Gilani to attend the Nuclear Security Summit; National Command Authority says country’s nuclear assets are safe; Australia withholds sale of scientific equipment to Pakistan fearing WMD misuse; 18th amendment passed by National Assembly;
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  • PM Gilani, leaving for Washington to attend the Nuclear Security Summit being hosted by President Obama on April 12-13, asserted that “Pakistan’s nuclear program and weapons are in safe hands.”1 He is also scheduled to separately meet with Mr. Obama, where efforts to strengthen bilateral strategic partnership will be discussed. Mr. Gilani also chaired the 17th meeting of the National Command Authority that was held in Islamabad on April 5, which again reiterated that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons security was good.2

    The Australian government on April 6 blocked the sale of two atomic absorption spectrophotometers manufactured by an Australian company to a Pakistani engineering firm due to apprehensions that the equipment could be used to analyse metals used in centrifuges and missiles. Canberra used the terms of the 1995 Weapons of Mass Destruction Act to justify this decision.3

    In domestic developments, the 18th amendment was unanimously passed by the National Assembly on April 8. Among other provisions, the office of the Prime Minister became more powerful and NWFP was renamed as Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. 47 members abstained from voting for the bill.4 PM Gilani, addressing a luncheon organized to celebrate the passage of the 18th amendment, stated that the armed forces were not meddling in the affairs of the state.5

    In other developments, at least 60 civilians and 35 militants were reported killed in air strikes in Tirah Valley in Khyber Agency on April 10.6