Compiled by: Asma Khalid
Reviewed and Edited by: S. Sadia Kazmi
STRATEGIC VISION INSTITUTE (SVI), ISLAMABAD
Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) reviewed the impact of post-nuclearization on security, strategic and political landscape of South Asia by organizing a bi-monthly seminar on “Revisiting 20 Years of Nuclearization of South Asia: Impact on Regional Politics and Security” at Islamabad Serena Hotel on 28th May, 2018.The seminar was well attended by the military personals, representatives from Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), nuclear scientists, bureaucrats, scholars, academicians, journalists, and members of civil society.
In the Inaugural session, Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema, President/Executive Director SVI, presented his welcome remarks and thanked the honorable Chief GuestLt. Gen (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi (Former Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Pakistan), worthy speakers, and participants for affording valuable time out of their busy schedule and gracing the occasion with their presence. Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema offered a detailed overview of 20 years of “overt” nuclearization of South Asia which has profound and irreversible impact on regional and extra-regional politics and security architecture of South Asia as well as on the international nuclear order.
Dr. Cheema opined that some major developments have taken place since last 20 years which need to be reviewed and reconsidered and some options/conclusions are essential to be drawn from the 20 years of nuclearization of South Asia. Today India and Pakistan have almost entered into the second nuclear age where the weapons developed by them are no more the first generation nuclear weapons. Technologically advanced nuclear weapon and ballistic missiles have improved the deterrence equilibrium in South Asia. He stated that Pakistan did not take lead in testing nuclear weapons in 1998 despite the fact that after 1971 there was a national decision to develop the nuclear weapon because of sever asymmetric conventional capability between India and Pakistan coupled with the loss of Pakistan‟s eastern wing which became Bangladesh. Indeed, nuclear weapon capability has helped Pakistan re-establish the nuclear/strategic balance with nuclear India. It would not have been possible for Pakistan to achieve that on the conventional front as developing conventional military capability not only requires more time but is also a more expensive option as compared to developing a “minimum credible nuclear force.” By developing minimum credible nuclear force, Pakistan was able to reassert its position vis-à-vis India in the security, military and strategic realms. Credit for this goes to Pakistan‟s military strategic institutions and Pakistan‟s scientific community which collectively visualized the need for the timely policy to be developed and brought Pakistan at par with India in terms of strategic and nuclear equilibrium. By acquiring the much needed nuclear capability, Pakistan was able to establish a state of „cold peace‟ where Pakistan is at least not in the state of war with India. Dr. Cheema further highlighted two main objectives forwhich Pakistan developed the nuclearweapons: first, to deter India from initiating an offence against Pakistan, which has been a success as there has beenno war between India and Pakistan since 1971 and that is essentially because of nuclear deterrence which now prevails in South Asia; secondly, to counterbalance India‟s conventional military superiority through acquiring nuclear capability.
Dr.Cheema was of the view that the nuclearization of South Asia has regional and extra-regional dimensions, wherein the initiative from India disturbed the strategic equilibrium in the region and is responsible for the ensuing arms race. He quoted George Perkovich, who writes that “the blasts in Rajasthan have shaken the foundations of the international non-proliferation system.” While talking about India‟s doctrinal development, he mentioned that India in its proclaimed Draft Nuclear Doctrine (DND) of 17th August 1999, has adopted the posture of Credible Minimum Deterrence and No First Use (NFU) policy. While in reality, India aimed at developing sufficient deterrence based on triad of nuclear forces and visualized conventional preemptive strikes against Pakistan‟s nuclear assets. Later, on 4thJanuary, 2003 India operationalized its nuclear doctrine with profoundly changed NFU declaration. One can identify a wide gap between India‟s declared doctrinal postures and operational realities. In case of operational realities India claims to have maintained a kind of no first use, which was although amended in 2013, but a careful analyses of the Indian discourse on nuclear deterrence and strategic calculations shows that there is practically an operational policy of “First / Pre-emptive strike” against Pakistan‟s nuclear assets. The same is evident from the official statement by India‟s Defence Minister Manohar Parikar and was profoundly announced by the Indian academic scholar Prof. Vipin Narang in the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference of 2017. Though, it shouldn‟t come as a surprise tothe students of „Indian Nuclear Doctrine‟, as in the Article 2.7 of the original Draft Nuclear Doctrine India has kept the option of using conventional military strikes against its adversary‟s nuclear assets i.e. Pakistan. In response to this, Pakistan came up with the doctrine of “Minimum Credible Deterrence”. It is important to bear in mind that India is not following the minimum deterrence posture as is evident from the first two articles of India‟s DND which speak of developing a sufficient deterrence by India. It was eventually thought to be based on a triad of nuclear forces and second strike capability. The objective of India‟s nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles, and second strike capability is to maintain unquestionably a dominant position in South Asia and beyond in competition with Peoples Republic of China (PRC). Along with that India is obsessed with the deep rooted ambition to become a global great power. In order to achieve those objectives India is rapidly developing a conventional military