By Dr. Nazir Hussain
Mar 18, 2015

Dr Nazir

Pakistan is in a state of war since the Afghan invasion of 1979 and suffered immense human and material losses since then. Pakistan’s role in the ‘war on terror’ and post 9/11 regional security environment, exposed its weaknesses and vulnerabilities to the ‘inside’ enemy. The high profile attacks on Army General Headquarters, Mehran and Kamra air bases, and security establishments were not responded with the kind these required. The launch of operation Zarab-e-Azb was meant to wipe out the terrorists for once and for all, since the Government-Taliban negotiations collapsed. However, the gruesome terrorist attack on Army Public School in Peshawar in December 2014, constituted an existential threat to Pakistan.

The military and civilian leadership responded effectively and conceived a consensus 20-point National Action Plan backed by the constitutional Amendment. It stipulated immediate, short and long term measures to eliminate the terrorists and their hideouts in the country. The execution of convicted terrorists, establishment of special trail courts, activation of National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), choking of terrorists’ financing and creation of a dedicated counter-terrorism force were some of the immediate measures in this direction.

However, despite the resolve shown by the national leadership, the National Action Plan lacked an effective implementation and execution resulting in despair and despondency in the people in general and terrorist victims in particular. The existing three-tire structure in the shape of NAP Committee chaired by the Prime Minister, the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) and Provincial Apex Committees are ample institutional mechanism to implement the National Action Plan. Besides, committees on Money Laundering, Counter-terrorism and Madrissah reforms can supplement effective implementation. However, the overlapping role of National Anti-Terrorist Force, lack of mechanism to control foreign funding to the religious seminaries, resistance to the registration and reforms of existing Madrissah in the country, continued political activities of ban outfits under official patronage, and lack of effective intelligence coordination along with lukewarm response of the federal and provincial governments are hampering the national resolve to face the ‘existential threat.’

Extraordinary situations require extraordinary responses. In 1973 Middle Eastern war, one of the countries was threatened with extinction; the prime minster called the Army and Intelligence chiefs and put all the national resources at their disposal to meet the challenge. In 2015, when the ‘Islamic State’ (IS) terrorists burnt alive the Jordanian pilot, the Jordanian King Abdullad-II, himself flew the aircraft and led the air squadron to show his resolve to wipe-out the terrorists. These examples show the extreme resolve of national leadership, leading from the front, to face the threats.

Pakistan is in a state of war and in war there are special provisions to meet the threats. Therefore, besides a committed political and administrative resolve, full mobilisation of national resources and effective media campaign, following immediate measures are

required to be taken on priority bases for an effective implementation of National Action Plan;

  • A ‘national security emergency’ for three months
  • NAP implementation under one single ‘operational’ command
  • Securing and sealing of national borders with the help and cooperation of neighbouring states
  • A ‘combing up’ military operation in coordination with Afghanistan in the Pak-Afghan bordering areas
  • Sealing of provincial borders to restrict the intra-provincial movement of terrorists
  • Indiscriminate flushing/elimination of terrorist, their harbourers and sympathisers across Pakistan
  • Optimum functioning of NACTA
  • Provisions of funds, training and equipment to the security forces
  • Stoppage of foreign funding and regulation of Madaris


These are elements of policy framework and the tactical/operational level of implementation mechanism can be worked out by the practitioners and executioners.

On the long term bases, a Comprehensive National Security Policy (CNSP) is direly needed. At present three different organizations are engaged in this activity; Ministry of Interior, National Defence University and Joint Services Headquarters. Though their work may overlap but three versions would help in to formulate a visionary CNSP for Pakistan. The proposed CNSP should be debated and scrutinized by all the stakeholders, and presented to the Parliament, where it should be adopted as a consensus national document for effective implementation, regardless of the change of governments.

The existence of the country and its people is at stake and the national leadership owe it to the nation to meet this challenge heads on. To provide a bright, peaceful and prosperous future to the next generation of Pakistan, the political and military leadership have to take bold, effective and proactive decisions lest they become disappointed and disillusioned.

This is part of the paper presented at the CPGS Conference on National Action Plan: Policy to Practice held in February 18 2015.

By Dr. Nazir hussain & Sannia Abdullah

Feb 26, 2015

indo-sirilanka copyThe newly-elected President of Sri Lanka, Maithripala Sirsisena, in his first visit abroad has chosen India to show his preference and future direction of foreign policy approach. He and Premier Narindara Modi signed an agreement on nuclear safety aiming to provide Sri Lanka with nuclear energy infrastructure, heralding a strategic understanding to forge closer ties between the two states. This is an important development in the South Asian security calculus depicting a new look of Sri Lankan regional approach and Indian growing influence in South Asia undermining Pakistani and Chinese role in the region. Therefore, this article endeavours to discuss the new-found Indo-Sri Lanka relations, especially the nuclear agreement, and its implications on regional security.

Historical Context

The relations between India and Sri Lanka date back to the period of Emperor Ashoka in the 4th Century BC, when Buddhism was introduced in this Island. India and Sri Lanka are connected by sea through the Palk Strait in the Bay of Bengal. The bilateral relations remained cordial until the initiation of Indira Doctrine, which envisaged Indian dominant role in the resolution of disputes in South Asia countries. In this context, the Indian role remained controversial in the Sri Lankan civil war between the Tamils and the Sinhalese; Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and Lankan central government. India supported the Tamil Tigers whole-heartedly and, ultimately, through the 1987 Accord, directly intervened in Sri Lanka under the pretext of controlling the Sri Lankan civil war. Though the situation stabilized, the Indian role became controversial and, ultimately, soared after the assassination of Rajiv Gandhi in 1991, which was blamed on the Tamil Tigers. The LTTE was labeled terrorist entity by India in 1992. The role of China and Pakistan during the civil war was crucial as both these countries supplied weapons, trained the Islanders in counter-insurgency operations, and helped the country rebuild and stabilize politically. Consequently, Sri Lanka became close to China and Pakistan and Indian role was marginalized.

Sri Lanka is India’s largest trading partner in South Asia. In 2013, the bilateral trade reached up to U.S. $3.7 billion. The major areas of investment by India include petroleum, telecom, IT, copper, real estate, hospital, tourism, banking and food industries and food processing products. India proactively participated in the rehabilitation and relief programme, particularly after the tsunami disaster. Thus, Sri Lanka became the recipient of $167.4 million development credit given by India. In development sector, India is instrumental in assisting Sri Lankan government in both mega and micro projects, including renovation of Palaly Airport, Kankesanthurai Harbour, construction of a Cultural Centre in Jaffna, interconnection of electricity grids between the two countries, construction of a 150-bed hospital in Dickoya and setting up a coal power plant in Sampur as a joint venture between National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Ceylon Electricity Board (CEB). The total Indian investment is $1.3 billion in Sri Lanka. However, despite the growing economic and trade relations, Sri Lanka remained closer to China and Pakistan than India under the government of President Rajparkash.

New-Found Relations

With the trip of the new Sri Lankan President, Maithripala Sirisena, to India in February 2015, the bilateral cooperation between the two countries has moved forward consolidating into ‘strategic partnership’. On February 16, 2015, President Sirsisena and PM Modi signed a joint agreement on nuclear safety aiming to provide Sri Lanka with nuclear energy infrastructure. It is expected that India will also supply Sri Lanka with small nuclear reactor of 600MW capacity to be established by 2030. The agreement’s initial step is to fulfill energy requirement, which is likely to expand further to involve security and strategic needs. This bilateral cooperative agreement would assist Sri Lanka through exchange of knowledge, resources, capacity-building and providing expertise in the realm of peaceful uses of nuclear energy (including radioisotopes, nuclear safety, radiation safety and nuclear security), and cooperation in radioactive waste management and nuclear and radiological disaster mitigation.

