A research by Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies
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Last Updated : Nov 5, 2018 

  Last Updated : July 26, 2018

After the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) government came to power to till now, the American CIA has carried out 55 drone strikes in Pakistan. In these attacks, approximately 321 militants have been killed, including Hakeem Ullah Mehsood – the former Chief of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Afghan Taliban Ameer Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.

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Updated: July 26, 2018

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by: Tahir Nazir
21 July 2018

 To this day, there are nine nuclear weapon states, in possession of approximately 14 935 nuclear weapons, of which nearly 4150 are deployed and about 1800 are on high alert, ready for use at short notice. The Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council, the United States, China, the Russian Federation, France and the United Kingdom, are upgrading their nuclear arsenal, spending hefty sums on new weaponry systems. The US, for example, is projected to spend $1.7 trillion on maintaining and upgrading its nuclear forces over the next 30 years. Similarly, Russia is spending about $70 billion a year on modernizing its military and strengthening its nuclear muscle.

In South Asia, India has spent about a billion dollars over the past decade to modernize its military and nuclear forces. India under PM Modi, spent $63.9 billion on its military in 2017, an increase of 5.5 per cent compared with 2016 and of 45 per cent since 2008. According to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), India was the world’s largest importer of major arms between 2013 and 2017, accounting for 12% of the global total; its imports have increased by 24% between 2008–12 and 2013–17.

Despite emphatic calls to move towards “nuclear zero”, a world without nuclear weapons remains a perpetually distant, idealist’s dream. North Korea’s nuclear capability continues to pose a real threat to international peace and stability. Likewise, the hostility between India and Pakistan, exacerbated by the introduction of the Cold Start Doctrine, an offensive military strategy to flatten Pakistan’s military might without invoking the nuclear threshold, the acquisition of destabilizing technology, i.e. Ballistic Missile Defence systems, and a massive increase in India’s conventional defence spending is pushing the region towards increasing instability, and could potentially lead South Asia towards a ‘nuclear nightmare’ According to  data provided by India’s Institute for Defence Studies Analysis (IDSA) India will spend over $62 billion on defence in 2018-2019,  in contrast to Pakistan’s meagre $9 billion. . Such developments also have the potential to increase the level of an arms race which will erode the deterrence stability of the South Asian Region.

In this context, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) remains a linchpin for nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. It caps the development and modernization of nuclear weapons systems, in an attempt to leave a narrow space and very little motivation for states to build new weapons. By banning all nuclear explosions, the CTBT also puts qualitative constraints on the development of new nuclear weapons. Thus there is direct linkage between ending nuclear testing and progressing toward a world without nuclear weapons.

The Treaty’s relevance and importance was underlined first in 1998 when nuclear tests were carried out initially by India, followed by Pakistan,. More recently the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted a test in 2017 and previously in 2006, 2009, 2013, and 2016. Nearly two decades have elapsed since the Treaty was first opened for signatures, but due to various political and geo-strategic obstacles, its entry-into-force is yet to be achieved, which has prevented the CTBT from entering into full legal effect.

The CTBT remains a crucial element of the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime. Currently, it has 183 State signatories, and has been ratified by 166 States, the vast majority of the world’s nations lending their voices to prevent further nuclear testing. However, for the Treaty to enter- into force, the signature and ratification of the remaining eight Annex 2 States is a necessity.

Pakistan and India are both among these eight Annex 2 states, and both have not found it possible to sign and ratify the CTBT due to regional security constraints. As far as Pakistan’s position is concerned, it has indicated its intent to sign and ratify the CTBT in parallel with India. Even in 1974, when India tested its nuclear weapons under the guise of a ‘peaceful test’, Pakistan proposed the idea of a regional CTBT. Since 1998, Pakistan has put forth proposals on a strategic restraint regime and bilateral dialogue on security and arms control issues to India many times, but unfortunately none of these proposal have been received with any enthusiasm or met with reciprocation from India.

Another of the eight Annex 2 countries – the US – recently published its nuclear posture review, indicating the role of nuclear weapons will increase in its national security policy, possibly opening a window for nuclear testing under extreme circumstances. Without doubt, the Trump administration’s decision to have the option to resume testing a will also have negative consequences for the South Asian region’s nuclear politics, as both countries (India and Pakistan) are continuing to develop new nuclear weapons delivery systems to counter the other.

Despite these dangerous and contrary developments at the global level, I believe that in South Asia, the signing of the CTBT by India and Pakistan has the potential to stabilize and strengthen the deterrence equation between the two arch-rivals in the long run, particularly by dis-incentivizing the development of new nuclear weapons. Hypothetically, even a sharp move by India to ‘sign’ the CTBT could place China and the US in an awkward position, where they would  be left with very little space and excuses to continue to remain outside the Treaty, and perhaps be encouraged to expedite the process for ratifying it.

