Category Archives: Pakistan

Pakistan successfully test-fires Shaheen 1-A ballistic missile

Dawn | Mateen Haider | Dec. 15, 2015

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan on Tuesday conducted a successful flight test of the Shaheen 1-A ballistic missile.

The flight test was aimed at re-validating several design and technical parameters of the weapon system. The Shaheen 1-A is capable of delivering different types of warheads up to a range of 900 kilometers.

Today’s launch, with the impact point in the Arabian Sea, was witnessed by senior officers from the Strategic Plans Division, strategic forces, scientists and engineers of strategic organisations. Strategic Plans Division Director General Lt Gen Mazhar Jamil congratulated the scientists and engineers for their dedication, professionalism and commitment towards yet another display of strengthening Pakistan’s defence.

Shaheen 1-A with its sophisticated and advanced guidance system is a highly accurate missile system.

Lt Gen Jamil reiterated that Pakistan’s strategic capabilities are based on ‘Credible Minimum Deterrence’ and desire for peaceful co-existence in the region.

The successful test launch has been warmly appreciated by the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan who congratulated the scientists and engineers on achieving another outstanding milestone.

Last week, Pakistan conducted a successful test launch of the medium-range Shaheen-III surface-to-surface ballistic missile. The missile is capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads to a range of 2,750 km.

Earlier this year, a top adviser to its government, retired Lt Gen Khalid Kidwai had said Pakistan needs short-range “tactical” nuclear weapons to deter India, dismissing concerns it could increase the risk of a nuclear war.

Neither side discloses the size of its arsenal. But a report by the Council on Foreign Relations think tank estimated that Pakistan has enough fissile material to produce between 110 and 120 nuclear weapons, and India enough for 90 to 110 weapons.

Pakistan tests nuclear-capable missile with range of 2,750 km

Hindustan Times | HT Correspondent, New Delhi | December 11, 2015


Pakistan on Friday conducted a test of the nuclear-capable Shaheen-III surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a range of 2,750 km. (Pic courtesy: @RadioPakistan )

Pakistan on Friday conducted a test of the nuclear-capable Shaheen-III surface-to-surface ballistic missile with a range of 2,750 km, capable of striking targets deep inside India.

The test, conducted from an undisclosed location, was described as successful by the military’s media arm. It was aimed at “validating various design and technical parameters of the weapon system”, an official statement said.

The missile’s impact point was in the Arabian Sea and the test validated “all the desired parameters”, the statement said.

Lt Gen Mazhar Jamil, the director general of the Strategic Plans Division that manages Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, said after the test that “Pakistan desires peaceful co-existence in the region for which nuclear deterrence would further strengthen strategic stability in South Asia”.

He said the test was a “significant milestone in complementing the deterrence capability” of Pakistan.

Jamil further said he had “full confidence” in the Strategic Command and Control System and the “Strategic Forces’ operational preparedness to defend against any aggressive design”.

Pakistan has developed a wide range of nuclear-capable missiles, most of them with help from China, that are India-centric. Experts believe Pakistan has one of the fastest growing nuclear arsenals.

Interview: Pervez Hoodbhoy

The Diplomat | Muhammad Akbar Notezai | November 05, 2015

thediplomat_2015-11-05_07-26-25-386x266Dr. Pervez Hoodbhoy is a prominent Pakistani nuclear physicist, essayist and defense analyst. In 2011, he was included on the list of 100 most influential global thinkers by Foreign Policy magazine, for his “bold secular defiance.” His articles and commentaries about Islam, education, and secularism have had a lasting impact on debates in Pakistan. He recently spoke with Muhammad Akbar Notezai on liberalism, religious freedom, and extremism in Pakistan.

Who are Pakistan’s liberals, really?

They are a diffuse bunch who would like a freer world for themselves and others. They’re not going to fight hard for a change or lay down their lives, but they’d certainly prefer to have a society where one is not forced to live under some imposed ideology, whether religious or secular. So the liberal doesn’t want any ideologue, or an Islamic, Hindu, Christian, or Marxist state telling him or her what to do. Liberals value the freedom of expression, personal and political, and so they say you have the right to dress and wear the clothes of your personal choice. Also to eat and drink as you will, and pray often or pray never, and be able to choose your religion or not have one at all. In the liberal mind, covering a woman’s face or head should be entirely optional. Women can have jobs if they want and should not be forced to stay at home.

But that’s where it ends. Liberals can have very different positions on matters that are not directly related to personal liberties. So they can be just as insensitive as others when it comes to matters of social inequality or poverty. Should education and health be the responsibility of the state? What about water, sewage, roads? This raises the issue of who will pay for it and the amount of tax that an individual should be required to pay. You have liberals who say that agriculture, industry, and business should be taxed but also liberals who believe in laissez faire capitalism with almost no taxes and no state controls.

Generally speaking liberals feel friendlier, or at least are less hostile, to the West. This is why they are frequently accused by religious conservatives of being agents of the West. But Pakistani liberals are also prone to conspiracy theories and generally quite confused about whether they should be with or against the West.

And who are the so-called liberal fascists?

You’ll have to ask Hamid Mir that. He’s written articles saying that people like me are liberal fascists who are intolerant of others. I’ve never quite understood that argument because although I have my opinions, I’ve never imposed my wishes on any segment of society. So although I may think that girls and boys should be allowed to make friendships, I would certainly never say that every girl should have a boyfriend. Liberals are not violent people. It wasn’t a liberal fascist who shot and nearly killed Mr. Mir; it was somebody with a strong ideology.

