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EDITORIAL: For once Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile seems to have made it to the news for a good reason. The Nuclear Security Index 2023, which ranks the security of nuclear materials worldwide, has upgraded Pakistan’s status, especially because of improvements in security of materials and control, and now ranks it above India, Iran and North Korea.

The Index comprises “three dynamic and comprehensive rankings that assess nuclear security conditions across 175 countries and Taiwan”, so it provides a solid endorsement of Pakistan’s stance that its nuclear assets are looked after very professionally.

This should change a number of official narratives in a few important capitals. We now know, because of declassified documents and whistleblower publications, that throughout the so-called war on terror western intelligence agencies planted stories about alleged insecurity of Pakistan’s nuclear facilities in the international press to pressure Islamabad into “doing more” for their failed campaign in Afghanistan.

Then these headlines flashed across regional media, especially Indian, just as New Delhi emerged as Washington’s number-one partner in the Obama administration’s Pivot to Asia policy to counter China.

Then, it wasn’t long before there was chatter, fanned by Pakistan’s own disgruntled opposition parties, that the trumpeted insecurity of the nuclear assets might be leveraged to get Islamabad to abandon the whole programme in return for a limited or complete debt write-off as the threat of default loomed large. And a whole new storm raged in the country’s political circles and on prime time TV. Now, quite suddenly, a trusted index’s confirmation of the competence of relevant authorities ought to at least wipe the slate of criticism completely clean.

The Indian establishment, especially, should be more circumspect in its analyses and comments now since its own shop has been found to be less reliable than Pakistan’s. The nuclear option is Pakistan’s top deterrent against India more than any other present or future threat, after all, so it’s natural for Delhi to fume over it. However, now that its propaganda has been exposed, yet again, it will need to be more responsible with its outbursts.

But Pakistan’s own politicians must also learn to keep the nuclear issue out of public discourse, especially their habit of labelling their opponents as sellouts by implying that they would roll-back the nuclear programme.

It’s bad enough that they have removed almost all red lines and reduced local politics to a zero sum, shameless fight for power in which everything is fair game. They must at least agree against using tactics that put a question mark on the country’s credentials and make it the laughing stock of the market.

Going forward, what good would it do if the world respects the new Index and stops pointing fingers at our nuclear programme but Pakistan’s own political elite continues to drag it into controversies just to score cheap political points in a very bitter contest? That alone would give the foreign press – hostile parts of it, at least – more meat to go after Pakistan. And, as usual, our leaders would be to blame for dragging the country into a new mess instead of leading it out of the one it is already in.

Achieving nuclear capability has been one of Pakistan’s biggest achievements. That a country that regularly struggles with economics, politics, security, social problems, climate change, etc., still managed to go nuclear when the deterrent was desperately needed is no mean achievement.

It’s very sad that something meant to ensure our security can also continue dividing us internally. Perhaps Pakistan’s politicians should learn from the custodians of its nuclear arsenal and improve their performance.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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KU Jul 23, 2023 04:57pm
Ok....now BR is requested to write a piece on our food security ranking.
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