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Nuclear mythology and Pakistan

A conflict between two states anywhere in the world is always compared with the cold-war rivalry between US and USSR. Pakistan and India are nothing like the cold-war adversaries. We have complicated history, border disputes involving human emotions, and ages old wounds that never healed.

During the cold war, matters became difficult because the strategy of both states involved the probability of use of already deployed nuclear weapons. Pakistan and India do not have any weapons deployed for the reason that the geo-strategic position allows us to move our weapons from storage to field within a couple of days. Thus, there is no need to pre-deploy them. There is a common misconception that when deployed, weapons can be stolen by terrorists. Pakistan has a specialised force for the protection of nuclear weapons as well as other nuclear facilities. International Atomic Energy Agency has repeatedly appreciated and expressed satisfaction over the security measures that Pakistan has taken and has voluntary presented for inspection of IAEA. Either you don’t trust the judgment of IAEA or you should stop making absurd claims about Pakistan’s nukes.

Nuclear weapons are not like pistols or grenades that anyone who gets a hold of them would be able to use them. Even if a nuke is – in the wildest dream – stolen, it is of no use to terrorists as it’s not a cooker bomb that they can launch at will. For use, nuclear weapons need to be mated; warheads need to be joined with their fissile cores and delivery systems. Even when mated, nuclear weapons cannot be launched unless specific codes are inserted. These codes are known only to the National Command Authority and released only when the weapons are intended to be used. Therefore, no brigade commander can launch a nuke without the command authority’s permission. This must clear another misconception that launch of nuclear weapons is not in any local commander’s control. In the cold war era, the situation was worse because the local commanders did have control of nukes on ground as the weapons were deployed thousands of miles from the Command Centre.

Considering this, we must understand that solutions feasible for the cold-war rivals may not be practical for Pakistan-India and pressurizing any one to roll back of nuclear capability would cause a crisis rigorous than the existing one. If the champions of non-proliferation are sincere in toning down arms race between India and Pakistan, they must work to devise a solution that takes into account the geo-strategic exclusivity as well as the reservations of both states. But first, the west needs to shun the myths they have been promulgating in their literature about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons for almost two decades.

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