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Nuclear Capability and National Security

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Message Muhammad Irfan

Nuclear weapons, since their induction into arsenals, have generated many concepts. In contemporary scenario, the rationales share these concepts in analyzing the nuclear competition in South Asia. There are many questions regarding Pakistan's national security together with nuclear capability. Why does Pakistan tend to maintain nuclear arsenal? Is India an existential threat to Pakistan? How can Pakistan's conventional weaponry guarantee national security? Would India out-compete Pakistan? Is Pakistan's internal writ shrinking? These questions are directly or indirectly linked to the Pakistan's nukes.

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John J. Mearshiemer maintains that the great powers maximize their relative power. He explains further that these powers do not enlarge the existing power due to power-lust but due to the compulsions of the anarchic nature of the international system. [i]

Thus, the arsenals are mainly built for pursuit of the national security. The states possibly consume their energies in order to cope with the threat. Pakistan in south Asian region exists as the second-largest state with both military and economic power potential. Its policy-making junta is keen in making sure to cope with the external threats. Since its creation in 1947, it shared antagonistic and adversarial relation with the eastern neighbor.

Given the hostility, Pakistan left no stone unturned in an attempt to ensure the national security. The nuclear weapons are the outcome of the aforesaid approach. It is worth-mentioning that the region is more stable than ever before since Qadeer Khan in an interview with Kuldip Nayyer in 1985 unveiled the nuclear capability. Thus, no one can deny the fact that Pakistan's nuclear weapons are the outcome of broad-based strategy to solidify the national security. Likewise, the established tenet of national-security policy will in future be maintained.

Similarly, Pakistan according to civilian and military leadership is still sensitive regarding the developments being made in India. It is true that the region is reported to be destabilized whenever the balance of power is disturbed. Michael Krepon is of the view that India competes with China and will compete it regardless of what Pakistan does. [ii] Now, if India asserts to compete with Beijing, ultimately it would enlarge its military power given the approach of offensive realism.

The more New Delhi increases its military power, the larger concerns Islamabad would have. With this perception, the New Delhi cannot be absorbed as normal and fraternal neighbor. Can anybody assure Pakistan of the Indian neutral behavior towards its neighbors if it becomes the most powerful nation in the world? Its presence in Afghanistan is particularly adequate to deny this optimism vis-a-vis Pakistan. Therefore, it is irrational to ignore that the perception-based policies in South Asia would forcibly be pursued.

Some analysts like Michael Krepon uphold that Pakistan cannot compete with India in subject of conventional military capability. In actuality, they observe the quantity where the latter outnumbers the former. Nonetheless, quantity matters more than quality. Under this perspective, Pakistani armed forces induct the western state-of-the-art equipment and systems that are more advanced and effective than what Indian possess the Soviet technology in the military systems.

Pakistan air force operates the mixture of the US, French, Chinese, and the PAK-China jointly manufactured systems. It can provide an immense fire power to the ground forces. In all spheres like air superiority, interception and interdiction, and ground attack, it is capable of giving surprise to the rival. Rhetorically, Pakistan, owing to the quantity, is not far behind India in the subject of conventional military capability. Nonetheless, it equally vies with India.

On the question of Pakistan's failure against India in competition, an impartial analyst can assess how valiantly Pakistan survived during the last 14 years' war-like scenario. On the other hand, Pakistan tremendously ensured the safety of nuclear weapons. It successfully coped with the terrorists in Swat and Balochistan. Despite of all menaces, Pakistani defense capability is safe and sound and is likely to give immense demonstration whenever the time demands.

Pakistan's internal writ is restored. There is not a single area that is out of the central government's writ. As far TTP's bastion is concerned, they are disintegrated and deployed in the remote mountainous areas. It was Pakistan air force's vigorous strike that recently forced them to come to dialogues. In presence of the certain terrorists, it is unfair to conclude that the government's internal writ shrinks.

To wind up, Pakistan in military form is really hard to be engulfed. Its nuclear weapons are safe. Economically, it will boom up since 2015. Therefore, it is ideal to live without any rivalry. India and Pakistan should realize each other's status. That is how the nuclear normalcy can work. Significantly, it remains still a nuclear military power that cannot be underestimated.

[i] Glenn H. Snyder, Mearshiemer's World offensive realism The Struggle for Security, P. 151, available at review of measheimer.pdf , (Accessed on May 1, 2014).

[ii] Michael Krepon, Nuclear Normalcy, The Dawn (Islamabad), April 24, 2014.

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Muhammad Irfan has authored many books. He is an internationally recognized scholar. He has presented his papers in national and international conferences. He is also a freelance journalist and contributes to both national and international (more...)

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