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.