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Western media reports on Pakistani nuclear assets

BBC Monitoring

Text of report by Iqbal Khattak headlined "Pakistan's nuclear assets: Western reports are international terrorism - Memon; caretaker information minister says ZAB, Nawaz, Musharraf shaped nuke plan; appeals to journalists to end protest" published by Pakistani newspaper Daily Times website on 9 December

Peshawar [North-West Frontier Province (NWFP)]: Caretaker Information Minister Nisar Memon has termed the extensive coverage of the vulnerability of Pakistan's nuclear assets in the western media as "international terrorism", adding that "no interference" would be tolerated.

"We take this international terrorism very seriously," Memon told journalists here, adding that all "steps are taken to protect the country's nuclear assets".

He said no interference, even if it comes from a "powerful friend," would be tolerated with regards to guarding the country's national assets.

Three people: "I think three people have had a key role in shaping our nuclear programme. The first man is Zulfikar Ali Bhutto [former president and prime minister], the second is Nawaz Sharif [former prime minister] and third is President Pervez Musharraf, who devised a command and control structure for the nuclear weapons' safety," the minister said.  

Memon said Pakistan was facing two types of international terrorism.

"The first is the kind we see in Swat [in NWFP] or Waziristan [in tribal areas]. The second, however, is what we call propaganda about our nuclear programme. Certain things are being said that we cannot allow to continue," he added.

Regarding US and Saudi envoys' increased presence in pre-poll-linked activities, he said any diplomat going beyond diplomatic norms would be dealt with in accordance with the law. He denied an impression given by a journalist that the Saudi ambassador was "behaving like a viceroy".

Memon said Afghans, Chechens and Uzbek militants were involved in Swat and people from southern Punjab also took part in the violence. He also said that elections would take place as scheduled, regardless of whether the opposition boycotts.

End protest: Earlier, at the start of the press conference, a senior journalist told Memon that Peshawa! r journalists were attending the press conference in protest over the government's curbs on media. The minister appealed to the journalists to end their protest.

"I would like you people to end your protest as I believe we can together solve all the problems you might have," he said.

Source: Daily Times website, Lahore, in English 09 Dec 07



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