By Sadia Kazmi
Pakistan has been facing a serious asymmetry vis a vis India when it comes to the fissile material stocks and growth in conventional arms and capabilities. This is further augmented by India’s provocative “Cold Start” doctrinal gestures. There is no ambiguity about this doctrine which aims at ultimately capturing Pakistani territory. The added arms sophistication achieved by India in terms of nuclear triad, the ABMs, and other destructive weapons, has given it a natural edge over Pakistan.
Although the major powers have stressed upon having peaceful relations between India and Pakistan, their own biases and inclination towards India, serve as source of threat for Pakistan. It is a known fact that the US, Israel and Russia are the biggest arm suppliers and security providers to India.
In this very complex situation where the proponents of peace have their clear biases in favor of India, Pakistan constantly feels the need to make its case and resort to taking security measures aimed at safeguarding and ensuring its own security and regional strategic equilibrium with India.
At the same time one should keep in mind that this fact has been globally acknowledged that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state. Nonetheless it still needs to keep reiterating its own position as a confident and responsible state which is fully committed to the basic aims and objectives of nonproliferation. On the other hand India has most of reactors outside the IAEA and there is also no adherence to previously agreed upon objective of separating civilian and strategic nuclear facilities.
Pakistan in this regard adheres to the basic principle of nonproliferation and likes the major powers to abide by this principle of non discrimination and equal dealing extended out to all the states. The exemptions and preferential treatment meted out to India is a clear violation of this nonproliferation principle and also raises genuine concern about the credibility of the regime and its autonomous status.
Pakistan has maintained its position of supporting and contributing to the nuclear safety and security at most of the global forums. This has been achieved in concrete from by introducing extensive national measures. It rightfully believes that all states have equal rights to the peaceful uses of nuclear energy but through transparent and fool proof mechanism.
Pakistan also holds some genuine concerns with regards to Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT). By staying fully committed to the ideals of nonproliferation and disarmament, Pakistan maintains that the FMCT should include the existing stock of fissile material instead of just aiming to cut off the future production. Not only would this be an incomplete and ineffective effort towards disarmament rather it would also not contribute in maintaining the strategic equilibrium between the two nuclear states India and Pakistan, as has already been mentioned that there is a huge imbalance in the existing capabilities of the two.
To avoid such a lopsided equation between India and Pakistan, which obviously only increases Pakistan’s security concerns, there is a need that the treaty looks at this particular dimension too. Such a measure will essentially prevent the vertical and horizontal spread of nuclear weapons technology and inclusion of past production of the material along with the existing stockpiles will contribute to nuclear disarmament as well.
Hence there are obvious strategic compulsions which explain Pakistan’s position on FMCT. Pakistan stands for the treaty that takes into account the existing asymmetries and equal security for all the states. This should be taken up and discussed in parallel with the other core issues of Negative Security Assurances, and Prevention of Arms Race in the Outer Space (PAROS).
A comprehensive and a balanced approach is what Pakistan believes in and rightfully expects. Pakistan has never negated the idea of negotiations in this context. Dealing with the issue through talks and developing a mutual understanding is the best way out for all. An even-handed approach would demand that the NSG exceptions and probable membership are made possible for Pakistan as well just as it was allowed for India too. If weighed objectively, one would find that Pakistan holds all the required credentials better than India on the basis of which India is being given exemptions.
Pakistan’s nuclear program remains to be the essential element in determining its national security. Hence the security and safety of its nuclear program is its major concern, much crucial to Pakistan itself than any other state.
For this reason it has the most sophisticated Command, Control and Security mechanism in place. All of its facilities are subject to internal monitoring, improvement and effective maintenance. The relevant authorities have ensured strong strategic export controls and strict measures to keep the assets safe and secure from all the possible internal and external threats.
Hence it is only logical that Pakistan be given same exemptions that are being offered to India or otherwise India should be made to follow the same standards rules as the ones set for the other states. India should be made to put its unsafeguarded power reactors and breeder programs under the safeguards. In fact this should have been made the prerequisite for any favor or exemption given to India. But this was deliberately over looked while keeping the focus on building India’s strategic and commercial capabilities. This once again makes the case for Pakistan to not yield unless its genuine security concerns are duly addressed and satisfied.
Until then Pakistan has no alternative but to maintain the fissile material production capability to meet any foreseeable challenges.