It is therefore prudent for the international community to push India to sign the CTBT if the country really wants to be integrated into the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other high tech multilateral cartels. In 2008, at the time of Indo-US nuclear deal, a similar golden opportunity was lost to integrate the CTBT as one of the nuclear non-proliferation benchmarks when granting an NSG waiver to India. Let us hope that the same mistake will not be repeated in the discussions for Indian NSG membership proposal, and signing of the CTBT may be set as one of the preconditions.

 Author’s bio:

Tahir Nazir is a research associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS. The views and opinions expressed in this essay are those of the author and do not reflect the policy or position of CPGS. He tweets @tahirdss

By: Tahir Nazir

Jun 13, 2018

 In 2009, then US President Barak Obama announced the plan to hold a Nuclear Security Summit to increase awareness regarding potential terrorist threats posed against nuclear material nuclear facilities, at the highest level. And also, to formulate a joint action plan to deal with the continuously evolving complex security threat i.e. in the shape of nuclear terrorism, using radiological or nuclear material to make dirty bombs and subsequently use them to disperse radioactive material against civilian populations to achieve their political objectives.

In this context, successive nuclear security summits i.e. 2010, 2012, 2014 and the concluding one in 2016 at Washington, laid strong but normative standards for the security of the nuclear and radiological materials.

Pakistan being an established nuclear state along with the 53 states having attended all the nuclear summits has time and again exhibited its nuclear nonproliferation, nuclear safety and nuclear security credentials in front of the international community. In response to these endeavors, international community, especially the former US President Obama acknowledged, and reposed confidence on Pakistan’s robust nuclear command and control system.

As a mature nuclear state, Pakistan has been continuously engaged with different international regimes and treaties which prohibit the nuclear material, knowledge and dual-use technology. Pakistan has signed and ratified the IAEA Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material in 2000, also participating in the activities of the United Nation Security Council (UNSC) 1540 and submitted a report to the Committee. Pakistan has an observer status at the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), a U.S led initiative to counter nuclear proliferation. In addition to this, Pakistan joined the US-sponsored Container Security Initiative (CSI) in March 2006[1] and endorsed Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) in June 2007. By joining these International Conventions and Initiatives, Pakistan clearly demonstrated that it is a responsible nuclear state, committed to non-proliferation, global peace and stability.

Pakistan’s decision to ratify the Conventions on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities’ (CPPNM) Amendments 2005, once again demonstrated, the country’s commitment and enforced the importance it attaches to physical protection of nuclear materials and nuclear security. Undoubtedly, the ratification of the CPPNM enhanced and reinforced Pakistan’s international nuclear credentials and helped to attain international community’s recognition in order to access civil nuclear technology and meet the growing demand of energy, subsequently stepping closer to meet the Paris agreement objectives and reducing carbon emissions.

To ensure the safety of nuclear power plants and associated facilities, Pakistan has established the Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) as a watchdog to oversee all aspects of nuclear civil applications. In addition, Pakistan has an extensive export control regime which is at par with the same standard followed by the “Nuclear Suppliers’ Group, the Missile Technology Control Regime, and the Australia Group.”

In its bid to strengthen the global nuclear security architecture, Pakistan has offered its services to the international community with regards to nuclear security training. In 2014[2], Pakistan established the Centre of Excellence on Nuclear Security (PCENS). Through joint initiatives with IAEA, Pakistan organized multiple courses and training workshops for the professionals working in the field of nuclear safety and security.

Additionally, Pakistan established the Nuclear Emergency Management System (NEMS)[3] at the national level to handle nuclear and radiological emergencies. And Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Support Centre (NURESC) along with the Nuclear and Radiological Emergency Coordination Center (NRECC) which provides technical guidance to licensees and users of nuclear and radiation facilities, in case of an emergency and coordinate the response.

On the question of creating a parallel institution to oversee nuclear security, Pakistan views the “nuclear security summit process as a catalyst of fostering nuclear security culture” rather then creating a “new, parallel institutions or mechanisms for nuclear security”. Fundamentally, nuclear security is the responsibility of individual states. It is partly true that the existing nuclear security architecture is appropriate and possess the ability to deal with the current as well as potential futuristic challenges. Furthermore, it is absolutely essential to strengthen the role of International Atomic Energy Agency to reinforce the global nuclear order for peace and prosperity.

While looking at Pakistan’s current nuclear security regime, it is understandable that its nuclear security architecture has considerably improved and is now more aligned to the international best practices. Pakistan has a robust command and control system, in the form of Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) and Strategic Plans Division (SPD). These strategic organizations review “all aspects of policy, procurement, operations, and, most importantly nuclear security”.

