I would certainly hope this is true, and from what I’ve heard, it likely is. Musharraf is making a difficult but critical choice in this. He knows that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are an issue of national pride, but at the same time any use of nuclear weapons by Pakistan could kill millions. He can’t show weakness or he could lose power, but at the same time he has shown a desire to stop the kind of nuclear proliferation that created the Iranian and North Korean nuclear crises.
So, he has Dr. A.Q. Khan give his public mea culpa while saving some face and not inflaming public opinion too far. Khan is a national hero and Pakistan, and if he’s been hauled in and charged Musharraf could have easily faced major repercussions.
This is another case where Musharraf is trying to hold this delicate line. A rogue commander making a nuclear launch could spark World War III, and Pakistan would certainly face immediate nuclear reprisal from India. At the same time, Musharraf does not have the ability to ensure that his own arsenal is safeguarded – which is why US Special Forces operatives had been essentially babysitting Pakistan’s nukes for some time.
However, that is only a temporary situation. We can’t spare the manpower, and Musharraf couldn’t allow our presence to be public knowledge for long. This arrangement ensures that Musharraf remains in control of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons but a rogue commander or terrorists couldn’t trigger a launch. No doubt the weapons release codes are based on the same safeguards that we use on our own nuclear weapons.
As many criticisms as there are over Musharraf’s military coup, a lesser leader could have easily brought the world to it’s first nuclear war. By doing what he did to prevent war over Kashmir and safeguard Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, Musharraf deserves a great deal of credit. He has put his career and his very life on the line, and his recent actions have been dangerous and difficult, but ultimately necessary and proper.