In Pakistan, some writers say that liberals and progressives themselves are responsible for abandoning their positions, which is why religious zealots are morally and politically gaining positions. How do you look at it?

Before the fury of religious zealots, few Pakistani liberals have had the courage to risk themselves because they aren’t that anxious to get to heaven. Yes, they have preferences, but they don’t have a mission. Most of them just want the good life for themselves, and barely a few have bothered to understand the meaning of freedom and its philosophical implications. They wouldn’t be able to point to a book or document – such as the Quran, Bible, or Communist Manifesto – that defines their kind. Actually there is one: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, passed in 1948 by the United Nations. But most liberals haven’t even heard of it!

Because they are non-ideological, liberals are generally unwilling to stand up and intellectually defend their lifestyle. On the other hand, Islamists are thoroughly ideological, hence evangelical and forever out on a daawah mission. They cannot let you live the way you want because they feel it is their religious duty to set you on the right path, amr bil maroof wa nahi anil munkar!  So they feel compelled to interfere in your way of life, and in what you may want to eat, drink, or wear.

Do you think the PPP (Pakistan Peoples Party), the MQM (Muttahida Qaumi Movement), and the ANP (Awami National Party), which align themselves with the liberal left, are working for a progressive Pakistan?

All three parties have been systematically targeted by the Taliban, who have accused them of being secular and hence the enemies of Islam. So hundreds of their workers and leaders were murdered in the run up to the 2013 elections. That was one reason for losing out to PMLN (Pakistan Muslim Leaque-Nawaz), PTI (Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf), Jamaat-e-Islami, Jamiat-e-Ulema-Islam, etc. All three parties have my sympathies and, in particular, the ANP which has lost more than the others.

But let’s be clear. These three parties are not fighting for an idea or a better Pakistan. They are simply fighting for power and influence. They have no blueprint, no manifesto, no ideology. They are not real left-wing parties, but are considered left-wing because they don’t have a religious mission while the other parties do.

The PPP is run by dynastic rule and is the epitome of corruption, incompetence, and callousness. We should not blame Asif Ali Zardari alone for that; Benazir Bhutto was equally crooked and the Swiss accounts were held jointly by husband and wife. Although this may now be coming to an end, no Karachite is going to forget the MQM’s decades of murder, body bags, and extortion. As for ANP: Bacha Khan would be ashamed to see what this has become, with its leaders stuffing their pockets and doing little else.

Why did liberals fail to defend Malala Yousafzai, who was frequently used by conservatives in Pakistan of selling out to the West?

Pakistani liberals are mostly cowards, but even the few brave ones had then lost their sense of balance. Malala was shot at the time when anti-Americanism was at its peak. People were even more anti-America than anti-India in those days. Every TV anchor would flatly lay the blame for everything on America’s doorstep. Then you had Imran Khan screaming and shouting about drones. So when Malala was shot, a lot of liberals suddenly lost their liberalism and didn’t see her as a kid who had fought heroically to keep herself in school. Instead they only saw the dark forces of imperialism seeking to manipulate a child and extract political mileage out of her. It was incredibly bad judgment.

Can progressive forces prosper in Pakistan in the presence of the Objectives Resolution as preamble to the Constitution?

The Objectives Resolution was an enormous disappointment to the non-Muslims of Pakistan when it was passed by the Constituent Assembly in 1949. It stripped away the authority of the people and made the state the sole authority for behaving as God wants. But there is the obvious question of who should interpret the wishes of God. Seventy years later, nobody trusts the mullahs for this purpose and they don’t even trust each other.

Just look at the recent rulings of the Council of Islamic Ideology. These have included the abolition of age limits for a girl’s marriageability, making child marriages permissible. A man would not need his wife’s permission for another marriage, whether that be the second, third, or fourth one. The CII also declared that Islam had given women the right to separate from her husband, but his other marriage could not be a valid ground for doing so. Incredibly, it ruled that DNA is insufficient evidence for a rape. Who is willing to accept such things, and live in a horrifying Pakistan run by mullahs?

Ultimately sanity will have to prevail. We cannot run Pakistan like Daesh (ISIS) does. In this age having slaves, including sex slaves, is not an option even if the mullahs argue that this is permissible under Islam. We cannot extract jizyah from Pakistani non-Muslims and treat them as a conquered people. Amputation of limbs or severing of heads is going to be seen as extreme barbarity by all the world and most Pakistanis as well. Imposing 7th century sharia laws upon 21st century people will lead to a massive implosion.

What are your thoughts on shrinking space for reason in Pakistan?

It’s shrunk, but not down to zero. You can still argue out things in the English press. Sometimes they are afraid to publish bold articles, but they can still take the risk because English newspapers have relatively little impact because of limited readership. The Urdu press is quite terrible. Still, occasionally one does see some sign of sanity there.

The real fountainhead of irrationality in Pakistan is its electronic media. Cheap posturing, thrilling sound-bytes, unsupported claims – everything goes. In particular, you have the media mujahideen who have done enormous damage to the population’s power to reason. Unfettered by the need to present evidence, they invoke bizarre conspiracy theories involving foreign hands, corruption, and every kind of hearsay. This will have to change. Some kind of mechanism to weed out these people is necessary.

How do you view religious freedom in Pakistan?

