Non-proliferation concerns in contemporary international politics have emerged as a tool to achieve foreign policy objectives by leaders of the so-called global nuclear order. The Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) have monopolized the rules of the game in such a way that pretend to save international peace, but actually serve strategic interests of major powers. The pragmatic approach in international relations suggests that morality has nothing to do with state affairs and, with this reference, an analysis of the India-U.S. nuclear deal has shown that international non-proliferation regimes work in accordance with the Realist perspective under the guise of Liberalism to serve the strategic interests of major powers. Pakistan has also been a candidate for treatment similar to what was adopted for India, but it could not gain the same treatment despite having a longstanding partnership with the United States in various endeavors from Containment Policy against the USSR to the War on Terror in Afghanistan. Discussing the prospects for Pakistan’s accession into the fragile global nuclear order, Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon pretend to advocate for Pakistan’s entrance into the global nuclear order suggesting some streamlining measures if Pakistan agrees to take on the recommendations suggested in their article. The case built by Krepon and Dalton appears to ignore Pakistan’s strategic imperatives as well as tries to change its entire national security discourse in a manner that ultimately serves the strategic interests of India, whom the United States is overwhelmingly supporting due to her surge for containment of China.

Krepon and Dalton have suggested that Pakistan rely on strategic deterrence rather than out-competing India through full spectrum deterrence if it wants to achieve a place in the emerging nuclear order of the world. Outlining a comparison of India-Pakistan nuclear warheads production capabilities, the report has neglected to compare the national security imperatives of the states, where Pakistan has always been in search for defense against aggressive Indian postures, as well as direct threats. Pakistan’s strategic developments in each field including its nuclear program cannot be analyzed without reference to its strategic rivalry with India, who has been hesitant to accept the reality of Pakistan as an independent state in the region. Pakistan’s strategic policies have emerged as a reaction to Indian threats, including the 1971 Dhaka debacle and Indian nuclear test in 1974, nuclear tests after the Indian test in 1998, and the development of tactical nuclear weapons in response to India’s Cold Start doctrine. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons cannot be de-linked from Indian developments. Pakistan’s current defense strategy of full spectrum deterrence (FSD) is aimed to reduce the dangers of nuclear escalation which may emerge from India’s superiority in conventional war-fighting capacity combined with adventurous intentions for regional hegemony.

FSD is an expression of deterrence optimism in South Asia entailing the contours of strategic stability based on nuclear deterrence and aims to neutralize the negative outcomes of the regional strategic developments in Asia where India is obtaining unprecedented help from the United States for modernization of its armed forces, which is aimed to launch India as the regional sheriff. Escalation control over the ongoing tensions on the Line of Control (LoC) and the international border between India and Pakistan is the most recent example which manifests the contributions of tactical nuclear weapons for restraining even a conventional war in South Asia, and therefore, a positive indicator for maintenance of peace in the region. India is already pursuing an ambitious program for modernization of its conventional war-fighting capacity; therefore, Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons do not contribute to arms-race by India. India has been finding out the ways that may provide an opportunity to launch a conventional war against Pakistan, including the Cold Start Doctrine for example. The qualitative development of strategic weapon systems has been a normal course of action for any state that needs to maintain its security in accordance with the advancing requirements for strategic objectives; therefore, it cannot be abandoned. The development of FSD in Pakistan is also a part of such qualitative developments which carries the offshoot of quantitative enhancement in its arsenal, but limiting the manufacturing of such arsenals to a minimum required number (calculated through operational strategy)can reduce the chances of an arms race and keep the FSD within the ambit of credible minimum deterrence, where the FSD plugs-in the lacuna in conventional warfare deterrence carrying qualitative development that enhances the state’s capacity to deter aggression ranging from limited conventional aggression (like Cold Start) to nuclear threats. Therefore, it should not be synonymic with an arms race in terms of quantitative development.

It shall be a Herculean task to convince a sovereign state to halt the production of strategic assets that are detrimental to her national security. Pakistan’s stance on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT) is also integrated with its national security imperatives, which do not allow it to even negotiate FMCT because of evident discriminatory policies of the global nuclear regimes whose policies can be amended to accommodate a particular state by introducing country-specific arrangements. The fragility of an emerging nuclear order that serves the strategic interests of major powers guides security-stricken states like Pakistan to ensure her survival based on the principles of self-help. The over-sightedness of international nuclear non-proliferation regimes and of U.S. policymakers about the history of Indian nuclear as well as missile development programs has apprehended Pakistan’s will to reduce fissile material production. U.S. assistance to India coupled with defense cooperation along access to advanced U.S. technology in nuclear, space, and missile defense proved to be an eye-opener for Pakistan in the contemporary strategic environment. The only way to accept arrangements like the FMCT is to make it a supplementary part of a treaty among all South Asian states for ‘Nuclear Disarmament and South Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone.’ Based on the premise cited above, Pakistan signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) without waiting for India is also out of question. Although Pakistan is not in favor of conducting nuclear tests again and again, it cannot afford to forego its right to conduct tests in case a situation like that of 1998 emerges again.

Above all, what is the maximum Pakistan can extract if it agrees to take on the steps suggested by Krepon and Dalton? Mainstreaming in the fragile global nuclear order and nuclear cooperation is not yet guaranteed. Even if some states agree to cooperate with Pakistan on civilian nuclear technology, that too will be dependent on mutual strategic interests of the states concerned. Therefore, the analysis of measures suggested by Krepon and Dalton for mainstreaming Pakistan into a global nuclear order suggests that such measures, if taken, shall cripple Pakistan’s nuclear program, which shall prove to be a departure from Pakistan’s national security imperatives based on nuclear deterrence, and therefore, perilous for Pakistan’s security. Desires for a normal nuclear Pakistan, as suggested by Krepon and Dalton, can be fulfilled only through equal desires about India as a normal, nuclear regional player. Pakistan’s adherence to the suggested measures alone cannot strengthen the global nuclear order unless a uniform policy, as well as commitment by the entire international community regarding use and regulation of nuclear technology, is sought. A global nuclear order run by weak nuclear non-proliferation regimes with state-specific discriminative policies based on strategic interests of the major powers shall always remain fragile.


Image: Rana Sajid Hussain-Pacific Press, Getty

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