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  • Writer's pictureSaleem Qamar Butt

Missing Cohesion

The U.S. president Joe Biden told a Democratic Congressional fundraiser on 13th October 2022 that Pakistan “may be one of the most dangerous nations in the world” for possessing "nuclear weapons without any cohesion.” His remarks despite extra backward bending and full spectrum engagement cum internship by Pakistan’s leadership caused some commotion in the public but the government response remained pussy-footed and inert. In my opinion it was tantamount to pot calling the kettle black as USA is the only country with history of destroying two major cities in Japan by using nuclear bombs, with well recorded massive human rights violations both at home and abroad and gross atrocities against Afro-American and other minorities by white supremacists. According to one study, the U.S. performed at least 81 overt and covert known interventions in foreign elections during the period 1946–2000. Another study found that the U.S. engaged in 64 covert and six overt attempts at regime change during the Cold War. The destruction of Afghanistan and many Middle Eastern Muslim countries like Iraq, Libya, and Syria, Yemen in the last two decades is too fresh as compared to Vietnam, Cambodia, Koreas, Philippine and Japan. The current provocations in Ukraine forcing Russia to threaten the use of nuclear weapons , besides infuriating China against Taiwan making it a global flash point that has the potential to engulf the whole world is too obvious to be explained.

As for nuclear safety, the U.S. has a poor record. According to a 2010 survey of energy accidents, there have been at least 56 accidents at nuclear reactors in the United States (defined as incidents that either resulted in the loss of human life or more than US$50,000 of property damage). The most serious of these was the Three Mile Island accident in 1979. On 13th February 1950, a US Convair B-36B, serial number 44-92075 assigned to the 7th Bomb Wing at Carswell Air Force Base, crashed in northern British Columbia after jettisoning a Mark 4 nuclear bomb. This was the first such nuclear weapon loss in history. On March 10th, 1956, a B-47 disappeared over the Atlantic Ocean with nuclear weapons material on board. The Stratojet was en-route from MacDill Air Force Base in Florida to Ben Guerir Air Base in Morocco, and it was never traced. On February 5, 1958, a B-47 Stratojet collided with one F-86 Sabre during a simulated combat mission over Georgia. The Stratojet was carrying a Mark 15 hydrogen bomb. The bomb was jettisoned into the Savannah River near Tybee Island. Despite searches in 1958 & 2002 it could not be found. On January 24, 1961, a B-52 flying over North Carolina was carrying two Mark 39 warheads, with a combined payload of 40 megatons. A fuel leak in the wing caused an explosion that dropped the warheads into swamp land near Goldsboro, North Carolina. On December 5, 1965, the USS Ticonderoga was underway to Yokosuka, Japan from Vietnam, when an A-4E Skyhawk rolled overboard. The Skyhawk was armed with a B-43 nuclear bomb, & it sank to a depth of 16,000 feet off of the Ryukyu Islands. On May 21, 1968, the USS Scorpion, an attack submarine returning from deployment, sank several hundred miles from the Azores. An overheated warhead caused an explosion that ruptured the vessel in half; consequently, 99 crew members, 2 nuclear tipped torpedoes, and one nuclear reactor were lost. That much is considered enough to remind POTUS Biden about the safety of nuclear assets by his own country. Moreover, he may like to be briefed by his staff on the nuclear safety record of the old and new allies, one of which is presently notorious for acting as a big black market for sale of enriched uranium.

However, what must not be missed in President Biden’s statement is his assertion about missing ‘COHESION’ in Pakistan, which makes Pakistan one of the most dangerous ‘NATIONS’ (not the state). It goes without saying that the U.S. has already effectively annihilated all listed Muslim countries including their civilizations, which according to their misperceptions had the economic, political and military potentials to be of any threat to USA, Israel and other allies; only Iran and Pakistan seem to be left on the target list as of now. The U.S., Israel and India’s scorn against Pakistan's nuclear and missile programme is well established. That is why continued efforts have remained in place by foes and frenemies of Pakistan to keep the country weak and disunited on a number of fronts by a range of overt and covert means; unfortunately they do not face dearth of traitors to accomplish that. Most unfortunately, at present, Pakistan once again seems precariously shaken by the extremely polarized political, economic, social and psychological state. And that enabled the U.S. president to hint at missing cohesion in Pakistan, perhaps considering that the situation was ripe for the achievement of U.S. long cherished goals by other means. What could be the US-Israel-India joint ideal envisaged end state with respect to Pakistan? In my view, putting the major bones of contention i.e. Indian illegally occupied Kashmir, Sir Creek and Indus water treaty violations at the back burner, a denuclearized Pakistan (or at least effectively controlled nuclear and missile programme), economically integrated with India through free trade and open borders all around that counters CPEC/BRI and cooperation against Iran could be the envisioned dream.

So what does Pakistan need to do on priority as a state, as a nation and as a government including all its institutions? We don’t need Aristotle or Plato to tell us the answer. Achievement of COHESION by all the stakeholders is mandatory and every individual has to play their due role; united we stand, divided we fall is a primary school lesson. The attention is drawn towards the earlier published piece “Chaos or Coherence”. The restoration of political stability looks unlikely without free and fair general elections without further delay. The rest will fall in line with far sighted and long term policies by a strong political government having clear cut majority in both houses of the parliament. On the foreign policy and economic front, keeping CPEC projects progressing despite all odds and maintaining great strategic relations with China must remain a priority. Most of the foreign policy and security challenges that Pakistan and other regional countries face today have regional solutions only, for which the much needed forums like SCO, CSTO, SAARC and the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) are available. Most importantly, despite all odds, the custodian of national security ought to stay focused on safeguarding the internal and external fronts; and not only maintain but further sharpen the unconventional capabilities of Pakistan as Nation’s survival kit, no matter whatever be the price we may have to pay. Long live Pakistan!

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