It’s very much better than in the areas controlled by Daesh, or even in Saudi Arabia. There you have none. Any number compared with zero is bigger, so that’s not saying very much. We have a horrific blasphemy law principally aimed at subduing non-Muslims, and even saying it needs revision has gotten people like Governor Salman Taseer or Shahbaz Bhatti (a cabinet minister) killed. Lawyers, such as the brave Rashid Rahman, seeking to defend the blasphemy accused have been murdered. It’s also true that Christians and Hindus are so terrified of persecution and discrimination that they have switched their names to Muslim-sounding ones.

But there is still some recourse, as in the Supreme Court ruling of last year forbidding religious discrimination. And now the death sentence for the self-confessed killer of Governor Taseer, Mumtaz Qadri, has been reconfirmed by the Supreme Court. And now the Pakistan Army has finally turned against its own creation, the Taliban, and is whacking them hard. So I’d say that all is not lost.

What are your thoughts on Pakistan’s fight against extremism, which has engulfed the country?

So far an eviscerated, embattled state has found it easier to drop bombs on the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) in tribal Waziristan rather than to rein in its urban supporters, or to dismiss from the state payroll those mosque leaders belonging to militant groups. The problem is that today’s terrorists are yesterday’s allies. In fact they were actively assisted – you could argue created – by the Pakistani state in earlier decades to help liberate Kashmir and create strategic depth in Afghanistan. So there’s discomfort there.

The mosque in Pakistan is now no longer just a religious institution. Instead it has morphed into a deeply political one that seeks to radically transform culture and society. But, since it does not have the power to bring about this change, parts of the religious establishment have decided on asymmetric warfare – which is a polite word for terrorism. The mosques and madrassas will have to be tamed. They’ll have to be told that the state is the boss.

The first baby step towards bringing an estimated 100,000 to 200,000 mosques under state control requires tasking local authorities at the district and tehsil level with documentation: mosque locations, sizes, religious affiliation, and known sources of funding. The second is to monitor Friday sermons, a possibility offered by modern technology. Many worshippers have mobile phones capable of recording audio. A sermon, once recorded, could be uploaded to a website operated by the Ministry of Religious Affairs. This way we could know which mullah is saying what.

What curriculum reforms does Pakistan need to fight the extremism?

Pakistan’s real problem is that of education. But it’s not simply that the number of schools or universities is insufficient. Rather, the stuff we teach in them is the problem. Our schools, colleges, and universities are sheep farms where students are taught to obey without challenge or question. Obedience is rewarded, independence is penalized. The teacher is the roohani baap (spiritual father). What nonsense! Teachers should be treated as professionals whose job is to impart certain skills to those they teach, for which they get a salary.

The amount of poisonous hatred we inject into the student’s bloodstream is shocking. Hindus are bad and dirty, the West is against Islam, women are inferior, Muslims are superior to everyone else, etc. Now the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has included a compulsory chapter on Ghazi Ilm Din, who stabbed to death a Hindu blasphemer in the 1920s.  Okay, celebrate murder and then be prepared for a thousand murderers like Mumtaz Qadri.

Making a new curriculum is not rocket science. Just look at what kids around the world, say in grade six, are taught and then teach them the same subjects after making the usual adaptations for a different climate, culture, etc. Don’t emulate Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, India, or other countries with a narrow vision. Instead there are pluralistic, multicultural countries which actively seek to make children broad-minded and well-informed.

The Road to a US-Pakistan Nuclear Deal Begins in Islamabad

Pakistan needs to move towards international norms, not away from them.

The Diplomat | Sairo Bano | November 06, 2015

Before the official visit of Pakistan’s Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, to the U.S. on October 22, the media in Pakistan and India were buzzing with reports that the United States was exploring a nuclear deal with Pakistan in order to constrain its nuclear weapons program, believed to be the most rapidly expanding on earth. Pakistan, on the other hand, has ruled out any possibility of a deal that places conditions on its nuclear weapons program. Pakistan is looking for a deal similar to the one India got, in which New Delhi was given access to the international market for its civilian nuclear program without putting significant constraints on its nuclear weapons program.

Given its poor nonproliferation track record, weak democracy, fragile economy, and support for terrorist organizations as a strategic tool, Pakistan will be unable to end its nuclear isolation without committing to strong nuclear nonproliferation conditions.

The India-US Nuclear Deal

The United States signed a nuclear deal with India in 2005, which successfully ended three decades of international sanctions against New Delhi and made India the only non-NPT country that is allowed to have nuclear trade with the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) along with its nuclear weapons program. The Bush administration saw India as a counterweight against a rising China and wanted to boost New Delhi’s economic and military capabilities in order to counterbalance Beijing. The administration was determined to improve relations with India, and to accomplish that it was willing to change the rules and norms of the nuclear nonproliferation that Washington worked for decades to establish.

A key architect of Bush’s India policy and U.S. ambassador to India, Robert Blackwill, noted, “President George W. Bush based his transformation of U.S.-India relations on the core strategic principle of democratic India as a key factor balancing the rise of Chinese power.” Blackwill added that without this China factor at the fore “the Bush administration would not have negotiated the civil nuclear agreement and the Congress would not have approved it.” Both countries have a shared interest in China’s rise in Asia. Pakistan is also strategically important for the U.S., as its support is key to stability in Afghanistan. However, unlike India, Pakistan does not share common strategic interests with Washington; rather, both sides often have contradictory policy objectives vis-à-vis Kabul.

