How Dangerous Is Pakistan?

It has the 7th largest active military, and the fastest-growing nuclear arsenal in the world   Since its violent partition from India in 1947, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has fought for internal stability, and military achievement across the Middle East

  But in recent years, Pakistan has been implicated in sponsoring militant extremists, selling nuclear secrets to other unstable countries, and even knowingly harbouring Islamist terrorist and Al Qaeda founder, Osama bin Laden    With a military spending budget of $76 billion, and a looming threat of state collapse, could Pakistan’s downfall seriously endanger the international community?   According to ex-CIA official Kevin Hulbert, Pakistan remains a relevant player in international politics, because it holds the triple threat of terrorism, a failing economy, and precarious nuclear progress   Its weakened foreign relations, corrupt Government, poor taxing system, and conflict with India has resulted in a low-income, low-growth trap, which is crushing its economy      As the 6th largest country in the world, financial collapse could put the global economy in danger

  Pakistan is the only Islamic country to possess nuclear weapons This is mainly to achieve parity with its rival, India, and it’s already estimated to possess at least 120 active nuclear warheads   According to American Think Tank, the Stimson Center, Pakistan could have the third-biggest nuclear stockpile within a decade In 2015, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhary made the groundbreaking announcement that the country plans to use low-yield nuclear weapons in response to any territorial breaches by India   The director of the Proliferation Prevention Programme, Sharon Squassoni, has made the unnerving observation that unstable conditions within failing states, like Pakistan, also breed opportunities for the illicit transfer of nuclear material

  This is usually done to strengthen foreign relations, during periods of national insecurity   But this type of behaviour seriously damages nonproliferation programmes, whose mutual aim is to eliminate the spread and production of deadly nuclear weapons   In 2004 Pakistan orchestrated the worst case of nuclear smuggling in history    Leading Pakistani physicist, Abdul Qadeer Khan, confessed that he had sold military parts and instructions ‘for the use of high-speed centrifuges in enriching uranium to Libya, Iran and North Korea’   This is especially worrisome, because it could set off an arms race in the already unstable Middle East

  And according to official documents, North Korea paid Pakistan’s army $35 million to receive this material In President Obama’s 2016 State of the Union address, experts concluded that Pakistan also poses the severe threat of spawning further terrorist activity – a claim which is backed up by decades of Pakistani history   According to CIA officials, Pakistan has consistently encouraged the use of jihadist militias against India   The agency claims that the Pakistani Government has paradoxically supported certain Muslim extremists in its proxy war against India, whilst simultaneously fighting other extremists that threatened the Pakistani state

  In 2008, a secret CIA mission to Islamabad revealed that Pakistan’s spy service, the Inter-Services Intelligence, had deepened ties with Islamic militants – including senior figures of Al Qaeda        This has led to serious allegations that Pakistan’s ISI helped hide America’s most wanted, Osama bin Laden In 2011, bin Laden was captured less than one mile away from Pakistan’s elite military academy     The Pakistani government has staunchly denied that they knew the whereabouts of bin Laden   But military analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi highlights, that bin Laden effectively hid in the ISI’s backyard

Does this mean that the intelligence service is incompetent? Or that Pakistan knew? This raises serious questions about Pakistan’s agenda on terrorism       Pakistan’s relationship with terrorist groups has grown increasingly complex Anti-Indian terrorist groups, like Lashkar-e-Taiba, have joined forces with al-Qaeda, while Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, the Pakistan Taliban, the Afghan Taliban and other rebels are now working to bring down Pakistan’s elected government Yet Pakistan refuses to firmly address the menace of radical extremism in its region Despite the Pakistani President’s assurance that the country’s nuclear arsenal is ‘well protected’, some defence experts believe otherwise

They fear that the relentless Islamist insurgency within the country could lead to nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists Journalist Farooq Sulehria is concerned about the possibility of a ‘Talibanization of the military’   Pakistani defence analyst Zahid Hussain claims that the West is ‘unnecessarily worried’ about the state of Pakistan, and that the country’s weapons are under strict military control   The resounding fear is that Pakistan’s crumbling economy, increasing military spending, and perilous Islamist threat, will create the perfect recipe for a worldwide nuclear crisis

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