statesmanship-a-lesson-from-history“A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.”

–James Freeman Clarke

They say darkest hour can bring out the truth within people. Today, Pakistan is in the midst of a crisis, and we are being forced to reckon with truths we have hitherto chosen to remain oblivious to. Our great nation, with all its potential, is in the grip of an internal turmoil stemming from a lack of direction and vision within its leadership, which in turn is bringing the entire country down. Great leaders are said to inspire greatness in others, by envisioning and creating policy directions that will bear fruits for generations. What we have instead is a greater lack of clarity than ever – resulting in the confusion and uncertainty we are fast becoming accustomed to.

Haphazard mistakes, to which we seem prone, are further complicating our already complex international relationships. The most recent debacles include the embarrassment of our entirely unprepared Advisor to the Prime Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr Sartaj Aziz at the Heart of Asia Conference, embarrassment at jumping the gun in a race for ‘credit’ by overstating Russian interest in the CPEC followed by its categoric denial by Russia, as well as the release of the entire transcript of the new US President-elect Donald Trump’s phone call – a humungous, childish diplomatic faux pas if there ever was one.

The successful launch of the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) mega-initiative is oft cited as the silver lining of this particular cloud. It most certainly is a historical achievement in the midst of innumerable geo-political and strategic challenges, as the ‘game changing’ Chinese investment of over $50 billion is the biggest by any country in Pakistan in recent times. CPEC certainly looks set to re-establish Pakistan’s economic potential within the global arena, and has generated many positive headlines for a country that has suffered greatly from the fallout of the global War on Terror, by emphasizing the geostrategic importance of these new trade routes in lieu of the far too familiar reports on violent extremism. The CPEC and One Belt One Road Project have been like a much needed reboot for a stressed economy.

Unlike common perceptions however, the CPEC project has come to fruition as a result of years of visionary policies, hard work and preparation, and is not a victory of any one government. Long before the formal launch of the project, intensive effort was put into laying the groundwork for it by the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP). The CPEC is a victory of the will of the Pakistani people, as was perceived by an actual ‘statesman’, who planned and prepared, as ‘for the next generation’, and belonged to the aptly named PPP.

While detractors may disagree, the PPP has undeniably been the only party in the country’s history with a truly long-term, democratic vision, and leadership that has strengthened and stabilised the country time and time again, irrespective of who gets credit for it at the end of the day. Its leadership has always had one priority only – to serve the nation by placing it on the path to progression and prosperity. The formulation of long-term policies that were continued even after the end of PPP tenure, simply because they were too important to be rolled back, is a basic hallmark of visionary statesmanship, and represents how statesmen conduct themselves when in power.

The importance of such visionary leadership is often underestimated, nor is the concept too often understood properly. There is a unique set of characteristics which sets statesmen apart: principles, vision, a moral compass, and an innate ability to unite differing factions.

The founding father of PPP, the late, great Shaheed Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, had a clear vision, and a plan to achieve it. A vision that would lead to Pakistan becoming a frontrunner and leader in the international arena, and a plan that played a vital role in the ‘reorientation’ of Pakistan’s foreign policy in the 1960s, defining then and today, the contours of Pakistan foreign policy. Similarly, it is an undisputed fact that had he not set the foundation and groundwork for the country’s nuclear programme in the 1970’s, Pakistan would not have had the capacity to conduct nuclear tests in response to India to establish nuclear deterrence in the region in 1998.

PPP’s contribution in setting and enhancing the tone of Pakistan’s relations with international partners, particularly China, over several decades is immense. In Bhutto’s Pakistan, relations with China attained unprecedented geo-strategic and geopolitical importance. This anchoring of Pakistan’s foreign policy was also noted by the former US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, who praised Bhutto in his book ‘Years of Upheaval: The Second Volume of His Classic Memoirs’, as a ‘a man of extraordinary abilities, capable of drawing close to any country that served Pakistan’s national interests.’

Shaheed Z.A. Bhutto was far from being the last of the PPP’s leaders with great vision. In the aftermath of his martyrdom, the mantle was picked up by his daughter, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto. The Shaheed Benazir, who not only became the new Chairperson of the party but also Pakistan’s only, and twice elected female Prime Minister, continued her father’s legacy of consolidating Pakistan’s ‘special ties’ with China, by conducting her first official trip in 1989 to Beijing. It was the farsightedness of Shaheed Benazir Bhutto that laid the foundation stone of the Fish Harbor Project during her visit to Gwadar on December 14th, 1989, and five years later, resulted in the initiation of a project to develop Gwadar port as ‘an alternative seaport’ (1994), with the help of China.

The life of Bhutto’s daughter was also tragically cut short, but her vision was carried forward and executed once again under Party Co-Chairman and Former President, Mr Asif Ali Zardari, who truly opened up new pathways for Pakistan into the region. Under his leadership, many new precedents were set in the domain of foreign policy that were in line with the vision of both father and daughter. His tenure brought clarity to Pakistan’s relations with many important countries and all key regional players. The record speaks for itself; Pakistan’s relations with major powers and immediate neighbours remained amicable, clearly defined and non-confrontational, be it China, the United States, Russia, or our immediate neighbours: India, Afghanistan, and Iran.

The former President visited China alone nine times during his tenure, and helped generate consensus on significant bilateral issues, moving the contract for Gwadar from Singapore to China, because of which the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang proposed the CPEC initiative during his visit to Pakistan in 2013. He was also the first to categorically state that politics would not be allowed on the Chinese investment.

PPP also set a precedent for bringing powers like Russia closer, a feat which previously would have been considered impossible. With the thaw in relations with Russia came Moscow’s nod of approval for the first time for Pakistan’s entry into the Shanghai Cooperation Organization – another landmark achievement. Relaxation of tensions with both Afghanistan and India, and the signing of the ‘Afghan Transit Trade Agreement’ are further examples of what visionary national policy formulation looks like.

The incumbent government ought to take a leaf from its predecessor’s book, particularly in such complex times, and focus on similar visionary projects instead of the shortsighted/money-pit ‘pet projects’ it currently appears to be focused on. We are all Pakistanis first, and such we seek from the state leadership that is visionary, patient and mature. As Shaheed Z.A Bhutto famously said “You cannot defend the soil unless you know the smell of that soil.” The antics of self-congratulatory regimes will do much harm long-term if not checked, and it is in the interest of all to pay heed to the lessons of history, before any irreversible damage is incurred. Pakistan needs clear direction – and an actual Foreign Minister to begin with. Now more than ever, we need true statesmanship, to lead the country into the future that it deserves.

Same version of the article appeared in The Nation

By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)

September 29, 2016

modis-volatile-agenda“There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”–Prof Dr Howard Zinn

Historians agree that major underlying causes, which resulted in the outbreak of the First World War, were ‘nationalism, imperialism, arms race and an alliance system that repressed and bullied the smaller states’.