Regional Implications

From the standpoint of IAEA safeguards, the deal is congruous to international standards and practices. Even though the deal does not amount much, it carries political significance. The incumbent political leadership in Sri Lanka has asked for a review of $1.5 billion project of creating a port city near the Colombo port. The agreement of creating of dubbed port city was signed between the previous government of (Sri Lanka) and Chinese government. Chinese President Xi Jinping inaugurated the construction work in September 2014, in an attempt to strengthen China’s maritime strategy and connect South East Asia and South Asia through the Silk Route. According to Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, “All the activities of the Port City deal were done without transparency and without following many legal procedures. The agreement was signed without cabinet approval.” China hopes that the new government overcomes this controversy; nonetheless, expects to respect the state-level agreement signed between the two governments; as China has investments of about $6 billion in Sri Lanka and the bilateral trade of $3.14 billion (2011) that may be jeopardized after the decision of new Lankan government to review the project.

The strategic cooperation at the onset of new political governments on both sides carries strategic implications for regional politics. To offset the Chinese ‘string of pearls’ strategy, India has straddled fast through economic and military inroads in the Indian Ocean Rim states through the islands of Mauritius, Maldives, Seychelles and Madagascar and the rim states of South Africa, Tanzania and Mozambique. The blue water navy of India is also seeking to train, equip and provide assistance, including hydrographic support to the island nations to secure and advance its naval interests in the Ocean.

The Sri Lanka-India nuclear deal aims to highlight Indian interests to maintain its political influence over other South Asian states as a regional hegemon; while, at the same time, it guards Indian Ocean from China’s over-stretching naval wing. As already stated by a Chinese official, the Indian Ocean is not confined to India, China is likely to assert its economic influence through enhancing developmental projects. The construction of offshore port city close to Colombo is another pearl in its string.

The realpolitik assumptions demand that the Sri Lankan government strikes a balance between the two regional economic giants, China and India, and continue to seek financial benefits from

each one of them. That is challenging as Modi government is interested to finish off the Chinese influence from Sri Lanka as it attempts to outshine Indian hegemony in the region.


The India-Sri Lankan nuclear deals symbolizes the growing Indian assertiveness in the South Asian security calculations; as both Sri Lanka and Bangladesh now have pro-India governments and are being courted to undermine the growing Chinese and Pakistani roles. The Deal also signifies Indian confidence as a supplier state after being given the status of a de facto ‘Nuclear State’ in the backdrop of the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal and NSG wavier. India, under the BJP, is re-crafting the ‘Indira Doctrine’ of becoming a regional hegemon in South Asia. This episode may result in a conflictual security architecture in South Asia, rather than developing a cooperative mechanism for regional peace, progress and development.

By Dr. Nazir hussain & Adnan Bukhari

Dec 08, 2014

us nuclearIn September 2014, the Obama Administration unveiled a plan to invest billions of dollars over the next five years in defence spending programme to modernize the U.S. nuclear warheads. Chinese rise, North Korean nuclear weapon status and the Russian resurgence, particularly after the Ukrainian episode, can be considered the drivers for this move. However, this development runs contrary to the commitment of President Obama of ‘a world free of nuclear weapons’ which he made in 2009. Therefore, this article endeavours to analyze the U.S. plan to upgrade its nuclear arsenal and its impact on the global non-proliferation efforts.

Modernizing the U.S. nuclear warheads

The Obama administration, in the first term, promised to spend $84 billion to upgrade its aging nuclear weapons over the next decade, an increase of $14 billion in $70 billion modernization budget. The New York Times reported that the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the Obama administrations plans to revitalize nuclear warheads would cost $355 billion over the next decade. These costs have more chances to grow as strategic warheads developed in the last century would need modernization in the years to come. This money would be invested for eight major plants and laboratories, employing more than 40,000 people. Moreover, there are plans for building new missile submarines, more than 100 new bombers and 400 land-based missiles between 2024 and 2029. The proposed plans would cost about $900 billion to $1.1 trillion in the next three decades.

The process of modernization in the nuclear programme started from February 2014. It was aimed at internal and external review of the entire Defence Department, nuclear expertise which would include, inter alia, upgrading Air Force helicopter fleet and improving the morale of the force by investing in personnel and training. For this purpose, the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command established a Force Improvement Programme that allocated $161 million to ICBM force support in FY 14 and has identified $150 million in FY 2015 for equipment, facilities and personnel. The Air Force would add nearly 1,000 (military and civilian) billets for Global Strike Command. The Navy would hire 2,450 civilian shipyards and 100 personnel for Strategic Weapons Facility and TRIDENT Training Facility to improve sustainability and training of the ballistic missile submarine force. The U.S. would also replace ICBM security force helicopter fleet of UH-1s in this modernization programme.

The U.S. Nuclear Posture Review: acclaimed goals and contradictions

The U.S. nuclear policy, strategy, capabilities and force posture are contained in its policy document; Nuclear Posture Review, which is a legislatively-mandated review for the next five to ten years. Currently, the US nuclear doctrine is codified in its Nuclear Posture Review 2010.

The document states that prevention of nuclear terrorism and nuclear non-proliferation remain the top policy agendas for the U.S. However, the administration, in its proposed 2015 budget, chose to cut nuclear non-proliferation programmes in the Energy Department by $399 million, while increasing spending on nuclear weapons by $534 million, according to an analysis by the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard.

President Barak Obama had convinced the Republicans on new START Treaty with Russia, which was aimed at reduction in deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550 down from 2,200 by 2018. Though the U.S. supports that reduction in the number of nuclear weapons would contribute to the U.S. obligation of Article VI of disarmament, yet it would also maintain a credible nuclear deterrence and reinforce regional security architecture with missile defences for the security of its non-nuclear allies.

The policy document also states that the U.S. would modernize its aging nuclear programme and invest in human capital so that it could reduce the numbers of warheads and accelerate dismantlement of retired warheads. This statement in itself is contradictory because at one place, it calls for dismantling retired warheads and, on the other hand, calls for modernizing its aging programme. It is perplexing to understand that the NPR stated that the U.S. would reduce the role of nuclear weapons in its national security strategy but, at the same time, called for maintaining strategic deterrence and stability at reduced nuclear force levels and sustaining a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal through modernization of its strategic nuclear warheads deployed on ICBM, SLBM and Strategic Bombers.

Therefore, the U.S. would like to sustain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal. In this regard, the NPR recommended full funding of the LEP (Life Extension Programme) for the W-76 submarine-based warhead and the LEP study and follow-on activities for the B-61 bomb; and initiating a study of LEP options for the W-78 ICBM warhead, including the possibility of using the resulting warhead also on SLBMs. All of these types of warhead are thermo nuclear weapons. The LEP is aimed at repairing /replacing components of nuclear weapons to ensure the ability to meet military requirements, thereby providing them extension for being in stockpiles.

Changing nuclear order

In the wake of the changing nuclear order, the world is facing multiple complex challenges in the non-proliferation regime. It would be pertinent to look at these challenges in view of Pentagon’s quest for modernizing nuclear aging programme and the U.S. position in dealing with these issues. These issues range from finalizing a nuclear deal with Iran, dealing with North Korean case, nuclear arms race in South Asia and the U.S. pressure on Pakistan for negotiating FMCT.

It is strange to assume that the U.S. is increasing its budget for nuclear enterprise which is aimed at revitalizing its old nuclear weapons and, on the other hand, bringing Iran on board for a nuclear deal. The U.S. diplomacy of double standards marks negative precedents.

North Korea emerged as a nuclear weapon state, having capability of inter-continental ballistic missile, which creates a threatening environment not only for the U.S. but for the region and international peace and security. That depends on how the U.S. diplomacy would deal with this challenge.

The South Asian quagmire of nuclear arms race is another source of concern. The Indo-U.S. strategic partnership, particularly in the nuclear realm, has necessitated Pakistan to compete in the Indian-imposed nuclear arms race. The Indo-U.S. nexus has put Pakistan in a perpetual dilemma of maintaining strategic balance in the region. The U.S. insistence on Pakistan for negotiating the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty does not hold water in view of the U.S. nuclear modernization programme. The U.S. has lost the moral position to ask Pakistan for an FMCT amid its own nuclear weapons modernization programme.


