Pakistan’s finest hour
Ikram Ullah Khan
Pakistan had its ambiguous but to an extent credible nuclear deterrence against India to counter New Delhi’s conventional superiority even long before May 28, 1998.
This ambiguous nuclear deterrence did work effectively to defuse past Indo-Pak, war like crises, notably Bras Tack Military Exercise 1987-88 and 199O Spring Crisis famously known as Zarb-e-Momin. Before May 1998 nuclear tests it was widely believed that Pakistan has stealthily become a Nuclear Weapons State (NWS); yet had not crossed a threshold in respect of nuclear tests to declare itself as a NWS.
And few cold tests have been carried out by Pakistan and all the cold tests conducted in mid 80s and the start of 90s in Pakistan. There were also numerous rumours that Pakistani nuclear weapons’ capability could be a “bluff “only to deter India. After the 11th May 1998 Indian nuclear tests, Indian Home Minister L.K. Advani warned Islamabad to “roll back its anti-India policy, especially with regard to Kashmir”.
Indians were in aggressive mood and reportedly, it is said that Pakistani side was receiving information of a possible attack by India to destroy its nuclear facilities. On the pattern of Operation Opera, a precise attack for limited objective in this operation Israel destroyed Iraqi Osirak Nuclear Plant on June 7, 1981. So, it was obligatory for Pakistan to show off its nuclear capability to restore strategic stability in the region. This was the reason that then US President (Bill Clinton) offered the then Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif a five billion dollar not to conduct nuclear tests and Sharif denied to achieve long-term national objectives.
May 28, 1998, PAEC’s Directorate of Technical Development carried out five nuclear tests at the Chaghi nuclear test site. Pakistan’s Foreign Office termed it as “Pakistan’s Finest Hour”. No more fights with anyone; (national security), equal sovereignty and stable domestic environment for a prosper Pakistan and more over the resolution of Kashmir dispute.
These were the prime objectives of this tiresome struggle to achieve nuclear capability, in black and white. It is nuclear capability which makes Pakistan equally strong against India and neutralizes India’s conventional superiority.
Atal Behari Vajpayee historical visit to Pakistan and signing of Lahore Memorandum of Understanding laid down the foundation stone for a new beginning of bilateral relations on equal basis between Indo-Pak. First time in history Indians were ready even to negotiate over “Kashmir dispute”. It was a pleasant era of Indo-Pak bilateral relations and Indian PM’s visit at Minar-e-Pakistan, it is a self explanatory event in itself. He saluted and accepted Pakistan a sovereign and independent state.
All this was happening under the command of international community, so that these two NWSs continue a peace dialogue for the resolution of all disputes. But anyhow it was mutually beneficial for these two South Asian rivals. Nobody was taking care of “Kashmir dispute” but after overt nuclearisation in South Asia almost all states recognized its status as “nuclear flash point” between Indo-Pak, the two nuclear weapons states. Lahore MoU was the cornerstone in respect of guidelines to solve almost all controversial issues with the passage of time. Kargil War disrupted this whole peace process badly which was in practice between two PMs.
Soon after it Nawaz Sharif’s government was toppled in a bloodless coup by Musharraf and Indians refused to continue peace talks or Confidence Building Measures for the time being. Then the tragic incident of 9/11 occurred and this incident directly affected Pakistan. Pakistan decided to join US, as a front line ally in War on Terror.
The extreme wave of terrorism and insurgency erupted and prevailed in Pakistan. These terrorists can’t be deterred with nuclear weapons as they are present over Pakistani territory. But despite of this Pakistan’s “minimum credible deterrence” remained quite effective against India. Indians have announced in recent past their Cold Start Doctrine and then Two-Front War strategy but soon they felt they can’t successfully execute these war plans, even still they not say so. Currently the successful test of “NASAR” is a great achievement to keep deterrence stable at all levels.
We all are proud to be a Nuclear Weapon State/Nation and this nation has been suffering since the day one when our leadership decided that we will eat grass but will make nuclear bomb. Did we have been able to achieve the national objectives ever by making this nuclear bomb? No doubt that these nukes are capable to deter any country in the world but it is “political will ” that makes the deterrence credible and avert the likely chances of any type of war at state level. Mao Zedong, using calculated irrational strategy deterred US during Korean War, said these nuclear weapons are paper tigers but if any one nuked China I can too.
Pakistan has nuclear weapons but despite of it, we never been able to exert political influence on international arena. We are unable to induct strategic power in our foreign policy many time smaller states like Israel know that no one can dare to engage with it even with its existential ambiguous nuclear deterrence. This world has been transformed into a global village and we can’t live in quarantine, we have to interact with all other nations of the world and especially with all nuclear weapons states. Pakistan has remained unable to declare publicly its nuclear doctrine even after twelve years of its nuclear tests.
A country announced almost it does clear thresh holds that under which sort of condition it can use its nuclear weapons. Pakistan nowadays is facing a crisis like situation and it is a known fact that crisis always bring opportunities and failures. It is up to victim that which track it adopts. It is a good opportunity for Pakistan that it can declare its war oriented semi-offensive nuclear doctrine for the period of only five years then it could be changed according to that time circumstances. It is true that we can’t deter terrorists but we can deter those states which provide them assistance, support and training to target Pakistan’s strategic facilities.
It is necessary to restore nation’s confidence on Pakistani armed forces. May 28, 1998 the day when Pakistan practically demonstrated that it is a sovereign state and has no need of such foreign aid which demands compromise to its sovereignty. Whole Pakistani nation has consensus that we are with our leadership and ready to face any worse situation, to maintain our sovereignty and independence.
Our ancestors had sacrificed their lives for an independent Islamic State, we are ruining their sacrifices. We should not step down in the front of terrorists but we have to defend our independent status, integrity and sovereignty. This nation is still ready to eat grass but when it sees that its political leadership is unable to protect the infrastructure, image, sovereignty and human lives from internal and external offenders it loses its will for sacrifice. Yes we consider War on Terror an obligatory obsession and Pakistan should fight this war even with more available strength to destroy the terrorists’ network in Pakistan. But it is also necessary that by utilizing a calculated irrational strategy it should intimidate its allies and enemy not to make it a “corner Cat”.
Moreover it would bring drastic effects for Pakistan if we would take a sudden u-turn. First plan it well, and then execute according to ground realities. The day when Pakistan strictly denies and says a big no in respect of drone strikes it would be “Pakistan’s finest hour” and consequently with the passage of time there would be no more suicide attacks.