The recent visit of Yukia Armano, DG International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to Pakistan is a testament to the country’s outstanding partnership with the IAEA and its significance as an important nuclear state. While speaking at international conference in Karachi, Mr. Armano stated that “Karachi nuclear power plants heavily protected” and the IAEA greatly values cooperation with Pakistan in peaceful uses of nuclear technology.”[4] He conveyed complete confidence and trust on Pakistan’s nuclear security regime.

While keeping in view the country’s established nuclear regime, Pakistan is fully eligible to become the member of the NGS. On the basis of internationally acknowledged nuclear non-proliferation record, Pakistan on 19 May 2016[5] submitted its formal application for the membership of the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG) to the Chairman of NSG.

That said, the NSG was created as a result of India’s so-called ‘peaceful’ nuclear explosion in 1974[6], which demonstrated that nuclear technology acquired for peaceful purposes could be diverted for advancing military program. Ironically, the very state i.e. India, cheated the international non-proliferation safeguards, again received the NSG waiver in 2008 with the support of United States. Hence, it has not just eroded the international nonproliferation principles but also set a dangerous precedent that a Non-NPT state without giving any legally binding commitment, can manipulate the established nuclear nonproliferation normative order.

As stated above, Pakistan, has a robust nuclear safety and security regime but due to global power politics and regional geopolitical alliance structure, it has been bared to get access to nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. It is high time for the NSG members’ to revisit their “Cold War” style approach and create “criteria led approach” for new entrants and judge their credentials accordingly. Furthermore, inclusion of Pakistan into the NSG will only strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime and a potential step towards the universalization of NPT.

It would be prudent for NSG members’ states to give a level playing field to Pakistan in competing for the membership of NSG. Notably, any “discriminatory approach” in the context of expansion of NSG, would potentially weaken the NPT regime. And, any sign of weakening of the treaty would have a colossal impact on the health of global non-proliferation regime (NPR). Moreover, discriminatory policies based on “balance of power’ will not bring peace, rather further complicate the regional and global security landscape.

Tahir Nazir is a research associate at the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS). The views expressed by the author do not represent the institute. He tweets @tahirdss

[1] Nawaz Zafar, “Pakistan’s nuclear weapons safety and security,” The Nation, February 23, 2013, http://nation.com.pk/23-Feb-2013/pakistan-s-nuclear-weapons-safety-and-security, (Accessed on 25, May 2018).

[2] Ministry of Foreign Affairs Government of Pakistan, Pakistan’s National Statement Nuclear Security Summit Washington, 31 March – 1 April 2016, http://www.mofa.gov.pk/pr-details.php?mm=MzYwNA, (Accessed on 25, May 2018).

[3] ibid

[4] “Karachi nuclear power plants heavily protected: IAEA chief,” Dawn, March 15, 2018, https://www.dawn.com/news/1395361 (Accessed on 26, May 2018).

[5] Ministry of Foreign Affairs Government of Pakistan, Pakistan applies for the membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), http://mofa.gov.pk/pr-details.php?mm=MzczOA, (Accessed on 28, May 2018).

[6] Hart, David. “Nuclear power in India: a comparative analysis.” (1983).

SCO Expansion: Exploring Future Scenarios

“Shifting Strategic Landscape of South Asia: The Role of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation”

Pakistan enjoys cordial relations with all members of the SCO (except perhaps India). Geographic contiguity as well as shared cultural and historical bond have added depth and
dimension to the relations;

Pakistan has high stakes in the security, stability and prosperity of the region.Consequently, Pakistan supports the principles, purposes, objective and the activities of the SCO, of which it was an observer even before it became a formal member.

Over the past seventy years, Pakistan has been trying to promote peace in the region and beyond, but its efforts have not been reciprocated by some regional countries, particularly India;

Pakistan and Russia have a long history of bilateral relations, but unfortunately, both nations thus far, have not been able to achieve the full potential of to this relationship. Nonetheless, Pakistan has supported Russia’s membership in the Organization of Islamic
conference (OIC), and Russia is supportive of Pakistan’s membership of the NSG in principle.

