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Why Pakistan Keeps the World Up at Night

by Khaled Ahmed
Illustration by Minhaj Ahmed Rafi

Illustration by Minhaj Ahmed Rafi

Pakistan’s nuclear program was doomed to be sired by the unstable.

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he passions surrounding Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program date back to at least October 1965, when the-then foreign minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto declared: “Pakistan will fight, fight for a thousand years. If India builds the atom bomb … Pakistan will eat grass or leaves, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own. We have no other choice!”

In Eating Grass: the Making of the Pakistani Bomb, former Pakistan Army brigadier Feroz H. Khan wants to tell the story of Pakistan’s bomb as a legitimate undertaking, which the world should now recognize as such. He is no ordinary author; as a onetime director of Pakistan’s apex nuclear establishment, the Directorate of Arms Control and Disarmament at the Strategic Planning Division, Khan is an acknowledged insider. Khan favors the theory that states nuclearize not so much on the basis of realism—which can actually deter acquisition of nuclear weapons—but on account of a “strategic culture which stands as an important intervening variable between changes in the material cases of power and state behavior.”

Khan remains steadfastly wedded to references that don’t always present Pakistan as a sane nation: “Such global prominence [through nuclearization] in Pakistani thought harkened back to past civilizational glory, to the time when the Mughal Empire shared the global stage with the Safavids and the Ottomans. Additionally, for Pakistan, a country conflicted over whether it is a secular or theological Muslim state, nuclear weapons were a symbol of cohesion—they became one of the few issues about which there was national consensus.”

But the cohesion-consensus fib no longer stands up. The truth is that a revisionist state has gone haywire and said goodbye to realism too after going nuclear. Given Pakistan’s martial persona, its ideological misrepresentation of jihad, and dominance of the state by a coup-making military, security is defined in Pakistan in military terms. Today, if one thinks security should emanate from a buoyant economy flourishing on trade openings with states that nationalism deems enemies, numberless nonstate actors are willing to use terror to cow one down and make one love the state-bankrupting bomb.

Who in Pakistan erects the emotional structure of “national humiliation” propelling these suicidal national-security ideas even as “failed states” like North Korea brandish their bombs to scare the world? How many lessons were learned from nuclear China that finally derived its real global clout not from the bomb but its economy? Had China aped revisionist Pakistan, nuclear war would have engulfed the world and destroyed the Chinese nation. Ideology and nationalism make Pakistan ignore its low-IQ military leaders who flourish only by isolating the country internationally and unleashing nonstate actors on civilian leaders. No one can ever tell a Pakistani jingo that the nuclear example of India is less relevant to him than that of North Korea, a collapsed state whose bombs are rotting in its attic.

The quest for nukes started in 1954 with Dr. Rafi Chaudhry in the high-tension physics laboratory of Government College, Lahore. (Years later when Gen. Zia-ul-Haq met Chaudhry, “he raised his hand and saluted Chaudhry for his contributions to Pakistan’s nuclear development,” Khan writes.) After that, Cambridge-educated Dr. Abdus Salam, recipient of the Nobel Prize for physics in 1979, helped by directing more British-trained nuclear manpower to the project, and bureaucrat I. H. Usmani assisted by attracting “peaceful” nuclear technology from Canada. In keeping with Bhutto’s promise, no expense was spared: the Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology (PINSTECH) emerged as an architectural masterpiece; and the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) was given $350 million in 1975 for its initiatives, including a uranium enrichment plant.

Heavenly Horses

The Muslim mind conquered science and equated the bomb with, to borrow from the Quran, the “horses that had to be kept ready.”

Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood, a Ph.D. in science and nuclear engineering from the University of Manchester, had worked in the U.K.’s Atomic Energy Authority on nuclear reactors and then at the Risley Design Centre, where his job exposed him to design work for nuclear power and reprocessing plants and enrichment facilities. Back home, Mahmood’s résumé helped him get involved with Pakistan’s nuclear program in 1963 and with its enrichment program nine years later.

But despite his worldly exposure, religious humbug dogged Mahmood. During the 1970s, he read a paper to General Zia claiming he could produce electricity for the entire country from a single jinn—a supernatural, fire-born entity mentioned in the Quran. He told Khan, the author, about the provenance of his innovative approach to enriching uranium: “I got the idea from Allah.” Later, Mahmood protested against Pakistan’s perceived softening to the signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and retired from the nuclear establishment in 1999.

But the interface between Pakistani scientists and terrorism had begun in the 1990s, and Mahmood was among its pioneers. In 2001, Mahmood—wedded as he was to the idea of “heavenly horses” and aspiration for Armageddon—and a fellow scientist, Chaudhry Abdul Majid, even traveled to Afghanistan to meet with Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden.

