Biden’s unwarranted comment on Pakistan & its nukes | By Syed Qamar Afzal Rizvi

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Biden’s unwarranted comment on Pakistan & its nukes

THE current comment of the US President Joe Biden on Pakistan has raised genuine concerns in Pakistan’s foreign policy circles as well as its military establishment in so far as the statement that Pakistan is a most dangerous country in the world is based on a fallacious and biased observation about Pakistan — commanding respect in the comity of nations.

The fact remains that Pakistan has an exemplary record as a peaceful country while its nuclear programme is the safest, and more secure compared to India’s.

Biden’s comment needs an objective analysis. US policy towards Pakistan is based on double standards. It is high time that the US must address its own nuclear security and safety challenges.

Last week, at an informal meeting of a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee reception on last Thursday, US President Biden said Pakistan may be “one of the most dangerous nations in the world” as the country has “nuclear weapons without any cohesion.

’’ Chartering our grave reservations over this statement, Pakistan‘s Foreign Office has issued a demarche to the US envoy in Pakistan.

Since 1990, it has been a realist fashion of US policy to view Pakistan’s nuclear programme with a jaundiced eye.

The fact is that since Pakistan became a declared nuclear power in May, 1998, the state has been profoundly demonstrating its behaviour as a responsible nuclear power in the region.

In response to Biden’s prejudicial and biased comment, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said that over the past decades, Pakistan’s nuclear programme was managed through a “technically sound and foolproof command and control system.

’’ Meanwhile, Cuba’s Ambassador to Pakistan Zener Caro gave a strong reaction to US President Joe Biden’s statement about Pakistan and said that which country has made 469 military interventions since 1798?

Obviously, Pakistan adopts no aggressive design against any country, rather, the Pakistan military has played a significant role in UN’s Peace Keeping Missions. Besides, Pakistan has promoted a culture of peace diplomacy in the United Nations.

Seemingly, Biden’s current observation is motivated by a poisonous advocacy of the Indian lobby in Washington– whose mission is to stain Pakistan‘s image in the eyes of US policy makers and for whom the US-Pakistan re-engagement effort is fatal to India’s perceived interests in the region.

India is not comfortable with Washington’s latest deal of $ 450 million for Pakistan’s F-16. The US chartered apprehensions regarding our nukes hold no logic since the safety and security of our nukes is fully monitored by the National Command Authority (NCA).

It is why, since 1998, neither a single incident of any nuclear material theft, nor any nuclear mishap has been reported in Pakistan.

Nuclear security policy of a country mainly focuses on “the prevention and detection of and response to, theft, sabotage, unauthorized access, illegal transfer or other malicious acts involving nuclear material, other radioactive substances or their associated facilities’’.

In this backdrop, the Indian record is fully tarnished with the incidents of nuclear material thefts , including the flaws in its technical and operational system recently endorsed by a misdirected and risky launching of a cruise missile into the Pakistan territory(March 9, 2022).

Conversely, despite India’s faltering nuclear security, the US has given India a freehand on nuclear trade.

All the while, the Hindutva doctrine— the pivot of Hindu fundamentalism-cum-ultra nationalism — is a big threat to India’s nuclear security and safety while the ongoing saffronisation of violence in a nuclear-armed India poses scowling threat to regional peace.

Referring to the Biden comment, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto said,” If there is any question as to nuclear safety, then they should be directed to our neighbour India, who very recently accidentally fired a missile into Pakistani territory’’.

Biden irrelevantly accuses Pakistan of its non-cohesion status, the fact is that there is no cohesion in US policy towards Pakistan—vindicated by the fact that the latest statements— coming from the US State Department and the Department of Defence (DoD) during and after the current visits of Pakistan’s foreign minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and the Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa—glaringly endorse that the US is poised to seek a viable and durable engagement with Pakistan—while Biden’s current comment, calling Pakistan, a major-non NATO ally, a most dangerous nation, doesn’t coincide with these statements.

Noteworthy, Pakistan is an independent sovereign state. The be-all and end-all of our national security policy is to protect the territorial integrity of Pakistan.

Needless to say, Pakistan’s full spectrum deterrence (FSD)is the sole guarantor of our sovereignty.

Strategic stability —is core to the South Asian peace—a reality, the Biden administration cannot deny.

Our nuclear programme is aimed at securing its peaceful energy and security needs. Instead of pointing fingers on our nuclear security, the Biden administration must focus on its own nuclear security architecture.

Reportedly, across the United States, nuclear waste is accumulating in poorly maintained piles. 90,000 metric tons of nuclear waste requiring disposal are currently in temporary storage.

In August, 2007, an incident of an unauthorized movement of nuclear weapons was reported in that a U.S.

Air Force B-52 plane took off from Minot Air Force Base AFB, North Dakota, inadvertently loaded with six Advanced Cruise Missiles flew to Barksdale AFB, Louisiana.

Still, some voices are echoing in the US that the Biden administration should devise a comprehensive nuclear security strategy in order to achieve an effective and sustainable nuclear security— for all nuclear weapons, weapons-usable materials, and all of the nuclear facilities whose sabotage could cause a major catastrophe.

They urge to adopt a strategy ‘’for encouraging international partners to strengthen protection against all plausible threats, including insiders; adapt to emerging technologies like drones; improve security culture; conduct realistic performance testing; and consolidate or remove vulnerable or unnecessary stockpiles of all highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium.’’

Correctly examining, the real problem stems from the growing global competition among big nuclear powers, which propels the threats of a nuclear war.

Towards the goal of nuclear disarmament, Pakistan has right called for a new security paradigm –coinciding with the equitable international norms, thus, it rejects any form of nuclear exceptional enjoyed by some states and it principally advocates the need for a comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Convention— espoused by the proposals for Negative Security Assurances (NSAs) as discussed in the Conference of Nuclear Disarmament (CD).

—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law.

He deals with the strategic and nuclear issues.

 

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