Pakistan’s President Says Nuclear Stockpile is Safe

May 14, 2009 - 12:47 AM
Pakistan's president on Wednesday brushed aside warnings that country's nuclear arsenal was in jeopardy because of mounting instability caused by a surge in Taliban activity.~~
Zardari in Britain

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari speaks address a joint news conference in London on Wednesday May 13, 2009. (AP Photo)

London (AP) – Pakistan's president on Wednesday brushed aside warnings that country's nuclear arsenal was in jeopardy because of mounting instability caused by a surge in Taliban activity.

Asif Ali Zardari reiterated that Pakistan's secret nuclear sites were secure, but declined to specify what safeguards are in place.

"You can ask anybody who is responsible in any government and they will tell you they are not concerned. They are quite satisfied with the situation in Pakistan," Zardari said at a joint press conference with Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Pakistan mounted an offensive last week against Taliban militants in the northern Swat Valley near the Afghan border. Nearly 1 million people have been displaced in the fighting since supporters of the ousted regime in Afghanistan tried to push further into Pakistan – and closer to the country's capital of Islamabad.

Pakistani troops secured footholds Wednesday in the valley, killing 11 militants and discovering five headless corpses near the region's main town, the army said. Elsewhere in the turbulent northwest, police said dozens of assailants stormed a transport depot handling supplies for NATO troops in neighboring Afghanistan.

Rising violence, including a string of attacks on NATO and U.S. supplies, have fed concern that more of Pakistan's border region is slipping from government control and into the hands of the Taliban and al-Qaida.

Britain promised an immediate 12 million pounds ($18 million) in humanitarian aid to displaced Pakistanis.

"Let there be no mistake, Pakistan is already taking action against terrorism," Brown said. "President Zardari's troops are risking their lives fighting extremists."

Britain has a stake in Pakistan's stability. Most of Britain's 2 million Muslims have Pakistani roots, and nearly three-quarters of all terror plots have links to al-Qaida supporters in Pakistan, Brown said recently.

Eleven Pakistanis were arrested last month during a counterterrorism operation in northwest England, and several now face deportation.

Zardari won control of Pakistan's largest political party after the death of his wife, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was killed just months after returning to Pakistan in late 2007 after years in exile.