Nu­clear Pak­istan is es­sen­tial for sta­bil­ity

Pakistan Observer - - OPINION - Dr Muham­mad Khan Email: drmk_edu@ya­

IN his ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled, “A Bal­ance Sheet for May 28” Dr Pervez Hoodb­hoy al­most de­clared Pak­istani nu­clear weapons pro­gramme as worth­less. In his opin­ion, since Pak­istani nu­clear weapons pro­gramme could not de­liv­ered against mil­i­tancy fu­elled through rad­i­cal­i­sa­tion, ex­trem­ism, sub na­tion­al­ism and sec­tar­i­an­ism, all end­ing at ter­ror­ism, thus is use­less against all these con­tem­po­rary threats, fac­ing the state and so­ci­ety of Pak­istan. Sim­i­larly, these weapons have not been able to re­solve long­stand­ing Kash­mir is­sue nor could stop US vi­o­la­tion of the Pak­istani sovereignty. There are many more is­sues, pro­fes­sor Hoodb­hoy pointed out, the nu­clear weapons could not re­solve or en­sure.

In de­scrib­ing the true us­ages of the nu­clear weapons, US writer like John S. Foster and Keith B wrote in their ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled, “What are Nu­clear Weapons For” that, wor­thi­ness of nu­clear weapons is “beyond the mil­i­tary char­ac­ter­is­tics” In their opin­ion, nu­clear weapons ad­dress the broader spec­trum of na­tional de­fense goals like; “de­ter­rence, as­sur­ance, and dis­sua­sion.” How­ever, US also pro­vided nu­clear shield to its al­lies dur­ing the cold war, but Pak­istani nu­clear pro­gramme has one core focus ob­jec­tive, the de­ter­rence be­side other two fac­tors. There have been mil­i­tancy and in­sur­gen­cies in many nu­clear weapons state and none used nu­clear weapons against mil­i­tants, how Pak­istan could have used these weapons against mil­i­tants or against any neigh­bours, once there was no ma­jor war, war­rant­ing the us­age of nu­clear weapons.

Af­ter 1971, Pak­istan gen­uinely felt that, it could not meet and com­pete the con­ven­tional threat, posed by its tra­di­tional rival, In­dia, which dis­in­te­grated it. The new thoughts were in­ter­preted into non-con­ven­tional means; the nu­clear weapons pro­gramme. We should not for­get the ad­van­tages of nu­clear weapons for a smaller state like Pak­istan. Since the time In­dia knew that Pak­istan has de­vel­oped the nu­clear weapons ca­pa­bil­ity, it ab­stained from any ag­gres­sion against Pak­istan. In re­al­ity, Pak­istan at­tained all three ob­jec­tives from its weapon pro­gramme; the de­ter­rence, as­sur­ance, and dis­sua­sion.

As per the found­ing fa­ther of Pak­istan’s nu­clear pro­gramme, Dr Ab­dul Qadeer Khan, Pak­istan at­tained the nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity in 1984. In a re­cent state­ment, he said that, “We were able and we had a plan to launch nu­clear test in 1984 how­ever; then Pres­i­dent Gen­eral Zia had op­posed the move.” Zia in fact, never wanted that, Pak­istan should come un­der sanc­tions at a crit­i­cal junc­ture, there­fore, avoided the nu­clear tests at that time.

It was be­cause of nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity of Pak­istan that de­terred In­dia from a likely ag­gres­sion against Pak­istan in 1986/87. In­dia un­der­took a mas­sive mil­i­tary oper­a­tion ‘Oper­a­tion Brasstacks’ in its Rajasthan area in 1986/87, whose ex­ten­sion was ex­pected in the form of at­tack on Pak­istan. Later In­dian Prime Min­is­ter, Ra­jive Ghandi was com­mu­ni­cated through fa­mous ‘Cricket Diplo­macy’ about the nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity of Pak­istan. This rev­e­la­tion re­ally worked well and In­dia called off the evil de­signs, it had against Pak­istan. It was be­cause of the nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity of Pak­istan, though, the for­mal det­o­na­tion was still awaited.

The post 1998 sce­nario was even com­pli­cated and more dan­ger­ous. The Kargil conflict was the first lit­mus test of the Pak­istani nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity. De­spite nu­mer­i­cal strength and con­ven­tional su­pe­ri­or­ity, In­dia could not dare to at­tack Pak­istan else­where. Mil­i­tar­ily In­dia failed to re­gain the Kargil heights, thus, it had only op­tion to open other fronts, which it de­sisted ow­ing to strate­gic sta­bil­ity. Later, US in­ter­vened and conflict ended with heavy losses from both sides. Later in 2001//02, it was the threat of nu­clear weapons, which forced In­dia to de-mo­bi­lize its forces af­ter al­most re­main­ing eye­ball to eye­ball for a year al­most.

To­day, Pak­istani na­tion salute its he­roes, those who started, safe­guarded and ensured pro­gres­sion of its nu­clear weapon pro­gramme, de- spite unimag­in­able in­ter­na­tional pres­sure and many sanc­tions. Pak­istani nu­clear weapons pro­gramme has brought a strate­gic sta­bil­ity in South Asia. Had there been no nu­clear de­ter­rence in South Asia, In­dia might have un­der­taken ag­gres­sion against all re­gional states of this re­gion, es­pe­cially Pak­istan. De­spite there ex­ists a strate­gic bal­ance, In­dia has de­vised mil­i­tary ag­gres­sion poli­cies like Cold Start and Blue Wa­ter Navy with nu­clear ca­pa­ble sub­marines, pri­mar­ily against Pak­istan and re­gional dom­i­na­tion.

The chang­ing re­gional and global geopol­i­tics war­rants that, Pak­istan must pos­sess and con­tinue its stated pol­icy of Min­i­mum Cred­i­ble De­ter­rence, at­tained through its nu­clear ca­pa­bil­ity. Those Pak­istani pseudo schol­ars and in­ter­na­tional forces cry­ing over and por­tray­ing Pak­istani nu­clear pro­gramme as worth­less, dan­ger­ous and unsafe must re­fresh their knowl­edge, rather re­main­ing in the past. Why can­not they ad­vice In­dia to give up its nu­clear weapons pro­gramme and start liv­ing peace­fully with its neigh­bours in the re­gion. For its sur­vival, sus­tain­abil­ity, se­cu­rity and re­gional and global rel­e­vance, Pak­istan must have a so­phis­ti­cated na­tional se­cu­rity sys­tem backed by nu­clear weapons pro­gramme. — The writer is In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions an­a­lyst based in Is­lam­abad.

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