Pakistan nukes not safe: Qureshi

Pakistan's former foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has alleged that the country's nuclear weapons are not safe under the present PPP dispensation. Mr Qureshi's comments evoked an angry response from the government, which rejected his contention as "baseless".

Mr Qureshi, who is President Asif Ali Zardari's former ally, made these remarks at a public rally at Ghotki in Sindh where he announced joining hands with cricketer-turned politician Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf party. He is the highest ranking Pakistani politician to comment that the country's nuclear weapons were not safe.

His remarks come on the heels of warnings by Western experts that Islamabad's nukes could fall into the hands of Taliban terrorists.

Though Mr Qureshi did not give details of how Pakistan's nukes were in danger, he promised to talk about this in detail at the next public gathering in Karachi. He said, he had been foreign minister and thus understood the issue well and knew the pressures and stresses Pakistan was facing over its nuclear programme. He also came down hard on the government's alliance with the US as well as US policies towards Pakistan.

Reacting angrily to Mr Qureshi's remarks, the Pakistan government rejected his contentions as it declared there would be no compromise on a programme which is integral to the country's defence.