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GPM and N-Hornets nest: by Wajid Shamsul Hasan in Daily Times, September 6th 2017.

6 September 2017 No Comment

The writer is former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and a veteran journalist
Pakistan’s nuclear programme keeps bouncing into controversy time and again. It has been Pakistan’s resistance and its perseverance that despite enormous reluctance the community of nuclear states has accepted it in its club with reservations. United States has always been wanting its roll back. It leaves no opportunity to blackmail Pakistan for possessing its nuclear arsenal and development programme. Latest being run-away General Pervez Musharraf’s malicious diatribe against Dr AQ Khan.

Americans constantly badgers us that we should not have nuclear weapons-though meant entirely for our defence and deterrence — as it is apprehended by them that someday they might get clandestinely passed into the hands of Jihadi terrorists since there is a stout perception that we not only support them but often use them as proxy actors for pursuit of our own strategic goals.

Father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme martyred Zulfikar Ali Bhutto believed that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was a matter of life and death and that come what may, Pakistan had to have it for the defence of the country. It was he who realised the urgency of going nuclear as he had feared that Americans could stop supply of their arms and spares to Pakistan whenever they needed to arm twist Islamabad to tow its policy. According to him only a self-reliant Pakistan could face an adversary six times bigger than its size, better armed and with 6th largest armed forces in the world. More than the generals, he underscored the need for strengthening of the nation’s defence capability supplemented by self-sufficiency and economic development.

Dr A Q Khan and late Muneer Ahmed Khan, Chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission no doubt played the lead role, it were several hundred nuclear scientists and technicians who worked day and night to make Pakistan go nuclear. It was nuclear engineer Sultan Basheeruddin Mahmud who had stood up in Multan meeting (1974) called by ZAB and shouted — “Give us funds and we will give you the Atomic bomb in no time” — Bhutto responded instantly — “we will eat grass, you will have the money”. And we got it in perhaps shortest possible time through the collective effort of our scientists and the unlimited resources provided by Bhutto Sahib. And had ZAB survived another year, he would have tested the device himself and not left it for usurpers to take the credit.

SZAB and later Benazir were fully in known of threats to Pakistan’s nuclear programme and its scientists. As such both introduced strict security procedures for the protection of the two. These security procedures worked smoothly until 1989 when Pakistan cold tested the nuclear device and its nuclear programme became a lethal object of concern for CIA, RAW and Mossad.

As Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto had inherited a successful n-programme that could produce bombs but had no delivery system other than conventional. In her two tenures she secretly worked with China and North Korea to help Pakistan acquire missile technology capable of delivering nuclear-war heads. Having acquired, that Pakistan became fully capable of not only manufacturing nuclear weapons but also delivering them.

At this juncture Benazir heard about approaches being made to Pakistan by some Muslim countries to help them in their nuclear programmes. In her meetings with her top brass — she enunciated Bhutto N-Doctrine that it was not exportable at any price. And when she came to know that our n-scientists could be harmed or kidnapped she introduced a fool proof regime for their security. She had to put her foot down when she was approached for permission to allow transfer of nuclear technology to friendly Muslim countries by her officials and scientists seeking her permission for its export.

In an interview to Financial Times after the AQK scandal Bhutto disclosed that she got a consensus agreement on her nuclear doctrine from her top brass and had succeeded in putting a bar on the export of nuclear technology in December 1988. “It certainly was their belief that they could earn tons of money if they did this.”

That’s was the reason that Bhutto wanted a bipartisan parliamentary investigation into the AQK scandal. She was of the view that Dr A.Q. Khan had been made a scapegoat by General Musharraf for covering up his running a nuclear super market. She had believed that Musharraf and his colleagues in-charge of nuclear installations had committed an act of treason by exposing Pakistan’s nuclear programme to complete obliteration. Indeed, if the matter is investigated in-depth, it might reveal one of the causes for Bhutto’s assassination.

Following GPM’s latest diatribe against Dr A Q Khan, his disclosure how Americans showed him the evidence of proliferation, how AQK cried at his feet to save him, PPP Senator Farhatullah Babar has rightly called for an investigation into nuclear proliferation by Pakistan under the rule of former president Pervez Musharraf. One shares Senator Babar’s concern that Musharraf’s claim would “open old wounds” and strengthen the international position that Pakistan was involved in nuclear proliferation to North Korea. Indeed, an investigation into the matter is rightly justified. I remember Benazir Bhutto’s words — repeated by the Senator — that it was impossible for any single individual to smuggle huge centrifuge machines and other nuclear material out of the country especially when nothing could move — or even birds could fly — without the knowledge and connivance of the Lt General in-charge of Special Planning Division and his team of commandoes. Surely as Babar says — “Dr Khan could not have carried the nuclear material on his head,” adding that Musharraf’s statements had “opened up a Pandora’s box”. In his retort to GPM’s claim that that despite pressure he did not hand over AQK to the Americans, the then Prime Minister Zafarullah Khan Jamali said GPM wanted to hand over AQK to the Americans, it was he who stopped him.

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