In the wake of Obama’s goal of Global Zero, envisioned in 2009 and winning the support of Republicans on new START Treaty with Russia (which was aimed at reduction in deployed nuclear warheads to 1,550 down from 2,200 by 2018), the U.S. plan of modernizing its aging nuclear weapons programme with a cost of about $900 billion to $1.1 trillion in the next three decades is a dichotomy between national security and global peace. These plans, estimates and figures are in open contrast to the U.S. professed goals and its realist actions. The plan in fact acclaims Obama’s statement that the goal of disarmament might not be possible in his lifetime. It may weaken the U.S. position to talk with Iran, dealing with North Korea and asking Pakistan for FMCT. Above all, revitalization of U.S. nuclear programme would make Obama’s goal of global zero a distant reality.

By Dr. Nazir Hussain

Nov 18, 2014

ISISThe surfacing of Islamic State (IS) and its inroads in Iraq and Syria have given rise to grave concerns to the stability and security of the region with devastating effects, despite the U.S.-led counter-force to check its advances in the region. The IS (also known as Daʿesh) has declared Global Islamic Caliphate under Abu Bakar-Al Baghdadi, giving rise to growing concerns by the regional states and Western powers alike. What its origin and objectives are and how it is going to affect the regional politics is the focus of this article.

Origin and Evolution

Osama Bin Laden and Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi were two prominent figures of Al-Qaeda. Al-Zarqawi was an Arab of Jordanian descent and had commanded volunteers in Herat, Afghanistan, before fleeing to northern Iraq in 2001. In Iraq, he joined with Ansar al-Islam (Partisans of Islam), a militant Kurdish separatist movement. Later, Al-Zaqawi founded Jamāʻat al-Tawḥīdwa-al-Jihād; Organization of Monotheism and Jihad (JTJ).Soon after the emergence of JTJ, differences emerged between Al-Zarqawi and OBL, mainly over the issue of Takfir (justified killing of Muslims); Zarqawi was in favor of this type of killing while Bin Laden was not ready to accept it. During this period, Al-Zarqawi was operating around Iran, Iraqi Kurdistan, Syria and Iraq, gaining new jihadist contacts, which resulted in the formation of Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) in 2003. Later, he brought together a number of other Iraqi insurgent factions and established the Majlis Shura al-Mujahedin (MSM) or Mujahedin Shura Council in January 2006. In June, Zarqawi was killed by the U.S. forces and the group was reshuffled.

In October 2006, the Mujahideen Shura Council merged with several other insurgent factions and established the Dawlat al-ʻIraq al-Islāmīyah; Islamic State of Iraq (ISI). A cabinet was formed and Abu Abdullah al-Rashid al-Baghdadi became ISI’s figurehead emir. In May 2010, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was appointed the new leader of the Islamic State of Iraq. In August 2011, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi began sending Syrian and Iraqi ISI members experienced in guerrilla warfare across the border into Syria in order to establish an organization inside the country. In January 2012, the group announced its formation commonly known as Al-Nusra Front, which grew rapidly into a capable fighting force with popular support among Syrians opposed to the Assad regime.

In April 2013, overt enmity between ISIS and Al-Qaeda broke out in full when ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced that he was extending the Islamic State of Iraq into Syria and changing the group’s name to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. In June 2014, ISIS announced the creation of a caliphate (Islamic state) that erases all state borders, making al-Baghdadi the self-declared Caliph of the world’s estimated 1.5 billion Muslims. The group also announced a name change to the Islamic State (IS).


The pronounced major/long-term objectives of the IS are:

  • Establishment of ‘True Islamic State’ initially in Iraq and Syria,
  • Expansion of Islamic State in the region without current territorial boarders,
  • Restoration of Caliphate to lead global Muslim population,
  • Establishment of International Jihadi state to spread Jihad worldwide, and
  • Implementation of Sunni dominated Shariah (Islamic law).

The immediate/short-term objectives are:

  • Targeted assassination campaign against security forces in Iraq and Syria,
  • Destruction of personal property and infrastructure,
  • Ethnic cleansing of minorities: Shias, Kurds and Christians.

Regional and international supporters

Sunni Militia Group based in Iraq, Ba’ath Party loyalists and supporters of Saddam Hussain, besides the Free Iraqi Army, Free Syrian Army and Al Nusra Frontare are the supporters of the IS. However, it is very difficult to put all the supporters and opponents in black and white. There are complex grey areas within these groups. For instance, when it comes to control of Allepo, IS and Free Syrian Army are opponents, but are supporting each other to topple the Assad regime.

According to the documents of the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD), it is a fact that Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the current leader of IS, remained a prisoner by American forces in Iraq at Bucca Camp. Some reports say that detention period was of five years, while official claims are of a few months. Importantly, many wonder how such a high-value terrorist escaped from the American prison.

Israel is also believed to be supporting the armed groups inside Syria, but it is difficult to determine whether Israel is directly supporting the ISIS or Al-Nusra Front. However, according to a 15-page report by the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the work of the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF), “UNDOF frequently observed armed members of the opposition interacting with IDF across the ceasefire line in the vicinity of United Nations position 85. The UNDOF observed armed members of the opposition transferring 47 wounded persons from the Bravo side across the ceasefire line to IDF, and IDF on the Alpha side handing over 43 treated individuals to the armed members of the opposition on the Bravo side.”

 The Canada-based think tank, Global Research: Centre for Research on Globalization, has mentioned a report of Jewish Telegraphic Agency (97-year-old Jewish wire service) that “a senior employee of the Dutch Justice Ministry said the jihadist group ISIS was created by Zionists seeking to give Islam a bad reputation.”

Turkey is indirectly supporting the IS to control the Kurds authority near Turkey’s boarders, besides some Gulf States, which are covertly supporting the IS insurgents in Iraq and Syria. Sir Richard Dearlove, former head of British Intelligence MI6, has claimed that “there is no doubt that substantial and sustained funding from private donors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to which the authorities may have turned a blind eye, has played a central role in the ISI’s surge into Sunni areas of Iraq.”

Implications for Middle East

The emergence of IS has posed a significant threat to regional and international security environment. The IS has challenged the regional interests of the U.S./West and also posed a threat to the stability and territorial integrity of the region. Other implications are:

  • Upon establishment of IS, the region will become a permanent battleground,
  • Will become a launching pad of Jihadi activities in the region and around the globe,
  • Christian minorities would have no future in Iraq, Syria and adjacent territories,
  • Will constitute a permanent threat to the Assad regime,
  • Future of Shia community is threatened: a large Shia community has already migrated,
  • Beyond the control over Kurds, Turkey’s national security will be undermined,
  • If the Islamic State emerges on the map, existing monarchies would be the next target of the self-declared Caliph of Global Muslim Community,
  • For now, the IS may be in the interest of Israel and U.S. policy in the region; however, it will be the biggest ever threat to both in future. That is why the U.S. has mobilized its forces against the IS.

Implications for Pakistan

Pakistan is passing through one of its toughest times as far as internal security situation is concerned; insurgency in some parts of Pakistan is still on. The rise of IS in the heart of the Middle East is not directly related to the insurgency inside Pakistan; however, Pakistan’s geo-political and geo-strategic contours are attractive for the proxies of these kinds of groups.

Although the government denies any presence of IS in Pakistan, the wall-chalking across Pakistan, from Karachi to Gilgit, is a serious concern for the Pakistanis. The most significant development took place in October 2014 when TTP spokesman, Shahidullah Shahid, in a video message posted online said that “From today, I accept Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi as my Caliph and will accept every directive of his and will fight for him whatsoever the situation.” He is not alone in pledging allegiance, but five other top commanders were also with him. He further added that, it is mandatory for Muslims to follow their Caliph and also requested Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to accept him as a follower. Alarmingly, on November 17, the Jandullah group operating in Baluchistan pledged its support to the IS.

