerted and intercepted them, when they crossed the check post. The Pakistani accompanying these Americans was a retired assistant director of the FIA, who while introducing himself as a FIA officer had managed to free the Americans and returned.15 Many believes that this one incident had a vital role in moving out DynCorp men from the Sihala Police College facility, where they were allowed to train the police officials but were found in spying on the country’s nuclear facility.16
c) Raymond Davis linkage with Terrorists Organization
Raymond Davis, a former special operations soldier who had been working with the CIA as a contractor, was captured on murder charges, of two Pakistanis and then released on diplomatic immunity in Pakistan. The data recovered from the GPS device seized from double murder-accused US national Raymond Davis possession shows that the alleged CIA agent had been in Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar and even some tribal areas of Pakistan.17 The primary job of Davis was to trail links of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in different parts of Pakistan but the investigators found that he had developed close links with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).18 Davis was instrumental in recruiting young people from Punjab for the Taliban to fuel the bloody insurgency.19 The Punjab law minister has said that Davis could be tried for anti-state activities.20 Rana Sanaullah claims that the spying gadgets and sophisticated weapons recovered are never used by diplomats.21 The most worrisome aspect of the investigation revealed that:
The call records of the cellular phones recovered from Davis have established his links with 33 Pakistanis, including 27 militants from the TTP and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi sectarian outfit, sources said. Davis was also said to be working on a plan to give credence to the American notion that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are not safe. For this purpose, he was setting up a group of the militant which would do his bidding.22
d) Key Findings of Case Building Scenario against Pakistan
Western blame game, media upheavals for tagging Pakistan as rogue state, international concerns raised in Wikileaks the Secret US cables, presence of Blackwater and DynCorp with their spying activities, and Raymond Davis’s activities as a covert agent have created grave ambiguity for Pakistani leadership. Lets analyse these events which went in row, the US Department of Homeland Security issued a grim warning that the threat of terror strike on America is at a higher level than it has been since September 11, 2001,23 and the Wikileaks also revealed that al Qaeda is on the brink of using a nuclear bomb. US constructed a conspiracy to be believed and supported by international community, and this could be viewed vividly in Raymond Davis case.
The ominous face of Raymond Davis investigation is that top-secret CIA documents found in Davis’s possession point to his, and/or TF373, providing to al Qaeda terrorists “nuclear fissile material” and “biological agents”24 they claim are to be used against the United States itself in order to ignite an all-out war in order to re-establish the West’s hegemony over a Global economy that warned, is just months away from collapse.25
Furthermore, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad pointed the finger at Washington during a media conference in Tehran that US may have been planning to sabotage Pakistan’s nuclear facilities. He claimed that:
We have precise information that America wants to sabotage the Pakistani nuclear facilities in order to control Pakistan and to weaken the government and people of Pakistan.26
The reports show that Pakistani intelligence agencies claim that prevailing terror in the state has its external linkage, as ISI chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha said that “The Western powers are involved in terrorism and destabilization of the country”.27
Furthermore, West believes that “the most dangerous nation in the world isn’t Iraq, its Pakistan.”28 With such circumstances, Professor Dr. Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema claims that:
There have been reports of secret simulation war games going in the US aimed at exploring the nuclear weapons of Pakistan and getting hold of them whenever its required that is when Pakistan’s political institutions and military safeguards start falling apart.29
For many reasons, given in the above discussion, it could be scrutinized that Western powers may assist some religious terrorists groups through clandestine means to commit the acts of nuclear terrorism to pursue their greater objectives.
1. Abdul Mannan, “Preventing Nuclear Terrorism in Pakistan,” The Henry L. Stimson Centre, April 2007, Available at: http://www.stimson.org/southasia/pdf/VFMannan.pdf, Retrieved on: 22 June, 2011. Also Muhammad Khurshid Khan, “Nuclear Technology Proliferation: Challenges and International Response,” IPRI Journal, Volume VIII, winter, 2008.
2. Rabia Akhtar, “Pakistan’s Nuclear Assets: Safe and Secure,” June 2009, CBRN South Asia Brief, No. 13. p.1.
3. “Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons Could end up in the hands of terrorists: Britain and America’s deep concern revealed,” December 2010, Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1334550/WikiLeaks–Pakistans-nuclear-weapons-end-hands-terrorists-Britain-Americas-deep-concern-revealed.html#ixzz1O0RUTiQ, Retrieved on: 22 June, 2011.
