Islamabad: Pakistan needs to put its own house in order to control alarmism around its nukes, said a daily as it insisted that the debate "should be less about the safety of nukes and more about the intentions and future of the custodians of these nukes, the Pakistan Army".
An editorial in the News International on Thursday said that after the assault on a key military base in Karachi, "the million-dollar question on everyone`s mind is: if bases and high-value assets aren`t secure, is there a guarantee Pakistan`s nuclear assets can`t be attacked, and successfully?"
Terrorists stormed the PNS Mehran base in Karachi on Sunday night and the 16-hour siege ended on Monday afternoon. Ten security personnel were killed while two surveillance aircraft were destroyed.
Fresh WikiLeaks cables also reveal intense US monitoring of Pakistan`s nuclear programme.
The editorial wondered: "Is this alarmism justified?"
"First the technical answer: not really...Security at the nuclear bases is much tighter than at the Mehran base and the weapons are kept in bunkers guarded by over 10,000 soldiers.”
"Also, warhead cores are physically separated from their detonation components and the warheads electronically locked to ensure they cannot be detonated even if they fall into the wrong hands."
It went on to say that on the political front, "alarmism about the safety of Pak nukes can be read as a way for the world, particularly the US, to add pressure on the Pakistan government".
It added that the "...attacks like the one in Karachi do legitimately shape fears and create the perception that the Pakistani state is weakening and collapsing".
"In order to control alarmism around our nukes in particular and our commitment to countering terrorism in general, we need to put our own house in order. Targeting militant elements selectively is too dangerous a game to play for a nuclear-armed state.”
"Also, the debate, both in Pakistan and around the world, should be less about the safety of Pak nukes and more about the intentions and future of the custodians of these nukes, the Pakistan army," the editorial said.