'Taliban could get control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal'
Washington, May 4 (IANS) Pakistan must move to the top of US strategic agenda to prevent Islamabad's nuclear arsenal from falling into the hands of Taliban, or worse, an extremist group that seized control of the government, a scholar has warned.
The 'second scenario (would give) international terrorists even greater access to Pakistan's nuclear capabilities, the risk of nuclear confrontation with India would also increase dramatically,' writes John R. Bolton in an article in the Wall Street Journal Monday.
President Barack Obama's endorsement of Pakistan's official position that it has secure control over its nuclear weapons arsenal is 'not reassuring in light of the Taliban's military and political gains throughout Pakistan', he said.
'Unless there is swift, decisive action against the Islamic radicals there, Pakistan faces two very worrisome scenarios,' wrote the former US ambassador to the UN, now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.
'One scenario is that instability continues to grow, and that the radicals disrupt both Pakistan's weak democratic institutions and the military,' Bolton said, with 'a tangible risk that several weapons could slip out of military control'.
'Such weapons could then find their way to Al Qaeda or other terrorists, with obvious global implications,' he said. But 'the second scenario is even more dangerous'.
'Instability could cause the constitutional government to collapse entirely and the military to fragment' and 'allow a well-organised, tightly disciplined group to seize control of the entire Pakistani government.
'Not only could this second scenario give international terrorists even greater access to Pakistan's nuclear capabilities, the risk of nuclear confrontation with India would also increase dramatically,' Bolton said.
'To prevent either scenario, Pakistan must move to the top of our strategic agenda, albeit closely related to Afghanistan,' he said, suggesting a strengthening of pro-American elements in Pakistan's military 'so they can purge dangerous Islamicists from their ranks and roll back Taliban advances'.
Obama's talks next week in Washington with presidents Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan and Asif Ali Zardari of Pakistan provide a clear opportunity to take the hard steps necessary to secure Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and defeat the Taliban, Bolton said.
'Failure to act decisively could well lead to strategic defeat in Pakistan.'
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