— Berating US, Imran says Pakistan has ‘one of the most secure’ command and control systems in place
— Former PM fears Sharif admin will ‘completely compromise national security’
ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON: Calling Pakistan a “dangerous nation”, Joe Biden has claimed that Islamabad’s nuclear weapons programme lacked “cohesion”, commentary which has opened a window into the United States president’s occasionally unflattering views on foreign nations.
Biden’s comment came as the United States is less than a month away from mid-term elections and the president is crisscrossing the country raising money in apparently unscripted appearances with Democratic donors
Midterm elections in the United States are the general elections that are held near the midpoint of a president’s four-year term of office, on the Tuesday after the first Monday in November — which is falling on the 8th this year.
A Bloomberg report noted that nations with troubled relationships with Washington are increasingly popping up as examples when Biden, in remarks at fundraisers, alights on one of his “favourite” topics: threats to democracy and the rise of autocracies around the world.
At the Los Angeles home of an American television producer on Thursday night, his target was Pakistan. The historical ally of the United States was “maybe one of the most dangerous nations in the world,” the president said, according to an official transcript of his address.
“Nuclear weapons without any cohesion,” he declared, addressing a crowd that included renowned fashion designer Tom Ford.
Biden’s criticisms are usually intended to bolster the central argument of his midterm stump speech — that the stakes are high, the world is unstable, and a Republican takeover of the United States Congress would, in his estimation, contribute to the global erosion of democratic ideals.
But his remarks were made in the context of the changing geopolitical situation globally.
The president said the world was changing rapidly and countries were rethinking their alliances. “And the truth of the matter is — I genuinely believe this — that the world is looking to us. Not a joke. Even our enemies are looking to us to figure out how we figure this out, what we do.”
There was a lot at stake, Biden said, emphasising that the US had the capacity to lead the world to a place it had never been before.
“Did any of you ever think you’d have a Russian leader, since the Cuban Missile Crisis, threatening the use of tactical nuclear weapons that would — could only kill three, four thousand people and be limited to make a point?
“Did anybody think we’d be in a situation where China is trying to figure out its role relative to Russia and relative to India and relative to Pakistan?”
‘COMPROMISED’ NATIONAL SECURITY
The risk for the White House is that Biden’s moments of fundraiser candour could create geopolitical headaches down the road — as they did in this instance.
In a series of tweets, Imran Khan, the former prime minister, while asking the basis for the assumption, noted that Islamabad has “one of the most secure nuclear command [and] control systems” in place to monitor its nuclear weapons programme.
He was of the view that the statement showed a “total failure” of the government’s foreign policy and “its claims of reset of relations” with Washington.
“Is this the ‘reset’ [the military establishment wanted]?,” he asked. “This [government] has broken all records for incompetence.”
“My greatest worry is that, apart from leading us to economic ruin […] with NRO2 for themselves, giving a license to white collar criminals to plunder the country, this [government] will also end up completely compromising our national security.”
I have 2 Qs on this: 1. On what info has @POTUS reached this unwarranted conclusion on our nuclear capability when, having been PM, I know we have one of the most secure nuclear command & control systems? 2. Unlike the US which has been involved in wars https://t.co/nkIrlekBxQ
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 15, 2022
At a press conference, Minister for Energy Khurram Dastgir Khan rejected Biden’s commentary, calling it “baseless”.
“International agencies have, not once but several times, verified Pakistan’s atomic deterrent and said that our command and control system is secure. It has all the protection that is required,” he said.
Meanwhile, leaders of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), which has long claimed that Washington was behind a regime-change operation against their ousted government, seized on Biden’s remarks.
Shireen Mazari, a party MP, demanded an apology from the president for his “nasty remarks”.
U need to apologise to Pakistani nation @POTUS for ur nasty remarks just bec ur regime change conspiracy is faltering! A nuclear US is a threat 4 world bec u have no control over ur nukes. B52 bomber takes off with 6 live nukes 2007 & no one knows for hrs! https://t.co/tqIuIp6wEc
— Shireen Mazari (@ShireenMazari1) October 15, 2022
“A nuclear US is a threat to the world because you have no control over your nukes. B52 bomber takes off with six live nukes in 2007 and no one knows for hours,” she tweeted.
The former rights minister claimed that the US was an “irresponsible superpower with nukes”.
“Your proclivity to interfere globally with regime change agendas alongside militarising the oceans. Custodial torture in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, Bagram. Even your own people are not safe with gunmen going on killing sprees. Have some shame, Biden,” she wrote.