These past two weeks, pundits in the media have gone back and forth discussing and analyzing the implications of the nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan. The concerning tone of their voices is reasonable, but the accusation that Pakistan is some how the aggressor, and has provoked this arms race is absolutely illogical.
Let me start at the beginning: In 1966, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Sharifuddin Pirzada made clear that Pakistan “supported the call for a world conference against proliferation of nuclear weapons.” The following year, after having received credible intelligence that India was pursuing nuclear status, Mr. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan’s new Foreign Minister warned the world at the United Nations, that if India pursued nuclear status, then Pakistan would also pursue it.
Mr. Bhutto clearly understood that a nuclear-armed India would be detrimental to Pakistan’s future, and therefore a nuclear deterrence would be required.
India proved that Pakistan’s intelligence was accurate on May 18th, 1974, when India tested its first nuclear bomb, codenamed, “Smiling Buddha.” The Indian leadership, fearing international backlash, quickly termed the nuclear explosion a “peaceful nuclear explosion,” no one bought it, especially not Pakistan.
Mr. Bhutto, now Prime Minister, reiterated his initial stance, and promised the world that Pakistan would also test its own nuclear bomb, and “would never succumb to nuclear blackmail.” This is the how India provoked, and pushed a reluctant Pakistan into a nuclear arms race.
In 1991, Pakistan still very much unenthusiastic about the prospect of a nuclear arms race, or presence of nuclear weapons in South Asia, proposed to create a “nuclear free weapons zone,” which India opposed.
And finally, on May 11th, 1998, India once again provoked Pakistan by conducting five nuclear bomb tests in Pokhran. This time Pakistan had no choice, but to respond by conducting tests of their own nuclear weapons. And seventeen days later Pakistan also conducted nuclear tests.
Now the point here is that Pakistan had nuclear weapons but was disinclined to test them, but had no choice after India conducted its tests. Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal would not have served as a suitable deterrence if they had not proven credibility by testing the weapons. Again, it was India that triggered Pakistan’s response, and in-turn motivated it further to pursue nuclear weapons for deterrence purposes.
As India and Pakistan conduct back-to-back tests of nuclear capable missiles, I hear media gurus still referring to Pakistan as the instigator, which is absolutely asinine. I have even heard some calling for bi-lateral arms control agreements, which would be the best way to move forward, but let me give those media commentators one more lesson in history.
Two weeks ago I attended a very informing conference at the Stimson Center in Washington D.C. The topic of the conference was “The Challenges of Chemical Weapons Proliferation and Use.” A very important subject, considering what recently happened in Syria.
One of the speakers, Ambassador Robert Mikulak, the US Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), pointed out that it came as a great shock to the international community in 1996, a month after India has ratified the CWC, to learn that India had a substantial chemical weapons stockpile.
Why is this important?
This is a very important lesson for both Pakistan, and the international community, which is that India, cannot be trusted. In 1992, Pakistan and India signed a bilateral agreement that neither country would possess chemical weapons. And in 1993, when India signed the CWC, and again in 1996, when they ratified it, they said, they had no chemical weapons, essentially lying to the whole world. It was only a month after ratifying the CWC that India declared its stockpile. That means India violated a bilateral agreement it had with Pakistan, and lied to the 150 nations that were part of the CWC.
The point I am trying to make here is that India has created such a mess of things in South Asia that it is impossible for Pakistan to trust anything they say or do. Even if India and Pakistan were to sign a bilateral disarmament treaty, what guarantee would Pakistan have that India will not violate it.
I urge those media pundits who have no knowledge of the subject matter to please stop your commentary, or read up on issue before analyzing it.