The consequences led to the death of 17 million people, and even more wounded.

A 102 years on, it is unfortunate that we seem to have come full circle, especially where the belligerence of bigger state bullies is concerned.

In the context of Pakistan-India relations, three out of those four causes perfectly fit the current scenario.

This ever-repetitive circle of allegations and war threats, aggressive posturing that lies beyond the realm of rationality to ‘thrash’ the other, simply to reassert/reaffirm the narrative of being a major power is at play again by India, particularly in the aftermath of the Uri attack.

As Pakistan successfully continues to fight its war against violent extremism and terrorism in the form of operation Zarb-e-Azb, external threats to its territorial sovereignty and integrity are mounting on its borders, bothon its Western, and recently on the Eastern, fronts.

India is strategically increasing pressure on Pakistan under the premise of its Kautilyan policy of encirclement.

Following the Uri attack, the world is witnessing the jingoistic Modi regime -infamous for the Gujrat massacre of 2002 – thumping its ’56 inch chest’ once again while chanting slogans of war, and blaming Pakistan for perpetrating this attack without any concrete evidence.

The hyper-nationalist right wing regime, instead of answering for and addressing the atrocities that are being committed by Indian forces in Indian Occupied Kashmir since July 8th and have left more than 120 innocent Kashmiris dead, is currently engaged in a war of words with Islamabad, putting humanity to shame in Indian held Kashmir.

Issuing statements to the tune of ‘revoking’ the Indus Water Treaty or surgical strikes inside Pakistan not only reflects a dangerously irresponsible policy mindset, but also echoes the ramblings of an unstable regime caught between the rhetoric of ‘Shining India’ and making the world cognizant of the ‘greatness of India’.

For a country, which is an aspirant of a permanent seat on United Nations Security Council and the Nuclear Suppliers Group, as well as the largest country within South Asia, India has little to show for its perceived ‘greatness’.

History bears witness to the fact that India has had border clashes and disputes with all of its seven neighbor states, barring none, exposing its heinous face and aggressive ambitions time and time again.

Today, this ‘aspiring leader’ has opened a multi-front war against Pakistan.

The biggest offense right now is directed against the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
The $46 billion dollar flagship project by China’s ‘One Belt One Road’ initiative, even after nine months of its inauguration, is still not acceptable to India.

And to highlight its unacceptability and official policy to actively sabotage the progress on this mega-project, India is working on a multi-front strategy.

From actively changing its maps to include the area of Gilgit-Baltistan in its domain, to removing the status of Jammu and Kashmir as a disputed zone by declaring it an integral part of State of India, to the Indian officials registering their concerns with the Chinese Premier, to including Azad Kashmir under its own borders, to starting a Baloch language radio channel from an All India Radio station, to the Indian PM acknowledging how India is sympathetic to the people of Azad Kashmir, Balochistan and Gilgit Baltistan; little can be said in India’s defense in the face of these facts.

The Modi regime needs to place blame somewhere, because it has failed spectacularly in fulfilling its promises.

India is not only struggling with their efforts to sustain their grip on Kashmir but with the terrible truths of its political and military failures in Kashmir, its inability to quell indigenous uprisings and oppression by the means of brute force alone, its incompetence in asserting itself on the world stage and in the region as a major power, and its ineffectiveness in providing a raison d’etre for why Modi’s “achaydin” are nowhere on the horizon, as well as failure in being answerable to its public and explaining the catastrophe which is Indian state policy today, as we have seen in a recent survey in which over 50 percent of Indian citizens disapproved of Modi’s Pakistan policy.

India is playing a dangerous game in this highly volatile region.

If New Delhi wants to further its ‘Doval Doctrine’ by increasing covert activities and expanding the presence of Kulbhushan Yadavs in Pakistan, then the country should remember that India also has an unresolved Junagadh, Khalistan, Naxalite and many other insurgency movements within its own territory, and has high stakes in maintaining regional deterrence.

This said, let me reiterate that we at least are cognizant of the fact that war is never the answer – it is not a solution, but if a constantly belligerent tirade against Pakistan is continued from New Delhi in its vow to ‘isolate Pakistan in the world’, then as the Newton’s third law of motion states: every action has an equal and opposite reaction.

Perhaps this will keep the Hindutva diatribe in check, which, it seems, only understands the language of power and strength.

Pakistan is getting tired.

Tired of the Indian diatribe, tired of being the only one interested in establishing peace in the region, tired of the one-sided efforts to consistently propose and maintain strategic stability in the region.

After all, for how long can the people of Pakistan be expected endure this direct affront on their state before they start pressurizing the government to issue a strong rebuttal – a ‘tit for tat’ response, if you will?

The Indo-Pakistan region houses more than 1.5 billion people who deserve better.

A blame game will not strengthen our schools, economy or public health.

‘Blame will only destroy progress.Blame will breathe more violence’.

Blame will not rid us of our problems but will only fuel the hatemongers on both sides causing more long-term harm than good.

Let us seek then to move beyond the current stalemate, for the sakes of the millions of lives and futures at stake.

Same version of the article appeared in The Nation

By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)

September 29, 2016

India’s artful demagogueryTo a state where many still prescribe to the Kautilyan ideal of a single sub-continental Indian State, and revere his tenets for statecraft and foreign policy, deception and misdirection come as naturally as the involuntary function of breathing.

In fact, India has mastered these arts to such perfection that it manages to point bloody fingers towards its western neighbour over any and every incident, even as it stands squarely in the middle of the carnage, so to speak, and does it so effectively that the world lambasts Pakistan instead.

The curious case of India’s relationship with North Korea is no different.

In recent weeks, particularly in the context of the American push for India’s unilateral membership of the prestigious Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), the mud-slinging campaign has reached new highs – or lows, depending upon where you stand.

In a classic attempt at misdirection, to distract from India’s failures and shortcomings as a responsible nuclear state, an offensive campaign has been launched to shift focus onto and detract from Pakistan’s application for simultaneous entry into the NSG instead.

At least twice over the past couple of months, questions have been raised in US Congress committees on possible links between Pakistan and North Korea.

Both times, the insinuation has been shot down – there is simply no evidence.

Interestingly, the question of India’s relationship with North Korea is never raised, and this is despite the fact that flags were raised in this context as recently as March 2016 in an annual report to the UN Security Council, and highlighted again – in a fairly comprehensive manner – in an article published this June in Al Jazeera, by an Indian journalist, Nilanjana Bhowmick.