capability, nuclear weapons forces and strategic capability, which are perhaps far beyond India‟s need within South Asia. Looking at India‟s conventional and nuclear capabilities in the deployed state within South Asia, one finds out that more than ninety percent of India‟s conventional capability is deployed against Pakistan. Therefore, the claim by India that it is not concerned or developing its capability against Pakistan is just a false statement that does not match with the reality. Similarly, except for Agni-V, a ballistic missile which India claims to be China specific, allthe remaining Indian nuclear weapon capabilities are directed against Pakistan. At the moment, they are not deployed anywhere in any form against Peoples Republic of China. So, Pakistan has indeed done a great job by developing minimum credible policy/doctrine given the state of its economy, technology, and it‟s otherwise limited resources. This policy has now further been augmented with the inclusion of technical deterrence i.e. “Full Spectrum Deterrence”. Dr. Cheema further stated that now there is a need to review Pakistan‟s nuclear policy while at the same time keeping in mind that the nuclear weapons are not inherently the military instruments; essentially, they are political and psycho-political weapons. Countries that possess nuclear weapons automatically get a status and a strategic positioning in the region which is recognized not only by the adversaries but by the friends as well. Hence owing to the nuclear weapons, the state naturally attains a certain standing at the regional and global level. Coincidentally, Pakistan has not achieved this position yet because of the proclaimed policy of India-centric-capability only. Dr. Cheema enquired the experts in attendance if it is possible that Pakistan reviews this policy and moves beyond India? He questioned as to why the policy is only confined to India and if somehow Pakistan‟s capabilities can give it the much required political and diplomatic status beyond India. He highlighted that Pakistan should not be apologetic to the world community for developing the nuclear capability, nor should Pakistan over emphasize the argument that it went nuclear only in response to the Indian nuclear tests and that Pakistan would not have taken this step had India not taken the initiative. Dr. Cheema enforced that this concept and its operational dimension needs to be reviewed if Pakistan is to act as a sovereign and independent state in the coming years. In addition to this Pakistan can also re-establish its equation with other friendly South Asian states if it asserts its status as a nuclear state. He quoted the example of North Korea which was given an altogether new recognition and respectable treatment after the successful nuclear test. President of the US is now willing to sit down with a person he used to abuse every day and every hour, and jokingly called the rocket man. But now, the matters seem to be positively changing as the US is willing to pursue negotiations with North Korea regarding its nuclear weapon program. Therefore, one can infer that it is because of Pakistan‟s own docile policy that it has yet not been given the due status of a regional power. Dr. Cheema advised that Pakistan should not be as adventurous as India. Pakistan does not suffer from any psychological weaknesses which India doesas a result of one thousand years of being under the Muslim rule. India has a deep rooted obsession to become a global world power; Pakistan doesn‟t have such ambitions. Therefore, a very calculated, considered reappraisal of twenty years of the nuclearization of South Asia is required. A review of military, political, and diplomatic dimension comprised of scientific, economic and technological resources is imperative to explore whether or not Pakistan needs to play a better role than it is playing at the moment.
After his brief remarks Dr. Cheema invited the Chief Guest Lt. Gen (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi to share his views on the topic.
Lt. Gen (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi expressed his pleasure for speaking at this important occasion and presented a brief overview of history of South Asian security architecture where he indicated that the partition of the Subcontinent could not have been a peaceful or cordial affair. It was a painful process with many unfinished agendas either by design or by default which was agonizing for both the countries that inherited Kashmir dispute and water conflict which added to the sense of antagonism from the very beginning. It is unfortunate that instead of resolving the existing disputes, a number of irritants kept increasing with the passage of time such as Rann of Kuch, Sir Creek, Siachin, Kargil, Bombay Blasts, Pathankot incident and most recently the proclaimed surgical strikes by India etc. Even the settled water dispute is getting controversial. India‟s offensive posture has pushed Pakistan to follow the “Securitized approach” to counter external aggression. The two countries have fought three major wars in 1948, 1965 and 1971 and have been engaged in a number of smaller military conflicts. In 1974 India conducted its first nuclear tests in Pokhran in response to which Pakistan‟s then Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto vowed that “we will eat grass but produce a nuclear bomb”. Now in the wake of present situation, the post 9/11 landscape, Afghanistan situation and Indo-US nexus, the nuclear weapon capability is a great blessing for Pakistan. While recapping the nuclear race in South Asia he added that acquisition and enhancement of military power resulted in expensive armament race with intense economic pressure on Pakistan due to its smaller size. Working towards the acquisition of nuclear power was thus a natural outcome of such intense animosity. After India and Pakistan went nuclear overtly and demonstrated their nuclear capabilities in May 1998, a balance of terror was created in the Subcontinent. Cold War (NATO-Warsawpact countries), Soviet-US deterrence and some Soviet-European deterrence were the only guidelines available to the South Asian politicians, military strategists and scientists. It was well understood by the experts that credibility of deterrence is dependent upon the political will