In a telephone interview yesterday, Taliban spokesman Mullah Ehsanullah Ehsan rejected repeated concerns that his movement was a threat to Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, saying they had no intention of attacking the weapons.
The concerns are long-standing among US officials, and have only grown in the wake of the ease with which a handful of insurgents infiltrated the Karachi naval base. The US has suggested repeatedly that they were prepared to move against Pakistan’s arsenal to prevent it from being targeted by insurgents.
But Ehsan said the whole notion was entirely an American invention, and was simply a US excuse to pressure the Pakistani government into taking more action against the various Taliban factions in the country.
Ehsan, who was once the head of the Afghan Central Bank, couched most of his comments not in the usual religious Taliban rhetoric but appealed mostly to Pakistani nationalism, saying it was a shame that a nation that is the world’s only Muslim nuclear weapons state was bowing to US demands. Such tactics will likely appeal to Pakistan’s public, which is increasingly fed up with US intereference in their affairs.