It is important to note that, despite India’s arguably good nonproliferation record, stable democracy, and fast growing economy, it was not easy for the United States to conclude the deal. At the domestic level, the deal faced resistance in the U.S. The U.S. Congress, under pressure from the Bush administration, approved the deal, but placed several conditions on it, including India’s support in opposing Iran’s nuclear program, termination of the agreement if India resumed nuclear tests, and a pledge that the deal would not be offered to the other two non-NPT states – Pakistan and Israel – in order to limit the repercussions for the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Aside from the anticipated strategic benefits, the U.S. Congress was also persuaded by the argument that opening India’s nuclear market would create job opportunities for Americans in providing nuclear goods and services.

At the international level, it was an uphill task for the Bush administration to get a consensus decision in the NSG for an Indian exemption from NSG guidelines. The United States had to change the waiver draft three times in order to meet the concerns of the NSG member states. Despite the fact that most of the major supplier countries, among them the U.K., Russia, France, Germany, Canada and Australia, were in favor of the waiver, it was not easy to overcome the resistance of the other member countries, such as Austria, New Zealand, Ireland, Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands, and Sweden, all staunch proponents of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Finally, the United States had to warn those countries that blocking the waiver would have consequences for their bilateral relations with Washington. In the case of Pakistan, it would be a hard pill to swallow at the NSG and it is difficult to imagine any lifting of international nuclear sanctions without Islamabad taking on strong nonproliferation commitments and demonstrating responsible nuclear behavior.

Pakistan’s Demand for a Similar Deal 

Since 2005, Pakistan has been demanding a similar agreement to the one India got. The United States, however, has been terming the Indian agreement an exceptional case, and Pakistan has received only a non-committal response. Frustrated by this U.S. reluctance, Pakistan signed a nuclear deal with China in which Beijing agreed to sell two nuclear reactors to Islamabad. Others argue that this is violation of NSG guidelines, but China claims that it is grandfathered under an earlier agreement with Pakistan. Pakistan has also repeatedly blocked consensus in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to start negotiations on the Fissile Material Control Treaty (FMCT), despite pressure from the major powers. Internally, Pakistan began accelerating production of fissile material; Islamabad believes that the India-U.S. nuclear deal will allow India ramp up its nuclear program by conserving its domestic fissile material exclusively for that use.

Pakistan’s enhanced production of weapons grade fissile material has aggravated concerns in Washington about the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, given the possibility that nuclear material may fall into the hands of terrorist organizations operating in Pakistan. These concerns are further heightened by the possibility that Islamabad is on the verge of deploying tactical or low-yield nuclear weapons – weapons that Pakistan is developing in order to thwart Indian conventional military adventure under its Cold Start strategy. The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons makes it far harder to protect them from terrorists or prevent accidental use.

Tactical Nuclear Weapons

India adopted its Cold Start doctrine in 2004. It aims to give India the ability to “shift from defensive to offensive operations” in order to punish terrorists elements in Pakistan. Such a strike is meant to be so swift and decisive that it would “pre-empt a nuclear retaliation.” This provocative strategy has many drawbacks: at present India lacks critical assets such as artillery, armor and helicopters; close coordination among ground, air and maritime forces is problematic due to organizational structures; close geography makes limited war challenging; supply lines are hard to maintain after territorial gains; and finally it would pressure Pakistan into escalating the conflict.

While Pakistan developed tactical nuclear weapons to counter India’s Cold Start strategy, empirical evidence since 2004 suggests that India has not implemented this doctrine. It remains “more of a concept than a reality.” Indian officials and policymakers have either denied its existence or have not endorsed this adventurous strategy. A classified document released by WikiLeaks, dated February 16, 2010, revealed that Tim Roemer, then U.S. Ambassador to India, described Cold Start as “a mixture of myth and reality.” He further argued, “While the army may remain committed to the goals of the doctrine, political support is less clear.”

India, on the other hand, has threatened to use its strategic weapons in response to Pakistan’s use of short-range nuclear weapons. In this way, regardless of the size, delivery system or yield, the use of tactical nuclear weapons always carries the danger of “strategic implications.” Islamabad seems to believe that the use of tactical nuclear weapons has no strategic implications and that a limited nuclear strike within Pakistani territory to impede advancing Indian forces will not escalate into a full-fledged nuclear war.

During the Cold War the United States deployed tactical nuclear weapons in Western Europe to deter conventional aggression by the numerically superior Soviet forces. But what deterred the Soviet Union from attacking NATO countries was not the possession of tactical nuclear weapons. Instead, it was the risk of escalation to the strategic level once tactical weapons had been used. Hans Morgenthau, a leading American classical realist, widely criticized the employment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons. He was against the idea of a winnable limited nuclear war. In his article “Has atomic war really become impossible?” in 1956, published in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, he argued that the “right atomic dosage” depends on a “blend of self-restraint and daring, which few leaders have proven themselves to be capable of for any length of time.” He further argued, “If one side were to push the other into defeat, in reliance upon the latter’s resolution not to start an all-out atomic war, it might provoke that very war.”

The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons also raises concerns in the international community about the safety of these weapons in light of the terrorist organizations operating in Pakistan. Political instability and terrorist attacks – with inside support – on military installations, including army headquarters in Rawalpindi, a naval base in Karachi, an air base in Kamra, and Peshawar, have exacerbated these concerns. It is in Pakistan’s interests, therefore, to rely on its strategic nuclear weapons to deter an Indian threat.

