Toronto: Pakistan is now the new front in the war on terror as it has become a new safe haven for al Qaeda, says the Canadian media a day after the country blacklisted the Pakistani Taliban and started withdrawal from Afghanistan on Tuesday.
"The war on terror has shifted, and Pakistan is its new front line," said the daily National Post.
"These two events (blacklisting of the Pakistani Taliban and the start of withdrawal from Afghanistan) encapsulate a shift, not only for Canada, but for all other nations on the front lines of the war on terror. For a number of years, those lines have been shifting southeast, from Afghanistan to Pakistan," the paper said.
Because of these militant outfits Pakistan has become "the main staging area for terrorist plots around the world and - despite the United States' assassination of Osama bin Laden in Abbotabad - a new safe-haven for al Qaeda”.
Quoting a study by the New America Foundation, the paper said 53 percent of terror plots worldwide since 2004 involved jihadists trained in Pakistan, compared to six percent in Yemen and three percent in Iraq. Pakistani jihadi groups have directed 44 percent of the terror plots since then, according to the paper.
"And those plots may not just involve conventional weapons," but also nuclear weapons, the paper said, quoting the just released report of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) which says Pakistan's nuclear programme is among the fastest growing in the world.
According to the report, Pakistan's nuclear stockpile has gone from 70 to 80 weapons in 2010 to between 90 and 110 today, putting it on a par with India and escalating what amounts to a local arms race in the region.
There are fears that the nuclear arsenal may fall in the hands of Islamic militants, the paper said.
These fears become all the more frightening as the Pakistani Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT) has the potential to outstrip al Qaeda in posing threat to the West where "it is building the network that allows them to attack”, the paper said.