Pakistan as a responsible nuclear power state
UNDENIABLY, Pakistan‘s nuclear technology has played a pivotal role in the development of the nation by addressing the challenges posed to our national security, as well as fulfilling our growing energy needs.
Thus, by acquiring a capability of full spectrum deterrence, Pakistan can rightly claim that it has promptly neutralized India’s conventional superiority.
And it is also fair to say that for years, Pakistan has demonstrated a spectacular responsible behaviour as a nuclear power state by vigilantly controlling and maintaining the safety and security of its nuclear assets.
In pursuit of utilising our nuclear capability, we have adopted a two-pronged strategy vis-à-vis our nuclear programme: peaceful uses of the nuclear power technology, as well as the development of nuclear weapons.
Initially, Pakistan’s nuclear programme was based on acquiring civilian nuclear technology—focusing on manpower in nuclear sciences and technology in the 1960s, facilitated by the Atoms for Peace programme of the USA—sponsored by President Eisenhower.
Nevertheless, India’s conventional superiority compounded by its explosion of Smiling Buddha in 1974 (Pokran-1) intrinsically compelled Pakistan to acquire a nuclear power status.
Arguably, the use and strength of the nuclear weapons unquestionably lie when they provide a deterrence by averting a war between the states.
And it is an irrefutable fact that since 1998 Pakistan has become a declared nuclear power, the threat of war has been averted between India and Pakistan.
According to the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, ‘’ The starkest element of continuity since 1998 remains Pakistan’s emphasis on deterrence—that is, avoiding a conventional war that could threaten the survival of the nation’’.
With the incorporation of India’s Cold Start Doctrine in 2004, Pakistan had to face new security challenges.
It was why Islamabad started to reorient its nuclear programme—focusing on new vistas of strategic thinking— revitalizing the development of our missile technology along with the development of tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs).
By 2011, with the flight-testing of the 60-kilometer (or 37-mile) Hatf-IX, or Nasr, Pakistan was able to counter India’s limited war doctrine.
While speaking to an American news channel in Washington in October, 2015, Pakistan’s former Foreign Secretary Ejaz Ahmed Chaudhry said, ‘’Pakistan knew how to show India the right path as it has developed small tactical nukes to convert any adventure into misadventure’’.
Needless to say, our full spectrum deterrence is not only a guarantor of our national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity, but also a sheet anchor of establishing the strategic balance in the South Asian region.
Moreover, Pakistan developed a standardized security system— a paragon of nuclear safety and security.
Notably, Pakistan National Command Authority (NCA) is the highest decision-making body that formulates policy and controls the development and employment of strategic weapon systems and exercises ultimate control over the use of nuclear assets.
While in the situation of war, nuclear weapons mated with delivery means will be poised to provide “full spectrum deterrence” – which is the embodiment of our tactical, operational and strategic plans and synergies.
Structurally, Pakistan’s NCA is grouped into three constituents— NCA, Strategic Plan Division(SPD), and the Strategic Force Commands (SFCs).
Whereas, the SPD progressively developed an elaborate NC3 system that includes Command, Control, Communication, Computer (C4); Information and Intelligence (I2); and Surveillance and Reconnaissance (SR).
Because of this spectacular National Command and Control System in Pakistan, neither a single incident of nuclear material theft, nor any incident of nuclear operational delinquency has ever been reported.
In contrast to Pakistan’s spectacular nuclear behaviour, India‘s nuclear record since 1998 largely lies in question as many incidents of nuclear material thefts have occurred in India, And yet, the incidents—of operational irresponsibility clearly evidenced from India’s attack on Pakistan’s territory Balakot (February 26, 2019), as well as India’s misdirected missile adventure near Khanewal, Punjab (March 9, 2022) – endorse India’s faltering capability as a responsible nuclear state.
India also acknowledged the “accidental” firing after the news briefing, saying the incident was caused due to a technical malfunction during its routine maintenance.
“Make no mistake, India has become an irresponsible state with nuclear weapons and the world is beginning to recognise Pakistan’s longstanding concern on this count’’, remarked the then National Security Advisor of Pakistan.
Needless to say, the role of civil nuclear technology has become vital in the development, peace, and prosperity of any nation.
Pakistan has been making a vital use of nuclear technology for the socio-economic development of the country and plans to further utilize it in order to attain the Sustainable Development Goals (SGDs) of the United Nations.
Nuclear Technology is being utilized in various areas such as health, hydrology, agriculture, industry, electricity generation, basic sciences and environment. Pakistan.
Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) has played a dynamic role in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
And so far, out of 17 SGDs, it has fulfilled 11 goals. In Pakistan, three institutes working under PAEC are using nuclear techniques to develop high-yielding varieties.
Until now they have developed about 115 new varieties of different cash crops of national importance by radiation mutation.
Moreover, China-Pakistan civil nuclear cooperation remains highly remarkable. On March 18, 2021, in continuation of Sino-Pak nuclear cooperation, Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) connected the 1100 MW reactor (KANUPP 2) to the national power grid with the help of the China National Nuclear Cooperation (CNNC).
On, September 8, 2021, another agreement has been signed between Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) and China Zhengyuan Engineering Cooperation.
The 1,100 MW reactor (Kannup-3) completed hot functional tests in November 2021 and achieved first criticality in February 2022.
Another 1,100 MW Hualong One is under consideration at the 1,215 MW Chashma nuclear power plant.
The agreement is aimed to deepen the nuclear energy cooperation and build and uphold Pakistan’s nuclear power projects.
Pakistan’s objective is to reach 8800 MW of nuclear capacity by 2030 and 40000 MW by 2050.
To conclude, despite the fact that Pakistan had to faced unwarranted restrictions regarding the expansion of our nuclear energy Programme, Islamabad has developed its own indigenous and a robust nuclear programrme in order to cater to our growing energy needs in tandem with our growing security exigencies.
While our nuclear arsenal remains a symbol of our security bastion against any foreign aggression, acquisition of green energy via using nuclear civil energy remains a major component of Pakistan’s nuclear policy.
—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.