There are ample possibilities for great relations between Pakistan and Russia in the future. Pakistan and Russia have a tremendous potential to improve their bilateral relations and lay down a stronger basis of economic and defense cooperation. The SCO provides an additional forum to develop and strengthen the interstate relationship

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‘The complex militant landscape of Pakistan poses a dilemma that requires a multi-pronged approach for a reintegration framework [..] We must revisit the implementation of NAP, and cater to the fundamental rights and need of our population to guard against extremism’ – Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)

Islamabad, 8th May 2018: This was stated in the opening remarks by Senator Sehar Kamran, President of the Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS) during a roundtable discussion on “Mainstreaming Extremist Religious Organizations: Challenge or Opportunity?” at Serena Hotel Islamabad on Tuesday, 8th May 2018. Speakers at the event included National Coordinator NACTA, Lt Cdr (Retd) Ihsan Ghani; Professor Dr Nazir Hussain, Director School of Politics and IR, Quaid-e-Azam University, and the session was chaired by Air Vice Marshal (Retd) Faaiz Amir HI(M) SBt. The discussion was organized by CPGS in collaboration with the German Foundation, Konrad Adenaur Stiftung (KAS).

The discussion revolved around the mainstreaming of extremist religious organizations with possible militant links, the differences between reintegration and mainstreaming, as well as the impact of this phenomenon on the political, legal and socio-economic aspects of public life at large. It also delved into the dangerous precedents that had been set by the use of ‘street power’ by such groups to ‘threaten’ state institutions and challenge its jurisdiction/authority, in turn emboldening other fringe elements.

Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) highlighted how “violent extremism has posed one of the greatest threats in Pakistan’s history to its stability and prosperity. The two decades of the War on Terror had allowed the deadly instability along the borders to move inwards, distorting the very fabric of our society. It has taken a long and difficult struggle and great sacrifices from the people of Pakistan and its Armed Forces to reclaim this space from terrorists, but we continue to struggle with taking back the space that has become occupied by violent extremists and their narratives.” She opined that “the complexity of this issue is exacerbated by a multitude of extenuating factors, ranging from the broad religio-political spectrum in the country to our immense ethnic diversity. When the rights of the people are neglected, a vacuum is created, and violent extremist groups thrive in this vacuum. The social injustices and philanthropic activities by these groups further enhance their legitimacy among the masses as they present themselves as ‘messiahs’ for the people, and help them in narrative formation to gain attention and sympathy.”

Senator Kamran stated that “in the aftermath to Operations Rah-e-Raast, Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasad, some militant organizations have been seeking to move onto more legitimate political platforms, without altering or abandoning their demagogic ideologies, and dismissing the activities of their militant wings as irrelevant to their political messages, if owning them publicly at all. Domestically in Pakistan, voices remain divided over this ‘mainstreaming’ or ‘integration’ of violent extremist organizations into the fold of politics. It is also a fact that ideologically motivated proscribe organizations are unlikely to abandon their principal philosophies, and consequently the reintegration of banned outfits by allowing them political space without submission to the Constitution is simply not possible. Furthermore, a country faced with the sort of hybrid warfare that Pakistan has been facing, it is also important to consider the potential exploitation of these groups by hostile external parties to achieve their own goals.”

It is important to note that “Pakistan is signatory to numerous international laws that bar the inclusion of militants, militant organizations, violence, intolerance and discrimination in any form. Failure to adhere to our commitments under international law will adversely affect the state’s image and standing within the international community, and in turn, impact economic policies towards Pakistan,” she added.

Cmdr (retd) Ihsan Ghani, in his presentation, stated that ‘mainstreaming’ has the potential to be a constructive way of reforming and reorienting the current state of extremist religious organizations in Pakistan, but the political mainstreaming of these groups must not start without starting the de-radicalization process, as it would cause more damage to the political scene if not executed properly. He further highlighted that politicization without the de-radicalization process may perpetrate more violence, as these armed organizations may seek to intimidate political rivals and voters during electioneering. Consequently, it was important to first identify the stakeholders, start the process where these groups must voluntarily disarm, decommission and display their willingness to cooperate.

The organizations should who are willing to cooperate and disarm be allowed to operate, and recommended that the State must takeover the infrastructure and assets of these groups. He further said that their reorientation may cause a snowball effect, and others fringe groups may also follow suit. Nonetheless, he emphasized that a policy formulation process must start from the Parliament, and that the NACTA could play a critical role vis-à-vis mainstreaming, through its already developed policy instruments of NCEPG and National Narrative.

Professor Dr Nazir Hussain, in his remarks, said that ‘violence starts where an argument is no longer possible’. The core problem, he argued, lies in State policies, and without structural reform within the current political scene, the mainstreaming of religious elements will continue to pose a massive threat. He also highlighted that there also remains a threat of these religious parties being ‘hijacked’ by more savvy entities for their own ends. Dr Nazir also expressed his appreciation for the orders of the Supreme Court, under which the ECP would be scrutinizing all electoral candidates under Articles 62 and 63. He encouraged think-tanks and sub-state institutions like CPGS and the CII to put forward policy recommendations and questions for debate to the Parliament.

