Vol. I Issue. 25
Tripartite Commission held its 35th meeting in Rawalpindi
14 May 2012
Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Afghan military chief General Sher Mohammad Karimi and Isaf Commander General John Allen led their sides at a meeting of the Tripartite Commission. The commission exchanged thoughts on establishing a reliable mechanism to prevent recurrence of Salala-like incidents in which two dozen Pakistani soldiers got killed in a US drone strike which adversely affected Pakistan-US relations and also tensed Pakistan's ties with Afghanistan.
A press release issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations said that the talks focused on border control measures and mechanisms put in place to avoid untoward incidents on both sides of Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The commission provides a forum to raise and process contentious issues and facilitate settlement.
The commission's meeting took place a day after the Isaf commander had held a meeting with General Kayani and two days after NATO Secretary General Andres Fogh Rasmussen hinted that if Pakistan did not reopen the NATO supply routes then it could miss out on the NATO summit to be held in Chicago on May 21-22.
Source(S): Dawn, May 13, 2012
US commander holds talk with Kayani
The top US commander in Afghanistan Gen John Allen held talks with Pakistan's Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani in Islamabad on May, 12, precisely aiming at border co-ordination, after almost 6 months of American drone strike which killed twenty four Pakistani soldiers at Salala check-post. Pakistan counteracted by closing NATO supply routes to landlocked Afghanistan, which is of critical importance to the coalition forces for the supply of goods and equipment. Pakistan's Parliament has demanded a formal apology from US. US expressed its condolence on the attack, but didn't agree on a full apology. Obama's Administration fear criticism from the members of Congress and Republican Presidential contender Mitt Romney. US officials also made it clear that they have no intentions of stopping drone attacks.
The meeting between US Commander and Pakistan Army Chief denotes some progress towards mending the distressed relationship between two countries. The interest of both countries lies in the reopening of NATO supply routes. U.S. has to spend huge amount for the shipping supplies to Afghanistan through Northern route that runs through central Asia. This route will also be important when US will withdraw its troops from Afghanistan in 2014. On the other side Pakistan wants to attain a billion dollars Military aid which will be realised only after the reopening of NATO supply routes.
Source(S): Associated Press, May 12, 2012.
Targeted operation in North Waziristan?
After the beheading of thirteen Pakistani soldiers by Taliban in Miranshah, Pakistan Army has decided to initiate a targeted offensive in North Waziristan. The US has repeatedly demanded that Pakistan should launch an offensive in North Waziristan especially against the so-called Haqqani network. Pakistan has affirmed to address the concern on Haqqani network but was unwilling to launch a full-fledged operation in restive North Waziristan. The operation is likely before the NATO heads summit meeting in Chicago, where Presidnet Asif Ali Zardari is one of the guests. Sources said that Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani has consulted President Asif Ali Zardari on this matter and has taken him into confidence. After the military offensive in South Waziristan nearly 3000 militants went into hiding in North Waziristan. According to sources, as the weather is becoming warmer the militants are coming down from mountains and are attacking the army soldiers.
Source(s): http://www.pakistantoday.com.pk, May 9, 2012, www.onlinenews.com/pk, May 10, 2012.
PAF fighter crashes
A Mirage fighter aircraft, after taking off from Masoor airbase in Karachi, crashed during a routine training mission. According to an official PAF release, the pilot had survived the crash and no looses were recorded on ground. PAF operates with the fleet of French built Mirage III and Mirage 5 aircrafts, which were acquired from 1968 to 2000. It constitutes the major part of Pakistan Air Force after the Chinese built variation of F-7s. Pakistan is trying to withdrew the retired aircraft of Mirage fleet and replace them by JF-17 aircraft jointly made with Chinese collaboration.
Source(s): The Express Tribune, May 11, 2012.
Four more F-22p Frigates from China
Pakistan will build four F-22P Frigates in collaboration with China as the part of country's efforts to strengthen its navy. According to the report published in Daily Jang, the leading Urdu daily of the country, Pakistan expressed its happiness as the Chinese Frigate costs 200 million dollars which is quite less than the US LCS ship that has similar qualities and technologies and costs 600 million dollars. F-22P Frigate has modern missile technology. The first ship Zulfiquar, was handed over to Pakistan Navy on 30 July 2009 and the second PNS Shamsheer on 23 January 2010. The third one is undergoing sea-trials. The fourth and last Frigate of F-22P series was handed over to Pakistan Navy on 17 June 2011
Source(s): Daily Jung (urdu), May 11, 2012.
Ballistic missile tested
Pakistan has conducted the successful training launch of Short Range Ballistic Missile Hatf III (Ghaznavi) on May 10. It can carry nuclear and conventional warheads to a range of 290 Kms. According to the ISPR press release issue, the launch was conducted at the conclusion of the annual field training exercise of the Army Strategic Force Command (ASFC). The exercise was aimed at testing the operational readiness of a Strategic Missile Group. Addressing the troops in the exercise area, the Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC) General Khalid Shameem Wynne applauded the troops on displaying a high standard of proficiency in handling and operating the state-of-the-art weapon system. He said the nation had developed a strong nuclear deterrence capability and expected that the officers and men entrusted with the task of deterring aggression would continue to train hard and maintain professional excellence.