Husain Haqqani, former Pakistani ambassador to the U.S., explains the time well in his new book, Magnificent Delusions: Pakistan, the United States, and an Epic History of Misunderstanding: “Pakistan was the only country with a Taliban embassy, although Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had also recognized their regime. At one point the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad estimated that 10 to 20 percent of Taliban soldiers were Pakistani. U.S. diplomats acknowledged that the presence of Pakistani volunteers in Afghanistan solidifies Pakistan-Taliban relations … Pakistanis were fighting alongside Muslim extremists battling for autonomy in Mindanao, the Philippines, and Pakistanis had been among Islamists fighting in Chechnya. Arab governments in Egypt, Algeria, and Jordan also identified their foes among those living in Pakistan since the anti-Soviet Afghan jihad.”

Mahmood—like the rest in this great covert battlefield organized by nuclearized Pakistan, now that it felt secure—believed he was divinely inspired. Like several generals he worked with, Mahmood was temperamentally unstable. Author Khan attributes this to Mahmood’s “rebellious streak” that made him present his “viewpoints with force and passion,” hiding behind ideology when challenged by his superiors. The bomb had become part of the national catechism, mixing patriotism with faith, and everyone had to bow before it as if to a phallic god. The maunderings of retired generals on TV talk shows today reek of fascism, which is apparent in Mahmood’s career as well. Eating Grass also notes incompetence growing out of this false sense of ideological authority:

“Mahmood was one of the causes of the poor working environment in [enrichment] Project 706. Though personally skilled and knowledgeable, his poor managerial skills caused precious hours to be wasted on conferences and petty administrative tasks, leaving little time for substantial work. In addition, [Mahmood’s] hiring practices came under scrutiny. For example, he insisted on interviewing and selecting new employees on his own and did not include many of his subordinates in the hiring process. Many employees viewed this as nepotism, making the working environment even less pleasant.”

Enter the ‘Father of the Bomb’

Mahmood handed over charge of the Kahuta Research Laboratory for enrichment to another absolutist personality in July 1976, Dr. A. Q. Khan, who began transforming the nuclear program into his personal fiefdom. After his B.Sc. from Karachi University, Khan traveled to Europe and earned an M.S. from the Technological University of Delft, Holland, and a Ph.D. in copper metallurgy from Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. Thereafter, as an employee at the URENCO nuclear plant in Almelo, Netherlands, he had gained crucial knowledge of centrifuge-based enrichment operations before returning to join Pakistan’s enrichment project.

Then nationalism cloaking a deep personal urge to dominate overcame all sense of ethic. Overarching destiny was knocking on Khan’s door. The biggest international nuclear theft took place through Khan, making him the “father of the bomb” in Pakistan while he accumulated personal wealth hand over fist. Khan soon clashed with the other Khan: PAEC chairman Munir Ahmad Khan, who ran the entire nuclear establishment. Munir Ahmad Khan had done a stint at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and—in total negation of the jihadist-commando action that Mahmood favored and the venality of A. Q.—was inclined to be less “mission-driven” and more discreet.

Everyone had to bow before the bomb as if to a phallic god.

The “secular” bomb-nationalism of Munir Ahmad Khan soon led to rumors about him being an Ahmadi—a community bestowed the label of apostasy by a deathwish-driven nation. General Zia, who had just placed further stringent disabilities on the Ahmadi community, succumbed and made A. Q. independent of Munir Ahmad Khan, giving him autonomous charge of KRL. Munir Ahmad Khan, whom intelligence agencies reported to General Zia as being a “normal” Muslim and not an apostate, was taken off the bomb project illustrating just how a Muslim state more attuned to medieval witch-hunting than rationality wobbles when handling science.

What did Mahmood think of A. Q., who had accused him of procuring substandard materials and thus setting back the project? Eating Grass offers us this nugget. “Even after 30 years, Mahmood held exceptionally strong feelings about those times, demonstrated by his lasting opinion of A. Q. Khan: A. Q. Khan was mentally sick. His mental sickness was such that he wanted everything in his possession, in his control, and he wanted that ‘it should be known that I am the super-genius, I am everybody.’”

The book makes the following assessment about the eventual nuclear-proliferation activities of A. Q.: “The Pakistani government overlooked Khan’s activities because it believed the benefit he provided outweighed the cost of corruption. A. Q. Khan was a go-getter, a people pleaser, a hero. He was a master at kickbacks and bribes which kept scrutiny away from his activities—at least temporarily. Also, many of those who observed his bureaucratic malpractices were themselves beneficiaries of the system.” It goes on to tell us about the proliferation triggered by A. Q. for personal gains—selling blueprints and centrifuges to North Korea, Iran, and Libya—until he was finally caught in the act and had to be gagged and confined by the Army.

The most damning passage in the book relates to A. Q. Khan writing to the Sri Lankan Army chief asking for help in retrieving money owed to him by a Sri Lankan national. Khan offered the general a carrot ($300,000, if he helped), and a stick. Khan’s letter, on official government stationery that presented him as a federal minister, stated that in case the Army chief did not oblige, Khan would get in touch with Velupillai Prabhakaran, leader of the terrorist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, to get the job done. If this wasn’t a bluff, it was proof that A. Q. had his contacts within the terrorist underworld of the region and could have been facilitated in this by the Pakistani establishment.