The Economic Factor

Economic motivations were also significant in offering India the nuclear deal. Recognizing India’s emerging economy, Russia, France, Germany, Britain, and Italy were keen to lift sanctions against India to access New Delhi’s lucrative nuclear market. These countries proposed the idea to the United States in the 1990s, but the Clinton administration didn’t want to compromise its nonproliferation agenda and rejected the idea. The neo-conservative Bush Administration was more open to action. The major supplier countries supported the Indian waiver at the NSG along with the U.S. and India. Even countries like Canada and Australia, with strong nonproliferation policies, supported the waiver, keen to get their share of the Indian nuclear market. There are no such economic incentives in the case of Pakistan, which continues to rely heavily on “commercial loans, concessionary donor loans and aid.” Islamabad’s poor economic performance, widespread corruption, and weak political institutions hardly make it a promising market for nuclear commerce.

Steps to Be Taken 

The chances of Pakistan securing a nuclear deal with the United States in the foreseeable future seem remote. Islamabad has a long way to go to improve its image in the international community, to end its nuclear isolation, and to normalize its nuclear status. An over-reliance on nuclear weapons is counterproductive for Islamabad. Repeatedly blocking consensus to start negotiations on the FMCT, developing and deploying tactical nuclear weapons, and increasing production of weapons-grade fissile material are not steps that serve its interests. Instead, they add to its image as an irresponsible nuclear state. With the AQ Khan baggage, poor economic conditions, a fragile democracy, and allegations of links with terrorist organizations, Pakistan needs to take steps that are complementary to international norms, not contradictory to them.

Saira Bano (@MaidaSoha) is Commissioning Editor at E-International Relations (E-IR).

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons may not deter Indian retaliation, but destruction mutual

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons may not deter an Indian retaliation in case of a mass-casualty terror strike, but an escalation is likely to ensure mutual destruction.

The Indian Express | Praveen Swami | October 28, 2015


The Indian gamble is this: Air strikes and small military operations on the LoC won’t give Pakistan enough reason to escalate, mired as it is in a sapping internal war. (Illustration by: C R Sasikumar)

“The most fantastic wargame the world can ever have seen,” an excited magazine called it. In the summer of 1955, the Fourth Allied Tactical Air Force, along with the United States’ Sixth Fleet and 49th Air Division, hurled itself at Belgian, British and Dutch forces, supported by the Second Tactical Air Force. Exercise Carte Blanche was the first effort to simulate what would happen when Nato used its new tactical nuclear weapons to beat back Soviet armour driving towards the heart of Europe.

In less than a week, the answers were in: 1.7 million dead, 3.5 million injured, large parts of Europe levelled by 335 nuclear bombs. The mock-Soviets won, despite Nato’s use of tactical nuclear weapons. That is, if the desolation could be called victory: “…there would be no winners and no losers,” Air Commodore Peter Wykeham-Barnes told journalists of the new kind of war.

Last week, behind closed doors, the US held out a stark message to Pakistan’s visiting Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. India’s government, he was warned, was almost certain to authorise strikes against jihadist infrastructure inside Pakistan in the event of a mass-casualty terrorist strike. Had terrorists succeeded in blowing up a passenger train in Gurdaspur earlier this summer, war might well have been the outcome.

Few believe PM Nawaz is serious about his promise to take on the Lashkar-e-Taiba — an organisation the Pakistani state has long patronised. For both Indians and Pakistanis, it is important to start talking about the costs of failing to do so.

The facts driving the US’s grim warnings are known. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has an air force that India’s intelligence services provide with targeting data on at least a dozen jihadist camps in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. The army is confident it can inflict punishment across the Line of Control (LoC), and contain the inevitable retaliation. The PM, in his election campaign, promised to “speak to Pakistan in its language” on terrorism — and would be under pressure to deliver if a large terrorist attack occurred. Frustration has long mounted in India about the lack of means to deter nuclear-armed Pakistan from backing jihadist proxies.

In 2001-02, then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee threatened war after India’s Parliament was attacked — only to be deterred by the prospect of a nuclear conflagration. Although the near-war did push the Pervez Musharraf regime to initiate a de-escalation of the jihad in Kashmir, learning the right lessons about the costs of crisis, it also taught the Pakistan army that its nuclear weapons would deter India from actually going to war. Following Musharraf’s departure, his successors thus felt able to resume their covert war — leading up to 26/11.

In a crisis meeting held as Mumbai burned, then PM Manmohan Singh is known to have asked military commanders for options. The air force noted that there wasn’t enough intelligence for precision strikes on jihadist camps across the LoC. General Deepak Kapoor, then army chief, wasn’t confident the army could successfully wage a short-duration war.

Even as India has sharpened its sword though, Islamabad has also strengthened its shield — growing its nuclear arsenal and letting its willingness to use these weapons be known. Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris estimated earlier this year that Pakistan’s arsenal has expanded to between 110 and 130 warheads — exceeding levels the US estimated it would reach in 2020.

The Indian gamble is this: Air strikes and small military operations on the LoC won’t give Pakistan enough reason to escalate a conflict, mired as it is in a sapping internal war. Although there would likely be some retaliation against the Indian strikes, punishment for terrorism would have been delivered. India might have to absorb some blows in return, the thinking goes, but both sides could, plausibly, declare victory — an attractive end-state for political leaders.

The story, though, may not end there. Terrorists will, almost certainly, retaliate against the destruction of their infrastructure by staging more attacks. India’s government will have no option but to hit back. Each successive phase of Indian retaliation will, inexorably, be that much more intense, as New Delhi seeks to compel Pakistan’s military establishment to act against its terrorist proxies.

Ever since 1990, when China tested Pakistan’s first nuclear weapon on its behalf — in the midst of a crisis sparked off by the Khalistan insurgency — the fear of such a war has haunted Pakistan’s strategic thinking.

