Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Pakistan’s Nuclear Assets
India’s Concerns

CBRN SOUTH ASIA BRIEF No 11, February 2009

The terror attack in Mumbai that occurred in a
concurrent timeframe has reinforced India’s
concerns in the region. It has led to commentary in India on the ‘mutuality of strategic interest’ of India and the US over developments in
Pakistan. Central to these concerns is the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal from the
threat posed to it from two directions: an
Islamist takeover of Pakistan and second, from
a terrorist attack on the facilities to gain access
to nuclear devices or material.
Khalid Kidwai, head of Pakistan’s Strategic
Plans Directorate which is the Secretariat of
the National Command Authority, has dismissed concerns over the security of Pakistan’s
nuclear enclave, stating, “This is all overblown
rhetoric. Please grant to Pakistan that if we
can make nuclear weapons and the delivery
systems we can also make them safe. Our security systems are foolproof.” After the AQ
Khan revelations of 2004, this is taken with considerable skepticism.
Zafar Ali, another Pakistani military official in a
paper, visualizes a threat scenario that involves
outsiders or insiders and the possibility of collusion between the two. These concerns are:
theft of nuclear weapons or weapon-grade
material by extremist or terrorist groups; vulnerability of nuclear weapons during war time,
movement, and deployment; domestic instability whereby religious extremists could gain
control over them; worries that experts from
the nuclear complex could steal sensitive information and assist terrorist groups; sabotage;


Pakistan, though a state perpetually in danger of
becoming a ‘failed state with nuclear weapons’,
has credible control over its nuclear assets. This
control however, is threatened by the spread of
Islamism in Pakistan, which is likely to increase, especially in case of misapplied policies in favour of
a military-dominant approach to the problem of
the Taliban in both Pakistan and Afghanistan.
However, it must be noted that this fear is exaggerated and is intended to pressurise Pakistan ‘to
do more’ in the GWOT. Pakistan however, will
place its concerns regarding national existence
and cohesion at the forefront of any such consideration. It cannot be expected to run the risk of a
rightist coup or self-consuming civil war in its efforts
towards the GWOT. Doing so would only detract
from the aims of the international community in
the region. Therefore, it would be prudent to realise that as a nuclear state, it requires greater
space for making strategic choices in the GWOT.
This would ensure more effective security of its nuclear assets than the proposed provision of security by external forces. The feared denouement of
an Islamist grab would only be hastened by such
action.  Even  in  case  of  an  Islamist  takeover  of
Pakistan, there is no need for India to emulate an
Iraq in the wake of the Iranian revolution. The
‘mutuality of interest’ between India and the US
indeed exists, but needs revision along these lines.

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