Why Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence not seen anywhere?

By Ashraf Mumtaz

May 28, 2020 05:36 PM

It is certainly a matter of great pride and honour for the nation that Pakistan is among a few nuclear powers in the world.

The Islamic Republic had achieved this capability on May 28, 1998, after decades of hard work and spending billions of rupees diverted from other important sectors. The nation had to tighten the belt to achieve this status.  

Details of how the technology had been mastered; who had played what role; the unsung heroes; the serious difficulties Pakistan had to encounter; the deliberate policy of staying as international suspect; and all other relevant matters till the tests were finally carried out 22 years ago have already been published by the media.

It is also a fact that being the only Islamic country with this capability, Pakistan became a source of strength for the entire Ummah, and countries, especially the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, regarded this capability as their own. Then King Abdullah was jubilant like never before on hearing this great news.

But an important question that arises after 22 years of the tests is about the changing attitude of India – the greatest enemy and the real threat that had forced Pakistan to acquire this capability at all costs.

This question needs a thorough and dispassionate analysis.

The answer to this question will help Pakistan set the future direction of its ties with its eastern neighbour.

History bears testimony that Pakistan carried out its nuclear tests because India had taken a similar step a few days ago. Had the Islamic Republic not taken such a decision, India would have become a regional bully, beyond the capacity of any neighbouring country to handle.

By carrying out tests Pakistan came at par with India, relieving a number of smaller countries of Indian pressures.

It was because of the tit-for-tat tests that India started taking Pakistan seriously. The credit for this attitude also goes to the leadership of then prime minister Vajpayee. However, the attitude of the present extremist leadership is quite different, in fact abhorrent.

The tests were carried out in May and in January next year the Indian prime minister came to Lahore by bus to discuss all outstanding issues with Pakistan. During his stay in the Punjab metropolis Mr Vajpayee also visited Minar-i-Pakistan against the advice of a number of Indian leaders as, he quoted them as arguing, that it would amount to recognizing the reality of Pakistan. Mr Vajpayee said in his speech that he told the visit opponents that Pakistan doesn’t need India’s endorsement for its sovereignty.

The visit was very fruitful. Vajpayee and then prime minister Nawaz Sharif had also discussed timeline for the resolution of the Kashmir dispute.

There are reports that by December that year the Kashmir dispute was to be resolved. However, the nature of relations between the two countries underwent a drastic change because of the Kargil episode.

The Pak-India ties during the Modi tenure have consistently been worsening.

In August 2019, Modi annexed the occupied Kashmir, ignoring all UN resolutions under which Kashmir is disputed territory.

The question is: Why Modi did not consider for a while a serious reaction from Pakistan after such a provocative step?  Why he did not fear a nuclear strike from Pakistan after it turned occupied Kashmir into a hell for the eight million Kashmiris?

It is also a pertinent question as to why Pakistan did not go beyond condemnatory statements? If Pakistan doesn’t use its nuclear weapons even for Kashmir, which it calls its jugular vein, will there ever be a more compelling reason for it to show the enemy its might?

The polite attitude of our leaders, it appears, is emboldening the enemy.

For example, the statement made by COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa while visiting Puna sector of Line of Control on Eid Day is very interesting.

The COAS said the valley was a disputed area and “warned” that an attempt to change its disputed status, "including any political or military thought of aggression" would be responded to by military power.

(It is very significant that the COAS is saying any attempt to change its disputed status would be responded to by military power. Is there still is doubt about the change of status?)

He also warned that there would be "dire consequences" if the strategic stability matrix in South Asia was disturbed. He added that the army was aware of threats and would be ready to fulfill its part "in line with national aspirations".

A few days ago the Foreign Office said: "This year alone, Indian occupation forces in occupied Kashmir committed over 765 ceasefire violations, resulting in martyrdom of 3 civilians as well as serious injuries to 54 innocent civilians."  

"In 2019, India violated the ceasefire agreement 3,351 times. Pakistan continues to respond to Indian belligerence in a firm and responsible manner."

"In the interest of regional peace and security, India is once again reminded to respect the 2003 Ceasefire Understanding and maintain peace along the LoC. It must also allow the United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) to play its mandated role as per the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolutions," added the FO statement.

And now the latest provocation: India has started constructing a temple in place of Babri Masjid.

This is a test for the faith of Muslims across the world.

The Indian government is doing this at a time when in some important Gulf countries India has constructed temples with the permission of the relevant governments.

Reciprocity demands that India should also encourage Muslims to construct mosques. But it has demolished an historic mosque and started constructing a temple.

The deterrence of a nuclear Pakistan is not seen anywhere.

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Ashraf Mumtaz

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