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MS - Update on the Pakistan Region
#1
Mr Speaker,

I beg leave of the House to make an urgent statement regarding the ongoing situation in the Pakistan region and the wider Middle East, following the detonation of a 75kt nuclear device in Islamabad earlier this week.

Mr Speaker, I'm sure the whole House will join with me in a moment of reflection upon the very human tragedy that has taken place in Pakistan at the hands of the Taliban, who I can now inform the House with an unparalleled degree of certainty were responsible for the attack upon Islamabad, which was conducted using a stolen nuclear device belonging to the Pakistani military.

Mr Speaker, the situation on the ground is extremely complex and I will attempt to address each issue in turn succinctly, whilst giving due regard to the needs of the House and the wider nation to be fully informed.

I can advise the House that the Pakistani military lost control of a nuclear device some months ago. Rapidly moving nuclear weapons around the country was a key part of Pakistani nuclear strategy and military posture, and it would appear that during one such routine movement a convoy responsible for moving a portable nuclear weapon was attacked and overpowered by the Taliban. The Taliban were subsequently able to separate the core nuclear device from its missile enclosure and move it into Islamabad despite significant contingencies and security measures being implemented against them; these were clearly not effective.

The number of casualties and the extent of the damage as a result of the detonation are still not known, and providing relief to directly affected areas is proving extremely difficult. Nonetheless, steps are now being taken to evacuate British citizens from Pakistan. British military units have been diverted from their ongoing mission in Afghanistan to facilitate this, and flights out of Pakistan are now taking place. I regret to advise the House that I cannot yet give an estimate of how many Britons remain in the region, due to the total elimination of the staff of the British High Commission in Pakistan.

Mr Speaker, I have to inform the House that Pakistan as an entity effectively no longer exists. Two civilian governments have been established in the Sind and Punjab regions, led by Benazir Bhutto in Karachi and Nawaz Sharif in Lahore respectively. These two governments, which have established control over areas which we will henceforth refer to as Sindistan and Punjabistan, appear to have established control over Pakistani military units in their respective areas. We are not yet in a position to formally recognise either government, but are maintaining quasi-official communications through our consulates in Karachi and Lahore.

The areas of Baluchistan and Pashtunistan are presently effectively lawless, with warlords of various affiliations exerting considerable influence and control in Baluchistan and the Taliban apparently in full control of Pashtunistan. In the north-east, particularly Kashmir, India has launched a military campaign and taken control of the immediate area. At this time, we do not regard Indian activity in former Pakistani Kashmir as malignant or hostile.

Mr Speaker, over the course of the past 48 hours an emergency operation was undertaken by the armed forces of the United States, with limited support from British special forces, to secure all known Pakistani nuclear weapons. To the best of our knowledge, all such weapons are now accounted for. I can therefore say with some confidence that the former Pakistan has been forcibly denuclearised in order to safeguard against the possibility of further weapons falling into the hands of terrorist groups.

Mr Speaker, I can inform the House that the United States, pending consultation with the United Nations, is convening a large military force with the intention of taking the fight to the Taliban in Pashtunistan. The United Kingdom will support movement against the Pakistani Taliban at the United Nations, and this House will be given the right to vote on whether Britain participates in direct combat operations in the area. 

Any such deployment of force inevitably requires a reappraisal of our existing military commitments in the Middle East. Already, we have had to divert troops from Afghanistan, and the situation on the ground places an increasing pressure on the government to consider near-complete withdrawal from Iraq. As ever, the House will be kept updated.

Mr Speaker, I will endeavour to answer any questions as best I can but I hope the House will appreciate that the situation remains highly fluid and information continues to be hard to come by.
Margaret
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#2
Mr. Speaker,

First let me thank the Foreign Secretary for taking the time to come to the House and update us on the ongoing situation in Pakistan. I recognize how busy he and his colleagues in the Government are in responding to the myriad of problems that have arisen as a result of this terrorist attack, and I commend his commitment to taking time out of his schedule to ensure that the British people are provided with the most recent information.