The panel also put forward a series of policy recommendations including:

  1. The Parliament must debate and formulate a policy that outlines the process aimed at bringing former militant elements into political stream.
  2. FATA needs to be mainstreamed as the first phase of this process.
  3. Resolve issues arising out of various armed conflicts.
  4. Implement all points of NAP.
  5. Include think-tanks and sub-state actors for policy guidelines.

The roundtable was attended by prominent dignitaries and practitioners, including H.E. Mr. Ahmed Fadel Yacoub, the Ambassador of Egypt, Mr Qibla Ayaz, Chairman Council of Islamic Ideology, diplomats from the US, Russia, France and Belgium, as well as by government officials, experts, academics, practitioners, and university students.

By Senator Sehar Kamran (TI)
April 29, 2018

 ‘Reliance on kinetic measures to intercept non-linear threats is no longer an option, and modern statecraft in the country must absolutely familiarise itself – and quickly – with alternate tools to tackle the emerging complex and unpredictable internal and external security landscape.’

Global and regional dynamics of conflict are rapidly changing and posing a challenge to traditional state structures and military approaches. Conflicts between conventional armies are gradually waning, giving rise to a nonlinear matrix of actors and techniques. Likewise the meanings of ‘victory’ and ‘defeat’ in battle are also changing, with the terminology quickly becoming a relic of past. South Asia is no exception; the perennial state of conflict between India and Pakistan are changing and ‘blurring the line between the states of war and peace. Wars are no longer declared and, having begun, proceed according to an unfamiliar template.’

In a similar strain, concerns were raised by Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, while addressing the 137th PMA Long Course ceremony, when he stated that “Pakistan is facing enormous challenges both in conventional and sub-conventional domains,” and that “our enemies know that they cannot beat us fair and square, and have thus subjected us to a cruel, evil and protracted hybrid war.” Without naming any countries, Gen Bajwa clearly indicated the precarious situation on Pakistan’s eastern and western borders with India and Afghanistan – and the growing covert activities of hostile agencies to “inflict wounds within.”

In this brand of warfare, an enemy uses ‘multiple instruments of power simultaneously and intentionally exploits creativity, ambiguity, non-linearity and the cognitive elements of warfare, and it remains below clear detection and response thresholds, and often rely on the speed and digital technology that characterises the present information age’.

It is no secret that India’s notorious intelligence agency, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), has been carrying out covert operations inside Pakistan through proxies and terrorist networks that fall within these parameters for a very long time now. In 2009, then Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani handed over a dossier of RAW’s involvement in terrorist activities to his counterpart, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, during their meeting at Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. The dossier highlighted just how India’s security and intelligence agencies had been using Afghanistan’s soil to train and fund terrorist activities in FATA and other parts of Pakistan. Furthermore, India was directly involved in igniting the ‘insurgency in Balochistan’, through clandestine support to insurgents and their militant organisations. It was also reported later, in Indian media itself no less, that in 2009, India had hosted Baloch insurgents in New Delhi.

In 2013, Indian Army chief General Vijay Kumar Singh admitted that following the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Indian army raised a Tactical Support Division (TSD), which carried out bomb blasts in Pakistan, and doled out money to the separatist elements in Balochistan. Such clandestine activities further increased when Narendra Modi, a demagogic hardliner and dogmatic agitator became the Prime Minister of India in May 2014. From then onwards, Indian policy has been guided by the so-called “Doval Doctrine”, coined by the former RAW chief, Ajit Doval, who became the National Security Advisor to the Prime Minister.

The “Doctrine” envisages engaging the enemy at three levels, i.e. defensive, defensive-offensive and offensive. The “offensive-defensive mode” requires going into Pakistan and ‘tackling the problem where it originated’. As his infamous statement further clarifies: “You may do one Mumbai; you may lose Balochistan”. Ergo, India would use conventional means in an unconventional manner to achieve their more controversial goals – which is what ‘hybrid war’ is all about.

Evidence of the deployment of such tactics was discovered in March 2016 when Pakistan’s intelligence and security agencies unearthed the largest clandestine RAW network to date, which had been involved in sabotage, espionage, and terrorist activities. Leading this network was the now infamous Kulbushan Jadhav, an Indian Navy commissioned officer, operating from the Pakistan-Iran border areas. The Indian spy confessed to the nefarious nature of his activities, which included terrorism among the approaches intended to destabilize the country. Furthermore, he also confessed to being assigned by RAW “to plan and organise espionage and sabotage activities” in the Balochistan Province and Karachi, the southern port city that is the country’s commercial hub. But Indian confessions continue to fall on deaf ears internationally, just as they did with the Samjhota Express Bombings, which eventually were acknowledged – and by the Indian National Investigative Agency (NIA) no less – to have been carried out by members of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) National Volunteer Corp – an extremist Hindu paramilitary organisation.

