ISSN 2330-717X

Yaum-E-Takbeer: Recounting Perceptions, Ideas And Resources – OpEd

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Enwrapped in a whirlpool of desire and compulsion, to achieve the ideals, is a key determinant in security perceptions of the two major powers of South Asia. One limited itself to history and conflicted with the present and the other’s compulsions dictated its forward-looking consistency and adaptability to change in policy formulation. In Indo-Pak rivalry India desired and Pakistan was compelled…one acted and the other reacted. The words of Alberuni “ we believe in nothing in which they{Hinduism} believe. Their {Hindus} fanaticism is directed against all foreigners. They call them impure and forbid having any connection with them” is truer today with ever growing Hindutva wave. 

Recounting the political history of the Sub-continent in the post-World War II era, India’s size and strength, population and problems, location and ambitions, all helped her earn a place in the arena of regional and international politics. Professedly a democratic and a secular state in the times of Nehru and his personal role of a moderator between the Super Powers in 1950s while condemning the use of force, was either a sincere effort for AHIMSA (peaceful co-existence) and non-alignment or using the ploy of pacifism due to inefficient military abilities, particularly vis a vis China. The Indian defeat in 1962 war against China was nonetheless, well comprehended. 

 On the other hand, the pace of development ensured by science and technology, particularly nuclear, to build its harbours, water reservoirs, dams and electricity projects were either well-nigh impossible or of probative cost for a newly independent India. Nehru, in his speech at Lok Sabha on May 10, 1954, said, “Atomic energy for peaceful purposes is far more important for a country like India, where power resources are limited, than for a country like France, an industrially developed country.” One gram of uranium was equivalent to 3 tons of coal or 12 barrels of oil. 

 The developing world missed the industrial revolution but didn’t want to miss the bus once again by distancing from the nuclear world despite seeing the harrowing effects in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. In fact, by then nuclear weapons had already become the status symbol of power. They were a reality of legitimacy in terms of deterrence and potential use in the industrialized world. Further on, the radioactive isotopes and radiation was already being used successfully in the fields of agriculture, industry, medicine and natural resources worldwide during 1950s.

India was fortunate to have inherited the prerequisites of developing a nuclear programme with a broad base of scientists, engineers and technologists. Its sound industrial infrastructure was also sufficiently supportive with adequate thorium reserves. Thorium has a tremendous capacity of conversion to energy and fertile to U-233. Though handicapped, yet the uranium reserves were at 60%, gold at 40%, 98% of global diamond supply and rich oil reserves and India’s geo-strategic configuration, all provided reassurance to its leaders to follow discreet power politics for manipulation.

 At the same time, the scientific research which had started in the Bose Institute, set up by J.C.Bose in 1917, provided an adequate ground work. Further on, setting up of the TATA Institute for Fundamental Research by Homi J. Bhabha, the father of India’s nuclear programme in 1944, with a belief that “there is no form of power as expensive as no power,” became a cornerstone of its aggressive nuclear development strategy in three phases:

  1. The development of natural uranium heavy water reactors.
  2. To make Fast Breeder Reactors (FBR)
  3. To produce Thermal Breeder Reactors 

In order to acquire self-reliance in nuclear technology with a minimum loss of time, the policy of ‘leap-frogging’ was adopted. Divided on four phases; from 1947-1956, from 1956-1966, from 1966-1970 and 1970- 1980, India was able to demonstrate its nuclear explosive ability in 1974 through an underground explosion. It made India the first amongst the developing world to join the nuclear club.

This gatecrashing nuclear explosion under the garb of “Smiling Budha” left the region with three major options;

  • Scare of India’s bomb in the South Asian region and its nuclearization. It however encouraged nuclear proliferation in a development starved and poverty stricken South Asian region.
  • In reaction Pakistan developed its nuclear programme in order to ensure its security. It however encouraged nuclear proliferation in a development starved and poverty stricken South Asian region.
  • And the third one was for its own nuclear programme since the supply of nuclear aid from Canada and America was suspended, but temporarily.

Though set up in 1972, by the initiative of Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, after the breakup of East Pakistan with Indian subversive support (this was confessed by the Indian Prime Minister Modi himself in an intimate swipe  with the Bangladesh’s Prime Minister), the Indian explosion gave a new momentum to Pakistan’s nuclear programme. By the coming of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan in 1975, and under his direction, Pakistan also employed an extensive network in order to obtain the necessary materials and technology for its developing uranium enrichment capabilities.

In 1985, Pakistan crossed the threshold of weapons-grade uranium production, and by 1986 it is thought to have produced enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. Pakistan continued advancing its uranium enrichment program, and according to Pakistani sources, the nation acquired the ability to carry out a nuclear explosion in 1987.

Known as Pokhran –II, India once again brought the two warring nations of South Asia, at the brink of nuclear competition by conducting the nuclear tests involving five detonations in May 1998. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee declared India a full and openly a nuclear state. He even challenged Pakistan’s control of parts of Kashmir. This invited a compulsive response from Pakistan.  On May 28, 1998 Pakistan announced a successful detonation of five nuclear tests with a seismic signal of 5.0 on the Richter scale. The total yield of the bomb was up to 40 KT (equivalent TNT). According to Dr. A.Q. Khan one device was a boosted fission device and the other four were sub-kiloton nuclear devices.

On May 30, 1998 Pakistan tested one more nuclear warhead with a reported yield of 12 kilotons. The tests were conducted at Balochistan, bringing the total number of claimed tests to six. It has also been claimed by Pakistani sources that at least one additional device, initially planned for detonation on 30 May 1998, remained emplaced underground ready for detonation.

Both the countries had to face international denunciation. The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution condemning the tests and renewed efforts to pressure the two countries to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In fact, the United States tried to dissuade Pakistan and urged Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif not to react. Several nations reacted with their own sanctions and condemnation.

The nuclear programme of both India and Pakistan supported by their successfully designed scientific auxiliary nuclear delivery systems and nuclear doctrines and recounted with the hostile and xenophobic political history has maintained the required equilibrium, yet has a clear tendency to debilitate any peace effort. History has proven that pacifism, secularism, democracy and non-alignment was conveniently but deceptively postured by India. This has kept the world guessing while keeping the world-wide opposition unfortunately, to its minimum. It is being repeated in Kashmir once again. India has folded the issue into immeasurable and innumerable asymmetrical steps of state terrorism by sabotaging its constitutional right given in Article 370 while keeping the world conjecturing once again. 

*Shamsa Nawaz is working as a Senior Research Associate/ Editor at Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad.

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