Islamabad: Strategic and security experts found it “innovative, very interesting but provocative” when Dr. Shireen Mazari suggested that Pakistan should propose joint civil nuclear power plants to India along the border of the two countries as a security confidence building measure, maintaining that this would not only help in meeting energy crisis in both countries but will also prove “the best deterrence” for two nuclear powers.
Those present in the meeting thought that it could have been an option but keeping in view the response and behavior of India over already launched confidence building measures and its approach towards Pakistan, it was almost bound to get a cold Indian shoulder like other Pakistani suggestions for lasting peace in the region. It was also observed that confidence building mechanisms including trade cannot work until real progress was made on the core issue of Kashmir.
Dr. Mazari was addressing a distinguished audience of security, strategy and foreign policy experts at the Institute of Policy Studies here on Wednesday in a seminar on “emerging nuclear scenario”, which was chaired by IPS chairman Professor Khurshid Ahmad and moderated by member IPS council Air Commodore (R) Khalid Iqbal.
Dr. Mazari observed that the nuclear arms control and disarmament area has always been premised on two parallel tracks: one being the “US-favored discriminatory approach” embodied earlier in non-proliferation treaty (NPT) and now taking shape of fissile material cut-off treaty (FMCT) and the other “non-discriminatory approach” manifested in international agreements like CTBT and certain IAEA initiatives.
Referring to the most recent and third nuclear test by North Korea, she said that such actions could be taken with almost impunity because the most significant treaty in the current international setting with respect to nuclear power, NPT is being undermined by its proponents. In this respect she highlighted and criticized Indo-US nuclear deal for which special waivers were sought by the US from the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in violation of all sets of existing international laws on the subject. Following the precedent set by US, France and Britain too have signed such deals with India in contravention of their NPT obligations. She termed this “dialectic of discriminatory non-proliferation regime” as first major trend on nuclear scenario with questions of safety of nuclear power generation as the second and the discourse of nuclear disarmament as third major trend.
She was of the view that the demands from Pakistan and India to sign NPT were “untenable” because the two nuclear states would not give up their capability. She suggested proactive diplomacy and concerted effort for an additional protocol to the treaty that would recognize the two nations as nuclear weapon state parties.
On FMCT, she said that Pakistan could not afford to agree to it because no other nation except Pakistan would suffer if it comes in operation. She lauded the policy of the government of Pakistan for consistently resisting “yet another discriminatory measure” in the field of nuclear energy. She reminded that Pakistan is not the only country dissatisfied with the proposed draft, “there were twenty abstentions too” with expressed concerns on its various aspects.
“Even if we are told that we have been isolated, we should keep on insisting for safeguarding our interests”, she stressed, adding that “Pakistan should keep on striving for ‘criteria-based’ and not ‘country-specific’ international standards”.
She presented a survey of safety and security measures that Pakistan had in place for its nuclear assets and underscored that as opposed to other nuclear power states there was no incident of nuclear theft or proliferation recorded from Pakistan. She also rebutted the oft-quoted allegation that Pakistan was behind North Korean nuclear technology saying that North Korea’s first nuclear test exploded a device based on plutonium in 2006 while Pakistan’s nuclear program was uranium based.
On Pakistan’s response to the emerging regional and global situation, the speaker said that the country had missed some opportunities yet it had used its options quite fairly to maintain deterrence and credibility. Recently tested Nasr missile with 60 KM range was a “necessary as well as well-timed move” and demonstrates that Pakistan has acquired the technology and capability to counter India’s ‘cold start’ and ‘second strike’. Contrary to what some US sections perceive, Nasr was not a battlefield weapon and does not signal a shift from deterrence towards war mode, she said.
She also saw the development of Pakistan’s own cruise missiles as ‘critical’ in view of India’s development of missile defense capability. She iterated that Pakistan should stick to its principles of “minimum credible deterrence” and “strategic restraint” and continue acting responsibly but more cautiously and wisely.
In his concluding remarks, chairman of the session Professor Khurshid Ahmad said that along with development in the field of conventional as well as nuclear weapons with a view to endure peace, attention also has to be given to cyber security and cyber capability as well. While national defense has to remain alive, vigilance and responsiveness to changing scenarios, clarity of vision, objects and interests was extremely important.