NEW YORK - A columnist for a major American newspaper has proposed a $100 billion economic package for Pakistan, under a set of conditions, if Islamabad verifiably eliminates its nuclear assets in a move to stabilise the country and for "saving the world". "Let's buy their arsenal," wrote Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal in an op-ed article in which he highlighted the problems Pakistan's atomic programme has caused, especially the situation resulting from the export of nuclear technology by the AQ Khan network. "...Pakistan's nuclear arsenal has made it an inviting target for the jihadists who blew up Islamabad's Marriott Hotel in September and would gladly blow up the rest of the capital as a prelude to taking it over." Stephens, who interviewed President Asif Ali Zardari in September when the Pakistani leader was participating in the UN General Assembly session, said despite some gains after acquiring a bomb, Pakistan didn't gain greater security. Stephens wrote: "Preventing the disintegration of Pakistan, perhaps in the wake of a war with India (how much restraint will New Delhi show after the next Mumbai-style atrocity?), will be the Obama administration's most urgent foreign-policy challenge. Since Mr Obama has already committed a trillion or so in new domestic spending, what's $100 billion in the cause of saving the world? "This is the deal I have in mind. The government of Pakistan would verifiably eliminate its entire nuclear stockpile and the industrial base that sustains it. In exchange, the US and other Western donors would agree to a $100 billion economic package, administered by an independent authority and disbursed over 10 years, on condition that Pakistan remain a democratic and secular state (no military rulers; no Sharia law). It would supplement that package with military aid similar to what the US provides Israel: F-35 fighters, M-1 tanks, Apache helicopters. The US would also extend its nuclear umbrella to Pakistan, just as Hillary Clinton now proposes to do for Israel. "A pipe dream? Not necessarily. People forget that the world has subtracted more nuclear powers over the past two decades than it has added: Kazakhstan, Belarus, Ukraine and South Africa all voluntarily relinquished their stockpiles in the 1990s. Libya did away with its programme in 2003 when Moammar Gaddafi concluded that a bomb would be a net liability, and that he had more to gain by coming to terms with the West. "There's no compelling reason Mr Zardari and his military brass shouldn't reach the same conclusion, assuming excellent terms and desperate circumstances. Sure, a large segment of Pakistanis will never agree. Others, who have subsisted on a diet of leaves and grass so Pakistan could have its bomb, might take a more pragmatic view. "The tragedy of Pakistan is that it remains a country that can't do the basics, like make a bicycle chain. If what its leaders want is prestige, prosperity and lasting security, they could start by creating an economy that can make one - while unlearning how to make the bomb."