Pakistan: A Normal Nuclear Country |Reema Shaukat

In the late 1990s, when Pakistan was convincingly struggling to streamline its democratic identity through a political process, India detonated its second nuclear device in Pokhran complicating the normalised environment in the region. Meanwhile US was also playing an important role between two countries to sponsor a wide-ranging but reasonably objective agenda for Pakistan-India talks, which went into stupor as a result of Indian detonation. However, one thing was crystal clear that Pakistan’s reciprocal nuclear tests then established nuclear parity, though at a cost that still haunts unnecessarily. Thereafter US found it a good opportunity to close down the parallel dialogue conducted by them with Pakistan and India though the initiative had an identical agenda, including Kashmir and nuclear and conventional arms control.

Since Kashmir issue is the prime and core foundation for rallying of nuclear programme by Pakistan, accordingly solution of this long standing issue is essentially foundation for asking Pakistan lower its nuclear guards. Without this approach things will not be normal as desired by India and other global powers. This is not being done rather Kashmir conundrum is further convoluted intentionally by labeling with it contemporary terrorism and extremism in addition to not pressuring India on account of its war hysteria manifested through religious fanaticism by RSS and alike. Such tilted approach by India and more importantly by the global powers is not likely to address the nuclear deterrence phenomenon and in the language of global researchers as normal nuclear Pakistan.

During her stints in power Indra Gandhi cited Hidutva as a right-wing threat to India’s solidarity and integrity, a challenge she believed had the support of the West, in earnest the US. In contemporary environment Indra Gandhi’s idea of Hidutva a great challenge supported by the US proves correct and stands valid today because the US has compelled NSG members to accommodate India without catering for related nuclear protocols and relaxing regulations. Yet again new proposals are being mounted on Pakistan to restrict its testing and deployment of short-and long-range missiles, accept protocols of fissile materials cut-off and even to unilaterally sign the nuclear CTBT, without waiting for India. In exchange, officials and think tanks in the West and specifically in USA have been offering to support Pakistan’s desire to be treated as a ‘normal’ state in its quest for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group. To press further this demand from Pakistan, the US has asked Australia and Japan to accelerate supplies to India under previously finalised civil nuclear deal. Pakistan’s early warnings that the Indian build-up would oblige it to enhance reliance on its nuclear and missile capabilities has already been brushed aside by the US and regrettably has continued attempts to restrain and restrict Pakistan’s defensive response rather than India’s aggressive armament. In view of this growing asymmetry, the NCA has rightly reiterated the national resolve to maintain Full Spectrum Deterrence Capability.

The subsequent quest for membership of the NSG is a fool’s errand. In Western eyes, Pakistan will never be a normal state as long as it is an Islamic and nuclear power. It is unlikely to be granted entry into the NSG without major concessions. In the Indo-Pacific field, China is not the only regional giant that is investing in nuclear systems but it is chiefly India that is also at various stages of development, especially of short range battlefield nuclear weapons aimed against Pakistan and China. Among the three regional nuclear powers i.e. China, Pakistan and India, India’s programme is considered the most advanced, with New Delhi launching its first SSBN, the INS Arihant about six years ago in 2009, while a second and third are also in the final stages of its completion essentially Pakistan and China centric. India has hence enacted necessary defence procurement reforms needed to equip Cold Start, with the tacit support from a variety of regional and global powers. The US and UK are in forefront in empowering India while Australia, Japan and Israel have provided necessary technology and expertise to enable India carry out interdiction operations inside Pakistani territory under its well-articulated doctrine.

In such a situation Pakistan has no option but to continue its nuclear doctrine of full spectrum while enhancing strategic relations with China and Russia. These relations will also help in overcoming energy security in a world where economies are driven by access to cheap and reliable energy sources including nuclear energy. The US has though refrained from resolving Kashmir issue as a mediator between two countries but global power has an option still available to save lives of millions of people of South East Asia from a potential nuclear conflict resulting from a misadventure by India.

— The writer works for Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, Islamabad.


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