I do have a few preliminary question for the Secretary based off his statement, and I will preface by saying I'm sure I speak for all of us in the Opposition when I say I recognize if he is unable to answer some or all of these questions given the nature of the crisis.

First, Mr. Speaker, I am wondering if the Secretary can elaborate on the period of time between the weapon being intercepted by Taliban and it eventually being launched. Was anyone outside of the Pakistani government made aware that a weapon had been intercepted, and if so why was action not taken to retrieve the weapon?

The Secretary explained that an operation was undertaken to retrieve all remaining nuclear weapons held by the state of Pakistan. First, allow me to commend all of the British special forces involved in the operation for their heroism at this time of global crisis. I recognize that this may be hard to answer, but is there any chance that some nuclear weapons remain unaccounted for?

Finally, for the time being, I'm curious if he can go into somewhat greater detail as to the justification for the Government's proposal to reappraise our existing military commitments in the Middle East. Why does the Government believe that boots on the ground will be needed to respond to the crisis in Pakistan, how many troops have been moved from Afghanistan to Pakistan, and is the Government concerned about the impact moving troops from Iraq to Pakistan while have on terrorism activity in Iraq?

Again, I thank the Foreign Secretary for his time and appreciate his willingness to keep Parliament updated about this crisis. He and his colleagues in the Cabinet have my genuine support as they work to protect our fellow British citizens harmed by this evil terrorist attack.
William Grey MP - Conservative Party 

MP for Romford (2015 - )

Backbench Favorite, Campaigning Guru, Socially Unaware 
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#3
Mr.Speaker,

I thank the Deputy Prime Minister for his update on the situation as it stands and thank both him and the Prime Minister for their consistent reporting to the house in this time of crisis. Mr.Speaker before I ask a few questions let me say I have significant reservations about pulling all of our troops out of Iraq especially with no apparent plan in place in a very unstable situation which can only beget more crises. While I would commend such a move as to remove our troops from the mistake which was Iraq ordinarily, removing them without any sort of plan in place to ensure Iraq will become stable without our presence or any assurance that it was stable enough to indeed leave the region seems to be unwise, not to mention Mr.Speaker these troops where just having to deal with fighting in a seemingly endless conflict for years and have now been moved into another conflict in a totally different terrain with very little training and preparation for the perils of this new conflict. And all this with no reprieve or rest from the constant perils of war.

With all that said Mr.Speaker my first question is this, were the United States and our other allies involved in Iraq notified of our intent to withdrawal our troops to go and fight in former Pakistan, and if so what was there response? I also would like to ask if we are acting alone in sending troops into former Pakistan or if we have or are working on an international coalition to join us in the fight?

The Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister also stated that the Pakistanis lost a nuclear device some months ago, is this the first time you have heard of this or was this intelligence given to the government when it happened? And if it was what actions if any were taken to investigate the disappearance and recover the stolen weapon, and if not why were our intelligence agencies unable to obtain the information until after the weapon was detonated?

And my final question for now Mr.Speaker is what if any has been the Chinese and Russian response to India's invasion of Kashmir? And our we officially recognizing India's ownership of Kashmir?

I thank the Deputy Prime Minister/Foreign Minister for his time in updating the house and look forward to his responses.
Mitch Un MP Rhondda (1997-Present)
Traits: Campaign Guru, Socially Unaware
Future Overlord of Britain and Europe
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#4
Mr Speaker,

I thank the Deputy Prime Minister for the statement. It's a very solemn and sombre responsibility, and I know that, just like everyone in the House, he will no doubt be finding this a rather traumatising event to have to contemplate. But even as we mourn, we must act swiftly, decisively, yet with considered and forward-thinking action, in order to lessen the human tragedy and prevent further reoccurrences of this atrocity. 

I will, following the example of the member from Tatton, fully understand if such questions cannot be answered publicly, and will offer the support of myself and my party in developing policy on these issues. 
 