coupled with the technical ability. Political will is important to threaten the enemy, and to send a message out to ones‟ own people and to the international community regarding the use of these weapons. Simultaneously, a verifiable technical ability comprises of fission/fusion device of manageable size, reliable delivery means, penetrability through enemy defensive systems, survivability against enemy strike, redundancy to ensure residual power, and command and control. Pakistan learned from the milestones of the Cold War era strategies that include Massive Retaliation, Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), Flexible Response, Countervailing Strategy and Prevailing Strategy. Pakistan has travelled a well-marked lane of strategic thought passing through milestones of strategic ambiguity, First Use option, credible minimum deterrence, sufficient deterrence, integrated strategy and Full Spectrum Deterrence. These strategies were contingent upon the technical developments on both sides including: 1) range, preparation time, and guidance system of missiles; 2) size of warheads and their type; 3) variety of delivery means including surface, air-delivery, naval platforms and naval launched; 4) command and control systems; 5) anti-missile systems; 6) multiple warheads, Multiple Independently targetable Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs). While discussing the impact of nuclearization he stated that nuclearization of India and Pakistan has definitely prevented large scale conventional wars and pushed the warfare into intricate hybrid i.e. 5th generation conflict. Lt. Gen. Khalid Lodhi stated that keeping in view the arsenal and professed strategies of both India and Pakistan, today the deterrence is holding due to MAD concept. While talking about deterrence stability he mentioned it is based on three factors: Mutual Vulnerability, Second Strike Capability and Communication Channels. It only works and remains applicable till both sides are vulnerable to destruction up to unacceptable levels. If any side becomes confident about its ability of shielding itself against the incoming attack, the deterrence stability in the region will get eroded and the probability of miscalculation will increase. Lt. Gen Lodhi stated that the only option to ensure deterrence stability in South Asia is that both sides, India and Pakistan should remain equally vulnerable to total and unacceptable levels of destruction. Simultaneously, both states need to stop vertical and horizontal expansion of protection domes and open dialogue/talks to discuss strategic stability in the region. He wrapped up his speech by highlighting three important questions:
How long will 1.7 billion population of South Asia remain hostage to adverse security situation?
Is the time ripe for the Indo-Pak strategists to discuss nuclear treaties?
Is there any other option except talks to ensure strategic stability?
In his concluding remarks he advised that the leadership of India and Pakistan must exhibit a mature orientation and decide whether to continue to play pawns in the arena of great powers or to take charge of their own destinies and save and improve the lives of one and half billion people residing in the region. Session II This session was chaired by Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema (President/Executive Director, Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad). The three imminent speakers for this session were Amb. (R) Tariq Osman Hyder (Former Additional Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs), Dr. Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi (HoD, Department of International Relations, University of Peshawar), and Amb. (R) Zamir Akram (Former Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva)
Amb. (R) Tariq Osman Hyder while deliberating upon the “Post-nuclearization Security Architecture and Political Dynamics in South Asia” stated that the elements of continuity and change are the yard stick to use in examining how far the security architecture and political dynamics of South Asia have changed or remained the same since both countries went nuclear twenty years ago. He added, unarguably that the impact of the nuclear capability of both countries has been overarching. War has been averted and though the nuclear flashpoint apprehension continues to be high on the radar during periods of tension, an element of caution and prudence has acted so far as a self-correcting mechanism. He further highlighted a few facts that have remained the same through this time and have not changed. These include: Threat perceptions and national approaches of India and Pakistan towards each other and the quest for military advantage to be able to threaten or to defend. There have been modulations of approach, some détente, and bilateral agreements at some point during this period. However; the Indian drive for hegemony and dominance within the region has not abated, if anything, it has only increased in tandem with their quest to be recognized as a big power globally.
2. Quest for allies and friends within the region and outside.
3. The major bilateral disputes beginning with the Kashmir issue, moving on to the Indus waters, Siachin, and Sir Creek, remain unresolved though in certain periods there was some movement and promise of more.
4. The Indian objective and effort since 1947 to turn an ever suspicious and revanchist Afghanistan even more against Pakistan to create second front situation.
5. The erosion of political system in Pakistan during this period partially by its overthrow and replacement under President General Musharraf tenure and subsequently by systemic weaknesses within the political parties and their leaders to reach inter party consensus or to deliver sufficiently to the public, to gain the support, and to preeminently establish themselves and assert their policies.
6. Pakistan also has been facing the continuing decline of the iron frame of the administration; the civil services, which has been ongoing since the early 1970s. The consequent decline of service delivery led to the lack of confidence in the social bargain among the public.
7. The LoC remains as always an active zone not just in terms of firing across the LoC and working boundary but open for territorial ingress and opposition as before.
