Useless arsenals

Published: February 1, 2011
Washington Post reports Pakistan's nuclear arsenal tops more than 100 deployed weapons now. PHOTO: EPA/FILE

Washington Post reports Pakistan's nuclear arsenal tops more than 100 deployed weapons now. PHOTO: EPA/FILE

Many in Pakistan will probably feel rather proud at the thought that according to a report in The Washington Post, we now have more nuclear weapons than India. According to experts cited in the article, Pakistan now has over 100 such arms as compared to the 60 to 100 possessed by India. The thought of what it must have taken to develop these runs through the mind each time one sees a child scavenging for food or a sick person lie in the courtyard of a hospital that has no room for patients. The hawks in Pakistan will argue that the superiority in nuclear arms helps balance India’s advantage in conventional weapons. But does this really make sense? The destructive power of a single nuclear-powered weapon is enough to create havoc on an unimaginable scale. Given this reality, the possibility of firing many dozens of weapons seems remote. A single strike and the expected response from India would be enough to bring both nations to their knees.

There can be no conceivable advantage to building more and more weapons. In terms of humanism or reality, their use is not really an option. One nuclear warhead offers just as much deterrence as many more. The problem is lack of awareness among people about these weapons and the devastating effects of their use. While their acquisition, over a decade ago was hailed as a great national event — it could also be construed as a tragedy. Nuclear weapons bring with them the most terrible horrors. Sadly, people at home are not familiar with these. But if we wish truly to guarantee the security of our nation, it is people we need to invest in. Eventually their well-being holds the key to the security of the country. Arsenals of nuclear weapons, whether they number a few dozen or several hundred cannot really offer a nation any security. There is nothing to be proud off in Pakistan’s latest status as the world’s fifth largest nuclear power. In fact, it counts as a matter of shame that while these weapons are built, and scientific expertise and resources spent on this, people across the country still lack access to safe water, food and other basics of what constitutes a dignified life.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2011.

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Reader Comments (17)

  • Ali
    Feb 2, 2011 - 2:02AM

    Well said!Recommend

  • Salim Salahuddin
    Feb 2, 2011 - 9:28AM

    Perhaps the editorial is missing the point? The main goal of creating many many weapons is for Pakistan to “share” the “bumbs” with friendly neighbors. After all, this is the famous and much-sought-after “Islamic bumb” that is the talk of the town.Recommend

  • Adeel Ahmed
    Feb 2, 2011 - 11:38AM

    First of all… just because Washington Post says it, doesn’t make it a fact by any stretch of imagination…

    But anyways… the whole point of Pakistan being a nuclear state, capable of nuclear missiles, is to keep the balance of power in the region. If India had it, and we didn’t, the balance of power would be heavily tilted towards india, and it was only a matter of time before they marched into Lahore, fulfilling their life long dream of having evening tea at Lahore Gymkhana…

    Our nukes deter indian aggression… and they are a necessity.

    Nukes are not the reason our people go hungry, etc. Corruption. Our so-called leaders have so much money that they can collectively pay of all our debts… but instead they choose to buy mansions and cheateus in France and what not, and keep all their wealth abroad.Recommend

  • Tony Singh
    Feb 2, 2011 - 1:04PM

    @Adeel Ahmed:
    Can’t you do better Analysis than this? Really pedestrian analysis. If India had such designs, it would have annexed East Pakistan, and also west way back in1971. Come up with some credible analysis dude.
    Let me give you a start : We need nukes because we can raise Kashmir bogey, attack India with impunity and raise nuclear “conflict bogey”,\ as we did during Kargil,,,,,
    Now expand on it…Recommend

  • Ani
    Feb 2, 2011 - 4:05PM

    Pakistan can have its nuclear deterrence – as a sovereign country. But producing nukes by the hundreds misses the point. Indians are not coming across. It does not fit India’s strategic calculus. Given the problems of Pakistan – really!
    There is a complete misreading of India’s strategy and civic mindset by Pakistan. This is deliberate and a product of the deep anti-India narrative that so grips Pakistan at every level. India did not attack when the bomb was in development; it did not when there was one or ten. It was Pakistan that started a proxy war and launched Kargil under the overhang of its nuclear weapons.
    Much of the money that is going into these weapons can be used to root out the terrorists and for economic development. Pakistan may not have to borrow as often as it does from outsiders. It could create world class institutions and be a destination for capital investment. What an idea that would be! But why do the heavy lifting when the easy so available. Manufacture hundreds to use as crude bargaining chips to extract money and concessions from the west and its enemies – real and imagined, with impunity. Very much like Iran and North Korea. Don’t stop the manufacturing lines. Recommend

  • Manoj
    Feb 2, 2011 - 4:32PM

    India and Pakistan can never use a nuclear weapon in War, reason being close proximity of important cities of India and Pakistan. atom bomb used against one city will affect another in other country also. Take the case of following.

    Delhi – Lohor, Mumbai – Karach, Kolkata – dhaka, Chennai – Shri Lanka, Guahati – Bhutan, burma. Tibbet etc.

    If sub kiloton small nuclear bomb is used to restrict the damage, in that case it will be better to use big conventional bomb to achive the desired result.