Lt Colonel Syed Akhtar Husain Shah, writing in a Pakistan army publication in 1994, warned that the “probability of the application of nuclear devices at the strategic and tactical level will be high”.

Like Pakistan, the US had hoped tactical nuclear weapons would blunt the Soviet Union’s conventional-power edge. In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower took office, with a plan of budget cuts that needed US forces in Europe to be reduced to 5,00,000 from 1.5 million — and thought nuclear weapons would even the score. From the mid-1970s though, US military manuals simply stopped trying to tell commanders how to fight a nuclear war: Simulations like Carte Blanche made it clear there wasn’t a winnable option.

In 1962, Exercise Fallex concluded that 10-15 million Germans would be slaughtered in a limited nuclear war — this, despite targeting instructions designed to minimise civilian casualties. In 1972, the Soviet general staff completed the last of a series of exercises simulating a European nuclear war. The numbers were stark: Eight million dead, 85 per cent of Soviet industrial capacity wiped out, the army degraded by a factor of 1,000; the European part of the country reduced to an uninhabitable wasteland. The two Cold War adversaries came to the conclusion, in the 1980s, that a war in Europe was unwinnable — and focussed on enhancing their conventional defensive means instead.

For Pakistan, there are obvious lessons here. Its nuclear weapons may not deter Indian retaliation — and may not succeed in ending a conventional war, should one begin. Although cultivating ties with anti-India jihadists may seem attractive to a military establishment whose legitimacy is under challenge from hostile Islamists, it is a high-risk strategy. The generals need to ask themselves if risking annihilation is an acceptable price for legitimacy.

India, in turn, needs to consider that the goddess of the battlefield is fickle with her favours. “If the military art could be reduced to arithmetic,” Soviet nuclear theoretician General Andrian Danilevich observed, “we would not need any wars. You could simply look at the correlation of forces, make some calculations, and tell your opponent, ‘we outnumber you 2:1, victory is ours, please surrender’.”

“The correlation of force is significant,” he concluded, “but there is also a sea of specific, subjective factors, or even random events, which reduce these objective factors to nil”. For years now, both countries have worked on the assumption that time is on their side. From the status quo to the apocalypse, though, might not be as long a walk as we imagine.

India, Pakistan’s Nuclear Agendas Concern U.S.

ValueWalk | Brinda Banerjee | October 10, 2015

A United States government official has recently commented on India’s growing nuclear capabilities, revisiting the debate on nuclear advancement in the modern world and its impact on international security and geopolitical ties.

India, Iran, North Korea and Pakistan Pursue Nuclear Growth

A high-ranking official from within the Obama administration has recently likened India and Pakistan to North Korea and Iran in a conversation regarding the countries’ nuclear capabilities. The comment was made in a discussion about countries that are actively pursuing nuclear development and growth even as the international community remains apprehensive about weapons proliferation and the potential fallout of the same.

Addressing a seminar at Oslo, Norway, U.S. official Frank Rose recently said, “India and Pakistan are adding to their arsenals; North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs remain a concern to all; and Iran, despite the landmark nuclear deal, continues its ballistic missile programs”. Mr. Rose currently serves as the Assistant Secretary of State at the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance of the United States Department of State.

At present, India possesses between 80 and 100 nuclear warheads while Pakistan’s stockpile is estimated at between 100 and 120 nuclear warheads. Assessments based on Pakistan’s nuclear development goals reveal that the country is poised to own the third-largest supply of nuclear weapons within the next ten years.

At present, Russia and the United States have the biggest nuclear weapons supplies in the world, with both Moscow and Washington totaling in at approximately 1,600 each. China, France and the United Kingdom follow suit with 250, 300 and 225 nuclear warheads respectively.

Security experts interpret Pakistan’s ever-expanding nuclear arsenal as a cause for concern given the country’s history of proliferation. Talk of Pakistan and the nuclear issue is incomplete without mention of Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan who was found guilty of selling nuclear weapons technology and information on the black-market to bidders in Iran, Libya and North Korea. The country’s record with nuclear technology, its experiences with internal security challenges and extremism and the historic rivalry with India have all caused the international community to worry about regional security and international fallout should nuclear growth in the region be allowed to continue unchecked.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty And Proliferation Concerns

While the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the overarching international regulation by way of which the global community aims to prevent nuclear proliferation, the agreement has not been fully effected. This is, due in part to the reluctance of some states to fully agree to the covenant.

The United States and Iran are amongst the countries that have signed the CTBT but are yet to ratify it. Other states that have signed the treaty but not ratified it include China, Egypt and Israel. India, North Korea and Pakistan are the three countries that have not signed the agreement. Signing began in the year 1996; since then, only three countries have been conclusively known to have carried out nuclear testing: India, North Korea and Pakistan. India and Pakistan both conducted two rounds of nuclear tests in 1998 while North Korea organized its tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013.

Banning Not Enough, U.S. Official

In his discussion on the matter in Oslo, Mr. Frank Rose has expressed the concern that simply banning nuclear advancement and weapons proliferation will not be enough to tackle the threat of an extremely nuclear-capable world. The U.S. government official has pointed out that the aforementioned countries’ nuclear development agendas coupled with China and Russia’s interest in augmenting their nuclear strengths contributes significantly to geopolitical insecurity and risks against global harmony.

