New Delhi's half century old nuclear quest

By Ishtiaq Ahmad

Pakistan’s scholarly reaction to India’s three nuclear tests on Monday was not less of critical of New Delhi’s nuclear belligerency than the country’s official response.

Some of Pakistan’s top defence expert’s whom The Nation talked to, have no doubt that the nuclear test have established India a nuclear power, whether it declares itself a nuclear state or not. That Pakistan should respond in kind to India is the predominant perception among them. The experts are critical of the way the Western community has so for dealt with India on the nuclear question.

Pakistan’s moment of truth has come. Its destiny as a sovereign state is as stake,” Said Agha Shahi, the former foreign minister. “ Unless Pakistan gives proof of its ability to make a matching response to the new Indian challenge that it repeatedly pledged over the last two years to do so, it will not be able to ensure for itself a parity of nuclear status with India in qualitative if not in quantitative terms. The dice will be loaded against Pakistan’s chances of assuring its national security and independence status against the manifest threat of Indian hegemony.”

Altaf Gauhar, a prominent columnist, said: “Now the race is on. Unless the United States imposes sweeping and effective sanctions against India, the Indian will go on modernising their nuclear technology using the excuse that they have fight against a China.”

“The Western powers have been indulgent towards India in the past. They did not impose sanctions on India after the 1974 explosion and swallowed Indian propaganda that the test was a peaceful explosion. Anti-China opinion in the West has been tolerant of India’s nuclear ambitions,” Said Abdul Sattar, former foreign minister.

“The government of Pakistan should have already prepared an appropriate response. Pakistani observers had warned the government of BJP’s policies and programmes. In the past, peace in south Asia was premised on covert or recessed deterrence. By going overt, India has once again triggered the necessity of a review of Pakistan’s policy of restraint in the development of strategic weapons. Need is imperative forums to take effective steps to destabilize deterrence,” he added. “This has taken the world by surprise but those who are familiar with the political ideology of extremist Hindu groups in India may not be surprised by these tests. This is primarily an expression of India as emerging a great regional power,” said Dr Rasul Bakhsh Rais, Director of the Asia Study Centre, Quaid-i-Azam University.
  Status of India's nuclear power stations

Name and Location

MWe (per reactor)

Projected/Actual Commercial start date

Tarapur3 470 8/00
Tarapur 4 5/01
Rajasthan 1 207 12/73
Kota, Rajashtan
Rajashtan 3
220 1997
Rajasthan 4 1997
Madras 1 220 1/84
Tamil Nadu
Narora 1
220 1/91
Narora, Uttar
Narora 2
Kakrapar 1 220 5/93
Kaiga 1, Kaiga
220 1997
Kaiga 2

Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema, Chairman of the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid-i-Azam University, said:” This is outright weaponisation, establishing India’s claim to be a nuclear weapon power. The three nuclear tests, including fission, low-yield and thermo-nuclear, prove that India was building a broad range of nuclear weapons categories.”

“This is a very development, having serious repercussions for Pakistan’s security,” he said while predicting that Islamabad may react by conducting a nuclear test sooner not later.”

When asked as to how Pakistan should responed to Indian nuclear tests, Professor Cheema said that the country’s reaction should be deliberate, considerate and calculated.

“I would like Pakistan to see how the Americans react to India’s weaponisation. A calculated response will prevent the blame or worsening the security situation in South Asia from falling on Pakistan,” he said.
Rasul Bakhsh Rais said: ”The test will certainly in influence Pakistan’s nuclear decision making. The important thing is that Pakistan should never rely on the pressure of international community to dissuade India from going nuclear. Pakistan should carefully calculate the strategic implications of India’s nuclear tests and make choices in the best national interest.”

Agha Shahi also said that the news of three nuclear tests including a thermo nuclear test that would gave India the capability of manufacturing a hydrogen bomb is a development of the utmost gravity. It poses a clear and present threat to Pakistan’s security. That India would now break its moratorium since 1974 on nuclear tests should have been anticipated by the international community when India refused to sign a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) two years ago.

Mr. Shahi added: ”It would be no surprise if India were now to declare itself a nuclear weapon power and sign the CTBT or even the NPT such, to ensure for itself a parity of status with five declared nuclear weapon powers, namely the US, Russia, France, Britain and China.

“If one goes by past history when no sanctions were imposed on India when it carried out it first nuclear test explosion in 1974, the international community did not react except to say that it was a fait accomplie which could not be reversed. In the light of this past precedent, the international community is no more likely to take any step except symbolic gestures to record its disapproval. Even if it imposes some pains and penalties on India the new Indian fait accomplie cannot be reversed and therefore provides no consolation to Pakistan.”