    USA could use the nuclear bomb against Japan, becuase it is an island country, but can UK and France fight a nuclear war, answer is big No.Recommend

  • Wow
    Feb 2, 2011 - 5:29PM

    Brave article E T rocks again !!!! But sorry to say you won’t find more friends who are brave enough to except the truthRecommend

  • sundar
    Feb 2, 2011 - 7:52PM

    Valid points. How many bombs you need to deter India? If you want parity with India try to prosper economically which will benefit not only both nations but also the whole of South Asia. Taking the number of WMDs way beyond your need is insane especially when you beg other nations for money. No wonder donors are reluctant. Pakistanis need to think wisely and distribute your resources accordingly instead of raising empty slogans which may just satisfy your egos. Recommend

    Feb 2, 2011 - 8:48PM

    Your editorial has made an apt and logical analysis. It difficult to conceive why Pakistan chose to match India’s nuclear capability which is sole deterrence against China and not Pakistan. It has been rightly concluded that building more bombs does not necessarily translates into balancing against India’s conventional weopon systems since one bomb is enough to inflict collosal devastation and any country venturing the same in the present day world will do at its own peril thus reducing its usage to almost nil.
    Pakistan, who is undergoing a deep economic crisis along with strains of devastating floods and war against terror has acted foolhardy in acquiring additional nuclear arsenal at an enormous cost. As per South East Asia analysts a reliable magazine, Pakistan had 30 nuclear bombs along with delivery systems till 2002, manufactured at a cost of 20 billion dollars. The cost has since increased in the past decade from 5 to 25 billion dollars per weopon system depending on its configuration. However, keeping the cost at minimum of approx 5 billions each, it would have still cost whooping 500 billion dollars or even higher for additional 80 bombs. It is upto Pakistanis to decide whether this money could have been used to boost their failing economy. Recommend

  • Ashutosh
    Feb 2, 2011 - 8:57PM

    Nuclear weapons are the worst weapons the world ever made. These weapons can not be used against any enemy, not even against the enemy who had used it against us !Recommend

  • Aamir+Ali
    Feb 2, 2011 - 10:17PM

    Have to agree with the editorial. I come from Peshawar and KP and we have been ravaged by terrorism against which nukes are useless.Recommend

  • Meekal Ahmed
    Feb 2, 2011 - 10:32PM

    Excellent Editorial. Very brave of you, Sir!

    By the way, in the Daily Telegraph of today, Pakistan is ranked 109 out of 110 countries in terms of being “least prosperous”.

    More on that later.Recommend

  • Haseeb
    Feb 4, 2011 - 6:39AM

    It is sad but true that in this world it is important to have military strength or you will be pushed around. Just look at the case of North Korea. US deals with it with much more carefully because it gets cover by China while US threats Iran all the time with all kind of threats because Iran does not have a militarily powerful cover. Posters here are naïve when they talk about India focused on China and not Pakistan. Just read all the chatter in India and you will notice that Lal Krishna Advani complaining in the recent past that India would have taken care of Pakistan but it has Nukes and they will use it too, if needed. My friends, weakness in any form is never rewarded in this opportunistic world.
    The real reason for poverty in Pakistan is bad governance and corruption. Let us discuss and figure out how to fix that. There is no point in talking about weakening one of the few strengths left in Pakistan. Sly and clever remarks about selling these bombs or calling it Islamic bomb are counterproductive and disingenuous.Recommend

    Feb 4, 2011 - 11:56AM

    You have missed out an important message conveyed in the editorial that adding a large number bombs in your arsenal is totally fool-hardy since no country will be able to explode even one in the present day world and the same are only possesed to act as an deterrance and nothing more. You have quoted N Korea example but you must also be knowing that this country spent a lot on its military hardware and nuclear arsenal but neglected its economy and now it is one of the poorest country and people are dying of hunger whereas S Korea has made a lot of progress. Similarly Soviat Union committed the same blunder of competing with USA and paid a heavy price. Now Pakistan by competing with India in military infrastructure, nukes and exporting terrorism is heading towards a total economic collapse and chaos. Recommend

  • Raja Arsalan Khan
    Feb 4, 2011 - 5:28PM

    @Adeel Ahmed:

    It is sad reality that my “monolithic” Punjab is the most populace province of Pakistan. It has no political vision but yet it defines and imposes its will on all, even beyond Pakistan’s border.
    For your kind information, India is not stupid. India will never “subjugate” the Punjab containing Muridke, Mansoora and Bahalwapur. What benefit New Delhi will get by sitting in Lahore? You are living in a fool’s paradise. If you were alone, it wouldn’t have mattered, but unfortunately, you are forcing 180 million people to think, analyse and dream like you. Recommend

  • Haseeb
    Feb 4, 2011 - 11:26PM

    I hear you but I think you are missing the point. I have seen misleading and exaggerated reports being released for a reason in the past too. Just like they released them before attacking Iraq that it had WMD which were never found. So it not always true what Washington Post publishes.
    You also missed the point that under Musharraf Pakistan’s GDP grew at about 10% while they were “building this stockpile of nukes”. The real problem here is bad governance and corruption. That is the point and you completely ignored it.
    You did not address aggressive behavior from India towards Pakistan either. I can post lots of links giving you proof of that assuming you did not see them for the last many years.
    It is naïve that this world will respect weak nation. I would say it is a fools dream at best. Just pay attention to Indian chatter and you will realize that they are not so peace loving. Look at what they are doing in occupied Kashmir. I am sure you read about them in Wikileaks. I am not saying that we should not fix our economic problems but let us not do this by weakening us. Let us not undersell Punjab and its sacrifices for Pakistan. Punjab has not created these problems alone. It is created by ALL of Pakistan and we need to fix it by education, justice, strength, good governance and unity.Recommend

  • Feb 21, 2011 - 8:12PM

    Well said Mr.Haseeb. Kashmir suffers under India just like Baluchistan suffers under Pakistan..Recommend

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