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America's Worst Nightmare?

Pakistan Is Engaging In Nuclear Standoff With India... Could Pakistani Extremists End Up Controlling Nuclear Arsenal? Militants There Support Terrorist Osama Bin Laden

Oct. 15, 2000 AP (CBS) Pakistan may be competing for the title of America's worst nightmare, according to 60 Minutes.

The elected prime minister is in jail. The generals who seized power are beholden to Islamic radicals, and militant fundamentalists could end up controlling nuclear weapons.

John Pike of the Federation of American Scientists says Pakistan's nuclear program is further along than Washington has publicly acknowledged.

He estimates in an interview with 60 Minutes Correspondent Steve Kroft that Pakistan has 25 to 35 nuclear bombs - enough for a major nuclear war.

Pakistan is engaged in a nuclear standoff with neighboring India and claims its bomb is for self-defense, to keep India from invading. But the Pakistanis are also building long-range ballistic missiles capable of reaching every major city in India.

General Pervez Musharraf, who took over Pakistan last October in a military coup, says those weapons are "extremely secure," and he doesn't believe his country would fall into the hands of religious fanatics.

But the most recent State Department report on terrorism concludes that "Pakistan's government has supported groups that engage in violence in Kashmir and it has provided indirect support for terrorists in Afghanistan." Also, "the government has tolerated terrorists living and moving freely within its territory," it states.

And Marine Corps General Anthony Zinni, outgoing commander of U.S. forces in South Asia told Kroft he believes it is "very possible" that nuclear weapons in Pakistan could wind up in the hands of extremist religious leaders.

There's no other country in the world where 100,000 well-armed militant fundamentalists could end up controlling nuclear weapons - what some people might call the Islamic bomb.

Samiul Haq, one of Pakistan's most revered and radical leaders, runs a religious school whose students openly praise Osama Bin Laden, the man the United States believes is responsible for bombing two U.S. embassies, and whose graduates are now Bin Laden's protectors.

He told Kroft: "We were hurt when we heard this term, the Islamic bomb. If we religious leaders have nuclear bombs in our hands, it would promote peace and security in the region.",1597,241115-412,00.shtml

-- Martin Thompson (, October 15, 2000


This sounds like a potential nightmare all right - if ever there was one.

-- Chance (, October 15, 2000.

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