Abbasi wants us to believe that Pakistan’s nuclear programme goes back to the 1960s.
Pakistan’s accidental Prime Minister, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, will doubtless cause mirth in international circles with his recent claim that his country — justly perceived as “Terroristan” — was a “responsible global citizen”. The burden of Mr Abbasi’s song at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York Thursday was that his country’s rapidly proliferating short-range nuclear arms — meant to counter India’s “cold start” doctrine — were completely safe from terrorists, and that Pakistan’s system was indeed as safe as any in the world and had “complete civilian oversight through the Nuclear Command Authority”.
This would raise guffaws. It is well known that top guns from Khan Laboratories, founded by metallurgist A.Q. Khan, the so-called “father” of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, were in touch with Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda’s chief and founder, who was shot dead by the Americans while hiding at a Pakistani cantonment town near Islamabad.
As for “civilian oversight”, let Mr Abbasi be reminded that not so long back even the country’s PM couldn’t sit in on the Defence Committee of the Cabinet.
Mr Abbasi wants us to believe that Pakistan’s nuclear programme goes back to the 1960s. Not true. It got off the ground much later after the notorious metallurgist stole crucial components from the Dutch company where he worked (with America, that lectures the world on non-proliferation, winking at the theft), and gathered steam with China surreptitiously supplying critical help.
For all its civilian trappings, Pakistan is a military state. Mr Abbasi will be tolerated only as long as he toes the Army’s line.