By: Dr.Rajkumar Singh
With India and Pakistan having completed their nuclear tests the emerging picture needed to be analysed carefully. There was a view that with mutual deterrence established, Pakistan and India would settle down to hold talks and sort out the various problems. Mirza Aslam Beg, former Chief of the Pakistan Army has said, much before the tests, that minimal nuclear and missile deterrence should be kept intact as they were the cheapest options for peace and had helped maintain peace between India and Pakistan. Dr. Abdul Qadir Khan, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, had also said on May 31 that he believed that the tests were a peace guarantor and would improve relations between India and Pakistan. But the overall picture emerging from Pakistan was not so simple or clear: the frequent fulminations of Pakistan Foreign Minister Gohar Ayub Khan hardly inspire confidence. He said that Pakistan was getting ready to equip Ghauri missiles with nuclear warheads and that further nuclear tests could not be ruled out. He also dismissed India’s offer of no first strike treaty on the plea that the strike time for missiles either way was a matter of minutes and that the question of first strike or second strike was meaningless as it would be difficult to find out who struck first.
Nuclear background of the region
Above all, India and Pakistan were justified in conducting nuclear weapon tests only as a gesture of protest against the inequity and irrationality of the nuclear weapons limitation and test-ban treaties sought to be imposed upon them and other nations by the nuclear big powers, and not because of the demands of their national security perceptions. They cannot, however, escape the charge that by increasing the probability of another nuclear assault on life and civilization on earth, their nuclear armament exercises contribute to the cumulative humiliation of the victims of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki carnage: whose only redemption lies in the possibility that what happened to them would never happen to any group of human beings again. And there was more bad news for those in India and Pakistan, who would heed the voice of conscience and refrain from denying the possibility of redemption to victims of unthinkable evils.
earlier tests by New Delhi signalled the beginning of a nuclear arms race in the Indian sub-continent. The issue is not of creating a strategic symmetry but of doing one better than your adversary in developing weapons of mass destruction. The Pakistani tests had come at a time when the national consensus on the Indian nuclear tests of May 11th and 13th was finally coming unstuck. The unquestioning enthusiasm, which seemed all set to engulf the nation in the immediate aftermath of the nuclear tests, appeared to be tappering off. In short, the self-congratulatory euphoria of mid-May had given way to utter dismay with the sudden realisation that the country is being pushed along the slippery slope of a nuclear arms race. There was no clear public support for such adventurism. It was considered economically unviable and its security rationale remained unclear. The “Scientific achievement” had bee n re place d by fe ar and apprehension of war in the public after the Pakistani tests. On top of this would be the cost of deployment – of creating the command, control, communications and intelligence structures. The expenditure involved could be as high as half-to-one per cent of the Gross Domestic Products or 25 to 40 per cent of the defence budget. The financial implications of creating and deploying even a minimum nuclear deterrent were enormous. On the other hand, at present Pakistan may or may not see its nuclear bomb as an “Islamic” bomb but there was no guarantee that there would be no possible clandestine proliferation of nuclear technology or even the sale of weapons by it at a future date. It is becoming increasingly clear that India and Pakistan’s actions might have destabilised not only bilateral security equations but also the balance of power to the west and east of the Indian sub-continent. Post-explosion effects As the time passes, the erosion of support for nuclearism is taking place. Many are discovering that a nuclear weapon is not just a larger bomb, but a weapon that is fundamentally anti-life and nihilistic. It kills not only one’s enemies, but also total strangers and innocents, and even one’s near ones. Some favourites of the bomb have nervously started saying that it would never be used, that it is only a symbolic weapon that acts as a deterrent or as a technical achievement meant to boost the self-confidence of the Indians. While, many have come to feel that given the ventality and moral decadence of the ruling classes
in the two countries, if political miscalculation does not someday kill us all, bureaucratic or technical ineptitude would almost certainly do so. The Pakistani bomb may be even less indigenous than the Indian bomb, but that was hardly a consolidation for the Indians. A borrowed or stolen bomb is as effective as a home- made one. Indeed, the deterrence theory has worked better for Pakistan than for India. After nuclearisation, India may not have acquired parity with the West or China, but Pakistan has done so with India. Strangely neither side knew how advanced the other was. What was known, however, was that India had enormous conventional superiority and, therefore, Pakistan could not afford to provoke it beyond a point. But the moment Pakistan acquired nuclear parity, it realised that it could step up its campaign in Kashmir, for India could no longer attack it, as it did in 1965, when we nearly took Lahore, or in 1971. In the circumstances, if past mistakes are to be avoided, India should not allow its rhetoric to outstrip its capacity or its claims to overtake the reality. India has to put its head down and work with determination and humility on its tasks. Nuclear weapons, however, demand hard decisions.
Deterrence requires not only the technical capacity but an unmistakable national will to severely punish a potential aggressor. A match is also must in New Delhi’s economic capacity and security needs. The way Pakistan had sunk economically after conducting its tests, should serve as a lesson to India to accord the highest priority to putting its economic house in order. The basic reality is that India has been a soft state and hence it should be cognisant of the danger that nuclear weapons in the hands of a soft state can invite greater insecurity.