A primary purpose of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons is to maintain deterrence stability in a changing strategic environment in South Asia. In fact, Pakistan has maintained the stability of deterrence. The country has successfully deterred its adversary every day consistently for 24 years since it tested its nuclear weapons capability twenty-four years ago – on May 28, 1998 – in response to India’s nuclear tests in the same month and the same year.
Like many other nuclear-weapon States, security remains a predominant factor behind Pakistan’s acquisition and testing of nuclear capabilities. If it was a technological factor, many countries in the world today have adopted advanced technology, but do not possess nuclear weapons. And if it had been an economic factor, many rich countries could have purchased nuclear weapons commercially, but they did not.
Even some of the nuclear pessimists, such as Scott D Sagan, have discussed the idea of nuclear weapons for security purposes. Sagan’s widely read and quoted article “Why Do States Build Nuclear Weapons?” published in the International Security Academic journal in 1996 mainly emphasizes the security imperative among the other two factors such as the imperatives of the “norms model” and the “domestic model”. However, the prestige factor, technological determinant, bureaucratic struggle and economic advancement may be many other factors defining the paths of state acquisition of nuclear weapons, but they are not considered the ultimate factors. .
Pakistan aspires to peaceful uses of nuclear technologies to meet its growing energy needs. Pakistan has a number of nuclear power plants for generating electricity. These power plants operate under the aegis of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). This clearly indicates that Pakistan is complying with international institutions on how best to use nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes. The appropriate use of nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes is also more environmentally friendly, cheaper, safer and more reliable.
Even if Pakistan develops effective and reliable countermeasures against its adversary, the goal is to maintain the balance and prevent war, thus ensuring the stability of deterrence, otherwise undermined by India, which continues to to increase and modernize its deterrent forces in both the conventional and nuclear fields. Pakistan is a confident and responsible nuclear-weapon State. He never misses his missile throughout the area, thus avoiding the risk of miscalculation and escalation. It follows the norms and values related to the uses of nuclear technologies for peaceful purposes. It provides protection and guarantees for its nuclear forces and related materials. Unlike India, it does not have such a record of missing its nuclear related facilities. It uses its nuclear technology for peaceful purposes for the benefit of the Pakistani people in general. Its record of compliance with international institutions (such as the IAEA) in terms of safety and security mechanisms for nuclear-related materials remains significant and remarkable.
It follows full-spectrum deterrence within the framework of credible minimum deterrence. Its total nuclear forces do not exceed those of all nuclear-weapon states in the world, including India. It has a robust and centralized command and control system. Its nuclear development program remains specific to India. He has a calculated strategy against his potential opponent. He never wishes to engage in an endless arms race. It maintains balance rather than parity when it comes to competing deterrent postures. Certainly, he tries to fill the gap in deterrence for his own protection and security. He jealously guards the guardians. It never intends to transfer its nuclear technology to other countries, as is widely perceived often with large-scale propaganda aimed at damaging the credibility of its deterrent forces.
Pakistan has already offered India to initiate a strategic restraint regime in South Asia. It adopted a number of nuclear confidence-building measures. It also practices the nuclear moratorium. Unless India conducts more nuclear tests, Pakistan is largely exercising restraint in this context.
In conclusion, keeping in mind the conceptual always/never dichotomy, Pakistan never compromises on its vital security interests, even if it must use nuclear forces for its ultimate survival when absolutely necessary. . It has no intention of responsibly using nuclear forces when absolutely unnecessary. He believes that his nuclear forces are sufficiently credible to deter his adversary. It ensures the credibility of its deterrent forces in times of peace as well as in times of crisis because credibility remains the very essence of nuclear deterrence. Pakistan practices restraint, which is the essence of strategy, both military and nuclear.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9e2022.
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