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
“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
“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
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
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.