The field exercise of the ASFC was marked by the presence of General Khalid Shameem Wynne, Director General Strategic Plans Division Lieutenant General (retd) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, Commander Army Strategic Force Command Lieutenant General Tariq Nadeem Gilani, Commander Karachi Corps Lieutenant General Muhammad Ijaz Chaudhry, Chairman Nescom Muhammad Irfan Burney, and other senior military officials and scientists. The successful test was intensely appreciated by the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Source(s): www.ispr.gov.pk, May 10, 2012.
New Rear Admiral
Pakistan Navy has promoted Commodore Imtiaz Ahmad as Rear Admiral with immediate effect on May 10. Rear Admiral Imtiaz Ahmad was authorised in the Electrical Branch of Pakistan Navy in June 1981. He is a recipient of Academy Dirk and Chief of the Naval Staff Silver Medal on graduation from PN Engineering College in 1983. He is a graduate of National Defence University (NDU), Islamabad and holds Degree in MSc (War Studies). His qualification in professional courses includes Weapon Engineering Application Course from UK, and Electrical & Radio specialisation course from PN Engineering College.
The Flag officer has served as Project Director Submarine Rebuild Complex (SRC) at Ministry of Defence Production. Imtiaz Ahmad has vast experience of Command & Staff appointments. His distinguished appointments at Naval Headquarters include Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Technical) and Director Naval Weapons & Equipment (Plans).
Source(s): The News, May 11, 2012.
GHQ appoints new ANF chief
The General Headquarters appointed Maj Gen Malik Zafar Iqbal as Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) director general. According to an ISPR press release issued on Monday, Iqbal is presently commanding an infantry division in Lahore. Meanwhile, according to a separate ISPR press release, Maj Gen Azeem Asif was appointed Deputy Chairman of Earthquake Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Authority (ERRA)
Source(s): Dawn, May 08, 2012.
Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons' Security
In September 2011, I wrote a long analysis of the safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and associated facilities. I concluded that there are difficulties and dangers but that control and protection are satisfactory. A recent and much publicised piece in a US journal alleges the contrary.
In December 2011, there was an article in The Atlantic magazine, titled The Ally from Hell, claiming, among other things, that movement of nuclear material in Pakistan is affected in plain vans without any escort. To set the scene and indicate its objectivity, it began Pakistan lies. It hosted Osama bin Laden (knowingly or not). Its government is barely functional. It hates the democracy next door. It is home to both radical jihadists and a large and growing nuclear arsenal (which it fears the U.S will seize). Its intelligence service sponsors terrorists who attack American troops. With a friend like this, who needs enemies?
There is no evidence to support the piece's critical allegations about nuclear safety in Pakistan and much reference is made to anonymous "senior U.S. intelligence officer" and unnamed "multiple sources". The authors of this barrage of accusations are Jeffery Goldberg and Mare Ambinder. Mr. Goldberg is a former prison guard in the Israeli Defence Force. Mr Ambinder's publicly revealed details are sketchy, indicating on a personal level only that he had a stomach operation to reduce his weight from 235 to 150 pounds and that he married, a Mr Michael Park in August 2010. So far as can be determined neither has visited Pakistan.
Drawing on my original examination, reinforced by discussions during a recent visit to Pakistan, I continue to contend that nuclear security is of a standard that should engender confidence rather than cause alarm. Within Pakistan, the degree of official attention to this matter of national importance is intense and it is absurd to postulate otherwise. A diplomatic despatch written in February 2009 (leaked and made public in December 2010), by then U.S. ambassador of Pakistan, the gifted and capable Anne Patterson, specified that her embassy's "major concern is not having an Islamic militant steal an entire weapon but rather the chance someone working in government of Pakistan facilities could gradually make a weapon" . this apprehension was also expressed in April 2010 when a paper by Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, 'Securing the Bomb 2010', averred that Pakistan's nuclear assets face "a greater threat from Islamic extremists seeking nuclear weapons than any other nuclear stockpile on earth", and Despite extensive security measures, there is a very real possibility that sympathetic insiders might carry out or assist in a nuclear theft, or that a sophisticated outside attack (possibly with insider help) could overwhelm the defences".
These expressions of unease did not prevent President Obama stating on 13 April 2011 that "I feel confident about Pakistan's security around its nuclear weapons' programmes". Although with the caveat "But that doesn't mean that there isn't improvement to make in our entire nuclear security programme". (Perhaps this was a barbed reference to the missing warheads debacle in America in 2007, concerning which evidence was given by a U.S. Air Force general that "The military units responsible for handling the bombs are not properly inspected and, as a result, may not be ready to perform their missions").
