Daily Times By Irfan Ghauri
No plan to capture Pak nukes, says US ambassador
* Anne W Patterson says reports of US contingency plan ‘nonsense’
* Says US to send troops for relief activities if Pakistan requests
ISLAMABAD: US Ambassador Anne W Patterson on Wednesday contradicted reports that the US authorities had prepared a contingency plan to secure Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal upon fears of them falling in Taliban hands.
“I have seen this in media. I will say it is all nonsense,” she said in an interaction with reporters at a roundtable press talk at the US embassy. “It is not even technically possible. These reports have come from very obscure sources. I will call them piles of conjunction,” the US ambassador said.
The envoy said the US was willing to send its troops into Pakistan to help in relief activities in the wake of the ongoing military operation in Swat if Islamabad made a request. “We are in constant contact with the Pakistani authorities on issue of internally displaced persons and willing to send troops [for relief activities] if Pakistan requests,” Patterson said. “I spoke to General Nadeem and others. They have not asked for any military support,” she added, however.
Patterson said the US was not only helping Pakistan in managing the internally displaced persons (IDPs), but also working with the Pakistani authorities on long-term plans for repatriation and rehabilitation of the displaced population.
The US ambassador said Washington would provide military assistance like helicopters, aircraft parts and other equipment to strengthen the capability of Pakistani forces in the war against terrorism.
She confirmed the presence of US troops in Pakistan for training Pakistani forces on counter-terrorism, but did not give the exact number of US trainers in the country.
“The training programne with Pakistan is everyday exercise. It is on reciprocal basis. [Pakistani troops] go [to the US] for training and our troops come here. I don’t know the exact number of US trainers in Pakistan but it is incorrect to say that they are 4,000 or so,” she said in response to a question.
The envoy declined to comment when asked if the US was assisting Pakistan on the security of its nuclear weapons.
Asked about the US policy of drone attacks, she said: “In a dire scenario the US, UK or let us say China can be attacked from Tribal Areas. We have to do everything possible to avoid this scenario.” Responding to a question about Islamabad’s concerns that India was fanning militancy in Pakistan through its consulates in Afghanistan, Patterson said Pakistan should talk directly to India.