ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, (AP) -Pakistan is increasingly alert to the possible threat of Islamic extremists seeking control of its nuclear weapons, but its security system is fail-safe despite the rising militancy in the country, a top official said Saturday.
Some 10,000 soldiers have been deployed to secure the U.S.-ally’s nuclear facilities as part of a command and control system headed by President Pervez Musharraf and other top officials, said Khalid Kidwai, head of the Strategic Plans Division that handles Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
“There’s no conceivable scenario, political or violent, in which Pakistan will fall to extremists of the al-Qaida or Taliban type,” the retired general said at a briefing for foreign journalists. “Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, fissile material and infrastructure are absolutely safe and secure.”
Kidwai said his division still planned for any contingency and has reassessed the militant threat in light of escalating attacks on security forces and intelligence personnel in recent months.
“You are always responding to threats, the last six months is no exception,” he said. “The state of alertness has gone up.”
Saturday’s briefing was organized due to concerns about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and whether it could fall into the hands of extremists in light of the current “internal situation” in the country, Kidwai said.
It follows similar briefings for foreign diplomats in Islamabad, he said.