He then moved on to discussing the facts that have changed or been significantly modulated in this matrix.He mentioned following significant developments:
1. In the context of strategic dimension, for both India and Pakistan, the nuclear assets, their variety and their delivery systems have considerably increased both in numbers and sophistication. India and the west have been trying to put Pakistan on the back foot with regards to Pakistan‟s short range nuclear capable missiles by raising questions and concerns regarding the command and control issues and the weapons being vulnerable to terrorists. Pakistan on its part has fittingly replied to these unfound concerns.
2. India‟s naval developments and aspirations to nuclearize its navy have introduced new trends of nuclear proliferation in the Indian Ocean.
3. Terrorism is being used by India as a yardstick to initiate talks with Pakistan.
4. Certain factors within Pakistan including, elements of insurgency in Baluchistan, law and order problems in FATA, post 9/11, and the US invasion of Afghanistan contributed to the increasing levels of internal threats including terrorism, which has further been magnified by Indian involvement and support.
5. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) can play a significant role; it will be a game changer not only for Baluchistan and Pakistan but also for the whole region.
6. The political and security fallout in Afghanistan impacts not only Pakistan but it also causes problems for neighboring countries and beyond. While looking at the main developments through the prism of continuation and change, the speaker raised an important question as to how Pakistan has fared on the new opportunities. Attempting to answer the question he stated that despite the nuclearization, regional landscape has become even more difficult for Pakistan due to multiple security issues especially the growing Indo-Afghan nexus has raised the concerns in Pakistan‟s policy making circles. Ambassador Hyder also talked about the new opportunities and stated that Pakistan is accepted and integrated into international community through various regional organizations, e.g. Pakistan‟s participation in ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). He also added that Pakistan’s record regarding nuclear export control regimes is mixed; Pakistan was really looking forward to the NSG membership however the state has a rather laid back approach when it comes to membership of other nuclear cartels. In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Hyder reiterated that Pakistan’s nuclear weapon capability has ensured not only the deterrence equilibrium but also the strategic stability in South Asia.
Second speaker of the session, Dr. Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi, provided an overview of “Cold Start Doctrine/ Joint Armed Force Doctrine, India‟s Limited-war Strategy and its Impact on Regional Stability”. After India conducted test series of Shakti I, II, and III in May 1998, India‟s home minister stated that the strategic balance has changed in South Asia. Another leader of the BJP said “India was now in a position to take control of Azad Kashmir”. Therefore, in response to such aggressive posture adopted by India and in order to ensure its safety and security, Pakistan conducted its first nuclear test on 28th May 1998 under extreme pressure from the US and world community against it. Pakistan‟s nuclear test series of May 1998 named as Chagai I and Chagai II were essentially the defensive nuclear tests to evade the existential threat that it faced from nuclear neighbor India. Resultantly, every year 28th May is marked as a reminder of the tough choice Pakistan had to make despite the threat of economic sanctions, international isolation and survival. He stated that the validity of nuclear deterrence in South Asia can be understood by the statement of Indian General Shankar Roy Chaudhri, who said “had Pakistan not possessed nukes, India would have attacked Pakistan during Parliament crisis of 2001 & Mumbai crisis of 2008.” While explaining the current scenario he identified two significant aspects of deterrence i.e. theory of deterrence, and strategy of deterrence. He explained “Deterrence is a theory to influence enemy‟s assessment of its interests”, and Strategy is “that the adversary is hostile and will act if an opportunity arises”. Therefore, upgrading missile system, acquiring the sophisticated means of delivery and warheads, improving accuracy, and enhancing capacity to hit and destroy more cities will enhance the credibility of deterrence. He further added that in the current security landscape the deterrence equilibrium is playing a significant role in South Asia as per both nuclear neighbors, India and Pakistan may resort to a conflict of low intensity without touching nuclear threshold. Dr. Soherwordi highlighted that this is also questionable that who would draw the line of not using the nukes in a conventional war or in a low intensity conflict? He added, during Kargil war, there were resonances of the use of nukes on both sides of the divide, so was the case during Mumbai Crisis of 2008 as witnessed by General Chaudhri. He maintained that deterrence may fail if the enemy miscalculates the adversary. He provided an overview of Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) and stated that CSD is conceived as a plan to attack Pakistan within 48 hours of any major provocation or terror attack on leaders and institutions of India without risking a major nuclear war. CSD is limited-war strategy designed to seize Pakistani territory swiftly without, in theory, risking a nuclear conflict. It has its roots in an attack on India‟s parliament in 2001, which was carried out by terrorist groups allegedly used as proxies by Pakistan. India‟s response to the onslaught was a flop. By the time its lumbering strike corps were mobilized and positioned on the frontier, Pakistan had already bulked up its defences, raising both the costs of incursion and the risk that it would escalate into a nuclear conflict. CSD was based on two major elements: the first involved the readjustment of “pivot” corps (defensive or ground holding corps) to make it possible to launch offensive operations virtually from a “Cold Start” to deny Pakistan the advantage of early mobilization; the second element of the CSD conceptualizes a number of integrated divisional-size forces launching limited offensive operations to a shallow depth to capture a long swathe of territory almost all along the international boundary. He further analyzed the implications of CSD and stated that in a limited war between India and Pakistan the success achieved by India‟s Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) would be exploited by one or more strike corps without crossing Pakistan‟s nuclear red lines. The captured territory would act as a bargaining chip to force Pakistan to wind down its institutional support to militants. Such proactive strategy of India is supplemented by the fact that the Pakistani nuclear weapons are under a centralized command and control, and in non-deployed state; initially designed to give intra-war crisis stability and more time to the decision makers. He noted that India and Pakistan have remained in a state of rivalry for more than 70 years which is more than the historic rivalry that existed between the United States and the USSR. Furthermore, the transformation in war doctrines of India and Pakistan have also remained locked in the historic tradition of British war fighting, battle plans and strategic outcomes.
