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    Pakistan says nuclear controls firmly in place

    KABUL — Pakistan described its nuclear policy Thursday as one of ‘‘restraint and responsibility’’ and declared it has a well-established regime of controls to ‘‘ensure the safety and security’’ of its nuclear facilities.

    The statement from the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad was issued in response to a report in Tuesday’s Washington Post that documented growing US concerns regarding Pakistan’s nuclear safeguards and security agencies.

    The government said it is ‘‘fully committed’’ to the goals of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, follows standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency, and is ‘‘fully implementing’’ control regimens mandated by international conventions on chemical and biological weapons.


    Pakistan’s statement did not comment specifically on the pattern of mistrust between Washington and Islamabad that was described in the Post report, which was based on documents provided by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.

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    But several Pakistani specialists said the problem of mutual mistrust between the two governments had been well known, despite a lengthy history of cooperation between Washington and Islamabad and a decade-long partnership in the war on terror. The rift deepened, from Pakistan’s point of view, after several key events — including the US raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

    ‘‘The trust deficit is not a secret, and it has been widening over the years,’’ said Rifaat Hussain, a Pakistani defense expert. ‘‘They call each other strategic partners, but they withhold strategic information from each other.’’

    Hussain said Pakistani officials are highly suspicious of US designs on their country’s nuclear arsenal. He said many Pakistanis are convinced that after US forces withdraw from Afghanistan next year, Washington will seek to ‘‘cap Pakistan’s nuclear capability.’’

    Pakistani media outlets seized on information in the Post report about alleged extra-judicial killings of suspected Islamist militants by Pakistani security forces and on the reasons US officials did not publicly reveal or act on those concerns.


    Pakistani human rights groups have tried to focus attention on such killings, especially revenge or targeted killings reportedly committed by government forces during a high-profile conflict with Taliban fighters in the Swat Valley in 2009. But Pakistani military officials have dismissed the allegations as untrue.

    The chairman of Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission, I. A. Rehman, said Tuesday that ‘‘such reports of alleged excesses by the security forces need to be properly investigated,’’ and he added that his group had asked for a probe into reports of killings in Swat.

    ‘‘It is a serious issue, and it needs to be tackled in a serious way,’’ or else public trust in government institutions can be damaged, Rehman said.

    Pervez Hoodbhoy, a Pakistani physicist and leading critic of nuclear weapons, said he found nothing surprising in the Post report.

    ‘‘Of course the US has put Pakistan under a microscope. Everyone knows that,’’ he said.


    Hoodbhoy noted that the US military carries out ‘‘war gaming exercises aimed at dealing with possible nuclear contingencies,’’ including the theft of nuclear warheads and the emergence of an Islamist militant government in Pakistan.