After months of being at the receiving end for its track record on handling terrorism, Pakistan on Thursday was riding high over the confidence expressed by the U.S. in Islamabad's ability to secure its nuclear arsenal.
The words of appreciation came from Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Mike Mullen. Admiral Mullen — who was in Pakistan last week — recently noted that while the nexus between terrorists and nuclear weapons was a matter of concern, the Pakistani leadership, especially the military, had made “extraordinary efforts to both protect and secure'' the nation's nuclear weaponry. While admitting that the U.S. had only limited knowledge about the Pakistani arsenal, Admiral Mullen said Washington had invested “a little worth of'' $100 million to improve their security. Asked if Pakistan was still wary of taking the U.S. into confidence about the location of the nuclear weapons, he sought to justify that reluctance by describing them as “their crown jewels''.
“And as much as we are focused on this threat — and I think they are — the Paks — much more than they used to be, they've got — you know, they see a threat from India. I mean, that's — and this is their deterrent, specifically. So they view this as their — a huge, huge part of their long-term security. And thus, they haven't opened the doors up. And I don't expect to go next trip and say, okay, now we'll open the doors.''
Reacting to Admiral Mullen's observations, Foreign Officse spokesman Abdul Basit said: “His remarks are in sync with Pakistan's well-known position that our nuclear deterrence is indispensable for our legitimate security requirements and that our multi-layered command and control systems are effective and second to none.''
Meanwhile,Foreign Minister Qureshi said Pakistan was willing to open the two nuclear power reactors being set up at Chashma with Chinese support to IAEA inspection. While he pointed out that Pakistan had 35 years of experience in handling nuclear technology, the Foreign Office was reported by television channels as stating that India had not formally raised concerns over the Sino-Pak nuclear deal.