First, the most pressing geostrategic concern is preventing this from happening again. The forcible denuclearisation is, I think, a regrettable but necessary step and one that I applaud the US government for taking and the British government for supporting. Such a move is, I think, a display of US leadership and the unique capability of the US to do good at its best. 

But there is the risk, of course, that a single weapon might fall through, that we just need to be wrong about verifying one weapon for this all to go wrong. That, even if all the weapons are accounted for, parts of the Pakistani government's capability to develop nuclear devices might fall into the wrong hands - a rogue state, an international arms smuggler, another terrorist group or the Taliban itself - that we could perhaps see an even more dangerous outcome as the actor gains the ability to produce further nuclear weapons. 

This risk, I think, should concern us all. 

So to begin - can the government assure the House that the verification of the nuclear arsenal of the former Pakistan is an ongoing process and that we are making sure that the estimates of the number of warheads formerly in Pakistani possession are as accurate as possible? Has there been access to the internal information and intelligence that the Pakistani government held on these issues? And would the Foreign Secretary agree with me that destruction of these weapons is the safest and most responsible way forward? 

The denuclearisation of Pakistan must be verifiable, it must be complete, it must be irreversible. To aid in this, would the Foreign Secretary agree that it is time to consider creating a dedicated international body to ensuring the denuclearisation of Pakistan and preventing remnants of the Pakistani government's nuclear capability from falling into the wrong hands? I have suggested, as a model and a starting point for discussions, a Pakistani equivalent of the Nunn–Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction, a US helmed initiative that prevented the nuclear arsenal of the states of the former USSR falling into the wrong hands. 

And I would argue, too, that it is high time to look at our strategy against transnational crime. We must dramatically step up our efforts on this front. There are a great many moral and strategic reasons to move transnational crime further up the priority list, but I would say perhaps the most stark is terrorism - the networks of transnational organised crime are a major component in funding and supplying groups such as the Taliban. 

Secondly, the issue of establishing a civilian government in Pakistan is vital, and ensuring some kind of continuity - for the obligations, assets, liabilities, functions, capacities - of the former Pakistani government is, I think, tremendously important. What discussions have been had with de facto continuity governments, such as those in Sindistan and Punjabistan, about handling this transfer, this legacy, so to speak? What government functions have they been able to take up, and are they capable of serving as effective partners in the fight against Pakistan? 

As to Baluchistan, how can we try and ensure a kind of peaceful sharing of power is arranged without the region falling into civil war? 

And as to Pashtunistan, I assume the government's priority is to target this region and remove the Taliban from government as swiftly as possible? 

Regarding Kashmir, what coordination is happening with the government of India in terms of the functions of government? 

Broadly speaking, what human rights and rule of law monitoring is taking place in the region? 

As soon as possible, good governance, good services, human rights, and the other necessities of a flourishing human life must be secured for the people of Pakistan. 

Thirdly, I turn to the humanitarian costs. I understand that as of now engaging in humanitarian relief efforts in and around Islamabad is a next-to-impossible task. What efforts are being made to expedite this process? 

What efforts are being made to help refugee populations that might be fleeing the Islamabad area, and to deliver them both security and whatever care is medically necessary?

The costs of fallout, on health and the environment and so on, are well-documented - what efforts are being made to provide support to the surrounding areas in fighting this menace? 

Many areas of Pakistan will have been dependent on economic investment and public services from Islamabad - what support is being offered to those regions? 

Finally, what measures are being made to mitigate the strategic costs of rerouting troops from Iraq and Afghanistan?

I would like to, once again, join the entirety of this House and the nation in offering our deepest condolences and most heartfelt sympathies to all those affected.
Grant Smith
Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West (2005-present)

Media Unknown, Constituency Appeal, Campaign Organiser, Fundraiser Extraordinaire 
Previously: Sir Lachlan Domnhall Coinneach Duncan MacMahon; Graham Adiputera; I think I played some dull Labour bloke at one point
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#5
I thank the Minister for his statement, the House shall consider other matters.
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