As she aptly points out, by training North Korean scientists and equipping them with the sensitive knowledge and information regarding nuclear weapons and missile technology, India has not only violated the UN sanctions but also undermined international efforts to stop their spread to North Korea.
Unsurprisingly and extremely artfully, India continues to present itself as staunch opponent of the North Korean nuclear weapon development programme, terming the January test ‘a grave concern’, and the pantomime is bought by the international community hook, line and sinker.

Its actions, however, in stark contrast to its very effective words, portray a very different reality.

The first five major sanctions against North Korea were issued by the UN in 2006.

Of them, the Security Council Resolution 1718 stringently prohibits all UN Member States from any transfers to the DPRK – via nationals or territory – of ‘technical training, advice, services or assistance related to the provision, manufacture, maintenance or use of missiles, missile systems or other items, materials, equipment, goods and technology’ that could potentially further the DPRK’s nuclear related programmes.

The Annual Report, as well as some other documents, highlight exactly how India has trained many North Korean scientists and engineers, who have gone on to hold key positions in its hypersensitive missile programs.

Some key names in this context include Paek Chang-ho, who received instruction in satellite communications at the Indian Centre for Space Science and Technology Education in Asia and the Pacific (CSSTEAP), which was clearly important enough to allow him to become the head of an agency responsible for DPRK’s first satellite launch; Hong Yong-il, a North Korean official in Delhi, was amongst the first of the DPRK’s students trained at CSSTEAP – he studied remote sensing technology – and went on to head a research group on the subject in his home country.

Despite India’s protestations that the courses offered at this institute are generic, it is interesting to note that all of the DPRK’s thirty or so students to date have gone on to hold similarly important positions within its nuclear program.

The fact that the state continues to apply to the institute is also telling.

This is further evidenced in the concerns raised in the annual report, which considers more than one course to be ‘directly relevant’ to the development of North Korean expertise in the field.

“It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realise how extraordinarily unwise, and indeed irresponsible, it is nowadays to train North Korean operatives in technologies that can be used to improve and perfect their ballistic missile programme, ” opines Nicholas Eberstadt, a political economic at the American Enterprise Institute, adding that “the government of India needs to acknowledge the seriousness of this error, take accountability for it, and publicly commit that it will not be an enabler of North Korean WMD programmes thenceforth.

” And yet, Indian double-speak maintains sway within the United States, which remains sceptical of Indian complicity with the North Korean nuclear programme, even with this evidence, and certain of Pakistan’s involvement, with no evidence.

Let us remember that during the Cold War, India – champion of the Non-Allied Movement (NAM) – was both a ‘close and trustworthy ally’ of the Soviet Union, as well as a ‘loyal’ friend of the US.

Deception has time and time again been shown to be the country’s strong suit, and it has no qualms in manipulating, dodging or arm-twisting to achieve its strategic and policy objectives.

The origins of its nuclear weapons program are a testament to this.

It has a history of conducting business with countries that have been termed as ‘rogue states’ at critical junctures in time, including Iran during the embargo period, and continually growing trade with Pyongyang, despite stringent UN Security Council sanctions.

The UN Security Council Resolution 1874 of 2009 explicitly prohibits any financial transactions with North Korea which could contribute to DPRK’s nuclear, ballistic or other weapons of mass destruction related programmes or activities, and yet surprisingly, from a mere $10 million in 2000, the India-North Korea bilateral trade increased sharply to $199 million dollars in 2014.

The North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong also visited India in April 2015, apparently to hold talks with the Indian Minister for External Affairs, Shushma Swaraj, on the North Korean nuclear program.

As its long-suffering and perpetually undermined and defamed neighbours, Pakistan has vast experience of Indian demagoguery.

Despite the country’s continual proxy engagement and territorial interference in Pakistan – of which the country has provided solid evidence many a time – Pakistan is portrayed as the ‘evil’ state, with unendingly belligerent intentions.

‘Heinous’ is the term most commonly used I believe, in spite of its constant attempts at reconciliation, including most recently the proposed bilateral restraint regime, which once again and in line with Indian policy, was rejected outright by the country.

India’s role in straining Pakistan-Afghanistan is undeniable, and, as Chuck Hagel points out, India may well be ‘using Afghan soil to finance problems for Pakistan’.

Its naval ambitions are known to all.

It has at the helm of its foreign affairs a hardcore nationalist ‘spy’, Mr Ajit Doval, who classifies Pakistan as an ‘Indian Enemy’ that must be ‘isolated’, and promotes the use of TTP to destabilise Pakistan internally.

All this on public record!

It is high time that India’s flimsy mask of respectability is removed and the state seen for what it is – a troublemaker with grandiose ambitions.

If the region is to step out of the perpetually looming shadow of war, apprising these facts at face value is of the utmost importance.

It is the only way the South Asian region can realistically move into the future in a sturdy and sustainable manner.

Same version of the article appeared in The Nation

By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)

JULY 02, 2016

Open Letter to the Member States of NSGI am writing this open letter to you as a concerned member of Senate of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan – I am writing to express our gravest misgivings over the discriminatory behaviour that we fear is being demonstrated towards Pakistan by some members of the prestigious organisation currently under your chairmanship, at a time when once again we are faced with the dilemma of legitimised Indian ‘exceptionalism’. I wish to draw your attention not only to the folly of such isolationist behaviour towards a highly responsible member of the international nuclear community, but also to highlight Pakistan’s continued commitment towards the goals of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, reflected in the series of concrete steps that have been undertaken by Pakistan over the past 40 odd years.

Foremost, let me appreciate the wisdom of the decision of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in not allowing the membership of India into the group without the establishment of previously agreed upon criteria for the entry of a non-NPT state, particularly in light of the pressure to accept Indian exceptionalism. It is indisputable that any state’s membership bid for the NSG should and must be scrutinised in the backdrop of the applicant’s record vis-à-vis the benchmarks of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. It is beyond question that such a criteria-based approach is the foundation of stable and just international regimes, which reject country-specific exceptionalism and political preferences. We place our faith in these regimes on this very basis that every case will be examined impartially, and in light of the guiding principles of the organisation – the NSG is no exception. The world believes that through the NSG, a state may embark upon nuclear trade that will definitely be for peaceful purposes, and not “contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices, and that international trade and cooperation in the nuclear field is not hindered unjustly in the process”, as it will ensure adherence to these guidelines.

Similarly, it is undeniable that ignoring these NSG guidelines when considering an application will weaken international non-proliferation norms, as only an objective, non-discriminatory, equitable, ‘rule and criteria-based’ system, in line with existing international nuclear non-proliferation norms will strengthen the structure of the non-proliferation regime.

