EDITORIAL. Cecil Victor. VIII.XI.X
Pak nukes are safe, says who?
by CECIL VICTOR
Indian Chief of Army Staff General V.K.Singh recently asserted that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are safe. On what basis? Has the UN-mandated International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) done an inspection and issued a certificate; or has there been a joint inspection by Indian and Pakistani teams; or is it because the Americans say so – the same Americans who did not tell us that David Coleman Headley was on a reconnaissance mission in India in preparation for mass destruction in Mumbai?
There was no need for him to say that the Pakistani nukes are safe particularly because he had himself mentioned in an earlier interview to PTI that “this will remain a concern given the way internal dynamics (of Pakistan) are".
And what are these “internal dynamics”? For one, evidence has surfaced (and later corroborated by David Coleman Headley’s disclosures to the Indian National Investigating Agency operatives who questioned him in an American jail) that at least two serving officers of the Pakistan Army Inter-Services Intelligence were directly involved in the training and launching of the terrorists who struck Mumbai on 26/11/2003. Under any law they are as guilty of what was done in Mumbai as were the actual killers of whom only Ajmal Qasab is still alive in Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai.
Two, no less a personage than the US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that there are elements within the Pakistan military establishment who know where Osama bin Laden of the Al Qaeda and Mulla Omar of the Afghan Taliban terrorist organisations are hiding. This amplifies by a degree of several thousand the core suspicion that large segments of the Pakistan armed forces are actually jihadi terrorists in uniform, collaborating almost on a daily basis with the top brass of the terrorist organisations (because to keep them out of America’s grasp they have to keep shifting these top terrorists from one safe haven to another) .
Third, there has been admission within Pakistan of the possibility that “rogue elements” are collaborating with the terrorists. This is part of Pakistan’s convenient modus operandi of denial of direct involvement. If the Pakistan Army has “rogue elements” within its ranks then how can nuclear weapons and the precursor radioactive elements required to make nuclear weapons be “safe” when both the Pakistani nuclear scientists and the Pakistan Army are involved in clandestine trade and transfers of weapons and material and knowhow for making nuclear bombs and radiological weapons?
General V.K.Singh has done India a disservice by negating the possibility of a threat to this country from nuclear weapons and their radiological components and thereby lulling both the Government and the people into complacency Instead, he should have been in the forefront to set in place mechanisms and systems to ensure that no clandestine chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) warfare is conducted against this country.
Even he cannot deny that Pakistanis, both civilian and military, are looking for new ways of hurting India grievously. The use of the sea route to attack Mumbai was a new methodology which took us totally by surprise. One of the other new “methods” could be the use of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials to start epidemics, radiation damage to humans, etc without the use of explosives which everybody around the world is alert about. There need not be even an attempt to transfer CBRN material across frontiers that would be guarded. Sleeper cells using locally available materials could be ordered to launch an attack and achieve surprise and panic.
Two events underscore how ill-prepared we are to handle a CBRN attack even though we have a nationwide network supposed to be functional under the National Disaster Management Authority till recently headed by a former Chief of Army Staff. One was the fire in the Jaipur fuel storage dump. It was an accident. but nobody knew how to stop the fire except to allow it to burn itself out. This knowledge that India has no preventive will encourage a prospective saboteur to attack a storage tank farm. It is not too difficult as Pakistan itself knows to its cost in the regular disruption of piped gas from the Sui gasfields in Balochistan. The other, directly related to CBRN was the discovery of a source of radiation in the kabari bazaar in Mayapuri which caused serious radiation illness to those who came into contact with the isotope sold carelessly by the Delhi University.
Everyone is talking about “dirty bombs” – nuclear material dispersed with explosives to cause burns and radiation sickness over a large area. The general perception is that such an attack is more possible than an attack with nuclear weapons. For one thing the Pakistan Army would not want to be associated with a nuclear bomb attack unless the stakes are very high and there is an element of total victory. The use of dirty bombs delivered by “non-State actors” retains all the elements of deniability that terrorism thrives on.
It is true that there are international conventions in place banning the use of Chemical and Biological agents against human beings but if, as has been universally accepted, there are “rogue elements” within the Pakistani military and civil society India cannot expect to be secure and must put in place sensors and equipment for detection and disposal of CBRN agents.
The question that the Indian Chief of Army Staff should be concerned about: Is India safe from Pakistani nuclear weapons? He should know that they were being prepared for use during the occupation by Pakistan Army Northern Light Infantry of the heights of Kargil. If it was not for President Bill Clinton’s deft and firm handling of the situation India could well have become victim of a nuclear attack. This was because the Pakistan Army knew that Indian troops, showing amazing grit and guts, were mopping up the intruders and rectifying a mistake committed by the Indian Army Chief of the time for leaving so large a gap unattended.
The point is that the Indian Army Chief should have better things to do than go about handing out clean chits to Pakistan.