In a comprehensive analysis of A. Q. Khan as a person, 2007’s Deception: Pakistan, the United States, and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons by Adrian Levy and Catherine Scott-Clark states: “Khan continued to collect awards and honors, many of them invented at his request. He became addicted to it. Between 1984 and 1992, the KRL chief scored 11 gold medals from organizations as diverse the Lions Club of Gujrat, the Institute of Metallurgy, and the Citizens of Rawalpindi. He awarded himself the ‘Man of the Nation’ medal given by the Pakistan Institute of National Affairs in Lahore, and even wangled a recommendation out of the Abbasi Shaheed Public Hospital in Karachi, which, after receiving an envelope stuffed with cash, had a gold medal cast glorifying Dr. Khan.”

The state could not carry the burden of A. Q. Khan’s greatness much longer and succumbed to global pressures in 2004. It forced Khan to confess to his evil enterprise of proliferation, and arm-twisted the jinn-taming jihadist Mahmood to take lie-detector tests from an FBI team. (Mahmood rendered these ineffective by cleverly feigning fits of unconsciousness.) The-then ruling general who made Pakistan’s nuclear heroes suffer such humiliation, Pervez Musharraf, is currently facing charges of treason and may succumb to “divine justice” for having violated the sanctity of the bomb by maltreating its bearded uncle and clean-shaven father.

Khan was not the “father of the bomb.” In fact, he had to actually gatecrash the PAEC nuclear blasts in Chaghai in 1998, according to Eating Grass. In the post-2004 period, the state had to worry about the security of the once-great scientist: he could be killed by rascally America or he could be kidnapped by Al Qaeda, who would naturally like him to resume where Mahmood had left off. His security came from the obvious quarter.

Clearly, the Pakistani bomb was doomed to be sired by a gang of scientists suffering from severe personality disorders. And one can extend that diagnosis to the state itself as it prepares today to bend to the will of the Taliban-Al Qaeda combine while carrying the payload of more than a hundred nuclear bombs in its bowels.

Illustration by Minhaj Ahmed Rafi

Illustration by Minhaj Ahmed Rafi

Tilt To Tehran

General Zia, presiding over Pakistan, was aligned with Saudi Arabia and Gulf Arabs against Iran that threatened them with exportable revolution. His deputy, Gen. Aslam Beg, was ideologically aligned with Iran and saw Arabs as allies of hegemonic America. So General Beg favored Dr. Khan’s proliferationist contacts with Tehran.

A dossier released by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies in 2007, as a “chronology of Dr. A. Q. Khan’s proliferation,” indicates that he had visited Iran’s nuclear reactor at Bushehr in 1986. Iran approached Khan’s nuclear network to close a $3-million deal for centrifuge technology. (The IISS dossier distinguishes between the “Pakistan government” (meaning General Zia) and the Khan network.) Iran later disclosed to the IAEA details of the receipt of centrifuges, via Dubai in 1987, from Khan.

A. Q. Khan had to actually gatecrash the PAEC’s 1998 nuclear tests in Chaghai.

As General Beg embraced anti-imperialism, General Zia was nursing his own bruises from the Arab-Iran rivalry in the region. Under Saudi tutelage he had made the mistake of clamping zakat (Islamic poor-due) on Pakistan’s Shia, whose jurisprudence forbade them from paying it to the state. Then the Gulf Arabs set up the Gulf Cooperation Council with Saudi Arabia as its patron, and asked General Zia to provide it with covert military teeth. When he protested neutrality between Iran and the Arabs, he was actually threatened with the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of Pakistani workers employed by GCC states.

The year 1987 was also eventful for another reason. A. Q. Khan decided in an interview given to Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar—who was escorted by Pakistani journalist Mushahid Hussain—to “showcase” his bomb by admitting that Pakistan had now moved to the point that it could actually nuke India. In his book Beyond the Lines: an Autobiography, Nayar tells the story thus: “I thought I would provoke him. Egoist that he was, he might fall for the bait. And he did. I concocted a story and told him that when I was coming to Pakistan, I ran into Dr. Homi Sethna, father of India’s nuclear bomb, who asked me why I was wasting my time because Pakistan had neither the men nor the material to make such a weapon. Khan exploded and boasted that Pakistan had made the bomb, adding the threat, ‘If you ever drive us to the wall, as you did in East Pakistan, we will use the bomb.’”

After the Nayar article appeared, General Zia went ballistic and took action that may have had the effect of sabotaging General Beg’s Iran project. Author Khan notes that, “Islamabad’s reaction to the publication of the interview was swift and severe.”