Excellencies, let me highlight that despite being a non-NPT state, I have no qualms in supporting and promoting Pakistan’s case for inclusion in the NSG. I believe whole-heartedly that our case is strong, legitimate, logical and legal from an entirely unbiased perspective. Some of the fundamental credentials Pakistan holds include:

  • Pakistan is a responsible nuclear power that has proactively been working with, and in accordance to, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) standards. This is reflected through Pakistan’s efforts for cooperating with the international community to prevent and control the proliferation of weapon of mass destruction and their delivery systems. All of Pakistan’s civil nuclear facilities are under IAEA safeguards, and the country is fully determined to place all foreign supplied nuclear reactors under the same.
  • Pakistan has a very well-defined and robust command and control system under a National Command Authority (NCA). We believe that the matter of nuclear safety and security is of paramount importance. Any problems that we faced in this context initially have been resolved immediately and permanently. We now have an autonomous Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) that closely collaborates with the IAEA, particularly on matters of nuclear safety, security and radiation protection, and Pakistan now has over four decades of experience in the safe and secure operation of nuclear power plants.
  • To further strengthen its nuclear safety and security structure, Pakistan has also taken numerous legal, regulatory and administrative measures at par with international best practices. In 2014, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) termed Pakistan as the ‘most improved’ country among nine nuclear-armed states, and better at safeguarding its nuclear materials than rival India. To date, Pakistan’s record is accident and incident-free.
  • Pakistan has evolved a comprehensive and robust export control regime underpinned by strong legislation, regulatory and enforcement mechanisms. We have not only promulgated the Export Control Act as early as September 2004, but also established a Strategic Export Control Division at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Our national export control lists are no different from the control lists of NSG, MTCR and Australia Group.
  • The country has always endeavoured to fulfil its international obligations, and is a state-party to various international instruments, including the CWCIO, BTWC, PTBT, CPPNM, the IAEA Code of Conduct on Safety and Security of radioactive sources, and also participates in the IAEA Incident and Trafficking Database (ITDB). We have effectively been contributing to global non-proliferation efforts through multilateral instruments such as the UNSCR 1540 and global initiatives such as the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS), the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT), the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), Container Security Initiative (CSI) and Mega Port Initiative (MPI).
  • We have also put forward several proposals ranging from a strategic restraint regime comprising nuclear and missile restraint, conventional balance, conflict-resolution, and nuclear weapons-free zones to a regional test ban treaty. Unfortunately, all these proposals have been rejected by India.
  • Pakistan not only believes in horizontal non-proliferation, but also opposes vertical proliferation. We consider that an open-ended nuclear arms race in the region will be highly detrimental not only for our national interests but also for regional stability.
  • The European Organisation for Nuclear Research (CERN) has granted Pakistan the status of an associate member. Of the 300-plus scientists currently working with CERN, 37 originate from Pakistan, whereas India is not yet even a member of this highly prestigious colloquium.
  • To showcase its resolve and commitment to the cause, Pakistan has proactively informed the IAEA Director General of its adherence to the objectives of NSG, and its decision to act in accordance with NSG guidelines with regard to the transfer of nuclear material, equipment and related technology, including related dual-use equipment, materials, software and related technology.
  • Finally, Pakistan has the expertise, manpower, infrastructure as well as the ability to supply NSG-controlled items, goods and services for a full range of nuclear applications for peaceful uses.

Excellencies, the entire edifice of disarmament, arms control and non-proliferation has been gravely undermined over the past decade through the pursuit of discriminatory policies based on double standards. The foremost of these is the NSG waiver granted to India in 2008 – the non-NPT state that is single-handedly responsible for the creation of the NSG itself – in the pursuit of temporary financial gain, and at the cost of the de-legitimisation of international regulatory regimes. India abused the opportunity, as can only be expected in a non-regulated environment for a country with a similar track record, by expanding its nuclear arsenal as a result of diverting its domestic fissile material towards weapon production. For a country that had previously diverted the fissile material imported for the Canadian-supplied reactor in Tarapur to weapon production, enabling its first nuclear test in 1974 and introducing nuclear weapons to the South Asian region, such exceptionalist policies hardly seem justified. It has since also refused to sign the NPT, and opposed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It conducted further nuclear tests in 1998, forcing Pakistan to respond accordingly to counter what it perceives as an existential threat.

Today, the Obama Administration is going a step further by actively lobbying for Indian membership of the NSG. Let me remind you, Excellencies, that this is the same country that has a history of nuclear accidents and incidents, which have proven to be serious concerns for international peace. The Kakrapar Atomic Power Station in the Indian state of Gujarat has faced many accidents since it was commissioned in 1993, including a major incident in 1994 when the reactor was flooded and water reached inside the reactor building itself!

Excellencies, once again we find ourselves standing at a crossroads. Pakistan’s commitment to the goals of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament is unwavering It also has legitimate needs for civil nuclear power generation to meet the growing energy demands of its expanding economy. This is an essential part of the country’s national energy security plan, and this can be easily achieved if the status of NSG membership is approved. However, if Pakistan continues to be treated discriminately vis-à-vis the NSG membership, and India is granted access to the group bypassing all criterion and guidelines and in ignorance of the past, not only will the structure of strategic stability in South Asia be irreparably damaged and destabilised, but international non-proliferation regimes will become weaker and lose the trust of the global community. Global nuclear disarmament will recede even further into the distance.

NSG membership is only via a unanimous vote. With India as a member, and despite its claims to the contrary, Pakistan has historical reasons to believe its dream to become a legitimate and responsible member of this nuclear group will remain nothing more than a pipedream. It is no wonder Pakistan desires a simultaneous membership of the NSG, alongside India, through a fair, transparent and criteria-based approach. Without this, there can be no hope for the strategic stability of the region, and we may once again be witness to one of the world’s most volatile region’s descent into an arms race.

Excellencies, as a citizen of the part of the world directly affected by this decision, I urge you all to carefully consider the consequences on your decisions for the future generations of this region. If a non-NPT nuclear weapon state is to be admitted into the NSG at all, it must be on a non-discriminatory, non-preferential, non-exceptionalist basis. The eyes of the world are upon you all to ensure that justice and transparency prevails.

Same version of the article appeared in The Nation

By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)

April 27, 2016


‘We are aware that regional economic development is a necessary prerequisite to peace and stability. [..] I have no doubt in my mind that our region is capable of taking a quantum leap into an unchartered future – a future of unlimited opportunity, a future of infinite hope.’–Mohtarma Shaheed Benazir Bhutto, 14th March 1995.

In the recent years we have witnessed an astronomical increase in the phenomenon of ‘regionalism’ and ‘regional organisations’. The ability to transform the socio-economic conditions of its people by a regional organization has been best demonstrated by the undeniable success of the European Union in the last two decades, and today we see it in the form of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO).