4. Robert Winnett and Gordon Rayner, “Wikileaks: Britain’s Concerns over Safety of Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons,” December 2010, Available at: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/wikileaks/8172228/WikiLeaks-Britains-concerns-over-safety-of-Pakistans-nuclear-weapons.html, Retrieved on: 24 June, 2011.
5. http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/blogs/the-bishops-gambit/wikileaks-revelations-reaffirm-us-leadership-20110427-1dvfz.html#ixzz1O0S7I97j, Retrieved on: 24 June, 2011.
6. “Wikileaks: Pakistan, the world’s Nightmare” November 2010, Available at: http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2010-11-29/us/28229251_1_private-nightmare-nuclear-assets-cables, Retrieved on: 27 June, 2011.
7. David Leigh, “Diplomats warn of India-Pakistan Nuclear Exchange: Wikileaks”, 2010, Available at: http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/article924226.ece?homepage=true&css=print, Retrieved on: 27 June, 2011.
8. Ishtiaq Ahmed, “Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons: How Safe Are They?” ISAS Brief, No. 140, November 2009, Available at: www.isas.nus.edu.sg, Retrieved on: 27 June, 2011.
9. Ishtiaq Ahmed, “Pakistan’s Nuclear Weapons: How Safe Are They?” ISAS Brief, No. 140, November 2009, Available at: www.isas.nus.edu.sg, Retrieved on: 27 June, 2011.
10. “Visas for Americans Create rift in Pakistan” The Dawn, 13 May 2011, Available at: www.dawn.com/…/visas-for-americans-create-rifts-in-pakistan.html, Retrieved on: 27 June, 2011.
11. “Back In Iraq: The Whores Of War,” Available at http://www.sundayherald.com/oped/, Retrieved on: 27 June, 2011.
12. Aamir Latif, “Blackwaters in Pakistan,” Available at: http://www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1203758435570&pagename=Zone-English-News%2FNWELayout, Retrieved on: 29 June, 2011.
14. Ansar Abbasi, Ansar Abbasi, “How many Davis-type agents are in Pakistan?” THE NEWS, February 24, 2011. Available at: http://www.thenews.com.pk/TodaysPrintDetail.aspx?ID=4186&Cat=13&dt=2/24/2011, Retrieved on: 29 June, 2011.
15. “Davis linked to militants, says official” The Peninsula Qatar, Wednesday, 23 February 2011. Available at: http://www.thepeninsulaqatar.com/pakistan/afghanistan/143562-davis-linked-to-militants-says-official.html. Retrieved on: 29 June, 2011.
17. “Pak investigators retrieve data from Davis’ cell phones, GPS device” Sify Com,
26-02-2011. Available at http://www.sify.com/news/pak-investigators-retrieve-data-from-davis-cell-phones-gps-device-news-international-lc0nueafhch.html, Retrieved on: 30 June, 2011.
18. “Davis linked to militants, says official” The Peninsula Qatar, Wednesday, Op. Cit.
19. Qaiser Butt, “CIA agent Davis had ties with local militants”, February 22, 2011, Available at:
http://tribune.com.pk/story/122105/cia-agent-davis-had-ties-with-local-militants/, Retrieved on: 30
24. “CIA Spy Captured Giving Nuclear Bomb To Terrorists” European Union Times, February 11th, 2011. Available at: http://www.eutimes.net/2011/02/cia-spy-captured-giving-nuclear-bomb-to-terrorists/, Retrieved on: 30 June, 2011.
26. “US seeking to sabotage Pakistan’s nuclear facilities, Ahmadinejad,” 7 June 2011, Available at: http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk/2011/06/us-seeking-to-sabotage-pakistan’s-nuclear-facilities-ahmadinejad/, Retrieved on: 30 June, 2011.
27. “Foreign powers behind terrorism: DG ISI” 08 July 2010, Available at: http://www.samaa.tv/News22453-Foreign_powers_behind_terrorism_DG_ISI.aspx, Retrieved on: 30 June, 2011.
28. Ron Moreau, “Where the Jihad Lives Now,” 2007, Available at: http://www.newsweek.com/2007/10/20/where-the-jihad-lives-now.html, Retrieved on: 30 June, 2011.
29. Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema, “Are Pakistan’s Nukes in Safe Hands?” The Post: December 9th, 2007.