A. Q. Khan was first called to explain himself to the Senate Chairman, Ghulam Ishaq Khan; next he was directed to report to Gen. K. M. Arif, vice chief of Army staff, who supposedly grilled him in his office where Khan claimed that he had been tricked by Hussain into meeting with the Indian journalist. Finally, he was summoned to the President’s House. Lt. Gen. Syed Rifaqat Ali, who was chief of staff to General Zia, narrated to the author how the wrath of Zia fell on Khan. After a normally polite Zia had finished with A. Q., the latter was seen leaving “trembling and perspiring.” The author adds: “Soon afterward, Zia directed the bomb-designing project to be taken away from Khan and returned to the dedicated team in [PAEC].” The government wasn’t done with Hussain either. It deprived his newspaper, Muslim, of all state advertisements and put it out of business by isolating it. But the damage had been done.

General Zia’s tough actions stemmed from three worries. First, the ramifications of the interview on U.S.-Pakistan relations and the new $4.2-billion economic and military aid package being stringently scrutinized by a cheese-paring U.S. Congress as the Cold War subsided. Second, he worried about India’s reactions and the implications of this kind of “signaling by a top scientist.” (Zia had toned down the nuclear rhetoric and was assiduously damage-controlling a recent downturn in relations with the big neighbor.) And third, the knock received by his nuclear-security system as it lay ravaged by a nosy Indian journalist.

General Zia was killed in an air crash in August 1988 amid rumors that General Beg had masterminded it, allegedly for fear of being “discovered” selling nuclear secrets to Iran. After succeeding Zia as Army chief, General Beg tried selling his Iran project to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who was equally averse to the idea because of his own closeness to the Arabs.

Ideology and hypernationalism continued to draw Pakistani scientists to accused terrorists. A. Q. Khan has been no exception. In Osama’s Revenge: the Next 9/11, Paul L. Williams writes that Khan started appearing at the rallies of Hafiz Saeed’s Lashkar-e-Taiba. Saeed, a graduate of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdul Aziz University, now heads the proscribed Jamat-ud-Dawah and is accused of masterminding the 2008 Mumbai attacks. Williams writes: “Dr. A. Q. Khan attended Lashkar-e-Taiba gatherings accompanied by other nuclear scientists of his establishment, including Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood who enriched uranium at Khushab.”

It is not just Mahmood and Khan who chose to bend their knees to the likes of Saeed for self-empowerment; many retired military officers and politicians also do this to make an impression on whoever is ruling Pakistan—and to deter him or her from normalizing relations with India, a nationalism-snubbing move that would shift the national-security paradigm from the military to an economic one. Until such a shift happens, Pakistan will continue eating grass—and the snakes that slither in it.

From our Dec. 7, 2013, issue.

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Misho November 30, 2013 - 6:41 pm

This is really a ridiculous Article. Author don’t have any Idea and Knowledge related to the subject. It is just Emotionally written Article. And On Pakistan Nuclear security In fifteen years after overt nuclearization, Pakistan’s security record has been par excellence and even better than states where many years old nuns could break into top secret nuclear facilities.Author needs to Study a lot .

Gohar November 30, 2013 - 7:10 pm

The author seems to be knowledgeable but has portrayed that knowledge negatively. This is the major stake on part of Pakistan that our state has not been unified at any achievement or in time of harm. Dr. A.Q Khan the hero of Pakistan is being cursed by its own people ,he has not been supported by the government even. He gave Pakistan with deterrence capability. And now he is being accused of involving in proliferation activities. Unity is the major ingredient of making state a prosperous one. But it is regretfully not seen in case of Pakistan. This writing shows and labeling author as a traitor.
Today the fact is Pakistan is a nuclear power and can defend itself against any aggression. Very well versed in safety and security of its nuclear weapons program.

Ella Albert November 30, 2013 - 7:43 pm

Interestingly, almost a week done after interim Iranian deal and a new story against Pakistan has come up. This is absolutely expected as this is the world’s trait to associate new and newest crafted propagandas against Pakistan on almost every day basis. It is widely known but of course not accepted that who is psychotic for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program. Really need to admit that it is a well-equipped fictional story against Pakistan. But certain additions are really certain. Looking at the globe, cold war is a combination of many important things as well to reflect the psychology of great powers. Proxy wars were initiated along with nuclear support programs to respective allies. Most of the nuclear programs of the world are initially been originated by great Western powers in order to take revenge indirectly by strengthening the allied forces. Likewise, this very happened on Afghan soil also. Today what we are facing is an offshoot of American vested interests which had been cultivated in order to win Cold War on Afghanistan. And one thing more to remember that doctorates degrees had been honoured from Western universities and afterwards their well acknowledged credentials are being condemned. Highly questionable for international well reputed Western universities also.

Bella Edward November 30, 2013 - 7:58 pm

A huge applause really needs that how a series of fantasies of any old script been applied to highly sensitive matter of today’s world. Nuclear Weapons of Pakistan is a fact and a reality and it must be accepted despite of gathering all time senseless moves against Pakistan. This account is clear reflection that it is simply a propaganda building nothing else. World seems to be really obsessed and phobic against the possession of nuclear weapons of Pakistan. But this is also a fact that Pakistanis became more firm and determined about the safety and security of nuclear weapons and remains indifferent absolutely from such titbits against their national assets.