It is no secret that the SCO has been a game changing organisation for our region. Established in 2001, the premiere organisation stands just two months away from the Tashkent Conference (to be held in June 2016) where the formal admission of the two ascending states will be completed for the first time since its inception, making Pakistan a full member of the SCO.

The inclusion of new members is a reflection of the changing geo-political and geo-strategic environment of the world in general and this region in particular. Over the past decade, an increasing trend of international maneuvering and manipulation has become visible, highlighting external objectives aimed at destabiliding the region and isolating regional powers, and rapidly transforming a bad dream into a dangerous reality.

It has become evident particularly in the aftermath of the War on Terror (WoT), that this part of the globe once again finds itself left to reckon with the consequences of an imported war, and to pick up the pieces of societies and structures that have been shattered by over a decade of conflict.

All SCO member states hold vast untapped potential to facilitate the reconstruction process of this ravaged region, and with each new member that potential and strength will increase. There is no doubt that Pakistan’s inclusion will infuse new strength into the organisation. The country’s entry will open doors of opportunity for all SCO member states. It will boost the organisation’s appeal and influence within the international arena, and strengthen its future development, setting it on the path to becoming a premier regional cooperation organisation.

Amongst the many positives that Pakistan brings to this table, the foremost is connectivity. Given its geostrategic location, the country will open doors to new linkages across the entire region through road links and sea routes. It will open up economic connectivity for all SCO members, with not only our region but neighboring ones as well, through ease of access. It will be the best conduit between SCO countries and the South Asian region, providing the shortest possible trade routes between Central Asia and Iran on the one hand, and the Russian, Chinese and Indian markets on the other. And it will enhance trade itself by tying the region together with new energy corridors. In the current environment of enhanced regional economic cooperation, and the SCO’s newly reiterated emphasis on this aspect, Pakistan will act as the ‘zipper’ bringing the region together, both physically and economically.

As a leader within the Muslim world, Pakistan can open many new doors for SCO member states, for economic connectivity as well as other avenues of cooperation. It should be remembered that connectivity with Pakistan is not just connectivity with a single country, but effectively a stronger link with all its partners as well. And with this newfound connectivity comes a revitalisation of trade and economic growth, which will bring peace and prosperity to the region.

Another key benefit for the SCO members is, Pakistan’s role and experience as a frontline state in combating terrorism and extremism, which can be an asset to the Regional Anti-Terrorist Structure (RATS) and the Regional Counter Terrorism Structure (RCTS). With the addition of Pakistan, the collective efforts by member states to counter terrorism and violent extremism will attain an important ally, as we have been effectively countering this menace for over a decade now. The internationally lauded Operation Zarb-e-Azb, which has reclaimed our national space from terrorists, is a prime example of the successes achieved by Pakistan in this context.

The prospect of full permanent membership of the SCO is also a very promising development for Pakistan. The entry will further strengthen Pakistan’s traditionally close relationship with China, as well as significantly enhance its increasing ties with Russia and the Central Asian Republics. The ascension process alone has also already hugely facilitated the improvement the political atmosphere of Islamabad’s relations with its regional neighbors and partners.

It would not be wrong to state that for the resolution of the lingering disputes between Pakistan and India, the SCO provides both an opportunity and an appropriate platform; and given its effective track record of conflict resolution, also creates hope for the possibility of a productive outcome as well as prevention of any possible future escalations.

Today, great importance is being placed on the role of civil society, public diplomacy and Track II initiatives in strengthening and facilitating the SCO expansion process. We must not only acknowledge but also emphasize just how vital Track II initiatives are for strengthening people-to-people contact, and thereby sustainable, long-term partnerships between states. It is only in solidifying this bond that we can consolidate the link between the people of this region, and by extension the state parties, unifying them into a force to be reckoned with.

We must take the first collective step towards diminishing the distances and misunderstandings between us, and work towards the betterment and prosperity of entire region. Let us remember that together, we stand stronger.

The article is an excerpt from Senator Sehar Kamran’s speech delivered at the International Forum “On the Second Track: The Role of Civil Society and Public Diplomacy in the Further Development and Expansion of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization”, held in Sochi, Russia from 19-20th April, 2016.

Same version of the article appeared in The Nation

By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)

April 10, 2016

indian spy

“All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.”–Article 2(4), United Nations Charter.

On 27th March 2016, a man was arrested from the Saravan border crossing over into Pakistani Balochistan. He is charged with espionage, subversion, as well as other acts to directly instigate terrorism and destabilise Pakistan. This man has been identified as an Indian Naval Officer, who went by the name of ‘Hussain Mubarak Patel’ in Pakistan, and Kulbashan Yadav in his native India.

The officer has confessed, both to his identity and to the nature of his operation; the former has been verified by his family. Yadav had been living in and operating from the area for about 14 years. Reports indicate that his capture was the result of the complacency that stemmed from the length of his presence in the country. His arrest, given his self-professed status as a serving commander, makes him the senior most person to have been arrested on espionage charges in Pakistan.

The arrest has not only raised many more linked questions, but also validated Pakistan’s long-standing claims of active and belligerent Indian involvement inside Pakistani territory. Once again Pakistan has found itself in a position where its territorial integrity and sovereignty has been violated. And once again, despite a clear breach of the UN charter, its concerns are being met with international silence.

While spy-craft is an institution as old as the advent of civil society itself, it is generally accepted as being at the root of many an international conflict, and as such has been criminalised in any way, shape or form within international law and its custodian, the UN. And it is in the recognition and upholding of the UN Charter that the international system as we know it has been able to exist and ward off the insecurity and anarchy this creates. Today, when the entire world is on fire, it is more important than ever to remember how the UN was established after the Second World War to maintain international peace and security. And the norm of respecting territorial integrity and sovereignty of other states is enshrined in this very Charter. Any breaches or state-sponsored activity against any other state is taken as violation of international law.

It is equally important to consider how the failure of this system through such violations can very easily result in a return to the anarchical insecurity that has proven so very destructive in the past.

Silence at the capture of a spy from a signatory state of the UN, who has confessed to carrying out activities to undermine the Pakistani state, is not a new trend by any means. It highlights the attitude of indifference, discount and disregard by world bodies and the international community towards Pakistan’s legitimate security concerns.

Whether it is in the form of open threats made to the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Pakistan by the present Indian National Security Officer, Ajit Doval – who is often also termed by the Indian media as the ‘Great Indian Spy’ as he lived and operated from within Pakistan for over seven years – by “advocating the policy of supporting militant groups to neutralise ‘terror threats’ emanating from Pakistan”. Or the Indian Premiere Narendra Modi’s remarks in Bangladesh, in which he clearly and openly admitted to the Indian role in ‘subversive activities to destabilise Pakistan’ and at Dhaka University on June 6, 2015 while discussing the events of 1971 which eventually led to the disintegration of Pakistan. Indian policy with regard to Pakistan remains very clear, and belligerent at best. This case of the Indian Naval Officer is proving to be no different, nor is it inconsistent with the current Indian regime’s public statements and greater policy declarations.

