South Asia Research and Analysis Studies

Zia Siddiqui

Ever since the nuclear debate on Ďhave it or notí started in Pakistan, Dr Pervez Hoodbhoy was amongst the very few who were against it, and he has been consistent in his stance. There is no problem in maintaining oneís position that is different from others and does not enjoy a popular support. In fact that is the beauty of democracy and respect for each otherís opinion. However, if this opinion is based on solid foundations, and sound logic, it would have more appeal.

Before also, many of Pakistanís politicians and academician have spoken loudly about Pakistanís nuclear weapons programme outside Pakistan, but this time Dr Sahib has taken a very strange position. He appears convinced that Pakistanís nuclear weapons could fall into extremistsí hands and that too due to increased radicalization of Pakistanís Army. He very well knows that it could not happen because of the stringent security and safety measures that have been instituted by the relevant responsible organizations for the purpose. Yet he is propagating such fears to deliberately create doubts in those quarters whose minds are already preprogrammed against Pakistan.
While Dr Sahib certainly has a right to speak and write whatever and wherever, but if he does so with little bit of more logic and evidence than only quoting some of the ugly incidents of terror on the military establishments in the last couple of years. Terror attacks on GHQ, PNS Mehran and PAC Kamra were certainly unfortunate and worrisome but relating them to lead attacks on the strategic installations is baseless and unfounded.
Pakistanís nuclear weapons programme started only in reaction to Indiaís similar adventure and is only for its security and survival. Dr Sahib knows that the perceived threats to Pakistan from India are real and another war remains a reality even under the nuclear overhang. Indiaís Strategy of Proactive Operations is based on the concept of Cold Start, under which India plans to ĎHit and Mobilizeí without waiting for a full scale mobilization thus denying Pakistan time to respond in time. This means that Indian military thinkers believe that there is a space for a limited war just below the perceived nuclear threshold of Pakistan. Whereas Pakistan does not see any space for war under the nuclear overhang and hence trying to normalize its relations with India on all fronts, even if India behaves indifferently to emerging situations on Line of Control (LoC) or elsewhere.
Concurrently, Pakistan has taken the requisite safeguards on all fronts; against intrusion into any of the strategic installations, screening and security clearance of all personnel working in any capacity in these organizations, physical and electronic security measures for these installations, and any attempt to subvert or sabotage any of Pakistanís strategic installation with space cum cyber attack.
While these preventive and precautionary measures are in place and the nation needs not to get overly concerned due to Dr Sahibís contention, one should take it supportingly to further enhance and improve the safety and security mechanisms of our strategic installations and personnel working in these organizations, particularly on sensitive assignments. On the other hand, nuclear opponents may consider supporting these efforts to further enhance the effectiveness of these measures so that there is no possibility of these assets being at risk. I think that would be great service to this nation. I am by no means suggesting that their criticism is not contributing toward the safety of these assets, but I would insist that they spent their energies in promoting the cause of Pakistanís nuclear necessity and actions taken thereafter to ensure that these are in safe hands. I am suggesting this primarily because these people are highly qualified and highly knowledgeable in this particular field and their input in making these assets and installations secure, would further enhance the credibility of our systems while bringing everybody on the same page on this extremely important subject which deals with our national security, survival and the image as a responsible nuclear state.