|Illustration: Liu Rui/GT|
In the past few weeks, the recent Pakistan-China nuclear deal has come under criticism. Their concerns are largely over the safety and security features of the upcoming nuclear reactors. Nonetheless, the criticism lacks objectivity and puts in question their own academic honesty.
The 2014 Nuclear Threat Initiative's Nuclear Materials Security Index, which is a unique public assessment of nuclear materials security conditions in 176 countries, ranked Pakistan above India. Pakistan scored three more points compared to 2012, and was recognized as "the largest improvement of any nuclear-armed state."
Pakistan's improvement is primarily due to an increased score for on-site physical protection resulting from new laws and regulations requiring licensees to provide physical protection to nuclear sites and on-site reviews of security.
Indeed, this is a moment of happiness for Pakistan, as its nuclear safety and security mechanism have been acknowledged by the international community as well.
It is unfortunate that the safety of Pakistan's nuclear weapons has been subjected to baseless and unnecessary criticism since the country tested its nuclear device. A minor faction often claims that Pakistan's nuclear weapons are not safe and can fall into the hands of militants. But is this really possible?
Being a responsible nuclear state, Pakistan has developed a robust command and control mechanism over nuclear assets. The conditions of Pakistan's nuclear materials security have improved through strengthened laws and regulations, so as to reflect the latest nuclear security guidelines by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
And to take care of insider threats, personnel are subject to Personnel and Human Reliability Programs.
Pakistan is engaged with the international community on nuclear safety and security issues, and is working to ensure that its strategic export controls are in line with international standards.
As a respectable member of the global community, Pakistan is committed to the war on terror. As far as intentions and commitments are concerned, Pakistan has signed and ratified several international and regional instruments on terrorism.
Recent White House documents also acknowledge Pakistan's efforts to increase its controls and interdiction of the illicit supply of the materials used to produce improvised explosive devices.
On August 30, 2008, Pakistan acceded to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.
The International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism is also under consideration. It has effectively ensured the implementation of the requirements set out by UN Security Council Resolution 1540 - which binds states to not help any state or non-state actor acquire weapons of mass destruction.
Pakistan is party to both the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Biological Weapons Convention, and is a partner in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism.
There are some other important international and regional instruments to which Pakistan stands committed.
Pakistan is also an active participant in the nuclear security summit process, and works closely with the IAEA's Office of Nuclear Security to promote best security practices.
Today, Pakistan has become one of the hardest hit victims of terrorism and extremism. Nearly 3,000 Pakistani troops have been killed fighting insurgents.
Pakistan is working closely with the international community to eradicate the menace of terrorism and extremism from its soil. That's why it has taken preemptive steps to counter terrorism.
It is highly unlikely that these insurgents will get their hands on nuclear weapons which are under the security of more than 25,000 professionally trained personnel.
The author is a student at Department of International Relations, Quaid-i-azam University, Islamabad.