Monday, August 20, 2012

(Opinion) Pakistan: Reason to worry?

There are many reasons as to why the United States are in Pakistan, but the most prominent reason is because they have nuclear weapons in a country that has always been on the edge of political, economic and social disaster.

US anxieties about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal went into overdrive with the ambitious attack by terrorists on a military air base “which is thought to house part of the country's nuclear arsenal”[1] . Former head of the CIA and current US defence secretary Leon Panetta went on record revealing US fears of “Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling to the wrong hands” should terrorism not be tackled effectively[2].

The fears of the United States have over Pakistan’s security are vindicated as militants have carried out similar attacks on other military assets with militants killing ten people attacking a naval base in Karachi[3].
However Pakistani military officials were quick to rebuff suggestions of lax security. A spokesman for the Pakistan foreign office insisted that Pakistan’s “strategic assets are safe” and stressed that “all measures have been taken in this regard”[4].

However, Pakistan and the United States attempts to tackle terrorists in the country have been poor to say the least. This is exemplified by President Obama signing a bill into law that gives secretary of state Hilary Clinton a month to decide whether the Haqqani network ”meets the criteria of a terrorist group” despite the US and others accusing the group of a number of terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan[5]. Pakistan’s government and military has effectively surrendered north and South Waziristan in the North West of the country having paid a costly price trying to stem the flow of ‘Arab and central Asian fighters’[6].

The US drone strike campaign in the region has brought about almost daily reports of the death of ‘militants’ despite concerns over criteria used to classify who are or are not ‘militants’ and the frequent use of drones in patches of the middle east hostile to the policy ambitions of the west. It is also in part responsible for why, according to a poll by the pew research center, 74% of Pakistanis see the United Sates as an ‘enemy’[7].

In sum, while Pakistan remains a cause for concern for obvious reasons, the US must realise that there are other ways to help Pakistan than drone the north west of country to little effect. However the political class of the US and Pakistan must put aside their differences if they are. to quell terrorism in Pakistan

[1] J. Boone, 2012, Suicide bombers storm Pakistan airbase,
[2] Quoted by The Times Of India, 2012, Pakistan’s nukes might fall into hands of terrorists: Panetta,
[3] A. Siddique, 2012, How safe Is Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal?,
[4] A. Hussain, 2012, Leon Panetta assertion rejected: Pakistan’s strategic assets safe: FO,
[5] The Express Tribune, 2012, Clinton considers blacklist haqqani network,
[6] BBC News, 2011, Haqqanis: Growth of a military network,

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