After the Uri and Pathankot attacks, once more India blamed Pakistan without any substantial evidence. Subsequently, in order to weigh options for ‘retaliation’ for the perceived ingresses, Prime Minister Modi held high level meetings and a famous statement that created a stir in national and international media; presiding over the Indus Water Commission meeting, he said, ‘blood and water cannot flow together at the same time.’ In the aftermath of these events, it became increasingly clear that a multipronged strategy had been put in place to pressurize Pakistan on multiple fronts. The aims of this strategy appeared to be to isolate Pakistan diplomatically, as well as to raise the possibility of carrying out military strikes and hint at suspending the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) brokered by the World Bank (WB).

Eventually, Indian media was to claim that ‘surgical strikes’ had been carried out across the Line of Control (LOC), and the alleged ‘launching pads’ of infiltration destroyed, again without concrete proof of either claim. Pakistan’s military spokesperson categorically denied these claims, rubbishing the rumors of ‘military operations’ on Pakistan’s side of Kashmir, while analysts opined that the drama of ‘surgical strikes’ was hatched by Narendra Modi to conceal his failures in delivering on his political promises on the one hand, and to shore up his declining political support in the country on the other.

That said, the true motivation of the Modi government still appears to have been diverting the attention of national, regional and international community from Indian Occupied Kashmir and the recent spate of brutalities that have been inflicted upon them by the Indian armed forces. Additionally, under Prime Minister Modi, the security situation on the LOC has been flared up by serious ceasefire violations and the targeting of innocent civilians along the LOC by India.

The most recent scheme that appears to include the efforts of both RAW and Afghanistan’s National Directorate of Security (NDS) to undermine Pakistan’s political unity and sovereignty has been through the support and funding for the newly teethed “Pashtun Tahafuz Movement” (PTM), which, less than a couple of months after gaining notoriety, has somehow managed to attain endorsement from none other than the Afghan President himself, when there are other far more dedicated, better known and supported organisations. The attempt to hijack a national tragedy has been thwarted, but the timing of the entire incident has been interesting, to say the least.

As it is increasingly clear to the adversaries of Pakistan that it is no longer possible to overpower this nuclear nation through kinetic means, the only other option to engage becomes a drawn out, painful, civilian-targeted and resource-exhausting form of hybrid war to achieve strategic regional goals, including (but not limited to) the disruption of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). It is also clear that Pakistan has been subject to this phenomenon for a very long time – with strategies moving from more kinetic approaches through sabotage and terror proxies like the TTP, to the broader spectrum approach we see today that is challenging the country simultaneously on multiple fronts, including diplomatic coercion and isolation, security threats ranging from LOC violations, terrorism, trafficking etc., economic pressures and openly expressed threats to the CPEC, internal destabilisation and ethnic dissonance.

When the nature of the game changes in this manner, it is of the utmost importance to adapt to the new rules to avoid isolation, demoralisation and eventual loss. Just as our military leadership has acknowledged the presence and impact of hybrid warfare on the country, it is important for the political and military leadership to step up to the challenge collectively and strategize accordingly, in advance and in proportion to the gravity of the multi-faceted threats we face. At moments like these, the principles of our Quaid for attaining national harmony – principles of unity, discipline and faith – remain as true as they did 70 odd years ago.

Reliance on kinetic measures to intercept non-linear threats is no longer an option, and modern statecraft in the country must absolutely familiarise itself – and quickly – with alternate tools to tackle the emerging complex and unpredictable internal and external security landscape. This also includes tackling internal pressure points (particularly ethnic sensitivities and civil rights issues) to prevent their misappropriation by external elements. Strong leadership and institutional harmony are needed today more than ever before, and in the run up to the national elections, this is an aspect of policy that ought to be addressed candidly.

Same version of the article appeared in The Nation

 Islamabad, 16th April 2018: Senator Sehar Kamran (TI) felicitated the nation on the successful testing of the enhanced Babur Weapon System-1B, Ground Launched Cruise Missile (GLCM), having a 700 km range, equipped with stealth technology and an ability to strike dual targets without access to GPS navigation. In her statement, she said the test comes at a time when it became imminent to counter the growing strategic ambitions of our Eastern neighbour.

Senator Kamran stated that Pakistan has been working to improve its GLCM capabilities by enhancing the range, navigations systems, avionics and deadly intensity to penetrate the enemy’s defense shield, while avoiding radar detection and interception by air defense systems. She remarked that The Babur-B1 Cruise Missile has reinforced our strategic forces’ deterrent capabilities without indulging in a costly conventional or nuclear arms race, as was being instigated by India’s delusional strategic establishment.

