Conscientious Nuclear Pakistan
Khalid Khokhar
2/28/2013

 

In his book entitled, ‘Confronting the Bomb: Pakistani & Indian Scientists Speak Out’, the Pakistani Nuclear Physicist and Defence Analyst Pervez Hoodbhoy while questioning the safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal, has warned that the growing radicalization of Pakistani society could lead to hijack of nuclear weapons by the religious extremists. This is not a new revelation. Seeking strength from western bickering, Pervez Hoodbhoy disclosed that repeated extremist attacks on security forces including Army installations and ISI could not have taken place without “some sort of inside information”. A compilation of essays by scientists from India and Pakistan and prefaced by Nobel laureate Polyani, the author of this book contends that “If Pakistan did not have nuclear weapons, Kargil would not have happened. My contention is that it was the first instance that nuclear weapons actually caused a war”. Similar American fears that Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme could lead to fissile material falling into the hands of terrorists or a devastating nuclear exchange with India, has also been aired in the cache of US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks. Most of the essays written by India and Pakistani authors, has shown deep concerns about the safety and security of Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

Notwithstanding Pervez Hoodbhoy hunches, Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, who is regarded as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, see no possibility of any future standoff between the two neighboring countries, as his nation has developed the nuclear capability that acts as nuclear deterrence. The recent startling revelations published by Pervez Hoodbhoy that Pakistan was rapidly expanding its nuclear arms stockpile, clearly shows that alarmists are working out a comprehensive strategy to cap Pakistan’s nuclear programme. The nuclear physicist and defence analyst estimated Pakistan's arsenal to be similar to India's, at around 120-130 warheads. Nonetheless, the disclosures are unfounded and based on conjectures and personal idiosyncrasies without any objectivity. Pakistan is believed to maintain tight control over its nuclear assets, and it has instituted special steps to deal with the current situation. Pakistan has a responsibility to ensure that its assets are adequately protected and to convince other countries that this responsibility is taken seriously. America is aware of the fact, that Pakistan security forces and intelligence agencies are true custodian of national integrity, nuclear assets and boundaries of Pakistan. Most of the leaders of world community repose their confidence in Pakistan’s ability to safeguard its nuclear weapons and recognize it as a responsible nuclear state.
The possibility of nuclear materials falling into the wrong hands is a shared concern. Pakistan is part of global efforts to make sure that terrorists do not lay their hands on nuclear materials, knowledge and expertise. As far as the safety & security of the nuclear assets is concerned, the Pakistan military controls the nuclear weapons, and has instituted a range of measures to tighten controls over the nuclear weapons complex. Pakistan accords the highest priority to ensuring a fool-proof safety and security mechanism for our nuclear programme. Pakistan has been an active member of the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) and Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT). Ever since 1998, Pakistan has put in place an effective and efficient regulatory regime that encompasses physical protection of materials and facilities, material control and accounting, transport security, prevention of illicit trafficking and border controls, as well as plans to deal with possible radiological emergencies. Pakistan has also developed technical solutions, Personnel Reliability Programmes (PRP), and intelligence capabilities to deal with WMD-related terrorism. According to Strategic Planning Division (SPD), over 8000 additional professionals are being trained at Pakistan’s specialized Nuclear Security Training Academy to assume their duties proficiently in a short period of time. This brings the number of specially trained personnel to the figure of over 20,000 personnel. Besides, a Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Coordination Center (NRECC) with fully equipped mobile labs, is working on technical assistance with law enforcement agencies and the first responders. The conscientious Pakistan continue to refine and upgrade its technical and human resources and mechanisms on safety and security of nuclear weapons, materials, facilities, and assets. As Pakistan has gained considerable experience in the field of nuclear security, it has established a “Center of Excellence” ready to share nuclear experience and training facilities. Pakistan has subscribed to the IAEA Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, and the IAEA Illicit Trafficking Database (ITDB).
The escalation of the arms race in South Asia commenced when Obama administration signed US-India civil nuclear cooperation agreement. In order to put right the balance of power, Pakistan demanded for a similar civil-nuclear deal. But the administration deflected on it. As Pakistan lives in a tough neighbourhood, therefore, it will never be oblivious to its security needs and should have deterrent capabilities as a nuclear power. Pakistani leadership is suspicious of US aims of controlling or limiting its weapons programme while favoring India. In the backdrop of Mumbai terror attacks-2008, India’s threats of carrying out surgical operation inside Pakistan if action is not taken against the perpetuators, clearly shows that India wants to assert itself as a super power capable of conducting an unchecked forays into foreign domain. According to nuclear analysts, for India to launch Cold Start, would be to "roll the nuclear dice". It could trigger the world's first use of nuclear weapons. This alarming scenario point Pakistan in the direction of a larger nuclear force that requires a greater amount of fissile material. While analyzing the nuclear threat, it was generally agreed in the London meeting-2009, that India and Pakistan view each other as enemies. Nuclear weapons are crucial to Pakistan, because Pakistani military is no match for the Indian army. Therefore, Pakistan is justified to work on producing smaller tactical nuclear weapons that can provide ‘deterrence’ against Indian nuclear might. However, Pakistan is determined to continue to follow a responsible policy of maintaining credible minimum deterrence in the nuclearized environment of South Asia. The spokesman of Pakistan Foreign Office said, "Pakistan is mindful of the need to avoid an arms race with India but would never compromise on its national security."
All States need to shoulder their shared responsibility to strengthen regulatory mechanisms and establish effective barriers against the common threat of nuclear terrorism. While India recognizes both the futility and fatality of the nuclear standoff, yet its radical politicians and Hindu extremist outfits pressurize its government to amass huge fleet of nuclear bombs that can only lead to disaster, not military triumph. It is obligatory for all the countries of the world to have credibility with respect to United Nation’s nonproliferation efforts. In Pakistan, you will find a conformist, conscientious and willing partner.