And despite the fact that in October 2015, the government of Pakistan shared three dossiers with the UN, containing evidences pertaining to Indian interference in Balochistan, Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) and Karachi, no follow-ups or reprimands were considered necessary. Today, these charges of interference are supported by the physical reality of Indian espionage on Pakistani soil in an undeniable manner.

It needs to be understood the global discriminatory narrative or practice of belittling genuine and now proven concerns of Pakistan emanating from its neighbour’s heinous intentions will only lead to further regional instability and the disruption of global peace. Pakistan’s voice in the international realm needs to be acknowledged, not only to assuage the state’s concerns, but also to preserve the structure of and faith in the international community. Today, this incident will not only harm or destabilise Pakistan, but holds the potential to bring about the collapse of the current international order, as all states that lose faith in the system will want to revert to any measures that will safeguard their national interests, ‘by hook or by crook’. The continuing lack of international interest in the concerns of smaller states can have serious repercussions for global security, stability and peace.

The State of Pakistan must raise the issue of Indian espionage and sabotage activities inside Pakistan’s territory within the global community in this context of international law. As Article 29 of the Hague Regulations 1907 identifies: “A person can only be considered a spy when, acting clandestinely or on false pretences, he obtains or endeavours to obtain information in the zone of operations of a belligerent, with the intention of communicating it to the hostile party.” Through his own confession, this person satisfies this criteria. And since the purpose of spy-craft essentially remains the same: “to gather intelligence and create instances which cause instability and complications where territorial integrity and sovereignty of the state they are operating in”, the challenge posed by these activities must be acknowledged and appropriately admonished.

It is high time that the international community stops taking the certainty of the current status quo for granted. And it is high time the Pakistani state fights a stronger battle for safeguarding its interests within the international legal framework, without de-emphasising the importance of not forcing the state to lose its faith in this system. In the words of the late Martin Luther King Jr, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Same version of the article appeared in The Nation

By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)

March 30, 2016

As the final Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) approaches this week, all eyes will be trained on not only the outcomes of the Washington Summit, but also on an appraisal of what the process has achieved over the course of the four summits.

The laudableinitiative by President Obama has been a subject of both support and concern. While it has certainly brought much-needed political attention and clarity on issues relating to nuclear security and terrorism, the process failed to invite several key players in this context, including Iran and North Korea, who will be significantly missing from the summit on 31st March-1st April. Additionally the Russian Federation has also indicated that while it remains focused on efforts to strengthen cooperation within the framework of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it will not be participating in the final summit.

Over the course of three summits, over 50 states have shown their commitment by taking tangible steps for strengthening the global nuclear security system, enhancing international cooperation, and the up-gradation of domestic nuclear security regimes. However, in the same context, many states including Pakistan have reiterated time and again that the international community does not require any ‘new’ or ‘parallel’ mechanisms for cooperation on nuclear security, or to address the related threats of terrorism, as the existing central regulatory body, the IAEA, is an existent leading structure that effectively monitors all NS related issues.

In light of the upcoming summit, an appraisal of Pakistan’s participation and actions also becomes a useful benchmark for gauging the progress that has been made. As a responsible nuclear state, Pakistan has not only actively participated in all three summits at the governmental level, but also undertaken several serious steps to materialize the goals envisaged by international community in the NSS process. On 24 February 2016, the National Command Authority (NCA), the apex nuclear body in Pakistan, gave its approval in principle for the ratification of the ‘Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material’ (CPPNM), including the 2005 Amendment. The final instrument of ratification will be submitted to the Director IAEA soon after the formal approval of cabinet. Entry into force of CPPNM Amendment 2005 has been one of the key goals of the NSS process.

Furthermore, recognizing that even a robust security regime may not work effectively in the absence of deep cooperation at regional and international levels, Pakistan has dynamically engaged itself with international community for information sharing, joint operations and, active participation in every international effort to establish, evolve and strengthen the international nuclear security regime.
In the joint statement issued during Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s visit to Washington in October 2015, President Obama welcomed Pakistan’s constructive engagement with the NSS process and its cooperation with similar vital international forums. More recently, in a joint statement issued at the eve of Pakistan-US strategic dialogue, the US acknowledged Pakistan’s proactive engagement with “the international community, including through its hosting of IAEA training activities at its Nuclear Security Centre of Excellence and its active participation in the Nuclear Security Summits”. The US also extended its appreciation to Pakistan “for its commitment, in principle, to ratify the 2005 Amendment to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.”

At the domestic front, over the years, Pakistan has established a robust command and control structure, which is in-line with international best practices and, of course, much appreciated by international community. It has also established a rigorous regulatory regime, which takes care of all matters related to nuclear safety, security, including physical protection of radiological material and facilities, material control and accounting, border controls, transport security and untoward contingencies. Moreover, a comprehensive export control regime is also in place. The effectiveness of the robust regime in Pakistan is determined by the fact that there has not been a single nuclear security-related incident in the country.

Similarly, Pakistan has also taken many steps to counter the threat of terrorism on its soil through both civil and military initiatives, with great success. This is why the international community has oft appreciated Pakistan for its vigilance and commitment to the issue of nuclear security. A State Department spokesman earlier this year also stated ‘The United States has full confidence in the nuclear security in Pakistan.”

The unfortunate truth however is that all of Pakistan’s achievements and compliance with best-practices become redundant when it continues to face policies based on discrimination, exceptionalism, ungrounded assumptions and malicious intentions. As a result, Pakistan’s substantive efforts to promote the goals of non-proliferation, disarmament have always been less appreciated and reciprocated by major nuclear powers, while a skewed support for Indian strengthening of its military capabilities continues unchecked. Denying Pakistan access to the international nuclear export arrangements while giving preferential treatment to India has significantly upset the regional strategic balance.

Pakistan is a responsible nuclear weapon state that fulfills every criterion to be included in the four international export control regimes, including the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). It has demonstrated its commitment to international peace and stability time and time again. The NCA has determined to take all possible measures to effectively respond to the threats to national security without indulging in an arms race, and Pakistan desires to play a productive contributing role in achieving the goals of nuclear arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, on the basis of equality and partnership with the international community. Pakistan has proved its capacity and capability to hold an impressive nuclear record for the last more than forty years which is also recognized by the international community. It has strived hard and succeeded in establishing a robust nuclear security and safety regime, compatible with international standards and best practices. Pakistan’s successful diplomacy in the past nuclear security summits is testimony to its confidence and resolve, and at the same time a demonstration of it being a responsible actor in the global community.

