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Indo-U.S. N.deal aggravates strategic tensions in South Asia: nuclear experts PDF Print E-mail
ISLAMABAD, Feb. 1, (APP): The U.S. nuclear deal with India has negatively impacted the deterrence stability in South Asia, as it has enabled India to fast track its fissile stockpiles that will enable it to spare more fissile material for its nuclear weapons programme. This was the dominant perspective at a roundtable on ‘Imperatives of Strategic Stability in South Asia: Challenges and Prospects” organized by the Institute of Regional Studies (IRS), here on Tuesday. 
Mr. Toby Dalton, Deputy Director, Nuclear Policy Programme, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, was the guest speaker of the roundtable discussion, which was participated by subject and policy experts, scholars, and serving and retired government officials.
In his talk, Mr. Dalton expressed deep concern over the future of strategic stability in South Asia and strongly felt that “strategic stability is weakening, in particular the crisis stability.”
“Conventional wisdom on South Asian stability among U.S. analysts is that since its nuclearization in 1998, the region’s strategic stability is weakening,” said Mr. Dalton in his opening remarks.
“Pakistani officials plan against worst-case assumptions about Indian intentions and capabilities.”
Mr. Dalton observed that increase in India’s conventional and nuclear capabilities, aided by the U.S.-India strategic partnership are perceived to threaten the survivability of Pakistan’s strategic deterrent.
His pessimism was based on three main challenges to nuclear stability in the region that emerged from improvement in technology leading to growth of nuclear weapons on both sides; evolution of conventional and nuclear postures - moving away from minimum deterrence; shortened crisis time lines as each side (India and Pakistan) ‘seeks to make maximum use of conventional and nuclear advantages; and finally, an open ended question mark whether Sino-India rapprochement will contribute to strategic stability in South Asia or not.
The discussion that followed strongly challenged this U.S. perception and discriminatory policy over nuclear stability regime in the region.
Mr. Adil Sultan said that the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal is a non-proliferation disaster. He pointed out that the Fissile Material Control Treaty (FMCT) is “Pakistan specific” and is meant to restrain Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities. If the international community has any reservations over Pakistan’s position on FMCT, which is entirely based on principles of international law, it may go ahead as Pakistan’s stockpiles are too small and that too in safe hands and thereby pose no threat to international security.
Prof. Nazir Hussain said that if Kashmir issue is resolved, half of the problem would be over. He said that on the one hand, the U.S. is defending the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal and on the other, it is blaming Pakistan on nuclear issues, which is a blatant contradiction of American policies towards South Asia.
Mr Bashir Ahmad, acting President IRS, said that the South Asian region is beset with strategic instability and pointed out that international community is not playing its positive role to ease out strategic tensions in the region. Furthermore, the Indo-U.S. deal has aggravated this problem.
Former ambassador, Asif Ezdi emphasized that the U.S. should assure Pakistan by offering a nuclear energy deal similar to the Indo-U.S.  deal. The U.S. has meted out a discriminatory attitude towards Pakistan by indirectly legitimizing India’s nuclear program in the form of the civil nuclear deal, and de-legitimizing Pakistan’s nuclear programme.
Dr. Shaheen Akhtar pointed out that America’s strategic backing to India is going to create strategic imbalance in South Asia. She said that the Indo-U.S. nuclear deal has fast tracked India’s fissile stockpiles and enhanced Indo-U.S. military cooperation which does not auger well for strategic stability in the region.
Ammara Durrani commented that it seems as if the U.S. is not willing to move on from its “conventional fears” viz-a-viz both India and Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, and highlighted the emerging new role of democratic political leadership and diplomacy - as opposed to conventional security tactics—in defusing the 2008 Mumbai crisis.
 

 

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