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Nuclearized Pakistan with more compulsions, less options

By Nauman Hassan

In international anarchic structure, revolutions in military affairs by one state always put consequences on prospective state/states. Certainty about the accusation of nuclear device by Germans led United States to go for nuclear option in 2nd World War era and initiated nuclear arms race. Similarly in South Asia, it was India who pushed Pakistan towards nuclearization despite Pakistan’s domestic challenges.

The Smiling Buddha on 18 May 1974 introduced nuclearization in South Asian strategic landscape. Indian authorities catchphrase “Peaceful Nuclear Explosive” proudly but overlooked its aftermaths in regional and global prospective. Still, academic debate seems lacking to accurately elaborate the term but pragmatically India intended to achieve nuclear equilibrium against China.

The demonstration through nuclear detonation – even was peaceful – created strategic imbalance and destabilized the region, particularly. Aside with international criticism by academics and policy makers based in United States, Canada and China: Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto stated deliberately, “If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass and leaves for a thousand years, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own”. In January 1972 Mr. Bhutto, that time President of Pakistan, expressed the necessity to acquire nuclear device and the emphasis was impelled separate East Pakistan in 1971. Undoubtedly, the president was well-acknowledged about the strategic positioning of his state in international world order and perceived the threat to state’ sovereignty. Briefly, it was India nuclear ambition that forced Pakistan to go after nuclear option which ultimately initiated nuclear arms race in South Asia.

After that the overt nuclearization of 1998 in South Asia entirely alter the dynamics of nuclear world order. On 11th and 13th of May 1998, India detonated five devices and widened the sphere of mistrust in already hostile strategic environment of South Asia. The India’s test created an indefensible situation on Pakistani side and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated, “We are watching the situation and we will take appropriate action with regard to our security”. Foreign Minister of Pakistan, Gohar Ayub Khan said, “We are prepared to match India, we have the capability… We in Pakistan will maintain a balance with India in all fields”. After the two day Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) meeting, the chairman of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PEAC) was asked by Prime Minister on 18 May to conduct the explosive and it was 28th of May when Pakistan responded simultaneously to balance Indian strategic superiority in the region.

Interestingly, two years before 2nd test (Pokhran II), India withdrew from negotiations of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996 which was vigorously supported by Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, in 1954 as a “standstill agreement” and then in 1963 as Limited Test Ban Treaty. The complex Entry-Into-Force (EIF) provision claimed by Indian authorities as the main issue that forced New Delhi to get aside from CTBT dialogues. By considering relevant factors, it was predictable that Pakistan will follow the suit and despite international pressure and diversified attitude of local administration, it happened. However after nuclearization, both states were declared as nuclear weapon states but faced rigid sanctions by the permanent members of the UN Security Council.

Since the nuclearization of South Asia, both states entered in the era of nuclear politics and academics and policy makers was mulling to figure out their nuclear posture. The doctrinal posture of both states was shrouded with ambiguity and strategic impasse as neither drafted white paper that indicates her nuclear strategy. However later on, Atal Vajpayee in December 1998 and then Pervez Musharraf in May 2000 indicated their strategic framework as Minimum Credible Deterrence and no arms race which they forget subsequently.

The Indian parliament attack of 2001was blamed on Pakistan as a sponsor and it was analyzed that the nuclear deterrence failed in certain circumstances as sub-conventional warfare materalized. In 2004, New Delhi based policy pundits (strategists) came up with a punitive doctrine. Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) was a military doctrine targeted at conventional attack at Pakistan within limited time of 72 hours to fail Islamabad’s nuclear option. The aggressive doctrine was responded in 2011 with the employment of battlefield weapon called Tactical Nuclear Weapon (TNW) through the delivery mean called NASR; a multi-tube, 60 Km range with solid fuel tactical ballistic missile system. Although the Nasr was counter force weapon and with four primary conditions but still failed expensive CSD made India to act irrationally. After all, India declared that if Pakistan will cross nuclear threshold then India will retaliate massively and counter value. The Indian belligerence compelled Pakistan to opt full spectrum deterrence and Pakistan developed Shaheen-III; land-based medium range ballistic missile with range of 2750 Kms to target farthest point in India.

Furthermore, Indian accusation of the ballistic missile defence (BMD) system by the Israel, most advanced S-400 Triumf of Russia to boost its air defence and development of second strike capability through nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines called Arihant are the crucial steps that are being faced to Pakistan’s nuclear establishment. Indian candidacy for the membership of Nuclear Supplier Group as non-NPT member is also smashing into its most respective state.

A state who has suffered about $110 billion of its economy and more than 33000 recorded causalities in last 14 years, while supporting the global campaign of war against terror, must not be blamed for sponsoring terrorism without evidence. The international cooperation to counter the menace of terrorism within its territory grounds zero and the states machinery still at war with non-states actors. The radicalized extremism is still uncontrollable phenomenon for Pakistani authorities because of large-scale of public support and sentiments.

Though, the nuclear politics of South Asia is a debatable yet it is understandable that the India is responsible for nuclearized South Asia. From employment to deployment, New Delhi’s aggressive and divergent attitude led Pakistan to react irrationally. In the given circumstances, India must have to act realistically. India have the option to go for Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) ratification that will obviously encourage Pakistan and other proliferators to ratify and contribute towards regional and then to global stability and peace. New Delhi’s zealous step could be a milestone in global civil-nuclear cooperation.

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Nauman Hassan

Nauman is an enthusiastic researcher, who has developed his interest in Strategic Studies to become scholar in the fields of Strategy, Security and Defence Studies. Currently, he is serving at National Defense University, Islamabad as a Lecturer (V/F) and Asst. to Academic Advisor. Mr. Hassan has acquired Master degree in Strategic Studies from National Defence University. His area of focus is Asia Pacific studies.

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