Kamal Hassan November 30, 2013 - 8:05 pm

The timing of this article is interesting. It comes in context of current tension in Pak-U.S. relations. The article is visibly motivated by American frustrations. One, Pakistan is not ready to compromise on its stance that a future dispensation in Afghanistan has to be based on demographic makeup – the Pashtun majority. Two, some political parties in Pakistan desire to block NATO supply routes as a consequence of American dithering to stop drone strikes in Pakistan. This potentially gravely affects NATO/ ISAF drawdown timelines. Three, Afghan President Karzai’s refusal to sign a treaty with that would legitimize future American presence and operations on Afghan soil.
Pakistan’s nuclear program serves the perfect and well tried whipping issue – its a dead horse that is continually flogged. In doing so, the author has chosen to mix some facts with a many fantasies. Let’s see these one by one.
1. “…a revisionist state has gone haywire…” Pakistan has no intent to revise the global order. In fact, its eastern neighbor is a revisionist state that built nuclear weapons to revise the global order and seeks a permanent seat in the UN Security Council. Pakistan could be blamed to revise the regional order by deterring India from making it a tugboat. Article 51 of UN Charter gives the right to all states of taking necessary measures in their self-defense. If self-defense is revisionism, Pakistan would not be the only revisionist State.
2. “…Make one love the state-bankrupting bomb…” This is fantasy-1 until the author provides credible evidence about Pakistan’s dismal economic profile. It is common knowledge that the bomb had little to do with “bankrupting.”
3. “…military leaders flourish…unleash non state actors on civilian leaders…” This is fantasy-2 to demonize the military’s public image. A look at the military casualties as a consequence of supporting American war on terror throws this preposterous allegation into dustbin. Also, the civilian leadership and the people of Pakistan acknowledge and support the sacrifices of the military in ridding non state actors from the society instead of unleashing them.
4. “…interface between Pakistani scientists and terrorism had begun in the 1990s…” this is fantasy-3. It was a one-time, lone incident and the phrase gives an impression as if continues. The fact, however, is the Pakistan is proactive and is a compliant state of several international norms and initiatives that want to prevent WMD from falling into terrorists hands. For instance, Pakistan complies with UNSC resolution 1540 in this regard since 2004, is fully engaged in the U.S.-led Nuclear Security Summit Initiative since 2010, and participates proactively in Global Initiative on Countering Nuclear Terrorism shortly after it was launched in 2006. Besides being a responsible international partner, Pakistan has a robust domestic regime and structure that precludes insiders in nuclear establishment from collaborating with non-state actors etc. Pakistan’s nuclear security and good practices are not at a level that it has become an international envy. This confidence is neither hubris nor a source of complacency.
5. “…everyone had to bow before this phallic god…” Using this simile of bowing before the phallic god is tantamount to hurting the religious feelings and faith of people who actually worship phallus in the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere. That said, the Pakistan’s nuclear program is one unique example where all nation stands as one. Such politically motivated and empirically unverifiable perception management gimmick would not change that reality.
6. “The biggest international nuclear theft took place throughout Khan…” A keen look at almost 70 years of nuclear age’s history would suggest otherwise. The biggest nuclear theft was the ‘Manhattan Project’ – once American built the bomb from science and technology theft by Jewish émigré scientists who fled to Britain and then to America with European knowledge and expertise to build the bomb! Khan’s so-called theft is a small fry compared to how nuclear technology and know-how transferred from one state to another.
7. “…GCC with Saudi Arabia…asked Zia to provide it with covert military teeth…” Even if this falsification is true, this has not happened so far and won’t happen. PERIOD. However, it is worth asking how did the only Middle Eastern power acquire nuclear weapons. What role did the French, U.S. and British play in this regard?
8. “… deter him from … from normalizing relations with India…” This is biggest fantasy of all. Pakistan has made several proposals to India to normalize bilateral relations so that the core territorial disputes can be resolved. For instance, Pakistan offered a No-War Pact and a bilateral nuclear test ban treaty and the Indians turned a deaf ear. These initiatives have been overrun by time. Pakistan offers a nuclear restraint regime to India but they demur. India continues to bleed Pakistan by fomenting insurgency; terrorism and weak separatist movement in Balochistan and the latter continues to exercise restraint.
Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapon state and knows how to behave like one.

Rabia November 30, 2013 - 8:39 pm

Do such articles neeed to be aplaud at this stage which are just written to get some fame out of it ? So what is the conclusion of the article what we do just give up remember iraq gave up every thing then still invaded and distroyed and killed, raped i guess we cant afford to do that. The country Pakistan its nation and its Army believes in the best and doing the best. I have a question does Indian needed a bomb as it stolen technology form CANDU reactor? Wasn’t that mischievous? I think India should stick to the path showed by Gandhi and immediately disarm it’s defense forces and also police and also commandos guarding gandhians. The best way is for India to shut off the possibilities of future tests sign and ratify the comprehensive test ban treaty. Such a move would be even more courageous than signing the Indo-US nuclear deal or, indeed, carrying out more tests for a weapon that India does not really need.