In these circumstances, the rise of IS would be a direct threat to stability within Pakistan; sectarian violence will be further intensified. This phenomenon will not only be restricted to sectarian violence, but could be changed into a sectarian war in Pakistan. As the Islamic State does not believe in territorial division, the territory of Pakistan can be used as the base for global Jihadi activities. This may escalate the cross-border terrorism at the western boarders of Pakistan and an escalated insurgency in parts of Jammu and Kashmir. The rise of IS’s support inside Pakistan will harm relations with Iran, which will cast a direct impact on the economy of Pakistan.


The ideology of IS and the ideology of Islam are poles apart; there is no connection between these two ideologies. Muslim scholarly authorities, even those who support the Syrian rebels, have unanimously repudiated Baghdadi’s bogus Caliphate. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the best-known pro-Syrian-rebel, dismissively rejected Baghdadi’s claim. Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of Tunisia’s Al-Nahda Party, called Baghdadi’s self-promotion reckless, deceptive and ridiculous. The most important group working to restore the Caliphate, Hizb-ut-Tahrir, said that Baghdadi’s proclamation has distorted the reality of what a Caliphate is supposed to be. Even Al-Qaeda rejected al-Baghdadi’s claim and ripped IS for its brutality and spelled out its non-affiliation with any IS activity.

This organization cannot be called as peaceful by any means. It is not working for peace, but is rather contributing to instability of the region and such instability will be permanent if the IS succeeds in establishing a state. They are visionless; without any economic and political agenda. They are not capable of running a state in such an international system which demands cooperation and peaceful co-existence. Their survival as a state-actor is nearly impossible if they continue with their current strategy. Moreover, while the fight against IS and Islamic extremism is far from over, it is certain that it will take a long time for the Middle East, especially Syria and Iraq, to recover. Despite, its recent retreat from key areas of Iraq and Syria, the IS still projects a deadly/devastating future scenario for the Middle East; either as a non-state actor or an unrecognised ‘Islamic state.

By Dr. Nazir Hussain

Oct 2, 2014

Untitled-1A military operation has been launched in North Waziristan after the so-called peace negotiations failed to yield the desired results. Operation ‘Zarb-e-Azb’ was launched in North Waziristan which had become a safe haven for local as also foreign militants and terrorists. The operation started in June 2014 and would culminate till the ejection of all terrorists form the area. However, the four-month operation has rendered around one million people homeless, turning their homes into ruins and their rehabilitation seems a gigantic task. The military forces have to leave the area as soon as normalcy is restored and hand over the area to civil administration. Therefore, this article endeavours to analyse the post-operation security challenges to North Waziristan in particular and FATA in general.

 Geopolitics of FATA/NWA

The Federally Administered Tribal Area (FATA) comprises seven agencies; Bajaur, Khyber, Kurram, Mahmand, Orakzai, South Waziristan and North Waziristan. Out of the seven agencies, six have borders with Afghanistan that are unprotected and porous. The total population of FATA is 4.8 million spread over an area of 27,000 sq. km. North Waziristan is inhabited by 840,000 people over an area of 4,700 sq. km. It is surrounded on three sides by other agencies and Afghan areas of Pakitika and Khost in the west. The entire area is under-developed and lacks basic socio-economic facilities.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb

The planning for the operation was done in 2010, and by 2012 it was ready for action. Due to different reasons, the operation could not be initiated. In late 2013, the government, with the backing of political forces, engaged the militants in negotiations, postponing the military option. The long-drawn-out peace talks could not produce the desired results as the militant asked for impractical demands such as declaring part of North Waziristan a safe haven, release of militants in Pakistani custody, halting of drone attacks, etc. The watershed event was the attack on Pakistan Air Force’s Mehran Base in Karachi and other deadly attacks in Rawalpindi, Lahore and Quetta. Subsequently, the talks were abandoned and the Pakistan Army launched ‘Operation Zarb-e-Azab.’

The operation started on June 15, 2014 with airstrikes on militant hideouts and the ground operation was launched on June 26, with around 30,000 troops. The operation started with credible intelligence and surveillance information about the militants/terrorists areas of operations. The operation had four phases; quarantine North Waziristan Agency (NWA), (while informing Afghanistan to do the same in the west bordering Khost province), moving out the civilian population, action against militants/terrorists, and rehabilitation of the people.

Importantly, NWA was the last bastion of militants/terrorists hideouts and it was termed the ‘Battle for the survival of Pakistan.’ Since 9/11, these militants/terrorists have killed over 60,000 civilians and more than 6,000 security personnel. The area housed the leadership of Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Punjabi Taliban, Al-Qaeda, East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan. The operation was aimed at restoring the writ of the government, destroying the militants/terrorists hideouts, and preparing the environment for sustainable socio-economic development.

Since June 2014, several hundred militants/terrorists have been killed, their command and control has been completely incapacitated, scores of gun-manufacturing factories have been destroyed, hideout tunnels with landmines have been cleared. However, the top leadership has fled to Afghanistan. The Pakistan Army now controls 60 per cent of the area, including the hard-core militants/terrorists headquarters such as Mir Ali, Miranshah and Shawal. The government and the armed forces have resolved to continue the operation till the last militant/terrorist is killed and the Agency/FATA is cleared of these elements. As expected, the operation is going to last till the advent of winter when the military operation would become very difficult. Nonetheless, the security forces are likely to remain in the area for many more months after the culmination of the operation.

Security challenges

There would be a host of security challenges in the aftermath of the operation that are both internal and external.

Militarily, Pakistani security forces have been at war since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and particularly since the ‘War on Terror’ after 9/11. It has launched six different operations in the restive areas of Pakistan bordering Afghanistan in the last many years. The bulk of the armed forces are deployed on the eastern border facing the volatile Line of Control dividing the former State of Jammu and Kashmir, more than 80,000 forces are facing the western borders, and over 50,000 forces are deployed in internal security operations, including NWA. The armed forces are also involved in civil defence operations such as flood and disaster management. The normal practice is that one-third of the armed forces would be in combat position, another one-third in training and the remaining one-third in rest. But, the Pakistan armed forces are stretched out to 60-70 per cent in combat position.

Moreover, the operation was delayed for many months that gave the opportunity to the militants/terrorists leaders to cross over to Afghanistan. Since then, cross-border activities from Afghanistan have intensified. Also, the training of Afghan National Army (ANA) by the Indian security forces and Indian politico-military involvement in Afghanistan beyond its legitimate interests constitute a big security challenge. This is not confined to NWA but to the entire FATA area bordering Afghanistan. Therefore, Pakistan is facing a three-pronged military challenge from India, Afghanistan and inside the country.


A major internal challenge would emerge after the security forces hand over the area to the civil administration after the operation is over. The capacity of the civil organisation is in question. Already, the large number of internally displaced persons (IDPs) has exposed their weaknesses; the rehabilitation of over one million people would be a gigantic task to accomplish, besides the lack of political will and bureaucratic handling may lead to frustration of people. The governance, being run through the provincial governor and central government, add to the politico-administrative woes.


A population that is already under-developed and lacks basic needs is an easy prey to radical and extremists tendencies. Only 50 per cent of the population has access to clean drinking water, one health facility per 50 sq. km., one doctor for over 7,000 people, and over 50 per cent population with food insecurity, pose the most daunting challenge to civil and military administration. Lack of education, unemployment and little business opportunities constitute another challenge. The multi-billion 2007-15 Sustainable Development Programme (SDP) for infrastructural development could not produce the desired results.

Action plan to face challenges

FATA needs political reforms, socioeconomic development and emancipation of its people. Political Reforms suggested by the FATA Committee be implemented immediately, massive infrastructure of roads, hospitals, educational institutions, small business opportunities, government jobs and educational scholarships be provided to the FATA people. A medical and engineering college and FATA University should not be a distant dream, but immediate action. It is believed that FATA has immense mineral resources estimated at $280 billion, in the shape of copper, marble, precious stones, coal and hydro-carbon resources. If explored and exploited, that can usher in a socioeconomic revolution in FATA. The only requirement is political will on the part of all stakeholders in and outside FATA.