Mr. Rose has stated that simply introducing treaties such as the CTBT and banning the development, testing and sale of nuclear weapons is not enough to stop the spread of nuclear weapons systems. There continues to be an interest in, demand for and supply of nuclear weapons systems and so other strategies must be identified if the global community is to “effectively deter multiple adversaries with varying capabilities.”

Assessing The U.S.-India Nuclear Arrangement

The nuclear agreement between India and the United States, known as the U.S.–India Civil Nuclear Agreement, is often described as a landmark accord. The agreement states that India can purchase nuclear fuel and nuclear technology from the United States and vice-versa. The agreement has gone through various stages and has been phased out for years owing to several legal considerations and amendments needed in laws in both countries and though it was formalized in 2008 it has still not been fully affected.

The Indo-U.S. nuclear deal was hailed as a modern take on ‘civil nuclear cooperation’ and presented a groundbreaking moment in Indo-U.S. relations since it targeted several concerns of both states while also promoting international standards of peace and security. The nuclear agreement was envisioned to create stronger Indo-U.S. ties while helping the U.S. curb China’s growing influence in Asia and recognizing India in its own right outside of its historical associations with Pakistan. At the same time, the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal would help both countries economically while inducing mutual growth in domestic nuclear energy productions and enabling cross-access. The nuclear agreement between India and the United States is also recognized as an important milestone in the debate on non-proliferation since it was a sign of the U.S.’ trust in India’s track record of non-proliferation, despite New Delhi’s decision to not sign the CTPT.

While the implementation of the Indo-U.S. nuclear agreement has been delayed by technical considerations regarding legalities and regulations, both countries remain committed to the deal. At present, Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd and U.S. business enterprises along with other relevant actors are engaged in discussions on how to best realize the agreement. Speaking on the matter Nisha Desai Biswal, the Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, has said, “What remains is the commercial negotiations on what is the business proposition that companies can move forward on. And that is going to move forward on its own pace.”

The Indo-U.S. deal is primarily a civil/ business arrangement and while it fosters compliance with international conventions on security and nuclear non-proliferation, its full potential is yet to be realized.

U.S. Considers Nuclear Accord With Pakistan, India Objects

The United States is reportedly exploring options for a nuclear arrangement with Pakistan. The deal, if it were to be realized, would witness a definite capping of Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile in return for a greater supply of nuclear material. The deal will allow the U.S. access to Pakistan’s nuclear production facilities and raw materials. For Pakistan, the tradeoff will include the U.S.’ assistance in purchasing nuclear materials and necessary capabilities from the Nuclear Suppliers Group, which at present does not transact with countries that have not signed the Non Proliferation Treaty.

While Pakistan has demanded a “non-discriminatory approach on nuclear issues” in its pursuit of a nuclear agreement like the one India enjoys with the United States, Islamabad has not been as successful in realizing its ambitions.

However, The Washington Post has reported that Pakistan’s wishes may soon be realized and while the White House is yet to lend credence to these allusions, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s upcoming trip to the United States may indeed spell a new era for Pak-U.S. strategic ties.

Geopolitical analysts have

Duck and Cover in Pakistan

Foreign Policy | Javid Ahmad | September 15, 2015

Pakistan’s rapid nuclearization is a worrisome development. U.S. aid must impose strong conditions to discourage nuclear expansion.

Lahore, PAKISTAN: Pakistani activists of Islami Jamiat Tulba carry a poster of Pakistan's nuclear pioneer Abdul Qadeer Khan and a model of Ghauri ballistic missile during a rally in Lahore, 28 May 2007, to mark the Pakistan?s nuclear test anniversary which was conducted in 1998. Khan, 70, has been kept under virtual house arrest at his house in Islamabad since he publicly confessing in 2004 to proliferating nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. AFP PHOTO/Arif ALI (Photo credit should read Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images)


A new joint report released by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center argues that Pakistan is rapidly expanding its nuclear arsenal and is far outpacing India, its longtime archrival, in the development of nuclear warheads. The report asserts that “Pakistan has the capability to produce perhaps 20 nuclear warheads annually, whereas India appears to be producing about five warheads annually.” Within five to ten years, the report claims, Pakistan could possess as much as 350 nuclear weapons. This is an alarming assessment of Pakistan’s dangerous nuclearization, however accurate, which enables the country to retain the world’s third-largest nuclear stockpile, after the United States and Russia, within a decade.

Pakistan’s precipitous nuclearization seems to be following the classic “more maybe better” approach, a notion argued by Scott D. Sagan and Kenneth N. Waltz in their book about the spread of nuclear weapons, in which they contend that new nuclear states will use their acquired capabilities to deter threats and maintain peace. Pakistan’s expanding nuclear umbrella epitomizes that dangerous “more maybe better” concept, as the country steadily enlarges its atomic arsenal, by testing varieties of nuclear devices, including ballistic missiles, both land- and sea-based, and developing large-scale nuclear delivery systems. In this classic security dilemma, both Pakistan and India (to an extent) have been following a nuke-for-nuke approach for more than a decade. Presently, Pakistan is estimated to possess 120 nuclear warheads and operates four plutonium production reactors, whereas India operates one plutonium reactor and has 100 warheads. Additionally, as the Carnegie/Stimson report outlines, Pakistan’s total defense spending last year was around $11 billion, or 4.5 percent of its GDP, and while there is no accurate information on Pakistan’s nuclear budget, estimates indicate the country’s annual nuclear expenditure to be between $2-3 billion.

