Don't forget dangers posed by Pak's nukes, says UK's ex-Def Secy

PTI| Updated: Mar 05, 2015, 12:15 PM IST


Washington: The global community should not forget the dangers posed by Pakistan's nuclear weapons and its two new heavy water plants capable of producing 24 atomic warheads a year, a top former British official has said.

Liam Fox, the former British Defence Secretary, said the international community should not risk to forget Pakistan, which was not a stable country.

"Here in Washington, with all the focus on Iran at the present time, people seem to have forgotten that Pakistan is sitting on something like 120 nuclear warheads and has recently brought into play two new heavy water plants that will enable them to produce about 24 nuclear warheads a year from now on," he said.

"It is the nuclear problem that nobody seems to want to acknowledge and talk about in detail," he said yesterday.

"This is a worry," Fox said at an event organised by the think-tank Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"We've got to the rise of transnational terrorism. It's nothing new, but it changes its manifestations. And of course, the worry that we have is that this nuclear proliferation in places like Pakistan will find its way into the terrorists' game," he said.

Identifying Pakistan as the risk of being a failed states, the former official noted that he said it "not out of malign intent", but because of sheer instability.

"Most of us politically are used to dealing with our opposite numbers. But in a country like Pakistan, where, frankly, we're never really sure who's in charge, whether it's the politicians, the military, or the ISI, we have to develop a whole range of relationships," said Fox, who currently a Member of British Parliament.

From a British perspective, Fox said, he was interested to know as to why, after 200 years of common history, India after partition went on to become a relatively stable, prosperous and increasingly middle class economy, whereas Pakistan effectively rolled backwards from the very beginnings.

"At partition, nobody knew what to call Pakistan because it didn't correspond to any natural, historical or geographical entity. So in fact, it's an acronym. Pakistan is actually a made-up name made up of the initials of the provinces of Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, and so on.

"I think that it's a fair bet that if your country's name is made up, then it's not probably the most stable entity that you're likely to see," he added.