HBS November 30, 2013 - 8:50 pm


yusraa2013 November 30, 2013 - 8:51 pm

A huge applause really needs that how a series of fantasies of any old script been applied to highly sensitive matter of today’s world. Nuclear Weapons of Pakistan is a fact and a reality and it must be accepted despite of gathering all time senseless moves against Pakistan. This account is clear reflection that it is simply a propaganda building nothing else. World seems to be really obsessed and phobic against the possession of nuclear weapons of Pakistan. But this is also a fact that Pakistanis became more firm and determined about the safety and security of nuclear weapons and remains indifferent absolutely from such titbits against their national assets.

Glamour November 30, 2013 - 8:52 pm

So is khaled ahemd saying we should not have a bomb! pandering to indian views!

Donald Kerabatsos (@Papakila) November 30, 2013 - 9:01 pm

The above comment by Gohar is emblematic of the the author’s point. Gohar celebrates the Pakistani bomb and says it means Pakistan “can defend itself against any aggression.” Yet Pakistani military personnel are being beheaded almost daily, in Pakistan, by insurgents seeking to overthrow the state. He bemoans the lack of unity in Pakistan, and then calls the author a traitor. If Pakistan had made forging a nation based on pluralism a national goal as important as acquiring nuclear power, it would not be keeping everyone up at night, and it would have real national security.

Ijaz November 30, 2013 - 9:06 pm

Don’t see da logic in dis article. wat is he saying?

Mobeen Tariq November 30, 2013 - 9:07 pm

Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapon state and knows how to behave like one. Pakistan has made several proposals to India to normalize bilateral relations so that the core territorial disputes can be resolved. For instance, Pakistan offered a No-War Pact and a bilateral nuclear test ban treaty and the Indians turned a deaf ear. These initiatives have been overrun by time. Pakistan offers a nuclear restraint regime to India but they demur. India continues to bleed Pakistan by fomenting insurgency; terrorism and weak separatist movement in Balochistan and the latter continues to exercise restraint.

Sania saeed November 30, 2013 - 9:11 pm

Pakistan’s nuclear program serves the perfect theme to beat and well tested – is a dead horse that is continually beaten. In doing so, the author has chosen to mix some facts with many fantasies. Let’s look at these one by one.
“… Military leaders … unleash bloom NSA civilian leaders …”
A fantasy to demonize the public image of the military. A look at the military casualties as a result of supporting the U.S. war against terrorism launched this absurd accusation in the trash. In addition, the civilian leadership and the people of Pakistan recognize and support the sacrifices of the military to wage non-state actors in society, instead of unleashing them.

Usman November 30, 2013 - 9:13 pm

“I am also immensly amazed that does really the major international nuclear theft took place over Khan …?” A sharp look at nearly 70 years of history of the nuclear age might suggest otherwise. The largest nuclear theft was the ‘Manhattan Project’ – an American once built the bomb theft of science and technology by scientists emigrated Jews who fled to Britain and then to the United States with the knowledge and European experience to build the bomb! Called theft Khan is a small fry compared to what nuclear technology and know-how transferred from one state to another.

Tony November 30, 2013 - 10:27 pm

The author is moron with less then 0.5 % of the brain and intellect of the Scientist he has attempted to write about. Copy and paste from others is does show intellect.

Xeric November 30, 2013 - 10:33 pm

What a pathetic piece of writing. The author thinks that by applying his knowledge in which ever form he deems suitable, he can give a twist to the fact that Pakistan indeed is a responsible nuclear state.

It is also astonishing how the author mocks the writings of Quran: “And make ready your strength to the utmost of your power” – May be the author wants to suggest that we should get ready for war by preparing garlands of flowers for our enemies, instead of expanding our arsenal, enhancing our deterrence and strengthening our military?!

Every other country is following the above quoted verse in letter and spirit, the US being the prime while India being a relevant example, but when Pakistan does the same, he has the cheeks to draw humor out of it?!

The fact remains that We have the bomb and thus a credible deterrent against any external aggression, and that is what causes our enemies to have nightmares. No wonder the war-mongering India is hard bent on finding justifications for war and in turn has coined its Cold Start Doctrine and now have modified it to Pro-Active Operations Strategy.