Undoubtedly, India’s nuclearization after its first nuclear test in 1974 enthused Pakistan to develop its own nuclear program. Subsequently, India’s rapid militarization coupled with its rising economic influence only furthered Pakistan’s state of paranoia to also engage in large-scale arms import, including from the United States. But while Pakistan’s speedy nuclearization is undeniably meant to overcompensate for fears about India’s growing conventional acquisitions, there are also other factors that appear to play an important role in Pakistan’s nuclear expansion.

Chief among them is that Pakistan’s security apparatus, particularly the army, which manages the nuclear program views the program as a success. The army thinks that Pakistan’s nukes have greatly minimized India’s proclivity to use its superior conventional military strength. There are several instances that suggest India’s disinclination to engage in greater military confrontation with Pakistan, including the 1999 Kargil war and India’s tepid response to the Mumbai attacks in 2008. Each time, Pakistan seemed to have threatened the use of nukes to deter any Indian incursion into Pakistan. Hence, Pakistan’s steep nuclearization has supposedly provided a credible minimal deterrence against the alleged India-centric threat, though it has not made the state safe.

Secondly, in Pakistan’s view, the United States has become a critical factor that drives its dangerous nuclearization. By engaging in its own calculus of irrationality, Pakistan’s army thinks more nukes significantly heightens its survivability in the event of an attack, should it occur. On its part, concerns about Pakistan’s loose nukes have long loomed large among U.S. policymakers. For example, in late 2011, President Barack Obama reportedly told his staff that Pakistan could “disintegrate,” setting off a scramble for its weapons and that Pakistan is his “biggest single national security concern.” Undeniably, Pakistani generals, who perhaps see the United States rather than India posing a tangible threat to its nuclear security, take such anxieties seriously. This adds to Pakistan army’s belief that not only is Pakistan’s nuclear program under strict U.S. surveillance, but that the United States is also actively working to destabilize or disarm it.

More importantly, such wariness intensifies Pakistan’s misguided state of paranoia, making it ever more crucial to ensure that those nukes remain in stable and reliable hands. For starters, Pakistani generals believe that complete destruction or disarmament of their nukes is not possible for the United States. Given the complex design of Pakistan’s nuclear infrastructure, where warheads and the delivery vehicles are stored separately and are mobile, the idea of finding and neutralizing every single nuke would seem rather far-fetched. However, in an unlikely scenario where every single one of Pakistani nukes were found and disarmed, Pakistan would still maintain the nuclear know-how and capacity to produce more. For the United States, the stakes are higher, particularly because as militancy rankles across Pakistan, the possibility of loose nukes ending up in the hands of nefarious actors cannot be ruled out. In Foreign Policy’s recent Failed States Index, Pakistan was ranked at number 13, placing the country in the “critical” category with other fragile or failing states with important consequences. There are at least three ways the United States can avoid such an occurrence.

First, the United States should pressure both Pakistan and India to establish direct military-to-military contact. Ensuring Pakistan’s nuclear security requires creating a steady communication channel between the armed forces of the two countries and establishing military liaison teams to facilitate interaction at both strategic and tactical level. There is little doubt that Pakistan’s civilian authorities neither wields influence nor command greater authority in nuclear matters, so ensuring all means of direct communication between Pakistani and Indian militaries can therefore prove indispensable.

Second, the need for more nuclear diplomacy in a period of crisis cannot be over-emphasized. If strategic communication between Pakistan and India falters at a crisis point, communication through a mutually acceptable third-party is going to be key to prevent escalation. Despite the U.S.-Pakistan trust deficit, as well as several past episodes that have impacted the criticality of American diplomacy as an honest conciliator in Pakistani mindset, the United States remains the most important actor to serve as a crisis mediator between the two countries.

Third, the United States should impose strict conditions and benchmarks on its security and non-security assistance to Pakistan. Since 2002, Pakistan has received a staggering $30 billion in direct U.S. security and non-security assistance in return for counterterrorism cooperation, and, importantly, to give the United States some room to keep a check over Pakistan’s nukes. However, U.S. assistance has yielded little tangible results in persuading Pakistan to cease its longstanding support to insurgent groups. Instead, U.S. support has increasingly incentivized Pakistan to create a sense of insecurity around its nuclear weapons, mainly because of the proliferation of militant groups that Pakistan itself has propped up. Additionally, as a non-signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, Pakistan has a record of nuclear proliferation and has transferred weapons technology to such states as Iran, North Korea, and Libya. Given that U.S. support has done little over the years to alter Pakistan’s duplicitous conduct, the U.S. should stop providing Pakistan blank checks and begin to impose strong conditions on its future support, without de-linking security from non-security assistance. Doing so could ensure that billions of dollars in U.S. assistance to Pakistan is used for the purpose it is given and is not wasted on Pakistan building more nuclear weapons.

Pakistan’s ever-expanding nuclear umbrella enjoys significant public support and has been an integral part of the discourse in Pakistan for over three decades. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s then-prime minister who started the nuclear program in 1972, once famously stated that Pakistan would acquire the nuclear weapon even if the Pakistani people had to eat grass. Since then, every successive Pakistani government has sought to build a positive image of the country’s tottering atomic weapons, often by connecting it to Pakistan’s identity and pride. Looking ahead, Pakistan is likely to rely ever more on its nuclear weapons to respond to its India-centric insecurities, however unfounded. Nonetheless, Pakistan’s rapid nuclearization is a worrisome development and while there are reasons to continue U.S. support to Pakistan, the United States must make the provision of its security and non-security assistance dependent on Pakistan delivering on specific benchmarks.

Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images