President Obama was echoing a statement on 30 June 2010 by Admiral Mullen, the then Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff ? and, as later transpired, no friend of Pakistan ? who declared publicly that "These [nuclear weapons] are the most important weapons in the Pakistani arsenal. That is understood by the leadership, and they go to extraordinary efforts to protect and secure them.
These are crown jewels". An unexpected endorsement of Admiral Mullen's pronouncement came from India's Chief of Army Staff. General V.K. Singh, who was reported on 24 October 200 as saying that "they [Pakistan] are taking extra measures [regarding security of nuclear weapons]... I don't think there is any reason to say things are not secure. Things are secure". When India's Army Chief states that Pakistan's nuclear weapons are secure, he has chosen his words carefully and is speaking with knowledge of his words carefully and is speaking with knowledge of his country's most intensive intelligence analyses, but, of course, it didn't suit Goldberg and Ambinder of The Atlantic to pay attention o such an important declaration.
The production and storage locations of Pakistan's nuclear weapons and associated equipment are a close secret. It is likely, however. That some have been identified by foreign intelligence agencies through normal acquisition indicators: patterns of vehicle traffic, detection of guard posts and protective measures, communications intercept (including of non-classified channels, which can yield surprising amounts of information), satellite imagery, and the plethora of sometimes seemingly innocuous information that can be woven and blended into intelligence by experienced operatives. But it is not necessarily these agencies or their principals who pose a threat to Pakistan's nuclear facilities: there is a potential, even existing, menace from domestic dissidents who must be aware of the locations of at least some installations.
These are militants in Pakistan who may seek to acquire or construct a nuclear weapon or radiological device to attack domestic or foreign targets. It is also conceivable that extremists might attempt to attack facilities in which Pakistan's weapons are located. Many radical groups are intensely motivated by their selective concept of "jihad" and are prepared to take almost any action they consider would further their aim of creating what they claim would be a Caliphate. But it is doubtful to the point of impossibility hat they could gain access to nuclear weapons; such is the degree of security in place.
A frequently publicised international concern is that if religious extremists were to be elected to political power in Pakistan they could gain control of Pakistan's nuclear programme: but this is a remote prospect since religious parties, although high profile, are far from popular. There is, however, the danger that fanatics would seek to influence or manipulate individuals associated with nuclear programmes to the extent that they could provide access to radioactive material that could be used in an improvised weapon: a 'dirty bomb'. Further, in the event of breakdown of government authority in Pakistan, it is possible that attempts might be made by dissident factions to attack or otherwise penetrate nuclear facilities with the aim of acquiring weapons or nuclear facilities with the aim acquiring weapons or nuclear material; but if there were national political and executive collapse, the Army stays as a strong institution to handle crisis. While this might be regrettable politically, it would ensure that these groups would be deterred from attempting such action.
Security direction of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and associated facilities rests with Army, which insists on the vetting of personnel associated with the nuclear programme as well as exercising physical and custodial controls over weapons and infrastructure, with large and well trained security force headed by a serving Major General. The Personnel Reliability Programme (PRP) involves extensive background checks, psychological profiling and "ongoing behaviour monitoring". In addition, those engaged in any function associated with the nuclear matters are warned against having a contact with foreigners, much to the frustration of various foreign agencies whose spooks attempt to strike up acquaintance with scientists and other nuclear-associated officials within Pakistan and at international conferences.
Methods of ensuring physical security of weapons' transfer by road and air are based on those of America and the UK, whose experts- in spite of their nations' selective disapproval of practical advice based on their own extensive and hard-won experience. I remember, while serving in a British Amy Nuclear Missile Regiment in Germany a long time ago, being subjected to most energetic examination by the dreaded U.S. NSIs ? the Nuclear Surety Inspectors ? who They owned and controlled the warheads, the rockets and the launchers; and the final orders came from Washington) I don't recollect their having asked me if I approved of transport of warheads by white delivery vans (as postulated in The Atlantic magazine piece), but the over-riding emphasis then, as now, was on total safety, and there has been no change in U.S policy as regards advice on nuclear weapons' security. Certainly there have been serious security lapses in the U.S. and in other countries, too; but lessons have been learned and passed on. And Pakistan has benefited from international experience.
As to the supposed Great Plan for hordes of spectacularly muscled U.S. Special Forces to drop into Pakistan and seize all the nukes.... Well, there may be such intention. After all, the Pentagon has schemes for all sorts of amazingly bizarre scenarios. But I tell you bluntly that if the U.S. attempted anything along these lines- a helicopter assault on the nuclear base, for example- the attackers would be dealt with effectively by the Pakistan army, which might not object an opportunity to even the score for the slaughter of 24 of its soldiers in Mohmand by US aircraft last November. Pakistan nuclear weapons are secure and for that the world should be thankful.
Courtesy: Hilal, English monthly published by Pakistan Army. (www.ispr.gov.pk)
(This monitor is prepared by Vinesh Kaushik, Research Intern, at Observer Research Foundation.)