NWA was the last sanctuary of trans-national militant/terrorist organisations. By launching Zarb-e-Azb, Pakistan has made it clear that it is serious about routing out terrorism form its soil. The backlash feared from this operation in the major cities of Pakistan has not become true, thanks to the pro-active intelligence and surveillance by the security forces. Operation Zarb-e-Azb is a battle for the survival of Pakistan; it has provided a golden opportunity to start a political and socioeconomic ‘Marshal Plan’ to empower, enlighten and improve the entire FATA region at the earliest.

By Dr. Nazir Hussain

May 30, 2014

modi-nawazThe much-hyped meeting between Nawaz Sharif and Narendra Modi on May 27, 2014 has been termed ‘historic’ and ‘constructive’ by the Pakistani premier. Though the meeting was only a ‘courtesy’ call, the decision to restart the secretary-level talks is a welcome development in the given circumstances. Right from the victory of Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) with a thumbing majority to his invitation to all SAARC leaders including Pakistan, Nawaz Sharif accepting the invitation and attending the swearing in ceremony, there are surprizes in every move.

However, the Indian foreign secretary, Sujatha Singh’s, highlighting that Pakistan has to dismantle the terrorist network and hand over the Mumbai attackers (2008), Indian moves to undo Article 370 of the Indian Constitution relating to the special status of Jammu and Kashmir, along with the appointment of Shusma Suraj as Indian External Affairs Minister and former Indian Army Chief, V.P. Sing, as her deputy, highlight the new contours of Indian foreign policy vis-à-vis Pakistan.

Therefore, this article endeavours to analyse the future of Pakistan-India relations in the light of the Nawaz-Modi meeting through the dynamics of invitation/meeting, the renewed nationalistic contours of Indian foreign policy and the changing regional security environment.

Dynamics of the meeting

During the election campaign, Narendra Modi took a very strong stance projecting the nationalistic credentials internally and externally, especially on Indian Muslims and Pakistan. It was not expected of Modi to invite Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to India so soon. However, a number of factors led to the invitation and the meeting.

Modi and his BJP came to power with the strong support of Indian corporate and business community, along with the vibrant middle class. As the Congress government failed to pass on the ‘shining India’ to the common Indians, the BJP was the alternate choice. On the other hand, Nawaz Sharif won the Pakistani elections on the same agenda and backing. Therefore, it was mutually complimentary to each other to move towards trade, commerce and business, both needed the much required space to put their houses in order vis-à-vis economic progress and stability.

Given the fact that India-China trade is over $100 billion despite their political/territorial differences, the regional economic reach of India is of utmost importance for its regional status and role. One authoritative Indian journalist stated that it was the strong corporate sector that compelled Modi to invite Nawaz Sharif. Given his hard-line stance and domestic constituency, Modi could not have afforded to invite Mr. Sharif alone. Therefore, he used the SAARC platform.

Moreover, Modi had governed the state of Gujarat with controversial credentials; strong anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan actions therefore, he had to improve his image to become the national leader of India. Thus, Modi of Delhi had to be different than the Modi of Gujrat. By inviting Nawaz Sharif, he wanted to project his image as a nationalistic Indian leader who desires peace and progress with Pakistan and the region at large.

Importantly, the far-reaching changes in the region; the security vacuum in the light of U.S. withdrawal, political transformations; pragmatist Hassan Rouhani coming to power in Iran, Dr. Abdullah the likely president of Afghanistan, and the energy/trade corridors being developed in the south and south-west Asian regions, compelled India to exert its influence and role in regional security and economic dynamics. In order to reach across South Asia into Central Asia and West Asia, improvement of relations with Pakistan is crucial.

On the other hand, Sharif was eager to develop good relations with India to get space for his domestic agenda of economic revival. Being part of the private corporate sector, Sharif was not only convinced of expanded trade with India, but he was also compelled by the Pakistani corporate and business community. Therefore, when Sharif got the invitation, he was ready to go, but he took all the stakeholders in confidence before making the decision public. The fact that Sharif took along his son, Hussain Nawaz, who looks after the business interests of the family, was a clear indication of his preferred agenda in India.

Indian nationalistic posturing

Nawaz Sharif was warmly greeted by Modi, and the meeting was described as positive and constructive. Sharif emphasised the need to restart the relations stalled in 1999, and converting conflict into cooperation. He was well aware of ‘ceremonial’ nature of the meeting and thus apparently did not raise any contentious issue with his counterpart, but the Indian Foreign Secretary was quick to comment that “Mr. Modi also underlined our concerns related to terrorism.” She further stated, “It was conveyed that Pakistan must abide by its commitment to prevent its territory under its control from being used for terrorism against India.” The Times of India reported that

“India’s new PM Narendra Modi has urged his Pakistani counterpart to crack down on militants and speed up the trial of 2008 Mumbai attacks suspects.” Therefore, right from the very beginning, India was sure to be nationalistic and emphasised its principal position vis-à-vis Pakistan.

Moreover, the Modi cabinet consisting of hard-line BJP leaders, particularly ShusmaSuraj as Minister for External Affairs and Gen. V.P. Sing as her deputy, depict the nationalistic approach of India as new contours of its foreign policy. It seems that despite the ‘ceremonial’ meeting, the traditional approach of India towards Pakistan would remain hawkish and hardened. Importantly, the BJP government in its first day in office indicated that it is making moves to undo Article 370 of the Indian Constitution concerning the special status of Jammu and Kashmir. Probably, India wants to convey that the core issue of Kashmir is not under discussion in the bilateral relations of India and Pakistan.

Future of  Pakistan-India relations

Many analysts believe that a hard-line and nationalistic Indian leadership is in a better position to make compromises and take bold decisions, as the BJP has done in the past by starting the Lahore-Delhi Bus Service, initiation of Composite Dialogue Process, Agra Summit (2000), and the SAARC initiative (2004), etc. However, the situation is different this time;  Modi is novice to international diplomacy, hard-line BJP elements are in the cabinet, the powerful Indian military establishment is asserting its role in decision-making, and  the ‘South Block’ in Indian External Affairs Ministry has shown its approach through the statement of the Foreign Secretary.

Therefore, India is not interested to restart the Composite Dialogue Process and, therefore, full normalization seems a distant possibility. By putting prior conditions; terrorism, Mumbai episode, and Article 370 issue; India wants to minimize the options for Pakistan in its bilateral relations. However, the current status of trade relations and other activities is likely to continue to show normalcy between Pakistan and India.


Sartaj Aziz in his press conference has tried to pacify the Pakistani audience, but it seems too late and too little; the damage has already been done. The ‘courtesy’ meeting has been utilized by India to project its nationalistic and hard-line approach towards Pakistan. Nonetheless, status quo is the word between Pakistan-India relations in the near future.

By Dr. Nazir Hussain 

May 28, 2014

0101Fifteen years ago, on May 28, 1998, Pakistan started to detonate a series of nuclear devices (six devices from May 28 to 30) to restore the balance of power in South Asia, offset by the Indian nuclear explosions of May 11 and 13, 1998. Thus, Pakistan became the eighth nuclear power of the world. Pakistan was a reluctant entrant to the nuclear club to safeguard its defences and security. Unlike the other nuclear weapon states that went for prestige, status and power, Pakistan’s decision was purely compelled by national security imperatives.

During the last 15 years, how Pakistan has behaved as a responsible nuclear weapon state and what challenges it faced or is facing in the nuclear filed. This article endeavours to explore these issues through Pakistan’s pursuit for nuclear power and its track record of adhering to regional/global norms of non-proliferation.

Pursuit of nuclear power

While the U.S. was exploring the wonders of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, Pakistan, among other countries, benefitted from ‘Atoms for Peace Programme’ under which many young scientists were trained in the U.S. and civil technology was transferred to the aspiring states. Pakistan received a Nuclear Research Reactor (NRR) of 5-MW PARR-1, and later Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) of 137-MW KANUPP, under the Atoms for Peace and Colombo Plans, respectively. Hence, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) was established in 1956 which later, under the auspices of imminent Pakistani scientists, facilitated in creating a cadre of trained personnel who then became part of the weapon programme.

