Cynthia Hall’s Nuclear Warning – Is It Worse Than It Seems?

We have been hearing a lot lately about RAW’s intentions against Pakistan and their fury over CPEC which has been termed as a ‘game changer’ for the region. Supposedly, there are 35,000 RAW agents on the loose in Pakistan, though our intelligence agencies have not been able to arrest a single one. We have been told that RAW is responsible for terrorism, though the actual terrorists who have been arrested in connection continue to be either run-of-the-mill extremists or educated middle-class jihadis. Each time, though, the stakes keep getting made higher. Now, the stakes have been taken to a truly terrifying level with claims that India is considering arming assets in Pakistan with “small nuclear devices”. However, the source of this latest claim makes it even more terrifying that it seems.

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Who’s Afraid of Declan Walsh?

Declan Walsh

One of the more interesting sub-plots of the Axact thriller is the case of the New York Times reporter who broke the story. The reporter, Declan Walsh, was unceremoniously expelled from Pakistan two years ago, a fact belaboured by Axact’s defenders.

What exactly were these “activities against the state”? Well, like his report on Axact, they were investigative pieces that lifted the lid on some rather unsavoury dishes. When the Axact expose burst onto the scene, many were asking which piece it was that got the New York Times reporter expelled. There’s some disagreement about which was the ultimate sin, but what is more likely is that there was not one piece but a pattern in the reporting that was objected to.

In 2011, Mr Walsh wrote a long report titled ‘Pakistan’s secret dirty war‘ about what’s going on in Balochistan – a topic that some quarters would prefer not be discussed.

In 2012, he filed a report on Kamra Airbase attack that the target was “believed to be one of the locations where part of Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile” – a claim that was unwelcome for obvious reasons.

In 2013, Mr Walsh reported that American military officials believed Pakistan was lying about drone strikes to cover up our own airstrikes. A few days later, his visa was cancelled and Declan Walsh ordered to leave the country immediately.

For those of us whose perspective is molded by hyper-nationalist self-appointed ‘patriots’, that is to say all of us, this looks like a clear pattern of “anti-state activities” by the New York Times reporter. If we are willing to set aside our nationalist instinct towards defensiveness, though, another question emerges: Was any of his reporting actually wrong?

Whether or not these reports were factually incorrect is something that is not easy to answer. Those who know for certain are not interested in the truth coming out. But is this actually serving the country’s interests, or undermining them?

Questions about what is taking place in Balochistan are virtually unanswerable since the military has banned reporters from going there. The result of this is that all manner of allegations can be easily made but very difficult to disprove. Worse, if there are abuses taking place, they are not able to be exposed and corrected. This provides ready fuel to separatist propaganda and undermines the credibility of our own armed forces.

Army officials strongly denied that Kamra airbase was a nuclear site, but that doesn’t mean much. They would deny it even if it were true. Nuclear weapons sites are a carefully kept secret in order to keep them secure. But are they really more secure for being secret? When no one is sure where the weapons are kept, it’s hard to know if they’re really being targeted or not. We have to take Army’s word for it, and it does not serve Army’s interest for the public to know the details of such sensitive matters. Would our nuclear sites actually be more secure if they were public? Out of curiosity I did a quick Google search and discovered that America’s nuclear sites can be seen on Google Maps!

The missiles and their command bunkers have been in the same place “for decades,” Air Force Capt. Edith Sakura of the 90th Missile Wing Office of Public Affairs wrote in an email. “They are near county and state roads that are public access to people. You need security clearances to access the sites; however, it would be hard to ‘hide’ such facilities.”

Moreover, as other commenters noted, the sites are already visited by foreign militaries. Russian officers regularly inspect U.S. missile silos to make sure America is adhering to international arms-control treaties. (And the U.S. sends its own observers to Russia.)

America does not worry about whether someone knows where their nukes are because America’s Army is certain that they are secure. What does it say, then, when we so defensively keep ours a secret?

As for lying about drones, perhaps the less is said the better.

Army will deny each of the claims made in Declan Walsh’s reports, and because they involve sensitive subjects, it would be virtually impossible to prove them. Actually, even if some secret evidence was leaked, it would simply be dismissed as a Western conspiracy against Muslims as has been done in the past. We will accept the denials because what other choice do we have? We will dismiss Declan Walsh as “anti-Pakistan”, and we will sincerely resent him, not because we really believe that he’s a foreign spy but because there is that sinking feeling in the back of our minds that makes us doubt what we have no choice but to believe.

In an important piece by one of Axact’s victims, respected journalist Wajahat S. Khan reflects on his regrets about his brief experience with Bol:

But arrogance has a tone. Denial has a deafening silence. And mirages are self-constructed. I contributed to all three, in my three months at Bol. And played along with the best of them, because of where they came from, who they are, and what it all meant.

Khan’s astoundingly open and honest words sparked an uncomfortable feeling, like they were hitting a bit too close to home.

Arrogance has a tone. Denial has a deafening silence. And mirages are self-constructed.

Wajahat S. Khan may have contributed to all three in his brief time at Bol, but each of us has contibuted to all three during our lives as well. The arrogant tone of our insistence that we are the fortress of Islam. Our silent denial that jihadi ideology is devouring our nation. And the mirage that we have self-constructed that tells us that the number one intelligence agency in the world and most accomplished military in the world will keep us safe and secure…just as long as we don’t ask any questions.

Nuclear Deterrence and the Indian Threat

nuclear Pakistan India

There are few things that are constant. Two of them are that each day the sun rises and sets, and each day the West is concerned about Muslim countries with nuclear weapons. This obsession has made us very suspicious of the West’s intentions toward our nuclear assets, which in turn results in another very strange obsession, which is our need to justify what is already reality, as if the sun itself needed to be convinced to rise every morning. These justifications, however, do raise in some interesting, if unintended points. For example former Ambassador to the UN Munir Akram argues that we need to do a better job of explaining the Indian threat to the world. Only, in his attempt to do so, he actually leaves one crucial question unanswered.

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Dawn’s Dangerous Defence Delusions

nuclear explosion

It was inevitable that reports of India increasing its defence budget once again would be met with concern in certain quarters. Unfortunately, even more moderate voices are perpetuating dangerous narratives. In fact, for anyone interested in improving Pakistan’s national security, Dawn’s analysis is terrifyingly misguided.

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PTI’s Modest Proposal: Nuke Israel!

AQ Khan and Imran Khan

While atrocities continue to take place in Gaza, several countries are trying to stop the killing. America offered to help broker a cease fire last week, but with its history of unquestioning support for Israel, the US is not seen as a neutral broker. Egypt has been trying to negotiate its own cease fire, but has not been able to get Hamas to agree to stop its rocket attacks. As the body count rises with no end in sight, however, PTI has a modest proposal of its own. Start a nuclear war with Israel!

Here is Senior PTI founding member and spokesman for Imran Khan:

 

Bloody good idea! And I do mean bloody. After all, Israel is only 114 km wide at its widest point. For those unfamiliar with the actual geography, it looks like this:

Israel map

So let us imagine what would happen if we followed PTI’s advice and nuked Israel. Obviously, we would kill millions of Jews including innocent women and children. This might be considered a small price to pay for stopping the killing of the Palestinians, though – never mind that killing innocents with disproportionate response is exactly what we’re protesting Israel for.

Because of the small geography and the large impact of nuclear weapons, though, we would also kill all the Palestinians, too. But we can rationalise this because they will embrace martyrdom in effort to kill all the Jews. The important thing to remember is that after our attack, Israel will no longer be able to kill innocent Palestinians! Because, of course, we will have killed them all ourselves.

Another fool proof plan courtesy PTI!