Let there be no doubt that, Pakistan’s nuclear deterrent capabilities are aimed to counter threatening force postures, potential deployment of Ballistic Missile Defense Systems (BMD) and increasing nuclearization of Indian Ocean Region (IOR), she added.

Senator Sehar Kamran further stated that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state that has amply demonstrated foolproof nuclear command and control structures to ensure comprehensive stewardship and security of strategic assets. She said the rhetoric and the aggressive policy shift of India to carry out possible ‘Surgical Strikes’ and ‘Splendid first strike’ against nuclear armed Pakistan, are threatening the strategic stability of South Asia and pushing the entire region toward perpetual instability. In this context, she stated that Pakistan’s political and military leadership’s overtures for peace and dialogue should not be misinterpreted as the people of Pakistan firmly stand behind its armed forces to thwart the nefarious designs of our perennial enemy.

by: Tahir Nazir
27 March 2018

 After India and Pakistan first tested nuclear devices in 1998, people in both countries hoped that nuclear weapons would decrease the incentive for war and lead to sustainable peace in the region. The 1999 Kargil conflict that took place when Pakistan’s military tried to gain control of the 70-kilometer-long Siachen glacier occupied by India in 1984, and the military standoff a few years later in which troops massed along both sides of the border, however, dashed these hopes, and both nations once more found themselves in the spotlight. Unfortunately, the current situation is not much different from the past, with relations between the two nuclear-armed neighbors remaining troubled. As the recently announced US National Security Strategy noted, “the prospect for an Indo-Pakistani military conflict that could lead to a nuclear exchange remains a key concern requiring constant diplomatic attention.”

Disappointment regarding India-Pakistan relations is partly a result of the misplaced and overstated expectations that commentators attach to technological capability, forgetting the naked reality—in situations like these, it is not the gun, but the man behind the gun, that matters. Pinning high hopes on nuclear weapons capability, while underestimating the role of human agency, is contradictory to the logic of deterrence theory. Deterrence only works well when decision makers behave in a rational manner. Leaders in both India and Pakistan must recognize that a continued Cold War-style military arms buildup, absent a framework for conflict resolution, threatens the stability of deterrence in South Asia.

Deterrence and human behavior. Interestingly, deterrence theory is silent on the behavior of the “irrational actor.” As Admiral Arleigh Burke, the longest-serving Chief of Naval Operations in US naval history, put it in 1960, “the major deterrent [to war] is in a man’s mind.” And history is witness to the fact that technological transformation has had little impact on the human inner self. Despite tremendous progress in material terms, basic human instincts remain the same, and the instinct of survival continues to be a central element in shaping human lives and their surroundings. The nation-state is an extension and accumulation of individuals and their threat perceptions, creating a national survival instinct.

There are many factors that determine the behavior of an individual. These include genetics, social norms, faith, culture, and attitudes. Likewise, state behaviors in international affairs are determined by collective historical experiences, belief systems, and geographic parameters. India and Pakistan are no exception; they are the result of historical, political, and geographic forces—and the interaction of these forces with human agency.

New technologies, old thinking. Despite economic progress and technological transformations, strategic planners in both India and Pakistan still operate in a conventional manner. Their respective security strategies and rationales are heavily militarized, and relics of Cold War politics.

The rules of the game changed in 1998, and India’s political leadership must understand that it can neither gain significant strategic advantage from a conventional war with Pakistan, nor does it currently possess the capability to destroy Pakistan’s nuclear weapons capability. Similarly, Pakistan’s security planners must be cognizant of the fact that they cannot overpower India by any means, conventional or nuclear.

Bernard Brodie, the famous architect of nuclear deterrence strategy, once observedthat “thus far the chief purpose of our military establishment has been to win wars. From now on its chief purpose must be to avert them. It can have almost no other useful purpose.” Because of deep prevailing political paranoia, however, security elites in both India and Pakistan continue to formulate dangerous nuclear strategies that are not in sync with the basic concept of deterrence. The two countries’ strategic planning is gradually shifting from “war prevention” to “war fighting,” and they are trying hard to undo each other.

In South Asia, nuclear technological transformation is driving the military and nuclear policies of both nations. India’s hybrid warfare strategy is fueling a secessionist movement in Baluchistan (one of four provinces in Pakistan), opening a “second front” with Afghanistan through support to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (or TTP, the largest militant organization in Pakistan), and threatening to cut water supplies governed by the Indus Waters Treaty between the two nations. India’s military Cold Start Doctrine, which aims to undercut a conventionally weak—but nuclear—adversary by quickly mobilizing conventional retaliatory attacks, is highly destabilizing. In fact, this approach is laying a structural foundation for a potential nuclear war.

