Washington: Amid India’s concerns over the danger of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of terrorists, top US Commander Mike Mullen has said Islamabad’s atomic weapons are secure.
“We have actually expended resources in support of assisting them (Pakistan), our government has, not the Pentagon, and they have responded positively in that regard,” Admiral Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Charlie Rose Show.
“So they are certainly aware of those concerns, they have them themselves. I see them learning in that regard, so the trend from my perspective is in the right direction, and where we are as we speak is that those weapons are secure and I’m comfortable with that,” he said.
Mullen said he has raised the concern about the security for nuclear weapons many a time with Pakistani army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and ISI head Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha.
His comments came days after Defence Minister AK Antony voiced concern over the “danger and threat” of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal falling into the hands of terrorists and said India was closely monitoring the situation in the neighbourhood.
“Our only worry is that Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal is always in danger and threat of going into the hands of militants and terrorists…. We are closely monitoring the happenings around us,” Antony said in New Delhi when asked about American media reports on Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile.
Acknowledging that questions are being raised about the US aid to Pakistan, Mullen said, on Tuesday, it is for the Congress to decide.
“Certainly (there) has been an enormous amount of discussion since the bin Laden raid about that. I think we’re working our way through any adjustments which may occur,” he said.
“Certainly, we have expectations that this aid will be challenged and that it will be discussed, in terms of focus. And discussed in terms of, you know, ‘If you do this, we’ll do this,’ kind of thing. It’s a significant amount of money. We know that,” he said.
“I believe if we walk away from that part of the world, we’ll be back in 10 or 20 years. It’ll be much more viral than it is right now, as has been the case, since we left in 1989.
So I think we all have to work together to keep this going, to bring the pressure we can, and to try — in particular, on the development side, the economic side. And in the end, that’s really the answer in Pakistan, to focus there as well,” Mullen said.