Outlook Convergence on Pakistan’s Nuclear Programme

By Muhammad Saeed

Three full-scale wars in 1947-1948, 1965, and 1971, and a constant state of tension causing continuous military preparedness on both sides of border especially Line of Control (LoC) have marked almost seven decades of bitter rivalry between Pakistan and India. The discordant partition of British India into two successor states in 1947 and the unresolved issue of Kashmiri sovereignty have been major sources of tension. Both countries resultantly have built hefty defense establishments at significant cost to economic and social development.

The Kashmir problem is rooted in the former princely state, divided by LoC into the Indian occupied state of Kashmir and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. After the declaration of US led war on terrorism and subsequent rise of violence in Afghanistan and Pakistan, India has very conveniently found one particular string i.e. terrorism, attached with the Kashmir issue to blame Pakistan for otherwise supporting a freedom movement validated and acknowledged as a human rights issue by the UN. Since then Indian atrocities to snub the legal issue of self-determination has taken up to 80,000 lives, but the US and UN have refused to resolve the issue despite calling it a nuclear flashpoint in south east Asia.

Notwithstanding the role and sacrifices of Pakistan as a result of American led WoT, India perpetually accuses Islamabad for supporting violence in mainland India and Indian held Kashmir. Perversely New Delhi has been using Indian consulates in Afghanistan as bases for malevolent interference in Pakistan’s Balochistan province, specifically by materially and financially supporting Baloch separatist militants in addition to using certain terror groups to destabilize FATA.

Ironically American state functionaries on the other hand have a pro-Indian stance on the issue of violence either in Kashmir or Balochistan and FATA. For example when asked about Pakistan’s claims of Indian involvement in Balochistan and FATA, Secretary of State Clinton said the US government had seen no supporting evidence. Some observers however, saw Gen. Mc Chrystal’s

August 2009 assessment that “increasing India’s influence in Afghanistan is likely to exacerbate regional tensions” as sign that US officials have valid knowledge about Indian involvement in financing terror inside Pakistan.

The security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, materials, and technologies continues to be a top-tier US as well as Indian concern, despite the fact most analysts and US officials believe Pakistan’s nuclear security is much improved in recent years, there is still ongoing obstinate concerns that Pakistan’s nuclear know-how or technologies remain prone to leakage.

Two mid-2009 American assessments both concluded that, despite elaborate safeguards put in place by the Pakistani government, serious weaknesses and vulnerabilities still exist in the country’s nuclear safety and security structures. Insider threats are overly considered potent, along with the dispersion and alleged increasing size of nuclear material and facilities.

Many across the spectrum of Pakistani society express valid anger at the US global as well as regional foreign policy, in particular when such policy is unfriendly or hostile to the interests of Pakistan especially concerning country’s strategic assets vis-à-vis Indian piling up of nuclear weapons. Allegations of US malfeasance inside Pakistan have convincing roots because of the presence, if not thousands but hundreds, of American security contractors in Pakistan, particularly to sniff about the nuclear programme of Pakistan on the pretext of anti terrorism operations.

Pouring into Pakistan of private contractors especially during the military operation is South Waziristan and Swat were real growing sense of a larger American footprint potentially having sinister aspects. Simultaneously the US plans to significantly expand its embassy compound in Islamabad had also added fuel to fears among Pakistanis including security structure that Americans are seeking to target nuclear programme multilaterally.

In addition to the statement of Mr. Gates the then US Secretary of Defense during his visit to India about Blackwater’s presence in Pakistan; the US press report claiming that employees of the private security contractor Blackwater later called as Xe Services, were working closely with the US Special Operations on Pakistani soil, was a telltale of policy malevolence both on the part of the US and

India. Since India has fitted its policies into American strategy of weakening Pakistan’s nuclear systems, therefore Indian stockpiling of nuclear arsenal, greater than any other country in the region, is accepted as a policy norm by the US. Presenting Pakistan’s nuclear weapons a threat to American interests is valid because the US and Indian have converging outlook of Pakistan’s nuclear programme.

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