N-safety partnership


WEB DESK: As compared with Pakistan India may do better economically or amass huge stockpiles of conventional weapons but where it cannot outmatch Pakistan is nuclear potential.

And this very potential, also called nuclear deterrence, is the guarantee for peace and stability in South Asia.

Were it not there, the protagonists of Cold Start Doctrine in New Delhi would have opted for another bout with Pakistan. But when told that it would be befittingly countered with battlefield nuclear weapons, sanity returned from where it was itching to take off. Given the growing imbalance in conventional weaponry in the region – courtesy among others, the United States of America, that only recently accentuated that imbalance by stitching up a logistics exchange agreement with India, which is the second largest arms importer in the world.

For Pakistan its nuclear assets are weapons of choice and these assets are absolutely safe and secure. There is danger of these being hijacked or stolen, such thinking is nothing but hogwash. There is no danger whatsoever of these falling into wrong hands as some vicious anti-Pakistan minds tend to suggest.

Unlike India, which is yet to evolve its independent nuclear regulator, Pakistan has put in place a regulatory mechanism with extensive oversight and authority. Pakistan has now asked New Delhi to be partners in ensuring safety and security of their nuclear potentialities by developing an ‘independent regulatory framework’.

Being conscious of the “Fail-Safe” risks inherent in nuclear scenario by now, the two countries have worked out – to a considerable extent – bilateral cooperation in a number of areas like nuclear accidents and nuclear CBMs. Moreover, they are signatories to several international conventions regarding nuclear safeguards and security regimes. Pakistan has now added to that co-operative mode by proposing to India to join hands in developing an independent regulatory framework.

The proposal comes on the heels of another proposal made last month to agree to sign up a bilateral moratorium on testing of nuclear weapons.

India may or may not respond positively to these proposals. But it is for the international community, particularly the Nuclear Suppliers Group, to see for itself how much committed Pakistan is to its aims and purposes. In his address to conference hosted jointly by the Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) and the Atlantic Council on Thursday, Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry expressed hope that “political and commercial motives” – which tend to tilt the balance of acceptance for India’s admission to NSG membership – would not hinder Pakistan’s equally legitimate candidature for membership.

“Credible minimum deterrence remains our principle and as a sovereign country we take every step for defence of our motherland if any strategic partnership or alliance threatens our security and regional stability,” he said. To this backdrop the question is: Will there be a shift in the United States’ no-to-Pakistan stand? There is no such indication yet.

However, an encounter of US Senators with independent experts in the field does throw up early signs of such a possibility – unlike the recent refusal by the hard-nosed Senate to honour the Pakistan bill of $300 million. “The policy of the current US administration to support an unconditional and exceptional NSG membership path for India is problematic,” Toby Dalton, a co-director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace told Senators. Not only is India being exempted from application of Group’s practices, such a move would also “incentivize” Pakistan to consider nuclear restraints.

Pakistan has taken significant measures to ensure that its nukes are well-protected, he told point-blank the Senator who asked Dalton if the people of Pakistan have complete consensus to retaining nuclear option.

Another expert, Robert L Grenier, urged the United States to be “very, very careful” in its treatment with Pakistan despite differences over the Haqqani Network. “If you treat them as a pariah, they are likely to behave as a pariah”.

Source: Business Recorder