Nuclear security measures should not become excuses to create obstacles or “infringe on nations ’rights” to peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The current policies of exceptionalism are doing just that. In Prague, President Obama spoke of how ‘rules must be binding’. The Washington Summit and the end of the NSS process offers a chance to explore just how far these rules will be binding, and whether ‘some animals’ will continue to be ‘more equal than other animals’. If violation is met with consequence, then must compliance be met with reward? Pakistan must utilize this opportunity to highlight, yet again, how the people of Pakistan deserve the growth and progress that comes with access to civil nuclear technology and the supplier groups that its neighbor has access to, particularly given the fact that the country has worked very hard to meet all international safety and security standards and requirements. At the eve of the NSS process, it is time to put to test the rhetoric of justice and progress into the 21st century that was part of the premise of the this entire endeavor.

Same version of the article appeared in The Nation

By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)

February 13, 2016

“Terrorism can never be accepted.
We must fight it together, with methods that do not compromise our respect for the rule of law and human rights, or are used as an excuse for others to do so.”

Anna Lindh
Former Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs.

Terrorism has now long been recognised as a cataclysmic phenomenon and the greatest threat to world peace in a very long time. Over the past two decades alone, it has been responsible for creating conflicts not only inside states but also between states. The controversial elements of ‘state-financing’ of terrorism and a continuation of proxy wars has put a significant question mark on the ability of the international community to come together as one to address this menace. Recognising the evil of ‘terrorism’ as an international/inter-state issue, therefore, lies at the core of our ability to devise effective policies to counter it today.

In this context, a momentous step was taken on November 18th 2015, when the Russian Parliament launched an international appeal for all Parliaments and International Parliamentary Organisations to come together in a joint effort to better combat the menace of terrorism.

While there have undoubtedly been many calls for increasing international cooperation and stepping up efforts to counter this menace, this particular appeal is unique, as for the first time it calls for concrete inter-parliamentary collaboration and action as a premise for international collaboration in this regard. The appeal is a milestone in itself, highlighting how far global counter-terrorism efforts have come from unilateral and multilateral interventionism to now be calling for all collective CT and CVE initiatives to be rooted within a politico-legal framework.

The appeal for parliamentary diplomacy condemns all acts of terrorism that have affected not only the lives of those within the Russian Federation, but also the multitudes affected in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Paris and elsewhere. The nature of many of these recent terrorist attacks, and their ownership by extremist groups that are both home-grown and international has only reaffirmed just how much terrorism is a multilateral problem, as well as how political manipulation of such incidents for temporary gains has only exacerbated the problem and rendered it an ever graver danger for world peace. The Appeal effectively recognises the fact that terrorism is in fact a ‘transnational’ problem, and underscores the fact that any global effort to fight it must be developed within the framework of a ‘representative’ model, for which parliamentary diplomacy is a prime platform.

While the resolution itself is fairly brief, it puts forward a range of principles that will be a useful foundation for any such policy development. A key feature of this diplomacy is that it would allow all issues and policies to be dealt with in a representative manner when, ironically, many international crises are often related to the un-representative character of the world political and economic order. It also highlights the importance for concerted efforts in not only the military and economic domains but also the cyber and social spheres, and identifies inter-state cooperation as a core premise for effectively criminalising terrorism, stressing the fact that the interaction of local parliaments can play a pivotal role in this regard. The appeal emphasises on the need for a crackdown on terrorist outfits in the financial and economic spheres, by ‘expos[ing] and cut[ing] off direct and potential sources of terrorism financing including drug-trafficking, trade of energy and other kinds of resources as well as arms supply channels to the terrorist organisations’.

While the appeal is yet another example of Russia’s firm and principled stance on these issues, particularly in the context of ‘regime change’ via intervention, its credibility is questioned due to its place of origin. In recent years, Russia and its president have found themselves recurrently ostracized in international media, due primarily to the significance of Russia’s role in key developments in the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe. The theme of these attacks relates most often to how the Russian premiere’s personality has and will continue to shape the role of his country in these regions, particularly in the Middle East. In contrast to the traditional US policies of compulsion and blackmail to push ‘client’ states towards reforms, Vladimir Putin’s policies are based on strengthening institutions and reforms. As a result, Mr Putin’s policies in the region have not only received public support, but also helped Russia reaffirm its major powers status.

Furthermore, it is important to consider that associating this positive initiative by the Russian Parliament and its attempt at outreach for a global consensus with mistrustful preconceptions is only counterproductive. In stepping outside the media bubble it becomes clear that Russia is highly critical of the application of double standards, proxy warfare, and unilateralism in international diplomacy. It demands a multilateral democratic world order, and it differs with the west on regime replacement through violent means, advocating instead the strengthening of existing state structures. The establishment and support of the contact group for Afghanistan is an example of its desire to introduce reform peacefully within the existing order. The Parliamentary Appeal is a natural next step of policies geared towards maintaining a stable and prosperous multilateral international order. And it is to this end that Russia recently started advocating such inter-Parliamentary diplomacy from the forum of the SCO that culminated in this formal appeal by the Council of the Federation of the Federal Assembly of Russia.

Pakistan, as one of the hardest-hit victims of terrorism in South Asia and one of the most-experienced countries in dealing with the menace of terrorism, welcomes such inclusive initiatives, and the promotion of an equitable world order rooted in the rule of law, sovereignty and territorial integrity. The creation of such a mechanism of parliamentary diplomacy will greatly assist Pakistan in combatting terrorism, both within its borders and in extending our experience in developing counter-terror military strategies and legislation for criminalising terrorism and related acts to international CT efforts in a comprehensive manner. This can be particularly useful in the context of the worsening situation in Afghanistan since the failure of NATO and Afghan National Army to establish peace in the country. Cross border terrorism on eastern and western borders of Pakistan, the emerging threat of ISIS which is gaining ground in vulnerable areas inside Pakistan (such as Kashmir), and the internal ethnic and sectarian fault lines (whose exacerbation can have international implications) require an international legal framework that is aligned with the domestic policies in order to be productive.

At a time when any number of alliances are emerging in hotspots across the planet, it has become all the more important for all stakeholders to be able to come together in a positive and un-fragmented manner. In this regard, the appeal under discussion is a positive and useful step. It is a call to all legislators across the planet to put aside differences in opinions and policies to develop a framework that will not only reduce such differences but also be effective against this global problem. If all the states can come together within one mutually agreed legal framework, then implementation of CVE and CT initiatives would not only become significantly easier but also far for effective in tackling this global menace.



Same version of the article appeared in The Nation

By Muhammad Suleman

February 09, 2016

On Sunday February 07, 2016, North Korea sent its satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 into orbit, ostensibly for “science, technology, economy and defense” research purposes.

