Dawn got in touch with Sadia Tasleem, Robin Copeland Memorial Fellow for non-proliferation and lecturer at the department of defence and strategic studies, Quaid-i-Azam University in Islamabad, via email to discuss Pakistan’s rapidly growing nuclear programme.
Q. Pakistan recently test-fired nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile Shaheen III. Why did it do so when Pakistan adheres to minimum credible deterrence policy?
As far as “minimum credible deterrence” is concerned, it is important to know how Pakistan defines it.
Pakistan considers minimum credible deterrence as a dynamic as opposed to a quantitatively definable concept. It implies that Pakistan will keep calculating its nuclear deterrence requirements based on the Indian nuclear related developments. This not only affects the criteria for what is minimum yet credible but also often makes “minimum” and “credible” irreconcilable.
Q. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence policy seems to be India-centric. Is India’s nuclear deterrence policy apparently Pakistan-centric?
A. India has larger objectives in the region and beyond. Its nuclear policy is aimed at multiple actors.
Q. India continues to increase its nuclear arsenal. Does that mean Pakistan will also continue to do so and not set a bar?
Q. Is Pakistan doing the right thing in terms of its national security strategy by test-firing Shaheen-III and to quote the ISPR “strengthening the country’s deterrence capability”?
A. The answer to this question largely depends on our worldview and understanding of the concept of deterrence. Anyone who looks at diversity of weapon systems and nuclear-armed missiles as a fundamental requirement for making deterrence credible would approve of decisions like test-firing of missiles with different ranges. However, those who look at deterrence as largely a psychological phenomenon in which even the rudimentary capabilities would make as much or as little difference as more weapons would consider such actions redundant. The question that may follow then is, should Pakistan pay the cost of redundancy?
Q. Will adding more nuclear-capable missiles increase the quality of stability of the country?
A. The answer to this question also varies depending on how deterrence and stability are defined. In my view, however, adding more nuclear capable missiles may not necessarily increase stability. We need to carefully analyse if the introduction of a new weapon system strengthens deterrence only in an abstract sense or does it make any concrete difference in the perception (and behaviour) of the actor we intend to deter.
This is The Prophecy. The Prophecy is much more than seeing into the future. For The Prophecy sees without the limits of time. For The Prophecy sees what is, what was, and what always shall be. 11:11
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