Zahid Malik A false alarm is being raised persistently by the Western media about Pakistan's nuclear assets by projecting them as a threat to world peace and security on the notion of their possible fall into extremists' hands. Understandably, Pakistan's nuclear programme has remained an eyesore for many countries ever since it was conceived and launched in mid seventies, but now a deliberate negative and sinister campaign has been whipped up against the nuclear assets in recent years. A horrible scenario is being painted by the propaganda masters. Ridiculous hypothesis and theories about their security are being advanced to give credence to their vicious propaganda. Some Western newspapers are periodically fed and patted by hidden hands to create doubts about Pakistan's ability to safeguard these assets. Pakistan has since been contradicting the propaganda on a regular basis, but Goeblean tactics are being followed by the prejudiced Western media to venture it out as a potent danger to the international community. The repudiation of this calculated campaign by Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Tariq Majid, in his address at the National Defence University's Convocation on June 18, 2009, has hopefully debunk the nonsensical propounded possibility that Pakistan's nuclear assets may fall into the extremists' hands for good. "The nuclear weapons are the cornerstone of Pakistan's deterrence doctrine and we are determined to retain it at all costs," he said adding: "no amount of coercion, direct or indirect, can force us to compromise on this core interest." The CJCSC's address represented the resolve of the 160 million people of Pakistan to retain and defend the nation's nuclear programme. In the wake of mounting malicious campaign, I have discussed in detail the vital and intricate issues pertaining to the security of our nuclear assets with some of their top watchful custodians including worldwide praised Lt Gen (retd) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, Director General, Strategic Planning Division. I, therefore, deem it appropriate to reassure the nation through this write-up about the nuclear assets' safe custody of the Pak Army. I have done so because I am deeply concerned about the nuclear assets as are the other people of Pakistan. But as my profile in the West as well as in the IAEA hierarchy is a "friend and biographer" of Dr AQ Khan, father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb and after authoring four frequently quoted authentic books on Pakistan's nuclear programme, I am a bit more concerned and sensitive to the issue. I would like to say with all the vehemence at my command that I am convinced, after my interaction with watchful custodians of these assets, that even the US cannot lay its hands on them due to their resolute and steadfast security arrangements. Based on the pillars of restraint and responsibility, Pakistan has developed a very effective nuclear weapons security regime, which is multi-layered, has stringent access controls and incorporates modern technical solutions and rigorous personal reliability. The system conforms to the international best practices and has the capacity to meet all challenges. There should, therefore, be absolutely no doubt about the viability of custodial controls and safe security arrangements that Pakistan has scrupulously built for its nuclear assets. The disinformation on account of their security is being deliberately spread with ulterior motives. No one should miscalculate Pakistan's strong commitment on this count, irrespective of the machinations of the Western, Indian and Jewish lobbies that are hell-bent for creating a situation to compel Pakistan to roll back its nuclear capability, a dream that will never come true. Ironically, some quarters have yet to reconcile to the acquisition of nuclear capability by a Muslim country and they are thus conspiring against it by harping on the imaginative theory about insecurity of these assets. But there exists a national consensus that Pakistan must maintain a credible nuclear deterrence to safeguard its sovereignty and security interests. The people of Pakistan would, therefore, never kneel down or succumb to external pressures on the question of its nuclear programme. They have rendered countless sacrifices to build the nuclear deterrence as a guarantee against evil designs of its foe. It's, therefore, pertinent that no one should underestimate their zealous devotion and commitment to it under all circumstances. The persistent Western propaganda against Pakistan on account of its nuclear assets' safety is obviously designed to undermine its nuclear capability. Although the US leadership including President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have publicly acknowledged the safety of Pakistan's nuclear assets due to its robust multi-layered Command and Control System for more than once, its media is regularly publishing concocted news stories/write-ups to distort the reality on the ground. Los Angeles Times, Washington Times and Washington Post have seemingly made the publication of false and controversial news stories about the so-called danger of Pakistan's nuclear assets falling into the terrorists' hands a matter of policy. The paradox is that those authoring such news stories/write-ups are totally ignorant about either the Command and Control systems in vogue in the nuclear states especially in Pakistan or the objective political and military realities prevailing in our country. They have no comprehension of the intricacies of the Command and Control systems much less that of Pakistan, which is second to none among the world's nuclear states. They apparently perceive that Pakistan has displayed its nuclear assets in a decorative manner in the see-through Almirahs, which can be picked up by anyone to drop on any city of the US or some other country. They are devoid of the knowledge that nuclear bombs are not stored in a readymade condition. It takes a couple of days to assemble various components to make it into a device. Besides, they are also nave about the fact that the use of nuclear weapons requires a viable delivery system such as sophisticated warplanes like F-16s or high-tech high-precision and target-oriented missiles, which Al-Qaeda or extremists elements in Pakistan obviously don't possess. How can, therefore, the Al-Qaeda or other extremists pick up the components of the device stored in safe custody in different places in the country is simply unbelievable. The propaganda is, therefore, not only absurd and disgusting but also appears to be a mere fairy tale with no wisdom or logic whatsoever behind it. The notion that Pakistan's nuclear assets may fall into the hands of extremists and militants is simply ludicrous. With strict Control and Command system comprising military and civilian oligarchy in place under the guard of over half a million strong Pak Army, only some amorphous object may be capable of taking control of these assets. Pakistan's nuclear assets are, in fact, not under threat from the extremists and terrorists but are in the focus of the US, India and Israel. India and Israel have been in collusion against Pakistan's nuclear assets for a long time. The duo miserably failed to implement their evil plans to attack and destroy them at least on two occasions in the past. Both Israel and India perceive Pakistan's nuclear capability as a threat to their ambitions to dominate the respective regions. Islamabad's option to acquire nuclear technology for its security reasons has never been viewed objectively and realistically by the international community especially the Western countries. It has hitherto been viewed either with the prejudice of its Muslim nationhood or was deprecated with contempt due to its Third World status. Indian hostility towards its sovereignty and even its very existence was never considered as the cogent reason for Pakistan's option to acquire nuclear capability. Ours is, however, strange way of rewarding our heroes. Bhutto was sent to the gallows by us for his vision to give nuclear deterrence to Pakistan and the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan was thrown into house arrest and subjected to humiliation following the US campaign of nuclear proliferation. He was made to confess by General (retd) Pervez Musharraf what the legend scientist had subsequently repudiated after the military ruler's fall with the assertion that his confession was meant to save Pakistan's nuclear assets, which the Western hounds were poised to pounce upon. The nation had demonstrated unprecedented love and affection for him as the present government briefly relaxed his restrictions under public pressure. The writer is Editor, Pakistan Observer