Secretary Defence Lt-General (r) Asif Yasin Malik in an informal meeting with the media at the Defence Ministry on Friday, accused the US and the UK of being against Pakistan’s nuclear programme. The subject has been hotly debated between the supporters and doubters of this thesis both in the print and electronic media, recalling the Western and especially the US and UK reaction to Pakistan’s right to conduct nuclear tests in 1998 in response to the explosion of nuclear devices by India a little earlier. The irrefutable logic that Pakistan’s nuclear capability restored a balance of power, after across the border India carried out the tests. Even though strict sanctions Pakistan was subjected to were somewhat relaxed when it joined the US in the war on terror, there were unmistakable signs that Pakistan’s acquisition of nuclear capability remained a source of concern. For instance, to the periodic fears that the bomb might fall into the hands of militants was added an unprecedented favour of the so-called civilian nuclear deal to India, giving substance to that lingering suspicion. One hopes that adequate, rather foolproof, safeguards have been built to make sure that the arsenal is safe and secure.

Lt-General Malik remarked that he had ‘complete information’ about the CIA spies in the country; the US had handed over a list of them to Pakistan, adding, however, that no country was allowed to work undercover in Pakistan. Without elaborating the point, he said that the CIA also used secret agencies of other countries “against” Pakistan. The Defence Secretary remarked that since the Salalah incident and the suspension of Nato supplies Pakistan and the US had developed their ties on the basis of mutual interests. It sounds rather strange that if relations are now based on mutual interests, what rationale there exists for Pakistan’s official sources to publicly deal a blow to these delicate ties with revelations which mean rather little in the grander scheme of things.

Referring to the verdict on Asghar Khan’s case, the Defence Secretary maintained that his ministry had no objection if the government decided to take action against former COAS General (r) Aslam Beg and the former ISI chief Lt-General (r) Asad Durrani. He gave the good news that since September PIA had become a profitable organisation and would, thus, be purchasing 12 planes; those holding fake degrees had been dismissed from service and appointment on political basis banned.