He was of the view that in a nuclearized South Asia, any offensive overture by India will be counterproductive. Pakistani officials have already threatened to use nuclear weapons if India put Cold Start into action. In conventional war, strategy of confusing an enemy can lead to victory; when two nuclear powers are involved it is a surer step towards a catastrophic draw. Moreover, India and Pakistan have failed to reach to an agreement to sign No First Use (NFU) policy, therefore, in the absence of NFU nuclear doctrine, the Cold Start will not only be risky but disastrous for the regional peace and security. Dr. Soherwordi quoted Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi‟s statement that Pakistan has developed short-range nuclear weapon “Nasr” to counter the „Cold Start‟ doctrine of the Indian Army. He further pointed out that one reason for India to keep its cards close to its chest is that it may not be capable of acting on Cold Start. Indeed, India‟s army chief admitted to civilian leaders after the 2008 attacks that his battalions were “not ready for war” with Pakistan. Yet things have taken a different turn since an assault on the Indian garrison of Uri in Kashmir, which left 19 dead. The Indian government responded by authorizing “surgical strikes” along the frontier, targeted at “terrorist launchpads” and “those protecting them”. Moreover, by acknowledging the CSD, that demand a more potent retaliation than these commando operations, the Indian army seems keen to signal that it has a range of strategic options, introducing an element of unpredictability in its response. Political leaders may have also come closer to embracing it. The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has shown keen interest in national-security matters, moving India into the world’s top-five defence spenders, addressing servicemen‟s grievances and mulling a wholesale revamp of the armed forces‟ structure. On the other hand, for Pakistan, this is the high time that after 20 years of achieving nuclear status, Pakistan must proceed forward. Nuclear cooperation with other nuclear powers like Russia, members of NSG, and Australian Group is the need of the time. In concluding remarks Dr. Syed Hussain Shaheed Soherwordi stated that for all practical purposes, the Cold Start doctrine is an impractical concept. It is more of a theory than a practice. It is based on assumptions, which may recoil. Rather than going for a non-aggression pact with Pakistan, preparing for an ill-conceived war will be counterproductive for India. This may cost the region its peace. He added nukes are not only possessed, they bear a responsibility. Such hypothetical doctrines, like Cold Start, may trigger a nuclear war, which will not be in consonance with a responsible nuclear state. A nuclearized region may see the tide of the time. This is the era of low politics i.e. economic cooperation. If South Asia is a poverty-ridden region, it is because of war mongering minds and flawed doctrines of regional states like India. Thus, the need of the time is the establishment of strategic arms limitation regimes to ensure stability in South Asia.
Third speaker of the seminar, Ambassador (R) Zamir Akram, presented his views on “Nuclearization of South Asia: A Calculus of Peace, Conflict and Security”. He began by quoting Bernard Brodie‟s statement that nuclear weapons are not meant to fight wars but to prevent them. From that perspective the nuclearization of South Asia and particularly Pakistan‟s acquisition of nuclear deterrence has certainly prevented war in the region. Perhaps that has not led to full peace yet but certainly conflict between India and Pakistan has been avoided. Recalling his own personal experience about Pakistan‟s nuclear test, he said before May 1998, the real major event for Pakistan was in 1974 when India conducted its so called “peaceful nuclear explosion” resulting in nuclear proliferation in South Asia. At that time and since then Pakistan has been the subject of a discriminatory policy engineered and led by the United States and its allies. The same policy continued till May 1998 and remains unchanged till date. He recounted that just two months before May 1998, Pakistan sent a letter from Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to US President Bill Clinton conveying Pakistan‟s concerns regarding Indian preparations for conducting a nuclear test because there were sufficient indications about Indian intentions, and the newly elected government of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee had also made it part of its manifesto. But these concerns were dismissed as Pakistan‟s paranoia about India. He also shared the conversation he had with an American Ambassador to New Delhi Mr. Frank Wisener, wherein the speaker had asked him about the possibility of India going nuclear which the American Ambassador dismissed saying that the Indians knew the cost of such an action. This clearly indicated that throughout that period India was not in the focus of the US. On the contrary, Pakistan had been consistently in the line of fire with accusations of illegal import of margin steel, ring magnets and missiles for alleged nuclear weapons and missile development. Therefore, Indian test which took place on 11th May 1998 came as a matter of personal satisfaction, for it vindicated what Pakistan had been saying to the United States. On the very same day President Clinton went on air and criticized India. However, Ambassador Akram maintained that the US reaction to the test was more remorse than any real criticism. Needless to say that in the same breath Clinton urged Pakistan not to follow suit. He attributed the reluctant imposition of sanctions on India by the US due to its selfish politico-economic considerations in the long run, whereas from the very beginning Pakistan had been repeatedly warned that if the country ever dared to cross the nuclear line it would suffer crippling sanctions. He recalled that after the Indian tests, Islamabad thoroughly considered the pros and cons during intense discussions which were held to decide the course of action needed to be taken. Pakistan‟s perspective was that it had no choice but to carry out the nuclear tests because:
i. Nothing less than a credible nuclear test, a demonstration of nuclear capability, will be a credible nuclear deterrent.