Tania November 30, 2013 - 10:43 pm

Author mentioned that “everyone had to bow before this phallic god…” Using this simile of bowing before the phallic god is tantamount to hurting the religious feelings and faith of people who actually worship phallus in the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere. That said, the Pakistan’s nuclear program is one unique example where all nation stands as one. Such politically motivated and empirically unverifiable perception management gimmick would not change that reality.It is a planned propaganda against Pakistan to malign the image of Pakistan infront of international community, nothing else

Salman Tariq November 30, 2013 - 11:30 pm

If the program was being headed by such loonies, how did Pakistan end up with the bomb. Doesn’t quite add up, does it?

ca_xe December 1, 2013 - 4:48 am

We don’t sleep either so why should everyone else…….grow up people…..we are doing a better job than the most in keeping them safe.

dr.nahin December 1, 2013 - 8:21 am

It seem that most of the commentators can’t tell that
Khalid Ahmed is reviewing a book written by an insider
about Pakistan Bomb.

Sure he is giving his perspective but still most reader are
quite ignorant.

1. Given North Korea nuclear tech got Pakistan Ballistic Rockets
which presumably Army Knows about. Strange that you going
to play ignorant.

2. Why would Saudi Arabia name be missing who financed the bomb
and rest of the Arab countries.

3. Pakistan Bomb design came from China. It is well documented.

4. If Pakistan has master nuclear tech than It doesn’t need Chinese
building and supplying tech for Nuclear Plants.

Misho December 1, 2013 - 11:03 am

I dont knw Why every one has problem with Pakistan. Why dont world see India where every day nuclear scientist are killed .Recently a blast near Indian nuclear Plant . Why not people point out these. why people not point out that about 107 nuclear plant at US are vulnerable to terrorists that has been published by a research organisation at US.The IAEA world’s nuclear watchdog acknowledges this and so do the Western governments. Pakistan does not need a certification about its nuclear security from any one. Pakistan has a very strong and robust command and control structure. Pakistan’s command and control over its nuclear weapons is compartmentalized and includes strict operational security. @ Dr Nahin You are also in a same line with the Author it is not matter of the fact that some one is review it is most of it own stupid opinion. and there is no point that you connecting the mastering the technology and the Supplying and building .

S Imam December 1, 2013 - 1:22 pm

Khalid Ahmed at his zenith in exposing thd hyper-nationalists and Islamist-Jihadis who are responsible for all the ills of Pakistani people.

Yasir Hussain December 1, 2013 - 5:40 pm

Unfortunately, the writer has deliberately ignored the post 1974 scenario where India threatened Pakistan on every front. Dr Pervaiz Hood Bhai in his book ‘ Confronting Bomb’ says that when he pointed out Indian initiation of nuclear arms race in south Asia to the top scientist of India in new Delhi. One of them replied with that It will take many decades for Pakistan to make nuclear device. Ironically, many writers have given several false assumptions to show Pakistan’s nuclear program in bad lights. States go for nuclear weapons for prestige, security or because of domestic compulsions. Pakistan developed its nuclear weapons because of security threat fro its arch enemy. Even Pakistan offered India to make South Asia Nuclear Free Zone but India refused. Where were these so called writers? Why they didn’t appreciate Pakistan for its regional efforts to stop nuclearization of South Asia? Who compelled Pakistan to make nuclear weapons? why we neglect the factors that compelled Pakistan to make its nuclear weapons?

Of course, Pakistan is passing through rainy days. Domestic Factors like Extremism and anti- state elements have dragged the nations to the chaos. But the roots of these events goes back to the US creation of Taliban just to defeat USSR in Afghanistan. US created Taliban in 10 years. When they turned against US they bombed the whole Afghanistan. US took decade to build religious fundamentalists now asking Pakistan to eradicate in hour. what a logic the westerns have. Pakistan which is a responsible nuclear state is confronting on many fronts with full zeal and zest.
But still the doges are barking at the nukes security and extremism in Pakistan. It is very easy to point fingers on others but very difficult to to know the bitter truth behind the seen.

skr December 2, 2013 - 9:14 am

Pakistan is engaged with the international community on nuclear safety and security issues and is working to ensure its strategic export controls are in line with international standards, Feroz or any one they are retired and i amsure the system in plce would have the appropriate measure to stop them from certain things, but the anti state school of thought usually take the worst point and market that , where as there are so many good points too. being a coomon citizen of pakistan , i dnt knw what is hwat , but one thing i m sure and confident about is that the state organisations are doing their best job and the peopel are best loyal to the soil of pakistanand they are the sons and daughters of this soil.the peoples strenght is through the guys who are working day and night. unfortunatly the media is bringing the negative things and do not give the balance perspective to the people. mr khalid has discussed individuals , and that is past the present is diffrent . thngs has een changed….

hotshot_1 December 2, 2013 - 8:48 pm

A classic example of an article written by a moron who has absolutely no idea about what he is writing about and is an expert in pandering to the western galleries whom he knows would gladly accept any raving lunatic ready to sacrifice his own country for personal glory. He is quoting Hussain Haqqani….another moron with no idea whatsoever about Pakistan’s nuclear program and one who is ready to sell his own mother for a favour from his Washington masters and Brig Feroze…. whom any one with an iota of knowledge about inner workings of SPD and its compartmentalization knows was Director ACDA and was not privy to any knowledge about the strategic weapons development program. A string of concocted half truths woven together with rumors does not make it authentic history. It is not even a good read

Ahsan Ali December 2, 2013 - 8:54 pm

Author has raised some interesting points which projects negatively the realities attached to the Pakistan’s nuclear program; it was the dire need for Pakistan at the time when India exploded their bomb. Pakistan integrity and progress in economy and science was substantial and more than any country in Asia, so it was the knowledge and urge to progress with in the people that open the new ways of science. Even the civil use of nuclear technology over the years has proved that Pakistan has acted responsibly despite the negative propaganda by the adversaries.