Experts and the international community are concerned however, that the ultimate purpose of this mission was to test North Korea’s Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capabilities, which pose a serious threat to regional and global security and stability. Experts believe that the missile has the range up to 13, 000 kilometers.
The launch of this rocket comes a few short weeks after the North’s ‘nuclear test’, which was also in violation of the current sanctions on DPRK. Before this latest, North Korea did notify the United Nations of its plans to send an earth observation satellite into space. The country’s National Aerospace Development Administration even called the launch “an epochal event in developing the country’s science, technology, economy and defense capability by legitimately exercising the right to use space for independent and peaceful purposes”.
In the immediate aftermath of this incident, reactions from the international community were numerous and varied. The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) called an emergency meeting strongly condemning the action and resolving to adopt additional sanctions in response. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon further urged North Korea to “halt its provocative actions”, while the US ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said the UN would “come up with something tough”, as “there can be no business as usual”. The Japanese envoy said that since current sanctions could not halt North Korea from developing nuclear arsenals and long range missiles, the new sanction must be tighter. The Chinese ambassador to UN said the purpose of the new sanctions should be “reducing tension, working toward de-nuclearisation, of maintaining peace and stability, and of encouraging a negotiated solution.” Russia, the other significant member of the UNSC, emphasized on “reasonable solution” of the issue which may not produce an economic crumble in North Korea or increase current tensions, and emphasized on ‘six –part’ talks on the issue.

To date, the UNSC has imposed four sets of sanctions on North Korea since its first nuclear test in 2006. These mainly included arms embargos, asset freezes, travel bans and restrictions on luxury goods, with the aim of targeting the lifestyle of the country’s elite, so that they may be inclined to turn away from nuclear and missile programs. However, they have failed to produce these desired results.
South Korean intelligence agencies are also claiming that North Korea is also preparing for a fifth nuclear test and already has ICBMs capability. The agencies also said that the most recent launch should be considered as a ballistic missile test. Given the escalating situation in the Korean Peninsula, South Korea and the United States are contemplating deployment of the US advanced missile-defence system ‘Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD)’ as a countermeasure to North Korea. China and Russia however, are against this as they argue that this system would undermine the strategic stability between China, Russia and USA in the region.
Previously, North Korea launched a long range rocket with a communication satellite in 2012. However neither did the satellite send any signals, nor has it been detected as yet. In May 2015, it claimed to have has successfully conducted its first submarine-launched missile (SLBM) test. The veracity of this claim is also still considered dubious. In April 2012, North Korea tested the ‘three stages’ rocket, which however was an acknowledged failure. In 2009 DPRK had also tested the same missile, but the US also contests the success of that attempt, as it does with the 2006 DPRK test of its long range missile Taepodong-2.

North Korea’s Missiles

It is believed that North Korea possesses over 1,000 missiles of various categories, capabilities and range, which can potentially reach US soil. Its missile program began with small artillery rockets in the 1960s and 1970s, which it converted into short and medium range ballistic missiles in the 1980s and 1990s. It is also believe that even greater range missiles are under research and development.
North Korea currently possesses a variety of short range missiles, such as KN-02 (160km range), Hwasong-5 (300km) and Hwasong-6 (500km), aimed specifically for reaching anywhere in South Korea. These missiles have ability to deliver conventional, biological, chemical and nuclear warheads. Alongside, DPRK also possesses the Nodong missile, with a range of 1300km that can target Japan. North Korea tested these missiles in 2006, 2009 and 2014. The (untested) Musudan missile ranges between 2500km to 4000km, and can potentially target the Japanese island of Okinawa as well as US bases in the Pacific Ocean.
The Taepodong-1 missile is the DPRK’s first multi-stage missile; it is believed that its first stage consists of the Nodong missile, while the second stage consists of the Howdong-6 missile. Its estimated range is between 2200-2900km. Taepodong-1 is what has been used for sending the satellite into orbit. The yet untested Taepodong-2 is a three-stage missile with a 4300km range; the increased power enables it to potentially to hit Australia, some parts of the US as well as other regional countries.


The North Korean ambition to attain long-range missiles has severe implications for military strategy and geo-politics of the region and at international fora. Some of these are as follows:

  1. North Korea’s long-range missile is a direct threat to the US, its territory, strategic forces and military bases in the region. The capability is also a challenge for other nuclear countries.
  2. Continuous provocative actions by North Korea are also an indicator that it may take similar confrontational measures against its closer rivals, especially South Korea, Japan, and the US and also provoking to its rival countries. DPRK may also attempt to challenge the security and territorial integrity of its ‘ideologically rival’ countries.
  3. North Korea’s actions may in turn compel its rival countries, especially South Korea, Japan and USA, to deploy nuclear weapons for the defense of US allies in the region against any provocative measures by the DPRK.
  4. DPRK military initiatives will disturb arms control and disarmament initiatives at regional and global levels among major competitors. Any ‘countermeasure’ taken by USA in the region, in the form of deployment of THAAD or of nuclear weapons, could lead to increased antipathy between China, Russia and the US. These measures would also negatively impact arms control and disarmament initiatives.
  5. International security and strategic stability is locked in complex matrix of arms control measures and balance of power. In this context, if even one country – be it USA, Russia or China – triggers an arms race, it would create a catastrophic chain reaction among all nuclear countries, especially the US, China, Russia, DPRK, India, and Pakistan, due to their existent threat perception and security dilemmas.
  6. The DPRK’s actions can inappropriately encourage to other NPT member countries to purse nuclear weapons technology.

Way Forward

  1. Both sides must refrain from further provocation to try and arrive at a universally acceptable solution. In the current scenario, engagement via dialogue is the best, and perhaps the only option that could lead to the denuclearization of DPRK. The ‘Iran Nuclear Deal’ is a useful prototype for the international community to develop such a roadmap.
  2. As China and Russia have closer relations to DPRK, they may act as a bridge between it and the US, South Korea and Japan, potentially reducing tensions, encouraging a negotiated solution and working towards denuclearization of DPRK to restore peace and stability in the region. The ‘Six-party talks’ initiative should therefore be restarted.
  3. As during the Iran case, the European Union could also play the role of mediator by inviting both sides to a dialogue for managing the crisis, and insisting on a peaceful resolution.
  4. The US should refrain from an over-hasty deployment of the THAAD system or of its nuclear weapons on the territories of its regional allies. Such actions may exacerbate the current ‘standoff’, not only with the DPRK, but also antagonize China and Russia as well, as both are vehemently opposed to the deployment of the THAAD system in the Korean Peninsula.

Muhammad Suleman (@M_S_Shahid) is a Research Associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) (@cpgs_org), Islamabad, Pakistan.

Send this to a friend