ii. Any American assurance would be unreliable given their track record. As such Pakistan had to realize that it should not rely on any commitment by the US.
Fortunately for Pakistan, he claimed, the commitment that the US made was so weak and intangible that it was not difficult to turn it down.
The two principle recommendations, according to him, given by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the armed forces chiefs, the Defense Ministry and most importantly the scientific community, were the basis for arguing in favor of conducting nuclear tests. He emphasized the point that it needs to be remembered that Pakistan had no choice but to acquire nuclear capability after the Indian nuclear tests.
By crossing that threshold, Pakistan consolidated and made overt something that had come into existence in the mid 1980‟s. After the 1974 Indian test, as has been mentioned, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto launched Pakistan‟s nuclear weapons program by enlisting Pakistan‟s nuclear scientists, engineers and technicians. Due to US sanctions, this program was pursued covertly.
Before the achievement of a virtual or recessed nuclear weapons capability by Pakistan, the region had witnessed the outbreak of conflicts (1948, 1965, and 1971). However, after the mid-1980s, recessed deterrence was instrumental in avoiding the conflicts, even though India carried out the massive Brass-Tacks military exercises. It was due to the nuclear signaling that took place at that time that ensured deterrence. Similarly, a conflict was avoided when the Kashmir uprising in 1990 led to mobilization of troops on both sides.
He maintained that after 1998, the covert deterrence was transformed into an overt deterrence and since then there has been existence of relative strategic stability between India and Pakistan. However, the discriminatory policies of the US have been maintained even after the acquisition of Pakistan‟s nuclear capability, Pakistan has been asked, first, to “rollback” its nuclear capability and now is being asked to show “unilateral restraint”. He maintained that there can be no unilateral restraint instead it has to be exercised on both sides.
There have also been several shocks to Pakistan‟s nuclear enterprise dealt by the US in conjunction with its Western partners and India has been a willing participant in this whole game of coercion. One argument floated and pushed by the US and India particularly after the Kargil conflict was that Pakistan was an “irresponsible nuclear power”. Later in 2001, after 9/11, there was a tirad launched against Pakistan alleging that its nuclear scientists were somehow conspiring with Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. This allegation was even followed by an investigation by the CIA. Pakistan, on its part, throughout adopted a cooperative approach and eventually it was determined that all the allegations were false. However, the alleged linkage between Pakistan‟s nuclear weapons and terrorism was established in the negative narrative against Pakistan which continues to be supported by the American academies and journalist communities.
He also discussed that in 2004 the so called A.Q. Khan network was used as a basis for establishing that Pakistan was involved in global nuclear proliferation with Iran and North Korea whereas in reality there were people from 22 different countries that were part of that network which has been recognized by none other than the DG IAEA. He stressed on the fact that Pakistan was the only country that took action to close it down. No other country took any action nor was asked to do so. India itself had been engaging in nuclear proliferation before and after the 1998 tests, but instead has been rewarded by the NSG waiver. This has been for Pakistan, the worst shock: the NSG waiver granted to India for civilian nuclear cooperation by the US in pursuit of its strategic alliance with India as a counter-weight to China. A combination of these challenges has led to a phase of instability in the current state of deterrence in South Asia. He stressed that the Indo-US strategic partnership has emboldened India technologically and militarily to pursue an aggressive policy in South Asia. Ambassador Akram further mentioned that another factor of concern is that India encouraged by the US‟ discriminatory approach actually believes that it could fight a conventional limited war below the nuclear threshold. This Cold Start Doctrine was denied by Indians until the current Indian army chief, General Bipin Rawat, acknowledged it. This denial has as much credibility, in his opinion, as has India‟s No First Use policy. There‟s no such thing as No First Use and India‟s strategic build up and strategic profile is reflective of that fact. Cold Start has compelled Pakistan to respond by developing low yield nuclear weapons that can be used to blunt a conventional Indian attack on Pakistan and thereby to neutralize Cold Start. In response, India is now talking even more adventurously about a preemptive first strike or a splendid first strike. The Indian army chief General Bipin Rawat has also spoken of calling Pakistan‟s nuclear bluff and gone to the ridiculous extent of claiming that India can fight two wars at the same time against Pakistan and China. This type of thinking is not commensurate with India‟s capabilities and creates a false sense of confidence within the Indian public. Mr. Akram said that this trend is quite dangerous because with an unstable and unpredictable leader like Narendra Modi, these kinds of policies cannot be discounted nor can they be ignored. Mr. Akram claimed to be in favor of dialogue. However, dialogue for the sake of dialogue is pointless he said. He cautioned that in order to embark upon such a venture, first there is a need to be clear about the objectives. Similarly, he did not believe in the argument that Pakistan is isolated. Referring to CPEC and about relations with Russia and other countries of SCO, it is clear that Pakistan is very much part and parcel of the international political community. He stressed upon the fact that Pakistan should not suffer from such inferiority complex and should instead be confident about its standing and policies in the region and beyond.