Until 1971, Pakistan had not envisioned the pursuit of weapon capability. The part of the reason remained lack of political resolve from the then leadership mainly due to Pakistan’s defence alliance with the U.S. However, after the 1965 Pakistan-India war, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, the then foreign minister, along with few scientists, tried to convince President Ayub Khan, but that move remained unsuccessful.

The Fall of Dhaka in 1971 was a wakeup call for Pakistan’s political leadership. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto gathered a team of scientists to feel the pulse in the famous Multan Meeting of 1972. Bhutto, himself an advocate of weapons programme, pledged to offer facilities and resources required to accomplish the task. He was well aware of the Indian advancement in the weapon programme. Therefore, the 1974 Indian nuclear tests turned out to be a watershed for Pakistan to unify its efforts in one direction. In response to Indira Ghandi’s assertion that Indian nuclear capabilities are for peaceful purposes and it has no intention to use it for military purposes, Bhutto stated, “If capabilities are there, intentions can change overnight.”

From 1971 till the ‘D-Day’ of 1998, all regimes; political and military; successfully faced the ‘testing times’ of history offered by sanctions and international pressures to halt its weapon procurement. Nonetheless, a national resolve ranging from state to society culminated in the decision to detonate as response in kind to the May 1998 Indian nuclear tests. It was ‘now or never’ situation; Pakistan’s scientific prowess was challenged and the nuclear deterrence was called off. Pakistan had no other option but to go nuclear. Under intense international pressures, Pakistani political and military leadership showed political will and vision to safeguard country’s defences and security.

Responsible actions

Though Pakistan and India became de facto nuclear powers, the South Asian nuclearization severely undermined the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Although the 1974 so-called Peaceful Nuclear Explosion of India resulted in the creation of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), international response to thwart India’s quest for nuclear weapons remained subdued. Moreover, many of the proposals from Pakistan as part of continuous efforts to prevent the region from falling into the nuclear abyss met disappointment. All bilateral and regional proposals to strengthen the nonproliferation regime offered by Pakistan were rejected by India, including:

  • South Asian Nuclear Weapons Free Zone, in 1974.
  • A joint Pakistan-India declaration renouncing the acquisition or manufacture of nuclear weapons, in 1978.
  • Mutual inspections by Pakistan and India of each other’s nuclear facilities, in 1979.
  • Simultaneous adherence to the NPT by Pakistan and India, in 1979.
  • A bilateral or regional nuclear test-ban treaty, in 1987.
  • A South Asia Zero-Missile Zone, in 1994.
  • A Strategic Restraint Regime, in 1998.

South Asia’s strategic landscape in the post-1998 era replaced wars with crises. With the exception of Kargil (1999) which marked a low intensity conflict, South Asia witnessed frequent episodes of crises; Brasstacks (1986-87), Nuclear Alert (1990), Military Standoff (2002-2003), and Mumbai (2008). Undoubtedly, the crisis connotations have changed in the post-1998 South Asia as any onset of crisis is haunting the deterrence stability of the region.

After the 1998 nuclear tests, Pakistan operationalized its deterrent capabilities, while at the same time, placed considerable focus on developing necessary infrastructure required for the optimal functioning of command and control. Based on multi-layered defence, non-weaponized deterrence and dispersal storage sites, the Pakistan Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) assures a mechanism to be fully efficient against accidental or unauthorized use. The foolproof command and control system under NCA has been given compliments by the Director General of IAEA and the U.S. Secretary of State.


Despite exercising restraint and adhering to the core values of a responsible nuclear weapon state, Pakistan is facing acute challenges to improve its image after the proliferation episode of 2003. Pakistan revised its Export Controls Act to minimize the prospects of illicit trade of sensitive and dual-use items. Pakistan has taken all possible measures to stand by the international community and supported efforts destined to improve the non-proliferation regime. However, Pakistan’s efforts remained futile against the criteria-based approach. The discriminatory treatment against Pakistan in the light of Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, the waivers to the U.S. Proliferation Act and the NSG waivers are designed to accept India as a de jure nuclear weapon state. Pakistan feels that its responsible actions are not given legitimacy and hence it feels betrayed by the international non-proliferation regime.


After fifteen years, when Pakistan and India started their nuclear journey together, Pakistan’s odyssey is replete with resolve, resilience and sheer passion to fight back against odds. Thus, May 28 is a symbol of nation’s pride and faith in its human capital that led Pakistan’s nuclear programme. Pakistan became a nuclear weapon state to safeguard its defence and security and to restore the balance of power in South Asia; thanks to this deterrence capability, war today is an exception and peace a choice.

Pakistan had a bumpy ride facing several challenges coming not only from within but also suffering exploitation at the hands of external players, unlike India which sailed smoothly. Given the constraints of geographical proximity and nascent early warning systems, both states cannot afford to indulge in any misadventure. Therefore, both states need to devise a comprehensive framework of confidence-building measures to increase transparency to maintain a genuine credible deterrence in the region.

By Dr. Nazir Hussain

Apr 23, 2014

The Middle East region has undergoing tumultuous changes in the last few years impacting the adjoining regions including Pakistan. In the wake of the ongoing crises, the region is divided on multiple fault-lines; ethnic, sectarian and nationalistic. Unfortunately, various Muslim/Arab states, especially Iran and the GCC, have taken opposite sides to pursue their national security objectives leading to proxy wars in the region. Pakistan has cordial relations with all the Muslim/Arab states of the Middle East, but in the given circumstances, it is becoming difficult to keep a balance between Iran and the GCC states.

Therefore, this article endeavours to look into the Middle Eastern dynamics impacting Pakistan’s capacity to keep balancing relations with Iran and the GCC states in the historical, geopolitical and geo-economic realms.

Historical context

Pakistan’s interaction with the Middle East predates its independence. All India Muslim League and later Pakistan’s founding father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, vocally supported the Palestinian cause. However, Pakistan’s active involvement in the region was not taken positively by the Arabs as Pakistan being the part of western alliance system (CENTO and SEATO) supported the Anglo-French invasion of the Suez Canal in 1956 war against Jamal Abdul Nasir of Egypt.

Believing in pan-Islamism, Z.A. Bhutto articulated Pakistan’s policy dwelling on regional cooperation and forging closer ties with Muslim/Arab states. Bhutto’s vision translated into an economic bonanza attracting Pakistani workforce in the GCC states ushering in socio-economic progress in Pakistan. Subsequently, the economic support and assistance from the GCC states transformed Pakistan’s socio-economic landscape. This friendship was reciprocated by Pakistani military in providing training assistance and enhancing military-to-military contacts. In the backdrop of U.S. sanctions imposed on Pakistan after the 1998 nuclear explosions, Saudi Arabia whole-heartedly supported Pakistan with financial credits and supply of free oil. These bonds transformed from state-to-state to personal relations between the leadership of Pakistan and GCC states.

Geopolitics versus geo-economics

Pakistan’s endeavour to balance its relations with Iran and GCC can be best explained in the context of geopolitics versus geo-economics. The changing regional dynamics and imposing ground realties compel Pakistan to develop cordial relations with its immediate neighbours.

Pakistan shares over 900-km-long border with Iran. The bordering villages and Baloch tribes have strong social, economic and trade bonds, depicting heavy interdependence. Iran also provides about 100 MW of electricity to the Baloch areas and is keen to enhance this power supply to 1000 MW. Besides, Iran is looking for Iran-Pakistan (IP) gas pipeline project and construction of an oil refinery in Balochistan. The mutual trade is approximately over $1 billion with the potential of increase up to $7 billion in the coming years. Despite many commonalities, both countries have different perspectives on Afghanistan and the Middle East, and have competing interests for wider intra-regional trade through Gwadar and Chahbahar ports.

