A top US General has expressed confidence in the command and control structure of Pakistan’s nuclear programme amid fears of political instability and economic meltdown.
“I am confident in their nuclear security procedures,” replied Commander of US Central Command (CENTCOM) General Michael E. Kurilla during a testimony before the Senate Arms Services Committee in the US.
He was responding to a question by a Senate whether Pakistan’s nuclear programme was secure against the backdrop of ongoing political instability and economic crisis.
The senator spoke about the political issues in Pakistan and sought to know the assessment of the CENTCOM chief.
Read more: Nuclear programme not on agenda with any govt, institution: FO
“I deal with the military relationship there and I have a great relationship with the Chief of the Army Staff, General Munir,” General Kurilla said.
“I think the concerns right now in Pakistan are their budget, their financial situation, the current political situation and the counterterrorism situation,” he maintained. He also referred to the resurgence of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
But amid all this, the top US General was confident of the Pakistani nuclear programme’s security and safety.
The American general’s statement came amid reports that Pakistan might be under pressure to compromise on its strategic assets in return for the IMF bailout.
The Foreign Office, however, on Friday vehemently denied that Pakistan’s nuclear programme was on the agenda with any “government, any financial institution or any international organisation.”
The statement from FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch at a weekly news briefing came against the backdrop of speculations that Pakistan was under pressure to roll back its long-range missile programme.
Finance Minister Ishaq Dar on Thursday in Senate said that no one had the right to dictate Pakistan on its nuclear or missile programme. His statement triggered a debate about whether there was any pressure on Pakistan to compromise on its strategic assets in return for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) bailout.
The government is struggling to revive the IMF programme despite implanting tough prior actions. Dar said the deal would be sealed once the friendly countries commit to provide assistance to fill the external needs.
Senior Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Senator Raza Rabbani, earlier, sought explanation from the finance minister whether there was any pressure on Pakistan to compromise on its strategic assets under the pretext of an IMF programme. Dar assured the agreement would be available for public scrutiny on the web once the staff-level deal is reached with the IMF.