Nuclear deterrence as a factor of stability


WEB DESK: The country’s apex security organisation, National Command Authority, met Wednesday midway between the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit called by President Obama and the reports that India is now the world’s biggest conventional arms importer. Both the developments do not augur well for Pakistan. Bolstered up by success to defang Iran’s nuclear option, much to the delight of Israel, Washington may now go after Pakistan to win similar favour for its regional ally India. And the disproportionally armed India may like to put into practice its hobby horse Cold Start doctrine.

That being the backdrop the National Command Authority has come up with its mind on how Pakistan reacts to these challenges, but within the scope of international law and its determination not to agitate arms race in the region. First thing first: the NCA “re-emphasised Pakistan’s desire for establishing the Strategic Restraint Regime in South Asia”, for which it offered India a sustained dialogue. Given its hegemonic mindset and rising aspirations to be a regional bully the Indian leadership is reluctant to be bound by an agreed understanding with Pakistan. That leaves Pakistan with no option but to maintain a minimum credible nuclear deterrence; with potential to come into play should India set in motion its limited war initiative. Pakistan has left no doubt in any mind that for its defence its response will be all along the horizon as conceived under the rubric of Full Spectrum Deterrence.

No wonder then of late Pakistan has reasserted that it is not bound by anything like promise of no-first-use of nuclear weapons, and even declared that should the need arise it would not hesitate to deploy the theatre-specific nuclear warheads tipped on short range missiles. Nobody should expect Pakistan to bury its head in sand and remain unconcerned as India stocks up its conventional armories, builds up an entire new city dedicated to developing thermonuclear weapons and deceptively diverts fissile material. The National Command Authority poignantly regretted that the ‘West has been ignoring India’s activities because of its commercial interests and for the sake of containing China’. Given forbidding height and intractable terrain of the Himalayas India faces at the most a limited war with China, unlike Pakistan with which it shares a long border and a history of three wars.

No wonder then, Pakistan finds the US-encouraged worldview about its nuclear programme grossly biased and out of tune with ground realities. An independent India and its nuclear ambition were born twins. Be it India’s ‘Smiling Buddha’ atomic explosion in 1974 or its full-scale nuclear testing in 1998, Pakistan has only reacted. But for reasons unknown and illogical if known, the West has been hostile to Pakistan developing nuclear deterrence against its sworn adversary India. In clear violation of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) the United States went ahead and gave India access to its nuclear technology. Pakistan has been denied that favour or facility. Same is the case with membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group.

The NCA has once again reminded the Group that it has all the requisite credentials required to become a member, underscoring the imperative for ‘adoption of a non-discriminatory approach’. As for the Nuclear Security Summit called by President Obama, Pakistan expects no big surprise but lingering melody that Pakistan should move out of its Full Spectrum Deterrence mould and that it should do more to secure its nuclear assets. That is not wanted, because Pakistan has already signed the UN Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and is ready to ‘do more’ should it be needed. But when the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is convinced of Pakistan’s foolproof security of its nuclear assets wherever these are the United States should entertain no doubts. So, instead of maligning Pakistan’s nuclear programme as insecure and unsafe the international community must realise that the country’s policy of maintaining minimum credible nuclear deterrence is the essential factor of stability in South Asia.

Source: Business Recorder