If Iran is a geopolitical reality, the GCC states have a strong bearing on Pakistan’s socioeconomic development. There are more than three million Pakistani workers in the GCC states, providing much needed foreign remittances to the country. Saudi Arabia and UAE provide major share in overall remittances of Pakistan, i.e., $4.3 billion out of a total $11.569 billion (2012-13), accounting for 10 per cent share in the country’s GDP growth. The GCC has also $30 billion investment commitments with Pakistan. UAE is the third largest export partner (8.5%) and KSA is the second largest import partner (12.3%) of Pakistan. The table above depicts the overall trade/economic activity between Pakistan and the GCC states.

Country Workers Remittances Export Import Total I+E
KSA 1.5 m 2628 m 186 m 2390 m 2576 m
UAE 1.2 m 1785 m 920 m 4346 m 5266 m
Kuwait 160,000 445 m 42 m 1760 m 1802 m
Oman 175,000 287 m 90 m 164 m 254 m
Bahrain 45,000 151 m 30 m 60 m 90 m
Qatar 52,000 35 m 55 m 142 m 197 m
Total GCC 3.132 m 5331 m 1323 m 8862 m 10185 m

The GCC states, in particular KSA and UAE, have provided massive social and economic support to Pakistan in the wake of the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods, creating strong links with the people. Pakistan and GCC states have also developed strong political and defence links; Pakistan is being considered GCC’s strategic partner in the future.

Options for Pakistan

Pakistan’s recent involvement in the Middle Eastern security dynamics came to limelight as a result of Saudi dignitaries’ frequent visits to Pakistan and a joint statement issued after the visit of Saudi Crown Prince, coupled with $1.5 billion ‘gift’ to Pakistan. Due to the inept perception management of the government, a debate was initiated in the media and parliament. The Foreign Office issued several statements and ultimately Sartaj Aziz, the advisor on Foreign Affairs and National Security, had to give a policy statement in the Senate that Pakistan is not changing its Middle East policy. He also showed the willingness to play a positive role in removing misunderstandings between Iran and the GCC states.

Pakistan is caught between geopolitics and geo-economics; the heavy economic reliance of Pakistan on the GCC states is compelling the country to be involved in the Middle Eastern security dynamics. Pakistan itself is suffering from a 30-year-long war which is now being fought inside the country; suffering severe social, economic and humanitarian costs. Pakistan has also witnessed a deadly proxy war on its soil in the 1980s resulting in a huge human and material loss. There are several sub-national, ethnic, religious and sectarian movements going on in the country. Therefore, Pakistan cannot afford to open a new front at this juncture.

In the past, Pakistan had played a constructive role during the Iran-Iraq war and the Kuwait crisis, and it can still play an important role as it has excellent relations with both sides. Pakistan cannot afford to choose sides as it has heavy reliance on both sides and is caught between the dynamics of geopolitics versus geo-economics.


Every state has the right to pursue its national security objectives, but not at the cost of others. There is an urgent need to address the concerns of other states; the mutual mistrust between Iran and the GCC states has to be overcome with political will and diplomatic sagacity. If the Iranian leadership can develop understanding with the U.S., it can also develop the same with the GCC states. On the other hand, Iranian apprehensions of ‘the GCC pursuing the agenda of external powers’ must also be addressed.

Pakistan has strong historical, religious, cultural, economic and political bonds with the Middle Eastern region and it cannot remain aloof from the changing security dynamics. Pakistan, having cordial relations with all Middle Eastern states, can play a constructive role in bridging their differences and removing misperceptions and keep a balance at the same time. However, it really is a test of Pakistan’s political acumen and effective diplomacy.

By Dr. Nazir Hussain 

Apr 03, 2014

leaders_group_photo_1222x650_0Nuclear Security Summit was held at the Hague, Netherland, on March 24-25, 2014, participated by 53 countries, to show their commitment to effectively control illegal proliferation of nuclear and radioactive materials. This was the third bi-annual summit in line with the previous two held in Washington DC (2010), and Seoul (2012) to safeguard the world against nuclear terrorism. This summit pledged tougher nuclear security standards in line with the Washington Work Plan and the Seoul Communique. 

Therefore, it is pertinent to know what are the objectives of these summits?  Also, how far these have been achieved during the three summits held so far? Importantly, what has been Pakistan’s contribution to global non-proliferation and its stance during the Hague Summit? This article endeavours to look into these questions in the historical context and contemporary global/regional security environment.

Historical Context

In the aftermath of 9/11 attacks, non-state actors constituted a serious threat to global peace and security. In this changing security environment, the danger of nuclear materials falling into their hands posed a serious challenge to world leaders. In order to overcome this challenge, the UN Security Council unanimously passed resolution 1540 in April 2004 to call upon states to refrain from supporting non-state actors from transferring, producing or delivery of WMDs. The resolution also asked states to pass national legislations for effective implementation. A‘1540 Committee ‘was formed to review the progress in this regard. This resolution was extended several times and ultimately in April 2011 through UNSCR 1770 it was extended till 2021.

U.S. President Barak Obama in his Prague 2009 speech called nuclear terrorism one of the greatest threats to international security. The first Nuclear Security Summit in Washington DC in 2010 was hosted by President Obama to draw the attention of world leaders to this emerging threat. Over 50 countries through Washington Work Plan pledged their commitment to enhancing cooperation and making agreements to secure nuclear materials and facilities.

In the backdrop of Fukushima incident in March 2011, another Nuclear Security Summit was held in Seoul in March 2012 aimed at securing and protecting radiological material, its theft and misuse. World leaders gave their commitment to these objectives through the Seoul Communique.

The Hague Summit

The third nuclear security summit was held in March 2014 at the Hague participated by 53 countries including Pakistan. After thorough deliberations, 35 countries gave their commitment to bolster nuclear security and to prevent nuclear materials falling into the wrong hands. They also agreed that national measures would be subject to ‘peer reviews periodically.’

It should be noted with concern that there are ‘almost 2,000 tonnes of weapons-usable material in circulation worldwide’ that can land in the hands of terrorists if global efforts and cooperation are not enhanced. The terrorists may not be able to produce the nuclear bomb but the risk of a ‘dirty bomb’ is always a nightmare. Therefore, world leaders pledged ‘to reduce the stockpiles of highly-enriched uranium.’      

Pakistan’s Stance

Participating in the NSS, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated that ‘Pakistan attaches highest importance to nuclear security because it is directly linked to country’s national security.’ He said that ‘Pakistan’s nuclear security is supported by five pillars; strong command and control; integrated intelligence system; rigorous regulatory regime; comprehensive export control regime; and international cooperation.’

He added that ‘Pakistan has over 40 years of fool-proof command and control system, and technical experience. The country has established a Centre of Excellence that conducts specialise courses on nuclear safety, security, protection and reliability.’ The premier offered that Pakistan is ready to share the best practices and experience with other countries. On these bases, the prime minister demanded that Pakistan should be integrated with the international export control regime notably, the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG), and sought international cooperation and assistance for civil nuclear technology under IAEA safeguards. 

Pakistan has shown a strong commitment to the global non-proliferation regime since early 1970s. Pakistan proposed the Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ) in South Asia, simultaneous singing of NPT by India and Pakistan, unilateral moratorium of further nuclear testing, and followed a policy of nuclear restraint after becoming a nuclear power. Despite being a non-signatory to the NPT, Pakistan has placed all its Nuclear Power Plants (NPP) under the IAEA safeguards.

Pakistan’s ‘best practices’ and unblemished record of safety and security was complemented by the U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, during his meeting with prime minister Sharif at the Hague Summit. Also, Yukiya Amano, the IAEA Director General, while visiting Pakistan in March 2014, praised the country’s strong commitments to no-proliferation and its security and  safety of nuclear materials. Moreover, Mark Fitzpatrick, a nuclear expert at the IISS, has suggested that ‘the time has come to offer Pakistan a nuclear cooperation deal akin to India’s.’

