Hubbub Against Pakistan’s Defence Initiatives

by Reema Shaukat

Conspiracies against Pakistan are not new. Often its adversaries are found creating hype about its certain capabilities. A recent such flimflam came about few days ago when USA again showed concerns about Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons. The State Department in a statement said that US is concerned about the security of tactical nuclear weapons, and it’s been a common refrain in their discussions with Pakistan. Interestingly this announcement comes at the time when USA shows willingness on selling F-16s to Pakistan particularly for combating war on terror.

India as expected created fuss over the matter and tried to spoil the broth by same old nitty gritty objections. A recent joint study by the Carnegie and Stimson research organizations estimates that Pakistan has the capability to produce twenty nuclear warheads annually while India appears to be producing about five warheads. Pakistan repeatedly has denied such reports and always stand firm to its announcement that it goes only for credible minimum deterrence. Its nuclear deterrence is for self defence and is not at all status driven while giving NSG waiver to India will disturb strategic stability and surge arms race in South Asia.

In post 9/11 scenario, since the US intervention in Afghanistan, accusing Pakistan for its ‘criminality’ of speedily developing nuclear systems against a real threat from India has remained a preferred matter of nuclear experts. Present charter of a severe argument particularly against Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons and for taking a logical line of defense against discriminatory Conference on Disarmament (CD) on FMCT, is not beyond understanding.  During the late forties and the early fifties, the US entered and stretched out its presence in the Asia-Pacific, in addition to many other regions of the world, to establish itself as the predominant global power in the name of institutionalizing the effect of the World War-II.

At present, US strategy to disengage itself from unwinnable conflict particularly in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan and yearning to rebalance its position in the Asia-Pacific region was announced by President Obama, well before its drawdown policy in Afghanistan. Under this rebalance strategy the significance of Asia-pacific region, particularly China, as a fast growing and speedily rising region, is emphasized to underline the US engagement with the region. India having a large population and future consumer market, because of its potential and perceived economic growth and strategic position in the Indian Ocean and the Malacca Strait areas, supplemented with ever growing divergent interests with China, Russia, Pakistan and other smaller but important neighboring countries like Sri Lanka and Nepal, is hence seen as a new vital unit in this stratagem. India on the other hand looks favorably towards this approach owing to its own apprehension about an assertive and militarily powerful China as well as its desire to undermine Pakistan economic initiative linked to CPEC.

The US following the Cold Start Doctrine, is playing its cards of economic, technological, security and strategic interests while capitalizing on democracy and the perpetually repeated threat of terrorism, to drag Indian partnership in the region. India on the other hand especially under PM Modi and his team have been made to believe that country’s economy, democratic values, military capabilities and technological expertise makes it an indispensable ally of the US now and in the future. As Vice President of US, Joe Biden puts it, “My dream is that in 2020, the two closest nations in the world will be India and the United States. If that occurs, the world will be safer.”

Historically, the prospects of arms control in South Asia have been severely delayed by the biased limitations forced against Pakistan by the US and Western powers, even as they tolerated and often encouraged Indian nuclear and conventional arms proliferation. Canada’s supply of a heavy water reactor namely CIRRUS to India outside international safeguards and US transfer of missile technology, in the pretext of helping India’s space programme, are most alarming examples in addition to encouraging Australia selling nuclear technology while drastically altering and manipulating IAEA and NSG protocols. US discrimination against Pakistan was revived and established in 2007 when the then US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, declared Washington’s decision not to keep in line, the US policies towards India and Pakistan.

This decision followed US resolve to build India as a wall against China’s rising power that believed to empower Pakistan in many ways. Washington entered into a formal defense pact and a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with India. Since then, external nuclear fuel supplies have opened the way for the expansion of India’s nuclear programme, resulting into a $100 billion in advanced weapons have flowed annually into India from the US, Israel, France and others. Another report published by “Institute for Science & International Security” states that India has one of largest nuclear programs among developing nations. So after these facts suggesting Pakistan alone responsible for development of tactical arms is a mumbo jumbo, not reality.

Similarly Indian suspecting supply of F-16s to Pakistan by US and making hue and cry of the matter is time worn. Pakistan never indulged itself for arms race in region nor does it support such initiatives. It is only to shield its existence in the region and to curb menace of terrorism that it needs to enhance its defense capabilities, be it through buying arsenals or signing defense agreements. Pakistan must capitalize on the new prospects of development and advancement as the country is successfully trouncing terrorism and moving towards desired level of internal stability while also providing an opportunity to Indian as well as global powers to become partners in resolution of the geopolitical issues.

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