Part 2 of a response to “Pakistan’s Red-Carpet Treatment,” Part 1 of this piece appears here.

When Pakistan attempts to consolidate its strategic forces and ramp up plutonium production—which has enabled it to operationalize its nuclear deterrent—it is accused of punching above its weight. It knows what it is doing within its capabilities and resources. Its force goals have been quantified and its fissile material production will continue till those targets are achieved so as to develop a triad-based assured second strike capability that can withstand massive retaliation and prevent the exploitation of strategic space at the tactical level.

Pakistan is in no way competing with India in pursuing regional and global ambitions through ballistic missile nuclear submarines, ICBMs or space weaponization or retaining huge stocks and production capacity of fissile material outside safeguards—a fact accepted by the NSG countries which accorded India the unique distinction of being the beneficiary of an NPT signatory state without any obligations and allowed it to retain a substantial part of its fuel cycle outside safeguards for producing more fissile material in the future.

Given these realities, if India today were to ask to sign the FMCT and the CTBT, it is most likely that it won’t agree to be a part of either of these treaty arrangements and is conveniently taking cover behind Pakistan’s stance on the FMCT at the CD. Some Indian scientists doubt whether all the Pokhran-II tests were successful, while many others question Pakistan’s claims of having built a miniaturized nuclear warhead for Nasr without hot tests. So should both India and Pakistan jointly announce a second round of tests purely for technical reasons in addition to ensuring the reliability and “one-point safety” of their respective warheads and then unilaterally or jointly sign the CTBT, depending on their respective security calculus?

Finally, Pakistan is accused of abetting terrorists and non-state actors when it has been fighting a war on terror on its soil for over a decade and has suffered more than 40000 casualties (including high-ranking civil and military officers) and incurred financial and economic losses amounting to tens of billions of dollars. Such insinuations are used to justify India’s appetite for limited conventional war in the region. So should the recent admission by India’s former army chief, that it has been involved in sponsoring and abetting terrorist activities in Baluchistan be used by Pakistan to warrant its own version of Cold Start or proactive operations across the border?

Nonetheless, the silver lining is that a certain degree strategic stability in South Asia might be achieved in the foreseeable future when both India and Pakistan acquire assured second-strike capabilities. In fact, they are steadily moving on the path of technological maturation and once Pakistan is able to deploy a highly survivable triad-based credible minimum deterrent, then it would be irrelevant whether India adds to its capabilities for global reach and power projection beyond South Asia that might one day have the potential to target Europe, North America or Australia.


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