Beyond loose nukes
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Last week's brazen attack by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants on the aeronautical complex in Kamra, north-west of Islamabad, has drawn renewed international attention to the spectre of loose nukes next door. That the jihadis might lay their hands on parts of Pakistan's rapidly expanding nuclear arsenal has long worried strategic communities around the world. Pakistan's air force, which runs the Kamra complex, denied that the facility stores nuclear weapons. The media focus on loose nukes in Pakistan obscures the more important problem. It has to do with the growing strike capabilities of the TTP and the reluctance of Rawalpindi, where the Pakistan army is headquartered, to confront the challenge. The TTP is not merely threatening the security of Pakistani nuclear arsenal. It wants to overturn the Pakistani state.
The latest attack has come amidst reports that the army is planning to confront the TTP militants holed up in North Waziristan. Such military campaigns in the recent past have been half-hearted and unsuccessful. They have only reinforced TTP's determination to hit back at the heart of Pakistan's military establishment. It might be recalled that days after the US Special Forces executed Osama bin Laden, the TTP struck at a naval base in Karachi. If the Pakistan army has been a reluctant partner in the US war on terror, jihadi groups see it as an agent of the "infidel" forces. Rawalpindi's strategy of hunting with the hounds and running with the hare has now left it without much credibility on either side.
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