In response to India’s Cold Start doctrine, Pakistan developed the NASR short-range ballistic missile to compensate for the rapidly increasing conventional asymmetry between the two nuclear rivals. Pakistan’s approach to the looming conventional threat resembles Russia’s doctrine of “escalate to deescalate,” which conceives of using tactical nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict to compel an adversary to halt large hostilities and respect the status quo. The other potential reason for the development of the NASR missile is the lack of margin of error for Pakistan, which does not have the large nuclear force and vast strategic depth of its nuclear adversary.

The colossal conventional arms buildup in the region, coupled with the nuclearization of the Indian Ocean and policies for the development and potential deployment of ballistic missile defense systems, has the potential to change the balance of power in the region. An unchecked nuclear arms race would have a negative effect on the fragile security environment of the Asian continent in general, and South Asia in particular, pushing the region toward a perpetual “security trilemma” in which actions taken by India to defend against China trigger insecurity in Islamabad.

In my opinion, the strategic landscape of the Asian continent drastically changed after the 2011 announcement of a US “pivot to Asia,” also known as the Rebalance to Asia and the Pacific. This US policy gave rise to what I believe is more accurately described as a “security quadrilemma” than a trilemma: China’s nuclear and conventional buildup to counter the increasing US military buildup in Asia and the Pacific sets off alarm bells in New Delhi, and India’s countermoves against Beijing in turn aggravate Pakistan’s sense of insecurity.

It appears as if the Indian nuclear establishment is under the delusion that possession of nuclear weapons and associated advanced weaponry protects India from any security challenge. That, in turn, gives India the confidence to pursue an aggressive stance and test the credibility of Pakistan’s deterrence by committing serious ceasefire violations along the Line of Control (a temporary border, agreed to by both nations in 1972, that divides the disputed Kashmir region) and the Working Boundary (which India identifies as the international border, but which also includes the disputed Indian-occupied Kashmir territory along with India’s internationally recognized land). To make matters worse, the Indian military’s rhetoric of carrying out “surgical strikes” across the Line of Control—in response to the 2016 attacks by militants on the Pathankot and Uri Indian military bases—is inherently a tectonic shift away from deterrence theory.

Deteriorating conditions. In 2018, according to Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Indian forces have carried out more than 415 ceasefire violations along the Line of Control and the Working Boundary, resulting in the death of 20 civilians and injuries to 71 others. In retaliation, Pakistan forces have destroyed Indian military check posts, resulting in the killing of five Indian soldiers. According to India’s defense minister, Pakistan has violated the ceasefire agreement along the Line of Control as many as 351 times this year.

In a study published by American disarmament expert Lewis Dunn at the end of the Cold War, Dunn named three conditions that played a critical role in stabilizing deterrence and preventing the use of nuclear weapons by the United States and the Soviet Union: political, technical, and situational conditions. Politically, according to Dunn, if a country’s stakes are low, deterrence works, but if the stakes are existential in nature, deterrence cannot work. Technically, deterrence depends on how reliable and survivable nuclear command and control structures are. And thirdly, the situational conditions for deterrence depend upon the overall global power structure. During the Cold War, deterrence worked because it was bilateral, but today the world power structure is inherently multipolar and therefore more unpredictable.

Unfortunately, in the context of South Asia, these three factors are negatively affecting stability in the region. Political dialogue between India and Pakistan has been suspended since the 2008 Mumbai attacks by the Pakistani militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba, and today there is no chance of resumption of this dialogue. Regarding the technical conditions today, both countries’ command and control systems are still in development and are untested. Situationally, the strategic landscape of South Asia is very complex, with multiple internal and external factors that cast deep shadows on both nations’ national security strategies, pushing the deterrence stability in South Asia toward failure.

Without a credible conflict-resolution framework, and in the absence of a regional arms-control mechanism, strategic circumstances in South Asia are likely to deteriorate further and head toward complete gridlock. Deterrence stability is under tremendous pressure from increasing conventional and unconventional imbalances. The nuclear threshold is getting blurred, and war is no longer a distant threat.

In these circumstances, political and military establishments in both countries should do some soul-searching and realize that clinging to the past will darken the future. All stakeholders should ask themselves three simple questions: Do nuclear war-fighting capabilities enhance or erode deterrence? Are these military and nuclear buildups sustainable? And could these gigantic resources instead be invested in building peace, reducing abject poverty, and saving humanity from the edge of nuclear winter?

Same version of the article appeared in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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