NSS and regional/global security environment

The NPT regime remained successful for several decades to keep a check on horizontal proliferation, but the growing security concerns and threat perceptions coupled with reluctance of P-5 states to halt vertical proliferation has led many countries to develop nuclear weapons; Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea. In the backdrop of Iranian nuclear controversy, some Gulf States are also contemplating the nuclear option. The ‘over-kill’ nuclear weapons possession by the Nuclear Weapon States is also posing a serious challenge to the global non-proliferation efforts. The prosper of nuclear terrorism by Non-state actors has further eroded the global efforts to counter proliferation.

President Obama’s Prague speech had several objectives to be achieved, but the NSS is concerned only with safety and security of nuclear materials. Some analyst believe that the NSS are sermons of the developed world to the rest of the states on nuclear safety and security, whereas the P-5 themselves have a bad track record such as the three Miles Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima.

Moreover, the double standards and discrimination followed by the P-5 states, especially by the U.S. in their nuclear policy do not augur well for the global/regional non-proliferation efforts. The Indo-U.S. nuclear deal, the waiver to India, and its inclusion into the NSG, are some of the issues that irritate other states like Pakistan. Despite its unblemished track-record of safety and security of nuclear weapons and materials, a strong commitment to non-proliferation, and best practices and experiences, Pakistan is denied civil nuclear cooperation and inclusion into the global non-proliferation regime, especially the NSG. 


The successful conclusion of the NSS with commitment of participant states on nuclear terrorism augur well for the success of the NSS. However, Nuclear Weapon States must ensure the agreed fundamental principles of NPT, i.e., global disarmament and efforts to halt vertical proliferation. A commitment from the above would set the pace for discouraging the aspiring nuclear states.

Pakistan has effectively show-cased its case at the NSS, but the double standards and discrimination in nuclear affairs would not pay dividends for an effective non-proliferation regime. A Criterion Based approach instead of a Country Specific approach is the solution to create an effective global/regional non-proliferation regime. 

By Dr. Nazir Hussain

Mar 27, 2014

RTR3FS96The crisis in Ukraine has taken very dangerous turn. After the breakaway of Crimea, the Western world has imposed sanctions on Russian leadership and in retaliation Russia reciprocated with the same action. This situation is contrastingly different than just few months ago when the US and Russia were cooperating on Iranian Nuclear controversy and Syrian crisis. In the backdrop of ongoing Ukrainian issue, what would be the relationship of two great powers and how it is going to affect the ‘East-West’ relations? Is this the end of unilateralism or beginning of a new cold war? This article endeavours to answer these questions through historical context, Russian fears and Western concerns.

Unfolding of Crisis

Ukraine got independence in the wake of Soviet disintegration in 1991 and was being run as an independent country. It signed an agreement with the Russian Federation in 1997 of leasing the Sevastopol naval base for the Russian Black Sea Fleet for ten years with 25,000 Russian troops stationed.

The Ukrainian presidential elections held in 2004 that declared pro-Russian Viktor Yanukovych were termed as unfair and rigged resulting in massive protests called the ‘Orange Revolution’ led by opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko. In the run-off elections, Yushchenko was declared winner and became Ukraine’s president.

In 2010 presidential elections, a pro-Kremlin candidate Viktor Yanukovych wins the election. The Ukraine-Russia agreement of 1997 to be expired in 2017 was further extend in April 2010 for another twenty-five years to be expired by 2042. In return Russia agreed to provide much needed economic help to Ukraine with a tune of $40 billion over the years. The agreement helped President Yanukovych to secure second term in office in 2010. After becoming the president, Yanukovych refused to sign the pact having closer ties with the EU in November 2013. Resultantly, the Ukrainians came out on streets massively and forced President Yanukovych to be deposed in February 2014. That led to an interim pro-west, Olexander Turchynov to take over the presidency. As the crisis persisted, Russian forces entered Crimea/Ukraine. In a national referendum held on March 16, 2014, the Crimean overwhelmingly (97%) supported to join Russia. Next day, the Crimean parliament ratified the joining with Russia, declared the Russian currency, Rouble, as second valid currency and asked the United Nations to recognise its joining Russia. In an agreement signed in Moscow between Crimea and Russia on March 18, 2014, the region formally joins with the Russian Federation.

The US and EU did not accept the referendum and ceding of Crimea to Russia and imposed sanctions on Russian leadership, including President Putin. In retaliation, Russia also imposed sanctions on the western leaders. Importantly, on March 21, 2014, Ukraine singed a deal with the EU, depicting its choice to remain pro-west. It should be borne in mind that after getting independence from Russia, Ukraine has become the largest European state with 44 million population and a major gas supplier to Europe. But the country is delicately poised due to economic dependence on the outside financial support.

Russian Fears

After regaining the presidency in 2000, Vladimir Putin has turned around the Russian economy and put it onto the road to stability. After stabilising the Russian economy the next step was to regain the lost status of a global power. He has also questioned the breakup of the Soviet Union as a ‘geopolitical absurdity of 20th century.’ Therefore, Putin started to reassert Russian position in the global affairs by securing its immediate areas of concern and influencing the peripheries of these areas. It is thus in this context that Russia started asserting itself in Central Asia and Middle East to prove its status as a global power. By moving into Georgia in 2008 and now in Ukraine in 2014 it wanted to convey a clear message that it cannot compromise on its vital national security interest. Therefore, it is opposed to Georgia and Ukraine joining the EU and ultimately the NATO.

The Russian fears stem from the western style democracy in its immediate vicinity that has all the germs of losing Kremlin’s control over its satellite states. Many Russians assert that if the western alliance can intervene militarily in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya to safeguard their national security interest, so can Russia. Moreover, the Crimean ceding to Russia was peaceful and as per the democratic values as over 97% Crimean voted to join Russia.

Moreover, when the breakaway Soviet republics were joining the EU, it was understood that these states would serve as buffer zone between the West and the Russian Federation. Thus by eventual joining of Ukraine to the EU and NATO, Russia would lose its strategic depth and the buffer zone would shrink to just 100 km from the Russian borders. Importantly, the Russian Black Sea fleet stationed at Sevastopol would lose its strategic value. Therefore, asserting its role in its immediate areas of concerns and its peripheries, Russia want to secure its own heartland. The Russian control over Crimea is compensation to the Ukrainian loss, through which Russia can still play an assertive role in the European theatre.          

Western Concerns

The western world has serious concerns about Russian moves into the European spheres. The prospective former Soviet republics were physically coerced not to join the EU/NATO. The Russian moving into Georgia and Ukraine, and annexation of Crimea are alarming episodes that cannot be dismissed easily by the West. The reasserting role of President Putin first in Middle East (Iranian Nuclear issue and Syrian crisis) and now in former Eastern Europe is threatening the vital security interests of the West.     

The western states have very limited options except sanctions. Given the war-weary western population, heavy financial burden of military involvement in many parts of the world and fallout of the Euro-zone economic crisis, the western states, including the US cannot take military action. However, the western world has a dilemma; how to stop Russian future moves without military involvement and at the same times do not let Putin to go unpunished.

Implications for Regional/International Security

The Ukraine episode has serious implications for the regional and global strategic environment. The European regional security would face major challenge from Russian presence in Crimea. The global balance of power shifting away from Europe may be redirected to the European theatre again. At the international level, the western world needs the goodwill of Russia to resolve the Iranian nuclear controversy and Syrian issue.

The Ukraine episode also questions the peaceful cooperation of global powers to the resolution of many critical issues. It may not be an end of unilateralism but it has definitely dented it, and severely undermined the uni-polar global order centred on the US. The world may also witness another Cold War being contested at many regions of the world.    


Sanctions may not work effectively as Russia is the world’s 8th largest economy and global economies are interdependent on major economic powers including Russian Federation. The world cannot bear another crisis erupting into a possible war. Therefore, efforts should be aimed at resolving the crisis rather than aggravating it. Russia can be involved in negotiations and be convinced rather than pushed to the wall to retaliate with force.

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