`Pak nuclear weapons could go to terrorists hands`

US expressed apprehension that the nuclear weapons and technology of Pakistan might fall into the hands of terrorists.

Washington: US on Friday expressed
apprehension that the nuclear weapons and technology of
Pakistan might fall into the hands of terrorists and thus
stressed on having the lines of communications open with

"It`s a country with an awful lot of terrorists on
that border," Admiral Mike Mullen Chairman of the US Joint
Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a joint Pentagon news
conference with the Defence Secretary, Robert Gates.

"Things that I fear in the future, it`s the
proliferation of that technology, and it`s the opportunity and
the potential that it could fall into the hands of terrorists,
many of whom are alive and well and seek that in that region.

And that`s of great interest, I think, to our country
and certainly to the rest of the world," Mullen said in
response to a question.

Gates argued the US strategy against terrorism is
succeeding and Pakistan is playing a contributory role to

"It is important to remember that they have 140,000
troops on that border, that at a minimum are stirring things
up. They basically cleared South Waziristan and Swat.

But even their presence and manoeuvring and so on
creates uncertainty," he noted.

Gates said that there is some indication that al Qaeda
is worried because of the way the US went after bin Laden,
their suspicion is that the Pakistanis may have been involved
in it and are worried that the Pakistanis may betray them, as

"Clearly, the lines of communication through Pakistan
are critical for our operations in Afghanistan. So I think all
of these things are important.

Just in terms of regional stability, there is the
reality that Pakistan is a country that has a number of
nuclear weapons.

And, again, keeping those lines of communication open,
it seems to me, is very important," Gates said in his final
news conference at the Defence Secretary.

Noting that the long history of the US-Pakistani
relationship has had its ebbs and flows, the Defence Secretary
said: "They have regarded over the decades that we have
abandoned them on at least four occasions, two wars with
India, when the Soviets left Afghanistan, and then after the
enforcement of the Pressler amendment."

"It is a relationship both sides have had to work on.
It is complicated. But we need each other. We need
each other more than just in the context of Afghanistan.
Pakistan is an important player in terms of regional stability
and in terms of Central Asia.

So my view is that this is a relationship where we
just need to keep working at it," he said.

"Just as the ebbs have come in surprising ways, I
suppose that the things that would cause an uptick are hard to
predict right now.

But the key is to keep the lines of communication --
literally, between our governments open and to continue
communicating with each other as openly and as honestly as we
can," he argued.


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