After the Speakers Dr. Cheema invited the discussants to present their remarks on the subject.
The first discussant for the event Lt. Gen. (R) TalatMasood HI, SB (M), reflected upon the historical and strategic significance of 28thMay and recalled the jubilation and pride felt not only by the Pakistani nation but also by the whole Muslim world when Pakistan conducted the nuclear tests in 1998. He extended his heartfelt appreciation to the Pakistani engineers and scientists for their unwavering commitment and dedication to provide Pakistan with
nuclear capability despite the daunting challenges and a weak industrial base confronting Pakistan at that time. He said, Pakistan proved its mantle among the comity of nations and became the only Muslim country with nuclear capability. Recounting the firsthand experience during his tenure as Director Projects during the era of 70s-80s, and as Chairman of PAEC for nearly seven and a half years, and as Secretary Defence Production, he said that the amount of national resolve and dedication to achieve the nuclear capability was unprecedented. He stressed that if Pakistan would work the way nuclear and scientific community and managers did back then, then there is no reason why Pakistan could not overcome any present and future challenges. He said the embargoes and restrictions on Pakistan to import modern technologies imposed by countries like the US helped the country to develop a strong indigenous capability. He was of the view that the same has been replicated in the case of Iran.He specifically praised China for its unwavering support to Pakistan in thedifficult times and maintained that China is the only country to have always been forthcoming when required, especially in terms of providing technological assistance. Nevertheless, it was the stewardship of the organizations and the management involved in the development of nuclear capability that played a decisive role. In this regard, he underscored the unforgettable contributions of the scientific community under the leadership of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan.
Gen. TalatMasood hailed Pakistan‟s missile program as a major achievement having a huge potential to benefit the country in both defence and civil sectors and highlighted the need to increase the spin off from the technological advancement in the civil sector. He however cautioned against the illusion and misperception that nuclear power alone can be a source of unreachable and complete security and stressed that full security comes with economic development, political stability and social cohesion. He argued that the addition of non-nuclear elements of national power would only enhance the impact of Pakistan‟s status as a nuclear power. At this juncture, he expressed his agreement with Dr.Cheema that Pakistan needs not be apologetic about its nuclear capability. Finally, he was emphatic in stating that being a nuclear power and the sixth largest country in terms of population, Pakistan needs to liberateitself from Indian obsession.Pakistan needs tolook at the issues independently and establish relations with other countries on the basis of mutuality of interests. Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema thanked the speaker for his invaluable remarks and reiterated the significance of the three elements (economic development, political stability, and social cohesion) as highlighted by Gen. TalatMasood and said that the disintegration of the Soviet Union despite having nuclear capability is theprime example of how the lack of the three elements can undermine the security of a state.
Mr. Pervaiz Butt (former Chairman PAEC) as second discussant represented Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and quoted some examples of his personal experiences. Mr. Pervaiz Butt started his deliberation with narrating the evolution and development of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission which was formed in 1957. He accredited Dr. Ishrat HussainUsmani (NI) for the astounding development of the Atomic Energy Commission, who took the charge as the Chairman of PAEC in 1958. Mr. Butt mentioned that Dr. Ishrat HussainUsmani primarily was a physicist and a civil servant with aspirations to make PAEC a distinct organization. Mr. Butt while deliberating on the subject recalled Dr. Usmani envisioning in 1965 to have a nuclear power plant for Pakistan which eventually became a realityowing tohis devout efforts and led to the development and successful operationalization ofKarachi Nuclear Power Plant with assistance from Canada.In his concluding Remarks, Mr. Butt also stressed on the need forindigenization and avowed that the increased reliance onthe industrial base can make a nation/state susceptible to embargoes as well as to the economic sanctions.