Sohail-bin-Qasim December 2, 2013 - 9:03 pm

Pakistan’s nuclear program again is being the under limelight of biased and ridiculous statements, even Dr. A Q Khan has been accused of having illicit nuclear trade network but this issue was cleared under the Swiss court that there is no A Q khan network only some western suppliers messed up with CIA activities maligning the name Dr. A Q Khan.

Aazar Kund December 2, 2013 - 9:19 pm

What a cheap and small effort by writer to show Pakistan’s nuclear programme in bad lights. Writer talks about AQ Khan network did global proliferation. ok Fine, He has been punished for his individual act. Now I want to ask what about the Jewish scientist who made 1st proliferation in Manhattan Project? Did he punish for that act? what about others who proliferated nuclear technology to other states in 1950s 60s and in 70s? How many of them were punished? We have not seen any international efforts to bring the culprits in court. Only Pakistan is the country which punished its top scientist for doing wrong. Pakistan is the state which follows the principles of IAEA. Pakistan never deceived international community rather Pakistan became more responsible nuclear state. It follows strict non proliferation principles. The Pakistani nukes are under strict command and control mechanism which provides a robust control system on nukes.

Paul Rincon December 2, 2013 - 9:20 pm

Pakistan’s geo-strategic importance and advanced military progress has given it an edge to be the prominent state, realistically speaking Pakistan had no choice other than making a nuclear bomb and since becoming a nuclear capable state. It has acted more responsibly and progressed efficiently than any other nuclear major power. It has followed the international standards and robust command and control system to defend its program, besides many allegations and imposed War on Terror. Pakistan has managed to rise responding to all the situations.

K. Hussan Zia December 3, 2013 - 11:23 am

I well remember the jubilation in Britain when she exploded her first nuclear device in the Australian desert in 1952. The media could not contain the joy at how it had enabled the country gain her rightful place in the world. It was the same in the Soviet Union, France, China and India when these countries followed suit.

Israel built her bomb using technology and fissile material surreptitiously obtained from the US and France. General DeGaulle, who knew a thing or two about defence matters, declared that no country can hope to be truly independent unless she possesses nuclear deterrent. No one criticised or sat in moral judgement in the case of any of these countries. Why should the criteria be different for Pakistan?

The reason is two-fold. Firstly, Pakistan is an Islamic state situated in an area of vital strategic interest in particular to the West. Secondly, nuclear weapons are the ultimate equaliser when it comes to strategic issues. Once a country acquires this capability aggression of the kind committed against Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya become virtually impossible.

All the talk about some ragtag terrorist outfit getting hold of and using such weapons is fanciful to say the least as anyone even a little bit familiar with the workings of the system knows. But it does help to keep the people frightened which makes it easier to mislead and manipulate them. In this case it is basically an attempt to fabricate an enemy —- the next dragon for Saint George to slay, One wonders why Khaled Ahmed failed to notice it?

A.RAUF KHAN KIRMANI December 7, 2013 - 10:10 pm

All rubbish with a Paki bash mindset.

Assad January 23, 2014 - 4:49 pm

>>”Ideology and nationalism make Pakistan ignore its low-IQ military leaders who flourish only by isolating the country internationally and unleashing nonstate actors on civilian leaders.”

The above shows the standard of journalism of the author. “Low-IQ military leaders”?
Talk about stereotypical and insulting journalism!
So all the time I was topping courses in civilian institutions and then advancing through even tougher staff, specialization and national defence courses, which I assure you is something that most cannot understand in terms of the difficulty and is a route for those selected for senior leadership, I and my peers in the same process were endowed with low IQ? Please spare us the Asma Jehangir nonsense. We have a significantly intelligent officer corps that understands, in many cases even more clearly, the problems faced by Pakistan.

A lesson in history for you. Pakistan has never been isolated when it has been ruled by a Khaki. I am not saying this to suggest that military has a role in governance, but contrary to the author’s assertion, military leaders tend to take a broader look at Pakistan’s standing in the World. They are able to do things which would take civilians months and years to put in place. They look at Pakistan’s geo-strategic vulnerabilities even more closely than their civilian counterparts. As a result, Pakistan has never been isolated during a military rule.

As far as unleashing non-state actors (NSA), well this is something that all sides in the region are involved in. Our neighbours have been supporting terrorism through NSA from the time of the Afghan war. They continue to do so till date in Balochistan and in the FATA. So don’t single us out!


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