S. M. Hali US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, during his recent visit to Islamabad has assured Pakistan: "The United States has no desire to control Pakistan's nuclear weapons or covet a single inch of its soil or seek military bases in Pakistan." Addressing the officers at the National Defence University in Islamabad, last Friday, Mr Gates said: "An organised campaign of 'propaganda' had misrepresented US intentions in the region." This statement from a senior official of the Obama administration is both reassuring and welcome. However, it appears that a section of the US media is bent upon goading its armed forces into action against Pakistan's nukes. Columnists of the ilk of Christina Lamb, following in the footsteps of Seymour Hersh, Bruce Riedel, David Albright et al, continue to conjecture doom and gloom scenarios regarding the security of Pakistan's nuclear assets. Christina Lamb's Op-Ed titled Nuclear Snatch and Grab In Pakistan a High Probability; Elite US troops ready to combat Pakistani nuclear hijacks carried by The Sunday Times of January 17, 2010, spells out the message loud and clear. She builds up her case for justifying a specialised US unit charged with recovering Pakistan's nuclear materials and securing them by quoting Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, a former CIA officer, who used to run the US energy department's intelligence unit, and Professor Shaun Gregory, director of the Pakistan security research unit at Bradford University. Her argument is based on an article in a counterterrorism journal, published by America's West Point military academy, where a number of attempted security breaches since 2007 have been quoted to conclude: "The terrorists are at the gates." The instances cited include the November 2007 attack near the air bases at Sargodha and Kamra, the August 2008 attack near the gates of Pakistan Ordnance Factory at Wah, a bomb explosion at the entrance of the Naval Complex and the October 2008 breach of the security perimeter of the Army Headquarters. The ingress into the GHQ was a serious breach but the other instances quoted were feeble attempts, which got intercepted outside the periphery of each installation and the security officials should be lauded for foiling them. It must be understood that Pakistan is engaged in a serious war against extremists in its tribal regions and there is bound to be retaliatory attacks on military installations. However, none of those attacked, house nuclear weapons. If the same corollary were to be extended, the 9/11 attack on Pentagon should have raised alarm bells internationally as a threat to the US nuclear arsenal; or the November 2008 Mumbai attack, which was in the vicinity of India's Bhabha Atomic Research Centre at Trombay; or the frequent assaults by Palestinians, at close quarters of Israel's Negev Nuclear Research Centre at Dimona should have raised the hackles of the IAEA, as well as the international community, regarding the security of Indian and Israeli nukes. Nary a word on the subject perhaps because their nuclear security systems are considered credible; however what is good for the goose is good for the gander Pakistan has a declared nuclear doctrine, an operational nuclear command authority and tested nuclear security systems. The proof of our nuclear security is that despite its space satellite network, state-of-the-art intelligence network and wide array of surveillance sensors, the US authorities have not been able to locate the sites of Pakistan's widely dispersed nuclear assets, their launch systems or their trigger mechanism. How does it expect a bunch of rag-tag militia to commandeer Pakistan's nukes, which are not Rugby balls that one would pluck it and carry in one's arms pit? Highly sophisticated technologies are involved in their production and their trigger/launch technology. It is impossible to be used by one who is not highly trained and competent. These rustic and illiterate Taliban can never handle the intricate artefacts, let alone lay their hands on them. One gets a sense of dj vu regarding the diatribe against Pakistan's nukes. In his November 2009 New Yorker article titled US given a 'computer look': Hersh, Seymour Hersh had spilled the beans by saying: "...it would be better if Pakistan had no nuclear bombs..." The US media is agog how to persuade public at large and the US administration to achieve this objective in a way other than US adopted in the case of Iraq. At that time they worked on flimsy and purely hypothetical grounds of Iraq possessing WMD. Christina Lamb places her fingers on a sensitive pulse, when she admits the real reason for her insinuations of projecting a crack US military unit to snatch and grab Pakistan's nukes. She states: "The move follows growing anti-Americanism in Pakistan's military...and rising tension that has seen a series of official complaints by the US authorities to Islamabad in the past fortnight." In her conclusion she mentions a 2007 gunfight between a Pakistani major and a US officer adding: "In the past fortnight the US has made unprecedented formal protests to Pakistan's national security apparatus, warning it about fanning virulent anti-American sentiment in the media." Is the option of neutralising or decimating our nukes part of the punitive action for Pakistan's "growing anti-Americanism in its military," as she puts it or refusing to extend military operations to North Waziristan or rejecting India's extended military role in Afghanistan? Perhaps, the US State Department needs to rein in its own media to avoid indulging in an organised campaign of 'propaganda' misrepresenting the US intentions in the region lest they cause a misadventure. Pakistan is not Iraq or Afghanistan. Its military is battle hardened and its Nuclear Command Authority fully capable of exercising the nuclear option at the exact moment and the precise targets. Our South Asian neighbours should join forces to thwart any external aggression. If India is also involved in this conspiracy, it should be mindful that if the Pakistani nukes are targeted today, the Indian nukes can meet the same fate tomorrow. It is itself beset by 13 insurgencies including the Naxalites and it has a rogue spy agency RAW, admitted by Indian External Affairs Minister S M Krishna. The writer is a political and defence analyst.