Pakistan's nuclear programme has been under attack right from its inception. The decade of seventies saw conspiracy theories of Pakistan's acquisition of nuclear technology clandestinely. The decades of 80s and 90s saw an orchestrated campaign to malign its programme. After being forced to cross the nuclear threshold in May 1998, Pakistan established its Nuclear Command Authority three years before India; put in place, its Strategic Plans Division (SPD) to perform functions relating to planning, coordination, and establishment of a reliable command, control, communication, and intelligence network; yet Pakistan faces a concerted campaign to instil fears regarding the security of its nuclear assets. Frederick Kagan, former West Point military historian, who devised the Bush administration's Iraq troop surge, called for the White House to consider various options for an unstable Pakistan, including the US to consider sending elite troops to Pakistan to seize its nuclear weapons if the country descends into chaos. The Washington Post carried a detailed report on war-games to take out Pakistan's nukes. Bruce Riedel, former CIA officer, senior advisor to three US presidents including President Obama on Middle East and South Asian issues came up with an Op-Ed Pakistan and the bomb: How the US can divert a crisis in WSJ (May 30, 09) based on half truths, conjectures and apparent twisting of facts in pursuit of an agenda. It has been refuted by various analysts including this scribe so let it rest at that though because of Mr Bruce Riedel's position in the US government, it may be construed that his views are reflective of the Obama administration. Earlier, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS)'s David Albright's presented sleuth-work: 'Update on Khushab Plutonium Production Reactor Construction Projects in Pakistan' and ISIS report implying "the Pakistani nuclear programme is outta control." In the former he provides "evidence" of a second Plutonium reactor at Khushab and in the latter, commercial satellite images "revealing a major expansion of a chemical plant complex near Dera Ghazi Khan that produces uranium hexafluoride and uranium metal, materials used to produce nuclear weapons." Independent US analyst Peter Lee has already retorted to it through 'The world doesn't have a Pakistan nukes problem ... it has a David Albright problem'; quoting Scott Ritter's "devastating rip job on Albright" in "Truthdig" titled The Nuclear Expert Who Never Was. Characterising Albright as a dilettante wannabe nuclear weapons guy, who has self-promoted himself, his honorary doctorate, and his institute (ISIS) using the flimsiest of pretexts. Ritter identifies Albright's key credential as "a willingness to offer up uninformed and tendentious alarmism when the situation demands it." I rest my case That brings me to the title of this article, Pakistan has been on the defensive far too long, the West and India have been verbally assaulting Pakistan's nuclear programme. First it was the proliferation issue and now the security of our nuclear weapons with flimsy make-believe conspiracy theories, straight out of fiction literature. It is high time Pakistan stopped being apologetic. It has established a sound and operational nuclear security programme; learning from the slip-ups of USA and other nuclear powers, a very mature, multi-dimensional and sturdy mechanism that covers all aspects of security, including physical protection tiers, intelligence systems, counter-intelligence set-ups, technical solutions to security like "Permissive Action Links" (PALs) and more importantly the "Personnel Reliability Programme" (PRP) that respond to the human factor threat. Let it rest at that A more important aspect, which the world is perhaps being deliberately oblivious to, is Pakistan's genuine security concerns. Pakistan's ill-will bearing neighbour, India has been rewarded with a nuclear deal with USA, has been assured nuclear fuel for its reactors, is massively stockpiling nukes as well as building conventional weapons, has acquired multi-faceted force multipliers, has evolved a Pakistan-specific "Cold-Start Doctrine", which has been designed to gain the element of surprise in mounting a major assault by land, sea and air, thus denying reaction time to Pakistan. Under the above mentioned constraints, any prudent defence planner would take preventive measures to deter Indian adventurism. The response threshold has to take into cognisance both the conventional and the nuclear options. Pakistan has never tried to match India in the number of conventional weapons; it has to offset the strategic imbalance through better planning, training of its human resource, reliability, dependability and sophistication of its material assets. In the nuclear arsenal, numbers do not matter; it is the delivery system, the precision capability of the warhead and more importantly, the second strike capability, i.e. the assured ability to respond to a nuclear attack with powerful nuclear retaliation against the attacker. A misconception has been created perhaps by recent statements that Pakistan had dispersed its nuclear warheads to different locations across the country in order to improve their security. The same has been misinterpreted by a section of the Pakistani media wrongly implying that Pakistan's nuclear weapons have been "stored in a disassembled state in more than one location. No warhead is attached to a delivery system. No delivery system is located in the same facility as the warhead parts." This is a very dangerous assumption and negates the very essence of "deterrence". Let it suffice that in the face of threats like the "Cold Start" strategy, Pakistan cannot afford to let its guard down and reduce the reaction time or the credibility of its deterrence by following the hara-kiri implied notwithstanding the elaborate security measures described above. Coming to taking the Plutonium option, in addition to the Uranium one, all Pakistan's power reactors, past, present and future, are under IAEA safeguards. As a burgeoning economy it also has legitimate energy needs. Pakistan is neither a signatory to the NPT, CTBT or any moratorium on nuclear stockpiles. As a sovereign country, it has the option of deciding for itself the number and quality of nuclear weapons it must have in its arsenal, directly proportional to the threat perception. No outsider has the right to declare "Pakistan is stockpiling nukes over and above its genuine needs." The writer is a political and defence analyst