US commission says urgent need to secure Pakistan's biological and nuclear weapons

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Rawalpindi, Dec.7 (ANI): A U.S. bipartisan commission has warned that the next attacks on America might originate from Pakistan's volatile Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), adding that there is an urgent need for Washington to secure Pakistan's biological and nuclear weapons.

The report, which was due to be presented to U.S. President Bush on Wednesday, says: "Indeed, many government officials and outside experts believe that the next terrorist attack against the US is likely to originate from within the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan."

"The president must make securing biological and nuclear materials and weapons in Pakistan a priority. Congress should ensure that sufficient funding is authorised and appropriated for this purpose, and other countries such as Russia and China should be enlisted to contribute to this effort," it adds.

"The new U.S. strategy for Pakistan must emphasize working with the Pakistani military and with the Pakistani and other foreign intelligence services to make certain that all threats to the country's facilities can be minimised, anticipated, and countered," the report says further, and recommends that the U.S. Government continue supporting Pakistan in its efforts of eliminating al-Qaeda's safe haven in the FATA and the NWFP through increased joint military and intelligence operations.

"The US should also support Pakistan's efforts to work with tribal leaders and to strengthen the Frontier Corps and local police, and continue providing Pakistan direct military support in the hunt to capture or kill al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorist leaders," says the report.

Giving details about the Dr. A Q Khan network, the report describes it as a one-stop shop for aspiring nuclear weapons countries.

The report says the new US administration should use the tools of "soft power" to counter terrorism by building grassroots social and economic institutions in the dangerous spots of the world, especially Pakistan.

"The focus of the US policy should be to help Pakistan achieve political and economic stability. Current US assistance to Pakistan reflects the decision to make tactical, near-term military and security concerns a priority over long-term efforts to bolster Pakistan's democracy and its prospects for economic development," it says.

China is also fuelling the arms race, both by increasing its own strategic forces and by not stopping the Chinese entities from supporting Pakistan's strategic programmes, says the report, adding, at present, all three are expanding their nuclear arsenals with no clear end in sight.

The report also warned that Pakistan's tense relationship with India and its build-up of nuclear weapons; could exacerbate the prospect of a dangerous nuclear arms race in South Asia that could lead to a nuclear conflict.

"Analysts estimate that a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan that targets cities would kill millions of people and injure millions more," the commission warns in its "World at Risk" report.

Describing the risk of a nuclear war between the two neighbours as serious, given their ongoing dispute over Kashmir and the possibility that terrorist attacks by the Pakistani militant groups, the report further says: "Pakistan's nuclear weapons program is driven by its perception of the conventional and nuclear threat from India, while India's program is focused on both Pakistan and China."

The report observes that the US and Russia have significantly reduced their nuke weapons, while Pakistan, India and China have been enhancing their nuclear capabilities and reliance upon nuclear weapons in their strategic postures.

According to the Daily Times, it warns that the recently-concluded US-India Civil Nuclear Cooperation Agreement may significantly affect Asian security, saying incoming President Barack Obama will have to manage the actions that states may take in response to the agreement.

Mentioning America's Afghan policy, the report says the US should build confidence in Pakistan through its Afghanistan policy. (ANI)

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