Thursday, May 8, 2003, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Pakistan nukes not safe
May fall into Al-Qaida hands: book

Paris, May 7
A renowned French thinker and writer has challenged Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf’s claims of being in total control of his country’s nuclear arsenal, saying that there is a real risk that such weapons may find their way to terrorist organisations like the Al-Qaida.

Bernard Henri Levy, also known by his initials BHL, says terrorists could lay their hands on the nuclear weapons in Pakistan since its secret service, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), is continuing its collaboration with the Al-Qaida and other radical Islamic terrorist groups.

In his latest book, Levy — who has also served as a special envoy to French President Jacques Chirac — has stirred a hornet’s nest with a string of serious accusations against not just the ISI, but the entire administration of General Musharraf.

Titled “Qui a tue Daniel Pearl” (Who killed Daniel Pearl?), the book has been right at the top of bestselling books in France since it was released three weeks ago. Levy says he spent over a year researching the latest book, with long sojourns in Karachi, Kandahar, Islamabad, New Delhi, London and Washington.

In the book, Levy says Pearl was kidnapped and killed because he was on the verge of establishing the existence of an extensive network linking the ISI and the Al- Qaida. He said Pearl had been working on a report that showed that the ISI was actually sharing the nuclear capability of Pakistan with the Al-Qaida and other rogue groups.

“They knew that he was close to finishing the report and that he was on to something so big that threatened to unravel the whole structure of terrorism in Pakistan. That is why Pearl was kidnapped and later killed in such a barbarous manner,” says Levy.

In his investigation, during which he met hundreds of people in various cities, he found that several top nuclear scientists of Pakistan had been in close contact with terror groups.

“The Western intelligence agencies are getting so desperate that they are actually willing to believe that Musharraf has much more influence on events in Pakistan than he actually wields,” says BHL, adding that even Musharraf’s claim of being in total control of the nuclear weapons of his country was highly dubious since the ISI had consistently misinformed the General.

“For instance, the day Pearl was murdered, Musharraf was boasting at a press conference in New York that he had been told that Pearl would be found and released in a matter of hours,” Levy said. “This was an extremely embarrassing moment for Musharraf, but it shows the extent to which the ISI can mislead the government in Pakistan,” he says.

Levy says his primary object in writing the book was to find out why Pearl had been killed. “I wanted to reconstruct the entire series of events that led to his death. Who did he meet, what had he learnt, why did he board the car with a group of strangers who were waiting for him? From here, I wanted to find out everything else about the possessed men who can do such horrible things," he says.

Ever since the book hit the stands, it has generated a lot of interest in France and other European countries, where Levy has been invited on various television shows to discuss his book and the implications of the allegations that he makes about the real situation in Pakistan.

Levy is no stranger to South Asia. He has long been following the developments in the South Asian region, where he first got involved during Bangladesh’s war of liberation, for which he had signed up as a volunteer. After the independence of the country, he wrote his first book on Bangladesh. IANS

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