Fabien Baussart

International community worried over Pakistani nukes falling into Taliban’s hand

The return of Taliban in Afghanistan has encouraged radical, extremists forces in Pakistan, and the porous boundary between the two countries is likely to aggravate the activities that can weaken the Islamabad government. It can destabilize Pakistan, allowing the Taliban to get hold of nuclear weapons. Former diplomats, military experts have expressed the concerns over the developing situation as there are elements in the government and military of Pakistan who support Islamic extremism. And the Taliban has cleared its intention about developing its nuclear programme. It has appointed engineer Najeebullah as head of atomic energy. In such a scenario, the world will be on the verge of catastrophe if the Taliban manages to overrun Pakistan and seize around 150 nukes. With Pakistan’s overall nuclear programme being based on stolen technology from the Netherlands and huge number of Taliban supporters in the country, the world community needs to give a serious attention to the burgeoning concern that poses challenge to existence of humankind.

US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley has warned that the speedy withdrawal of the US troops increased the risks to Pakistan’s security as well as its nuclear weapons. “We estimated an accelerated withdrawal would increase risks of regional instability, the security of Pakistan and its nuclear arsenals”  he said. The hastily implemented troop withdrawal could lead to Taliban getting its hand on Pakistani nuclear missiles, John Bolton, former US national security adviser. “The Taliban in control of Afghanistan threatens the possibility of terrorists taking control of Pakistan … that means maybe 150 nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists,” he said.

There have incidences recently in which the Taliban supporters were found in suspicious condition near nuclear installations in the UK. An Afghan national, suspected to be a Taliban supporter, was spotted to be near a nuclear submarine base in Scotland. This alerted the authorities in the UK. Now, the suspected person Waheed Totakhyl has been asked to leave the area. Notably, Totakhyl had once asked for killing of US soldiers, and his brother is a Taliban commander. This has given strong clues about Taliban being interested in nuclear technology and weapons.

In February 2020, the Afghanistan Nuclear Energy Agency had expressed concerns over after the Taliban began to resurge. The then-Afghan ambassador to Austria Khojesta Fana Ebrahimkhel had said “Some areas of the country are controlled by insurgent groups and national and international terrorist groups are active across the country. We have a serious concern about the illegal transportation of nuclear materials through Afghanistan by these groups.” Author Ronald Jacquard has warned that Pakistan’s nuclear assets cannot be considered remote after the Taliban has taken over Afghanistan. “Thus, the international community have to watch Pakistan’s nuclear program cautiously until some form of stability returns to Afghanistan in order to prevent the country’s nuclear assets from landing in the hands of rogue elements,” he said.

Former democratic government in Afghanistan blamed Pakistan establishment for joining hands with the Taliban to facilitate the Islamist radicals, who despise other religions, to rule the country. John Bolton, former US National Security Adviser, said the Taliban could obtain Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal as the Pakistan government was directly responsible for Taliban’s return. Expressing opposition to the withdrawal of US troops, Bolton said “Taliban control in Afghanistan, I think, increases the risk that Pakistan itself will fall to terrorists and put that nuclear arsenal in terrorist hands. That to me was one of the key reasons not to withdraw American forces.”10

A group of US Congressman now has asked President Joe Biden to ensure the Taliban does not destabilise Pakistan and acquire its nuclear weapons. What is your plan to help to ensure that the Taliban do not destabilise its nuclear neighbour Pakistan?” the group of 68 lawmakers from the Senate and the House of Representatives asked in a letter addressed to Biden on Wednesday. “What is your plan to help to ensure that the Taliban do not destabilise its nuclear neighbour Pakistan?” “Do you have a plan to ensure that Afghanistan, under Taliban occupation, will never acquire a nuclear weapon?” the group of 68 lawmakers wrote to Biden.

About the Author
Fabien Baussart is the President of CPFA (Center of Political and Foreign Affairs)
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