Pakistan will remain nuclear as long as India remains nuclear

Pakistan’s weapons, unlike India's, are “weapons of deterrence” not prestige. No country neglects its own...

Usman Ali Khan July 05, 2013
It cannot be disputed that nuclear deterrence is the key strategic factor safeguarding Pakistan’s national security. May 28 is a day of pride for Pakistan and the celebration of this day refers to the acknowledgement of all the scientists’ efforts that went into making Pakistan more secure. This day is celebrated as a national day of significance that made Pakistan a member of an exclusive club of less than ten nuclear states.

In the West, Pakistan faced huge criticism, and being a Muslim state, its weapons were named ‘Islamic bombs’. On the other hand, a wave of joy and exult pulsated through the Muslim world. It is without doubt that the attainment of nuclear weapons gave the nation renewed confidence as it ensured the security of the homeland because it was now at par with the 'enemy'.

Pakistan was long claiming that it did possess nuclear technology but did not intend to test the weapons. Initially, the country seemed to have been seeking only civilian nuclear capabilities and the civilian nuclear programme began with participation in the US Atoms for Peace initiative. We were a reluctant entrant in the nuclear weapons game.

Yet, after New Delhi’s involvement in dismembering Pakistan’s Eastern Wing and testing its nuclear weapons in 1974, Pakistan was left with literally no choice but to respond in kind and make up for the conventional arms weakness. Please make note that while India’s nuclear programme is for prestige, Pakistan’s is purely security driven. It is a right of self defence as enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

It was India who actually upset the balance of power and started the nuclear game in the region. These circumstances, however, prodded Pakistan to test nuclear weapons for deterrence and as an act to balance power. No country can overlook its security concerns and issues, and hence, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons serve as the guarantors of peace in the region.

Some writers have recently contented that Pakistan’s survival, in large measure, depends on economic performance, political stability, wise foreign policy, technological advancement, and in developing its civilian human resource potential rather than a nuclear prestige. However, one must keep in mind that though all these elements are essential in the stability of a nation, nuclear strength is a monumental milestone for a country in the modern world.

Nuclear weapons are not a source of Pakistan’s economic deprivation but provide it safety to take economic strides and develop. If a nuclear programme can be pursued, so can economic progress; all we need is dedication and sincerity of purpose.

Unlike what many nations think, Pakistan’s weapons are primarily “weapons of deterrence”, not prestige. The short range delivery systems being developed are meant to plug the gaps Indian planners seek to exploit. Thus, Islamabad’s full spectrum deterrence has upset Indian designs and has frustrated them.

Another rising trend amidst the political and security challenges of Pakistan is the misconception that the nuclear security here is weak. Some observers fear scenarios such as the capture of our nuclear weapons by the Taliban or a collapse of the Pakistani government resulting in the seizing of our weapons. Let me be clear that these are merely media speculations. Several US officials and other serious watchers of Pakistan’s programme have expressed “comfort” with the security of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. In fact, it is better than many others.

In conclusion then, I believe that improving the relationship between Islamabad and New Delhi and stabilising the region is the only way to avoid the rapid growth of the nuclear arms race in the region. We will obviously stop at a point where we feel we have enough to be able to deter India but whether the same applies to India is uncertain. Without nuclear weapons, our national security interests will always be in jeopardy and this is a lofty risk which we cannot take.

Follow Usman on Twitter @shau_ni
Usman Ali Khan Has done his Master’s in Defense and Strategic Studies from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad and is currently pursuing his studies in the same field. He tweets as @shau_ni (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


SADIQ | 9 years ago | Reply India will never start any war against of PAKISTAN anymore... Coz India can't even fight at one side of eastern border.... And if INDIA come to strike on PAKISTAN then millions of innocent civilians gonna die within 3 minutes and 24 seconds.... India will have no chance to even use a single nuclear weapon against of PAKISTAN....... So stay safe and don't try PAKISTAN again..... Otherwise you will be no more.... Pakistan will always be a biggest threat for you......
Vipin Indian | 9 years ago | Reply y u ol cnt talk abt peace...if pak says its bcz of there security..thn let it bi blv they olso hv d ryt to mak nuclr weapons if othrs hav...n let thm hold the responsibity fr their intrnl issues..til its nt harmng us n same apply fr pak..olso..v shld nt wrry abt the economic grwth of both countries..there's ntg fr comparisn..n if there's any dn lt it b..hw it harms ys v wil cum strng if any mischiefs is done frm d othr side of d line...peace
Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