KLF: Nukes could blot out South Asia cities, says Pervez Hoodbhoy

Published: February 16, 2013
Hoodbhoy said no official figures have ever existed, but he added that, “rough estimates show $2 billion is spent a year” on the nuclear programme.

Hoodbhoy said no official figures have ever existed, but he added that, “rough estimates show $2 billion is spent a year” on the nuclear programme.


The launch of Pervez Hoodbhoy’s ‘Confronting the Bomb: Pakistani & Indian Scientists Speak Out’ on day one of the fourth Karachi Literature Festival at Beach Luxury Hotel attracted a diverse audience to hear the nuclear physicist’s well-publicised thoughts on the nuclear arms race in South Asia.

Those who know of him and his work are aware that he is a vociferous opponent of the nuclear bomb and its destructive power.

The sizeable audience had something to chuckle about at the beginning when moderator Raza Rumi asked Hoodbhoy if he was worried whether India, with its considerable and more powerful nuclear arsenal, could annihilate Pakistan with the press of a button. Hoodbhoy swiftly dismissed such fears. “India cannot swallow Pakistan which has a population of 200 million people because it can’t swallow a small, little Kashmir of 10 million people,” he said.

When asked if it were not logical that Pakistan had pursued the nuclear bomb given that its arch rival possessed one, Hoodbhoy said India pursued it keeping China in mind as a more serious threat to its well-being. He added that the present-day Pakistan faced graver internal dangers and was far less secure than it was in the 1960s and 1970s due to the rise of domestic militant outfits.

Predicting a worst-case scenario, Hoodbhoy said the rise in militancy in the country and the number of brazen attacks on military bases, including the General Headquarters, in recent years meant Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, wherever it is hidden, could not be guaranteed to be totally secure. Such attacks, he claimed, made the world afraid of Pakistan’s weapons of mass destruction.

An audience member then posed an interesting question on roughly how much the country was spending on its nuclear programme. Hoodbhoy said no official figures have ever existed, but he added that, “rough estimates show $2 billion is spent a year”. He said the first weapon Pakistan developed was most likely funded by Libya, Saudi Arabia and some Gulf states. Shockingly, he claimed that suitcases filled with dollars would be put on Pakistan International Airlines flights on their way to Pakistan.

An international relations student present in the audience asked the one question that was perhaps on everyone’s lips. “Were nuclear weapons deployed at Kargil?”

Pausing for a few minutes, Hoodbhoy stated that his guess was as good as anybody else’s. But, he mentioned that back in 1999, former US president Bill Clinton, Bruce Riedel, a leading expert on US security, South Asia and counterterrorism and former prime minister Nawaz Sharif had a meeting when Clinton asked Nawaz if he was aware of any such developments. Nawaz said he was not. Clinton and Riedel then showed him proof which suggested Pakistan’s nukes were being deployed. Nawaz then immediately withdrew from Kargil.

Hoodbhoy hoped that the day would never come when either Pakistan or India would drop a nuclear bomb on each other, saying such an event would be many times more catastrophic than the one dropped on Hiroshima. He said cities like Karachi and Mumbai would be obliterated because of their dense populations. He predicted that at least 500,000 people would die immediately upon impact in either of the cities.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 16th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Feb 16, 2013 - 12:49PM

    During a simulation, an all out nuclear war with India and Pakistan, the entire population of Pakistan would perish and half the people in India, with about 500 Million survivors.

    While Indian cruise missiles can reach all parts of Pakistan, its not the same with Pakistan. Ballistic Missiles can be shot down, once the Missile Shield comes up in India.

    The only way out is to declare, like India, No-First-Use policy. Pak is not doing it saying it uses nukes as a deterrent. But, last time I checked, all wars were started by Pakistan, not India, including 1971.

    If the Terrorists running free in Pakistan manage to conduct a greater operation than Mumbai in India, then India will be forced to respond. If some crazy nut in the military is in charge of the nukes in the Pakistani side and fires them at India, the above scenario is completely possible.

    To prevent the above scenario, Pakistan HAS to do 3 things.
    1) Adopt No-First-Use policy.
    2) Fight all kinds of Terror.
    3) Take control of the nukes from the Army and transfer it to the civilians. Adopt a proper command structure. Now, only one guy is required to fire a missile towards India – Pak Army chief and blow the entire region into smithereens.


  • Salman
    Feb 16, 2013 - 6:13PM


    whatever your assessment may be, In case of nuclear war with India, Pakistan might hit India where it would hurt the most. No need to hit North-East or Naxal Region, These are already exploding region, you will find them split away from India sooner than the nuclear radiation spreading throughout mainland India.
    last time you might have checked the India propagandist information channels, because reality says, first India occupied Kashmir in 1948. then in 1971 invaded east Pakistan without any provocation.and then in 1984 Occupied Siachin, which was a Pakistani territory.

    For your 3 points i would say,

    1) “No-First-Use policy” is not part of our defense strategy, Since India has advantage of numbers (1 to 5) in conventional force.

    2) Pakistan is already doing it and has sacrificed more lives than any other country fighting this war.

    3) Pakistan has proper command & control structure to safeguard it nuclear weapons. in case of using it, on top of chain-of-command is a civilian aka prime minister of Pakistan. But you seem to have no idea bout it.


  • Ali Tanoli
    Feb 16, 2013 - 7:16PM

    Pervez hoodhbai can get noble peace prize like obama got one because he is speaking against pakistani weapons…


  • Ali Tanoli
    Feb 16, 2013 - 7:58PM

    why dont they speak against all seven countries nuke why one is bad and all others good funny right guys…


  • suresh kumar
    Feb 17, 2013 - 9:27AM

    you need t o sit down with people in Pakistan who understand the complexties of Indo-Pak

    relations. There are so many Pakistani intelectuals like Hasan Nisar and others who are well respected for their views given on any issue: domistic or international.

    I pray to God to help my brothers and sisters in Pakistan to choose thier leader who can bring some respect to Pakistan and its people .

    I did not know that Parvez Mussaruf had nukes deployed at Kargil.( read the above article).Please educate yourself first and help the nation and its people and DO NOT TALK ABOUT WAR.


  • Kaafir
    Feb 17, 2013 - 1:00PM

    Pervez hoodbhoy , Najam sethi,.& Marvi sirmed- I fear for your noble lives.


  • SM
    Feb 18, 2013 - 5:28AM

    Mr. Hoodbhoy believes that India built nuclear arsenal for its security against China!
    It means, he’s not necessarily “against” the “nuclear bombs” BUT against Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.
    Quite self-explanatory!!


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