Pakistan's nuclear facilities have already been attacked at least thrice by its home-grown extremists and terrorists in little reported incidents over the last two years, even as the world remains divided over the safety and security of the nuclear weapons in the troubled country, according to western analysts.Well thank goodness the attacks were ineffectual. So it seems that extremists know where Pakistan's nuclear weapons are and have attempted to at least disrupt activities at those locations, if not failed utterly in actually absconding with a device. It is slightly reassuring that the Pakistani Army was able to keep the weapons safe and appear to maintain fairly robust security measures.
The incidents, tracked by Shaun Gregory, a professor at Bradford University in UK, include an attack on the nuclear missile storage facility at Sargodha on November 1, 2007, an attack on Pakistan's nuclear airbase at Kamra by a suicide bomber on December 10, 2007, and perhaps most significantly the August 20, 2008 attack when Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers blew up several entry points to one of the armament complexes at the Wah cantonment, considered one of Pakistan's main nuclear weapons assembly.
Granted, these attacks all occurred prior to the late winter offensives by the Pakistani Taliban, but the reality is the Taliban threat to Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is way overblown. Pakistan sports one of the largest armies in the world that is becoming increasingly modern (thanks to the infusion of U.S. money and training). To suggest that the Taliban will come out of the mountains to defeat the Pakistani Army to obtain nuclear weapons seems absolutely preposterous to me.
I would even argue that such an attempt by the Taliban would be a grave strategic misstep by them. Without Pakistan viewing them as an existential threat (which they are not), the Pakistani government will not attempt to eradicate them. If a substantial effort is made to obtain weapons, that could very well change the government's calculus on who is a greater threat: extremists or India.
I don't believe that the Taliban will mount a serious attempt to obtain a nuclear weapon nor will they ever be a serious threat to the existence of Pakistan. That just leaves us to worry about a coup in which the ownership of the devices is left in question. But don't bet on the Taliban making that happen. There are a whole lot of other groups that want to get their hands on those weapons whose agendas are much more aligned with the ISI's.
H/T to SNLII for passing on the article.