‘Many terror outfits eyeing for Pak nuke weapons’

"There is quite considerable security for the Pakistani nuclear weapons," Gen David Petraeus, Chief of US & NATO forces in Afghanistan, told lawmakers at a hearing on Afghanistan convened by the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Last Updated: Mar 16, 2011, 10:48 AM IST

Washington: Assuring US lawmakers that
nuclear weapons of Pakistan are safe and secure, a top Pentagon commander has said many terrorist outfits based in the region are eyeing for these mass destructive weapons.

"There is quite considerable security for the
Pakistani nuclear weapons," Gen David Petraeus, Commander of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, told lawmakers at a hearing on Afghanistan convened by the Senate Armed Services
Committee.

"There are certainly other elements in Pakistan, the
Pakistani Taliban and several other varieties of elements who
generally have symbiotic relationships, the most extreme of
which might, indeed, value access to nuclear weapons or other
weapons that could cause enormous loss of life," Petraeus
said.

"I mean, they killed several thousand in one
destructive act. And some have shown a willingness to carry
out similar destructive acts if they had the means at their
survival," he said in response to a question from Senator John
Cornyn, who is Co-Chair of the Senate India Caucus.

"No matter what we do in Afghanistan, it seems to me
that unless we`re able to help Pakistan become a more reliable partner and deal with that porous border that terrorists exploit on a regular basis, that we`re not going to be successful in our ultimate goal," Cornyn said.
"But I want to ask specifically, as our attempts to degrade al Qaida in Afghanistan are successful, as long as the Taliban remain a powerful force, what is their aspirations in terms of getting their hands on Pakistan`s nuclear weapons and regime change in Pakistan?" Cornyn asked.

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy
said on the issue of sanctuaries in Pakistan, she thinks there
is a multi-pronged strategy of applying with the Pakistanis
additional military pressure on those areas and having very
candid conversations with the Pakistanis and very clearly
stating America`s expectations of where they would like them.
"As we pursue some of the political dimensions of our strategy, enabling the reintegration of foot soldiers who give
up the fight and renounce Al Qaida and agree to come back into their communities in Afghanistan and abide by the constitution, as we begin to create the conditions where we
might see some reconciliation of reconcilable elements more
senior, those are the kinds of things that will begin to
fracture the insurgency and degrade it to a level that can be
managed and ultimately defeated, even as we build up Afghan
capacity," she said.

General Petraeus said that the best way to influence
Pakistan is through Afghanistan.

"The best way perhaps to influence Pakistan is through
Afghanistan. By seeing that there can be an enduring solution
in Afghanistan, Pakistan can then recognize how to achieve its
understandable national security aims over time, as well, and
that would not include allowing elements on its soil who
create problems for their neighbors," the top Pentagon
commander said.

PTI