Last discussant for the event, Mr. Khalid Banuri (Former Director General ACDA, SPD) commenced his presentation by expressing his gratitude to Dr. Cheema. He gave an overview of the remarks made by the other speakers and discussants and presented his own comments and views pertaining to the topics discussed in the seminar. At the outset he stressed on the need to do some introspection about the nuclear related developments since May 1998
nuclear tests and said that Pakistan needs to do more to safeguard its security with respect to the moves and development byIndia.At this juncture he also lauded the efforts made by the nuclear establishment for being visionary and forward looking on doctrinal side that it created more options for Pakistan to strengthen its security. He highlighted the efforts by the nuclear establishment working on institutional mechanisms includingperformance appraisals, planning, development, and ultimately for achieving the objectives in a timely fashion. Expressing his views on the subtlety and significance of using well thought out terminologies i.e. India‟s “No First Use” and Pakistan‟s “First Use Policy”, he said he never use the terminology of First Use policy for Pakistan instead urged that like NATO Pakistan should keep its choices open. He acknowledged the equal significance of other elements i.e. economic, political and social for a robust and well strengthened national security of any country. However, he said nuclear weapons have been playing a critical role in the security of Pakistan. Answering whether nuclear weapons are also a liability, he said one needs to look at it through the context of responsibility vs. balance, which would reveal that the weapons are indeed not a liability. He out rightly rejected any possibility of open-ended arms race with India and referred to an important press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan that talks about following the principles of resolve, restraint and responsibility.
Mr. Banuri while answering as to why Pakistan is not getting the status it deserves as a nuclear power, he said that itis because the other elements of National Power need to be in consonance with nuclear capability. He said Indian acknowledgement in the world is because of the political needs that India has for them given its sheer size and economy. On why Pakistan‟s policy is India centric, he said in military sense one doesn‟t open too many fronts when one has a clear threat from a country, in Pakistan‟s case it is India. He further discussed that traditionally Pakistan and India have been engaged in an action-reaction situation for several years and that now the time is right for the strategists to discuss nuclear treaties although notwithstanding many of Pakistan‟s proposal about restraint and CBMS, India has not shown any sincere interest in this regard. He agreed with Dr. Soherwordi that when two countries are nuclear, confusions can be catastrophic. He recalled the Cold Start Doctrine (CSD), where the classic principle of war is based on the element of surprise and said that the nuclear weapons provide strategic pause to thetwo sides to get on to the table and bargain. He ruled out any possibility of surprising a nuclear nation, as espoused by India in the CSD. Referring to Amb. Tariq Osman Hyder‟s statement about increasing sophistication, he quoted Peter D. Feaver analogy that when states consolidate then they start to expand their expertise so that they can ensure the security and underline its relevance for all new nuclear weapons states including India and Pakistan. Regarding the triad, and “assured second strike capability” he said that these can be academically more appealing but one has to factor in the technological and fiscal challenges. Briefly referring to export control regimes he said it is up to the decision makers of the time to choose what they find prudent to achieve in a given set of situation. Mr. Banuri made a standing ovation to all the nuclear scientists, experts andengineers who were involved in process of Pakistan‟s nuclear development and evolution.
The talks were followed by Question and Answer session moderated by the Chair Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema
Mr. Raza Khan, Special Correspondent PTV World News, asked if it is not the need of the hour that Pakistan follows in the footsteps of Israel in evolving its policy regarding the use of nuclear weapons. Israel at the moment is following Samson option, which calls for credible threat of destruction of all states which threatened Israel‟s existence. As only following India centric approach is not enough to secure Pakistan from all threats. Mr. Banuri replied that so far Pakistan‟s threat perceptions emerge directly from India, which is also the reason behind the acquisition and evolution of Pakistannuclear arsenals. He further added that Pakistan‟s nuclear arsenals are to maintain deterrence which has already been achieved.
Next question was referred to Ambassador Zamir Akram about the discrimination that Pakistan has been subjected to despite India‟s poor proliferation record. India got the NSG waiver and recently the membership of MTCR, Wassenaar Arrangement, and AustraliaGroup. Whether the discrimination would increasein coming years and what are theavailable options forPakistan‟s strategic community to overcome adverse effects of such discriminations. In response, Amb. Zamir Akram said that the discrimination against Pakistan will grow in coming years because west and the US visualize India as a strategic partner against China and in the evolving geo-political environment where the US and China are competing, India will be given prominence over Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistan‟s alliance with China is important as it is blocking India‟s membership for the NSG.
Ms. RubinaWaseem from NDU asked about the future of Pakistan‟s nuclear diplomacy in coming years as it has been quite a weak component of Pakistan‟s nuclear policy in the past. Amb. Akram disagreed that Pakistan‟s nuclear diplomacy has not succeeded in the past insteadhe mentioned the example of NSG membership where Pakistan successfully managed to garner the support from not only China but also from other states for more balanced and criteria based approach.
At the end of the Seminar Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema presented souvenirs to the distinguished Chief Guest, worthy speakers and discussants and once again thanked the guests, accomplished scholars and participants for their kind participation.
Print and electronic media covered the proceedings of the bi-monthly seminar as is evident from the hyperlinks given below: