Religiosity Will Lead to the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

Pakistan expert: Religiosity aiding spike in militancy

Posted: February 27, 2021 – 3:46 AM KATHY GANNON

Ishtiaq Mahsud / AP

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Militant attacks are on the rise in Pakistan amid a growing religiosity that has brought greater intolerance, prompting one expert to voice concern the country could be overwhelmed by religious extremism.

Pakistani authorities are embracing strengthening religious belief among the population to bring the country closer together. But it’s doing just the opposite, creating intolerance and opening up space for a creeping resurgence in militancy, said Mohammad Amir Rana, executive director of the independent Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies.

“Unfortunately, instead of helping to inculcate better ethics and integrity, this phenomenon is encouraging a tunnel vision” that encourages violence, intolerance and hate, he wrote recently in a local newspaper. “Religiosity has begun to define the Pakistani citizenry.”

Militant violence in Pakistan has spiked: In the past week alone, four vocational school instructors who advocated for women’s rights were traveling together when they were gunned down in a Pakistan border region. A Twitter death threat against Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai attracted an avalanche of trolls. They heaped abuse on the young champion of girls education, who survived a Pakistani Taliban bullet to the head. A couple of men on a motorcycle opened fire on a police check-post not far from the Afghan border killing a young police constable.

In recent weeks, at least a dozen military and paramilitary men have been killed in ambushes, attacks and operations against militant hideouts, mostly in the western border regions.

A military spokesman this week said the rising violence is a response to an aggressive military assault on militant hideouts in regions bordering Afghanistan and the reunification of splintered and deeply violent anti-Pakistan terrorist groups, led by the Tehreek-e-Taliban. The group is driven by a radical religious ideology that espouses violence to enforce its extreme views.

Gen. Babar Ifitkar said the reunified Pakistani Taliban have found a headquarters in eastern Afghanistan. He also accused hostile neighbor India of financing and outfitting a reunified Taliban, providing them with equipment like night vision goggles, improvised explosive devises and small weapons.

India and Pakistan routinely trade allegations that the other is using militants to undermine stability and security at home.

Security analyst and fellow at the Center for International Security and Cooperation, Asfandyar Mir, said the reunification of a splintered militancy is dangerous news for Pakistan.

“The reunification of various splinters into the (Tehreek-e-Taliban) central organization is a major development, which makes the group very dangerous,” said Mir.

The TTP claimed responsibility for the 2012 shooting of Yousafzai. Its former spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, who mysteriously escaped Pakistan military custody to flee to the country, tweeted a promise that the Taliban would kill her if she returned home.

Iftikar, in a briefing of foreign journalists this week, said Pakistani military personnel aided Ehsan’s escape, without elaborating. He said the soldiers involved had been punished and efforts were being made to return Ehsan to custody.

The government reached out to Twitter to shut down Ehsan’s account after he threatened Yousafzai, although the military and government at first suggested it was a fake account.

But Rana, the commentator, said the official silence that greeted the threatening tweet encouraged religious intolerance to echo in Pakistani society unchecked.

The problem is religiosity has very negative expression in Pakistan,” he said in an interview late Friday. “It hasn’t been utilized to promote the positive, inclusive tolerant religion.”

Instead, successive Pakistani governments as well as its security establishments have exploited extreme religious ideologies to garner votes, appease political religious groups, or target enemies, he said.

The 2018 general elections that brought cricket star-turned-politician Imran Khan to power was mired in allegations of support from the powerful military for hard-line religious groups.

Those groups include the Tehreek-e-Labbaik party, whose single-point agenda is maintaining and propagating the country’s deeply controversial blasphemy law. That law calls for the death penalty for anyone insulting Islam and is most often used to settle disputes. It often targets minorities, mostly Shiite Muslims, who makeup up about 15% of mostly Sunni Pakistan’s 220 million people.

Mir, the analyst, said the rise in militancy has benefited from state policies that have been either supportive or ambivalent toward militancy as well as from sustained exposure of the region to violence. Most notable are the protracted war in neighboring Afghanistan and the simmering tensions between hostile neighbors India and Pakistan, two countries that possess a nuclear weapons’ arsenal.

“More than extreme religious thought, the sustained exposure of the region to political violence, the power of militant organizations in the region, state policy which is either supportive or ambivalent towards various forms of militancy … and the influence of the politics of Afghanistan incubate militancy in the region,” he said.

Mir and Rana both pointed to the Pakistani government’s failure to draw radical thinkers away from militant organizations, as groups that seemed at least briefly to eschew a violent path have returned to violence and rejoined the TTP.

Iftikar said the military has stepped up assaults on the reunited Pakistani Taliban, pushing the militants to respond, but only targets they can manage, which are soft targets.

But Mir said the reunited militants pose a greater threat.

“With the addition of these powerful units, the TTP has major strength for operations across the former tribal areas, Swat, Baluchistan, and some in Punjab,” he said. “Taken together, they improve TTP’s ability to mount insurgent and mass-casualty attacks.”

America Can’t Ignore the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

America Can’t Ignore the Next Indo-Pakistani Crisis

Two years ago this week, I touched down in New Delhi, groggy from my intercontinental flight from Washington, D.C. I looked forward to a quiet two-day layover en route to a South Asian crisis wargame that I was hosting in Sri Lanka. The next morning I awoke to the news that India had just conducted the first cross-border airstrike on Pakistan’s mainland in five decades, and found myself in the midst of a serious, real-life crisis.

Over the next 48 hours, India and Pakistan would exchange airstrikes resulting in the shooting down of two aircraft and the capture of a pilot against the backdrop of reported missile threats and readied nuclear forces. Privately, many American officials expressed alarm that events would spin out of control, and some later acknowledged that senior U.S. officials basically ignored the crisis. Escalation was controlled, mostly by luck.

While yesterday’s announcement of a ceasefire by India and Pakistan offers a welcome development after almost two years of dangerously escalating violence and fraught tensions, this does not warrant complacency. Those who work on South Asian security issues expect another crisis is inevitable — one that will test the Biden administration.

While Washington has made a strategic wager on India to reap dividends for U.S. competition with China, it still retains a significant interest in ensuring future South Asian crises do not spiral out of control and risk even a limited nuclear exchange. Such a course of events would jeopardize fundamental U.S. interests, including the non-use of nuclear weapons, the lives of U.S. citizens, and that very strategic bet on India itself. If the 2019 crisis has taught us anything, it is that being an impartial bystander is not an option.

U.S. official strategy documents identify India as a vital and critical node in Washington’s strategy in the Indo-Pacific to balance China’s rise. But the region within which it resides remains one of the most risk-prone. The nuclear-armed Indian-Pakistani rivalry has produced several crises testing the last five presidents, and since the end of the Cold War, this rivalry composes the most commonly recurring pair in the International Crisis Behavior database. Thirty years ago, the intelligence community judged this region the “most probable” location for a nuclear exchange, a judgment that was reinforced after the 2019 near miss.

Several studies over the past decade have assessed that South Asia is acutely prone to false optimism, miscalculation, and conflict escalation, even to the nuclear level. The close geography of both countries compresses time for decision-making in crises and incentivizes quick reactions. Conventional, precision-strike capabilities at standoff distances are at the ready and lure officials into thinking punitive or retaliatory strikes can be easy and clean. Both countries also appear to be embracing more aggressive nuclear doctrines. Another feature of the subcontinent is intensified nationalism. South Asian leaders may be more sensitive to public pressure for escalation even as Indian and Pakistani publics may be increasingly supportive of nuclear weapons use.

Much has changed since the last crisis in 2019. Washington and New Delhi have drawn even closer strategically as cooperative prospects with Beijing have diminished for both since the COVID-19 pandemic and the Sino-Indian border crisis. America is also on a trajectory to exit Afghanistan — even if there is a six-month extension of the timeline for U.S. troop withdrawal — allowing it to reassess and reset its relationship with Pakistan, because it would no longer need to rely on Islamabad for air and ground lines of communication to support deployed U.S. troops. Most importantly, the Biden administration has prioritized competition with China, which appears to pick up on the last administration’s efforts but with greater competence, coherence, and strategy.

Despite these shifts and calls for the United States to stop playing referee between India and Pakistan, U.S. policymakers understand that the rivalry in South Asia is an extraordinary one because of the nuclear dynamics at work. Though U.S. leaders have to calibrate carefully about how they signal these interests to avoid creating perverse incentives — e.g., “too nuclear to fail” — the United States continues to hold a major stake in how crises unfold in South Asia. Not only would the global precedent-setting of nuclear use or the humanitarian and environmental consequences be devastating generally, such use would directly threaten U.S. “critical interest[s],” including the safety of its citizens and partners.

The Balakot Crisis

The most recent crisis is instructive. On Feb. 14, 2019, a Kashmiri suicide bomber killed 40 Indian paramilitary troops, an attack for which the Pakistan-based terrorist organization Jaish-e-Mohammad claimed credit. The Indian military retaliated against Pakistan 12 days later with an airstrike on what it claimed was a terrorist training camp within undisputed Pakistani territory. The next day Pakistani jets dropped munitions on empty fields near an Indian brigade headquarters close to the Line of Control and an aerial skirmish ensued, resulting in the downing of an Indian MiG-21 and Pakistan’s capture of the Indian pilot. In the fog and friction of war, an Indian Mi-17 helicopter with six soldiers aboard was also accidently shot down by an Indian air defense unit. Tensions escalated as India reportedly threatened missile strikes and demanded the immediate return of the pilot, while Pakistan threatened retaliation “three times over.” Indian naval nuclear assets may have also been activated.

Since the end of the Cold War, Washington has served as the indispensable crisis manager on the subcontinent. But during the last crisis, it was luck, not U.S. crisis management, that saved the day. The Trump administration was mostly missing in action until events nearly spun out of control. Luckily, the downed Indian pilot survived and his capture seemed to pause the cycle of escalation. His prompt return and ambiguity over the exchange of damage that had unfolded allowed for a face-saving de-escalation by both sides.

Both India and Pakistan were able to declare victory during the last crisis, but that may tie leaders’ hands in the future. The next crisis is poised to involve airpower duels and deep strikes the way the rivals have employed artillery barrages, not just within but beyond the disputed territory of Kashmir. Both sides have internalized some dangerously optimistic lessons about the last crisis. The “new normal” is not risk averse. The assumption that escalation is “easy to control” has taken hold.

Meanwhile, incentives for conflict and escalation may be growing. Soon after the 2019 crisis, the Indian prime minister was politically rewarded in an electoral landslide, largely attributed to his national security choices. New Delhi also enjoyed the geopolitical rewards of international diplomatic support in international fora while political pressure ratcheted up on its adversary. Pakistan too feels deeply aggrieved because of what it perceives as India’s August 2019 unilateral annexation of disputed territory of Kashmir and the abrogation of its autonomy. Pakistan may also sense a window of opportunity as the United States is once again reliant on Islamabad to help deliver the Afghan peace process while India appears embattled and stretched with a much hotter second front since the summer 2020 border crisis with China.

Certainly the recent ceasefire is a welcome pause, but its durability remains uncertain and crises can still flare up. The rivals have renewed commitments to a ceasefire agreement many times only to lapse back to fighting. The last ceasefire declaration in May 2018 portended a tempering of border hostilities but was followed months later by the Balakot crisis.

U.S. Crisis Management Stakes

Will the Biden administration, like Trump’s “America First” approach, adopt a hands-off strategy in the next South Asian crisis? That would be a mistake, even if doing so risks some friction with India, which is jealous of its sovereignty and prefers to deal with Pakistan bilaterally. When the next flare-up in South Asia inevitably occurs, Joe Biden and his team will need to dust off the crisis management “playbook.” Someone with experience, expertise, and relationships in the region will need to be the designated point person to coordinate the flow of high-level visits and phone calls. U.S. interests and expectations need to be communicated well in advance. Travel advisories, evacuation plans, intelligence sharing options, and penalties need to be prepared to shape incentives for restraint and de-escalation. Not to do so invites uncontrolled escalation and jeopardizes U.S. interests in preventing a mushroom cloud.

Crisis management efforts are critical, not orthogonal, to U.S. interests in the Indo-Pacific. Some have proposed the United States simply pick a side and criticized U.S. efforts to play a “neutral arbiter” role in a future crisis. Washington is no longer a neutral arbiter between India and Pakistan, as it has placed a big “strategic bet” on New Delhi. Nevertheless, the United States is still essential as a crisis manager when border and air clashes threaten to spiral out of control. Beijing might help, but Washington can’t count on nor bargain for it. A proactive U.S. crisis management approach is needed to prevent the use of nuclear weapons on the subcontinent.

Even a small nuclear exchange risks unfathomable loss of life in a densely populated region. After the immediate blast effects, firestorms, emissions, and radiation would persist, all with devastating environmental and humanitarian impacts. The breaking of the “nuclear taboo” would have profound consequences for U.S. national security interests and for other nuclear-armed rivals.

Over 750,000 American citizens live in India and Pakistan. Most are concentrated in urban centers that would be the most likely targets of nuclear strikes. The United States has numerous foreign policy priorities in Asia but foremost among them is protecting American citizens abroad. Even the recently declassified 2018 memo on the “Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific” that laid out the logic of great-power competition in the region identified the highest interest was defending “the homeland and American citizens abroad,” followed by nuclear risks in the region.

A forward diplomatic approach is also consistent with an Indo-Pacific strategy that counter-balances China. Beyond the staggering loss of life, a nuclear exchange between India and Pakistan would devastate the Indian economy and its military capacity. Any nuclear detonation would trigger a humanitarian catastrophe, damage drinking water and the food supply, and have a chilling effect on foreign investment and trade that would decommission India from great-power competition for at least a decade. An India significantly weakened by even a limited nuclear exchange would be in no position to help balance China or play the anchoring role in the Indo-Pacific that U.S. strategy has envisioned. Moreover, not rising to the occasion of crisis management would confirm concerns about the shrinking ambit of U.S. diplomacy and diminish confidence that the United States could promote peace and prosperity.

Qualifications

Undoubtedly there is a moral hazard problem where India and Pakistan run risks while counting on the United States or the international community to bail them out as they have in the past. This is a real concern that U.S. policymakers have to weigh carefully, but there are creative methods to both defuse a crisis while also disincentivizing parties from instigating or escalating one again in the future.

There are several pathways by which another crisis on the subcontinent could occur. However, if triggered once again by Pakistan-based terrorists, there are ways to hold the sponsoring parties accountable short of greenlighting conflict escalation. Washington has many tools at its disposal to help de-escalate the next crisis and deter future ones. These include diplomatic pressures and financial sanctions. The United States could wield the prospect of enhancement or withdrawal of intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism cooperation, or even direct and tailored military assistance.

The United States has much to lose by letting an escalatory nuclear spiral run its course in the heart of Asia and much to gain from arresting such a chain of events. Much is at stake here, beginning with the norm against the use of nuclear weapons in warfare, the well-being of U.S. citizens, and the future of Asian geopolitics. For that reason the Biden administration would do well to expunge hesitations and prepare its crisis management playbook.

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Sameer Lalwani is a senior fellow and South Asia director at the Stimson Center, a Washington-based policy research institute, and the editor of Investigating Crises: South Asia’s Lessons, Evolving Dynamics, and Trajectories.

Image: U.S. Army (Photo by Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

Misguided Doctrine Before the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8

Misguided Military Doctrine

Michael KreponFebruary 23, 2021

Quote of the week:

“Until we, as a department, come to understand, if not accept, what we are facing and what should be done about it, we run the risk of developing plans we cannot execute and procuring capabilities that will not deliver desired outcomes. In the absence of change, we are on the path, once again, to prepare for the conflict we prefer, instead of one we are likely to face. It is through this lens that we must take a hard look at how we intend to compete against and deter our adversaries, assure our allies, and appropriately shape the future joint force.” – Admiral Charles Richard

As the leader of the U.S. Strategic Command, Admiral Richard carries the heavy burden of preparing for a wide range of contingencies involving China and Russia. Writing in the Naval Institute Proceedings, he projects that a regional crisis involving Beijing or Moscow “could escalate quickly to a conflict involving nuclear weapons, if they perceived a conventional loss would threaten the regime or state.” He adds, “Consequently, the U.S. military must shift its principal assumption from ‘nuclear employment is not possible’ to ‘nuclear employment is a very real possibility,’ and act to meet and deter that reality.”

This way of thinking about deterrence is reflected in the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Joint Publication 3-72, “Nuclear Operations,” dated June 11, 2019, which states:

Integration of nuclear weapons into a theater of operations requires the consideration of multiple variables. Using nuclear weapons could create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability. Specifically, the use of a nuclear weapon will fundamentally change the scope of a battle and create conditions that affect how commanders will prevail in conflict.

I understand why the Pentagon has once again delved into what is now termed “conventional-nuclear integration.” Strategic planners are tasked to think about the unthinkable. Competitors comingle missiles that carry conventional and nuclear ordnance. “Entanglement” is a serious problem. The chain of command could break down in a severe crisis between nuclear-armed rivals. First use is unlikely to be a U.S. decision, but an adversary seeking to avoid defeat could well make this decision.

Admiral Richard’s formulation begs the questions of why the use of force against Russia or China would be so wildly disproportionate as to actually threaten either regime/state. Smartly conceived U.S. military plans and operations would not come anywhere near this threshold because to do so would invite Armageddon.

But what about lesser contingencies where the United States seeks advantage or dominance in a localized clash with a nuclear-armed state?  This, too, could prompt first use by the disadvantaged state, after which all hell could break loose. U.S. forces need to have contingency plans, however otherworldly, including plans for limited nuclear options. That said, how realistic are these plans? How much can a President depend on them?

The Joint Staff’s current endorsement of “conventional-nuclear integration” harkens back to the Eisenhower and Reagan administrations. (For the particulars, I urge readers to consult Fred Kaplan’s fine book, The Bomb.)

Let’s delve into our nuclear history. The Joint Chiefs issued a policy paper in 1954 stating, “It is the policy of the United States that atomic weapons will be integrated with other weapons in the arsenal of the United States.” The Army created “pentomic divisions” to fight on battlefields where both conventional and nuclear weapons were used. Army units were equipped with the Davy Crockett, a tactical nuclear weapon that looked like a large recoilless rifle with the range of just over one mile. Soldiers could also carry atomic weapons in backpacks.

The concept of “pentomic” warfare was later acknowledged to be profoundly unsound at the tactical and operational levels of warfare. There were political problems, as well. For anything but a major war, it turned out that Eisenhower was as averse to crossing the nuclear threshold as he was eager to save money by relying on nuclear weapons.

The word “prevail” in the Joint Chief’s current formulation echoes terminology from the Reagan administration. Reagan’s brain trust at the Pentagon took varied steps to increase the salience of nuclear weapons after what was termed a “decade of neglect” during the Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations. If truth be told, these administrations spent over one trillion dollars on defense, raising the total of U.S. warheads available for use on strategic forces from 4,250 to 9,200.

U.S. defense guidance back then was to prevail even in conditions of a protracted nuclear war, a formulation that Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger defended strenuously on Capitol Hill. Not to do so, in Weinberger’s view, would constitute an impeachable offense. The Pentagon’s doctrine created major perturbations at home and in allied countries that sought safety under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. It was also totally at odds with Reagan’s deeply ingrained instincts never to use nuclear weapons; he wanted to abolish them.

Given this history, the Biden administration is obliged to take a hard look at the concept of “conventional-nuclear integration.” This concept is based on two highly contestable assumptions: first, that nuclear weapons have utility for war fighting, and second, that nuclear escalation can be controlled. Planning for battlefield use of nuclear weapons on the basis of both conjectural assumptions is necessary; executing these plans would be most unwise.

Serious brainpower has been applied to figuring out how to employ nuclear weapons in warfare. Think of Herman Kahn, Henry Kissinger, Bernard Brodie and James Schlesinger, for a start. Not one of these gentlemen was able to offer a convincing case of how to seek advantage and dominance and yet control escalation and prevent unacceptable damage in return. Intellectual constructs that work in the abstract but that fail once nuclear detonations begin cannot be a sound basis for national security policy.

Deterrence is a necessary objective, but deterrence fails and after failure, nuclear weapons are the insurance policy that compounds rather than compensates for loss. When deterrence fails, the value of this immensely expensive insurance policy plummets because national leaders will try their hardest to avoid crossing the nuclear threshold. Leaders that have countries to defend understand the likely consequences of first use. They therefore want and deserve military capabilities that not only can deter a serious crisis, but also have military utility if deterrence fails.

If deterrence fails and nuclear-armed rivals clash, serious analysis suggests that the outcome is likely to be determined by three factors above all. The first is the disposition of usable — that is to say, non-nuclear — capabilities within the zone of conflict or that can be brought to bear quickly once fighting begins. The second is the perceived stakes involved in the outcome of the crisis. The third is the personality traits of the contesting national leaders. So far, these personality traits, however misshapen, have not led to first use during intense crises. Even national leaders with megalomaniacal and sociopathic traits have understood how infamous and damaging first use would be — even against states that cannot retaliate in kind.

Consequently, the balance or imbalance of nuclear capabilities had no bearing on the outcome of the border clash in 1969 between China and the Soviet Union, nor during the 1999 clash between Pakistan and India. In the first instance, Moscow enjoyed clear nuclear superiority and yet Beijing initiated the crisis. In the second instance, the nuclear order of battle was opaque. Pakistan probably enjoyed nuclear advantage while seeking to change the status quo in the disputed area of Kashmir, but India enjoyed conventional advantages in the zone of crisis and could not afford to accept a change in the status quo. Pakistan backed down.

It is dangerously misguided to believe that the use of nuclear weapons would “create conditions for decisive results and the restoration of strategic stability”. This presumes that nuclear advantage offers leverage and political utility in a crisis where the stakes in dispute might suggest otherwise. This also presumes escalation control when the first use of nuclear weapons, even at low yield, would far more likely create conditions for uncontrolled escalation. And absent escalation control, there is no way to square the use of nuclear weapons with the international humanitarian laws of armed conflict to which the Pentagon adheres.

I get it why these plans exist, but no political leader can possibly have confidence in them. Biden is as strongly averse to authorizing the use of nuclear weapons as his predecessors. And like his predecessors, he is likely to notionally accept STRATCOM’s nuclear warfighting plans without telling the Pentagon brass to go back to the drawing boards. Biden will nonetheless be deeply averse to authorizing the execution of plans for “conventional-nuclear integration.”

Nuclear weapons are reasonably good but not entirely effective for deterrence. They are terrible for war fighting, which helps explain the last seven decades on non-battlefield use. Biden will want and need to have at his disposal more and better non-nuclear capabilities to deter and affect the outcome of future crises.

The Pakistani Nuclear Horn Tests Another Nuke: Daniel 8

“Can strike targets up to 290 kms”: Pak test-fires nuclear-capable ballistic missile

4 Feb 2021

Pakistan has successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile that can strike targets up to 290 kilometres, the army said.

According to a report by PTI, the launch of the Ghaznavi missile was “culmination of Annual Field Training Exercise of Army Strategic Forces Command,” said a statement issued by the media wing of the Pakistani army – the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

It said that the ballistic missile is capable of delivering nuclear and conventional warheads up to a range of 290 kilometres.

The training launch was witnessed by Commander Army Strategic Forces Command Lt Gen Muhammad Ali, senior officers from Strategic Plans Division, Army Strategic Forces Command, Scientists and Engineers of the strategic organizations.

Commander Army Strategic Forces Command appreciated the operational preparedness and display of excellent standard in handling and operating the weapon system, the army said.

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The Pakistani Horn Test Fires Another Nuclear Missile: Daniel 8

Pak test-fires nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile Ghaznavi

It said that the ballistic missile is capable of delivering nuclear and conventional warheads up to a range of 290 kilometres.

The training launch was witnessed by Commander Army Strategic Forces Command Lt Gen Muhammad Ali, senior officers from Strategic Plans Division, Army Strategic Forces Command, Scientists and Engineers of the strategic organizations.(@Aish_sayss/Twitter)

It said that the ballistic missile is capable of delivering nuclear and conventional warheads up to a range of 290 kilometres.

Pakistan on Wednesday successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile which can strike targets up to 290 kilometres, the army said.

The launch of Ghaznavi missile was “culmination of Annual Field Training Exercise of Army Strategic Forces Command,” said a statement issued by the media wing of the Pakistani army – the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

It said that the ballistic missile is capable of delivering nuclear and conventional warheads up to a range of 290 kilometres.

The training launch was witnessed by Commander Army Strategic Forces Command Lt Gen Muhammad Ali, senior officers from Strategic Plans Division, Army Strategic Forces Command, Scientists and Engineers of the strategic organizations.

Commander Army Strategic Forces Command appreciated the operational preparedness and display of excellent standard in handling and operating the weapon system, the army said.

On January 20, Pakistan test-fired nuclear-capable surface-to-surface ballistic missile Shaheen-III which can strike targets up to 2,750 kilometres.

The Pakistan Horn completed its nuke programme in 1992: Daniel 8

Pakistan completed its nuke programme in 1992: Ex-envoy

Omer Farooq Khan / TNN / Feb 1, 2021, 00:45 IST

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States, Syeda Abida Hussain has revealed that Pakistan had started its nuclear programme in 1983 during former military dictator General Zia-ul-Haq’s time and it was completed in 1992.

In an interview with a private news channel, Hussain, also an ex-cabinet member of Nawaz Sharif’s government, said she was appointed as ambassador to the US on the recommendation of the then president Ghulam Ishaq Khan during the first premiership of Nawaz Sharif after she lost the election.

The former ambassador said that during her stint as Pakistan’s envoy in Washington, most of her communication used to be with President Ishaq Khan. “Khan had tasked me to keep the Americans engaged in talks till Pakistan completes its nuclear programme in 18 months,” she said.

According to Hussain, the US administration including diplomats, senators, and congressmen repeatedly advised Pakistan against the execution of the nuclear programme.

When asked about the source of communication between her and Ishaq Khan in absence of modern tools, Hussain said she had visited Pakistan five times to get briefings from the president during the 18 months. “I used to avoid using the phone knowing that it could be tapped,” she said.

Since the nuclear programme was under the purview of the president, Hussain said most of her conversations used to be with him, and not the prime minister. “This is also because President Ghulam Ishaq Khan did not trust anyone,” she maintained.

When asked about whether Nawaz felt bad for bypassing him and directly communicating with the president, she said: “He never revealed it.”

Hussain also said that Al Qaeda founder Osama Bin Laden had supported and funded ex-PM Nawaz Sharif. “He (Osama Bin Laden) supported Mian Nawaz Sharif at one time. However, that is a complicated story. He (Osama) used to extend financial assistance (to Nawaz Sharif),” Hussain said, recalling that at one time Bin Laden was popular and liked by everyone including the Americans.

The Pakistani Nuclear Horn Vows to Keep Her Nukes: Daniel 8

Not bound by treaty for prohibition of nuclear weapons, says Pakistan

There are nine nuclear-armed countries, with Russia and the United States holding the majority of nuclear weapons.

Pakistan on Friday said that it does not consider itself bound by any of the obligations enshrined in the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

This comes as the nuclear weapons ban treaty had taken effect last Friday amid the lack of signatures from the major nuclear powers, Dawn reported. According to the United Nations, this treaty seeks a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, which includes a set of prohibitions on participating in any nuclear weapon activities.

Pakistani Foreign Office Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri on Friday stated that this treaty neither forms a part of nor contributes to the development of customary international law in any manner.

There are nine nuclear-armed countries, with Russia and the United States holding the majority of nuclear weapons, Dawn reported. The others are Britain, India, Pakistan, China, France, Israel and North Korea.

The Pakistani spokesperson argued that the Treaty on Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted in July 2017, was negotiated outside the established UN disarmament negotiating forums.

None of the nuclear-armed states took part in the negotiations of the treaty which failed to take on board the legitimate interests of all stakeholders, Radio Pakistan reported.

Zahid Chaudhri further claimed that many non-nuclear armed states have also refrained from becoming parties to the treaty, adding that it is indispensable for any initiative on nuclear disarmament to take into account the vital security considerations of each and every state.

The TPNW was adopted by the Conference at the United Nations on 7 July 2017 and opened for signature by the Secretary-General of the United Nations on 20 September 2017. Following the deposit with the Secretary-General of the 50th instrument of ratification or accession of the Treaty on 24 October 2020, it entered into force on 22 January 2021.

The Growing Nuclear Horns: Daniel

Who’s next? Nuclear proliferation is not fast, but it is frightening

Experts worry about East Asia and the Middle East

Jan 30th 2021

IN MARCH 1963 President John Kennedy lamented his failure to negotiate a ban on nuclear tests. “Personally,” he warned, “I am haunted by the feeling that by 1970, unless we are successful, there may be ten nuclear powers instead of four—and by 1975, 15 or 20.”

Kennedy was wrong. While many countries explored the idea of nuclear weapons from the 1950s to the 1990s, comparatively few took the next step of actually trying to develop the ability to build them (see chart). Of those few some stopped because the country itself dissolved (Yugoslavia), some because of changes to domestic politics (Brazil), some because of pressure from allies (South Korea) and some through force of arms (Iraq).

The parties to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) now include 185 countries which have renounced the nuclear path, as well as five nuclear-weapon states that the treaty recognises as such—America, Britain, China, France and Russia. The four nuclear states outside the treaty either never signed it (India, Israel and Pakistan) or withdrew from it (North Korea).

Nine nuclear-weapon states is a long way from Kennedy’s nightmare. What is more, recent years have seen increasing interest in moving beyond the NPT’s preservation of the status quo and pushing for a world in which nuclear weapons are illegitimate. This is the goal of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which commits its parties to not making, using or hosting nuclear weapons. Having been ratified by 52 of its 86 signatories, it entered into force on January 22nd.

But this “nuclear ban” is born as much from frustration as from hope. The NPT was a deal in which non-nuclear-weapon states got both access to civilian nuclear technology and a commitment that the nuclear-weapon states would seek to negotiate disarmament. Though the American, Russian, French and British arsenals did shrink after the end of the cold war, there has been little progress since. Indeed there has been some backsliding. America left the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 and the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (which Russia was breaking) in 2019.

The New START treaty, a ten-year-old cap on American and Russian nuclear forces to which Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin agreed a five-year extension on January 26th, is now the only bilateral arms-control agreement that binds the two countries. A grim panoply of new American and Russian weapons has been announced in recent years, from American miniature warheads to Russian underwater drones designed to drench coastal areas in radioactive fallout. China, for its part, has been upgrading its initially modest nuclear forces into considerably more than the bare-bones deterrent they once were.

As major nuclear powers have added to their nuclear capabilities some proliferators have paid little price for acquiring them. Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation points out that in the late 1990s America’s policy was to “cap, roll back and eliminate” the embryonic Indian and Pakistani arsenals through sanctions and censure. But as it became clearer that India would serve as a bulwark against Chinese power, America bent its own rules to allow civilian nuclear co-operation and helped ease India into international regimes governing nuclear exports.

Great-power sabre rattling, a sense that some countries get to bend the rules and a reassessment of America’s role as a steadfast ally during the presidency of Donald Trump may all have provoked interest in proliferation. What is more, though the bomb’s spread has slowed, it has never stopped—and proliferation begets proliferation, whatever speed it unrolls at. Iran’s nuclear programme spooks Saudi Arabia. North Korea’s arsenal casts a darkening shadow over South Korea and Japan.

They could if they wanted to

Despite a dalliance with the idea of following China into the nuclear club in the 1960s, Japan is for obvious reasons generally seen as making a case for nuclear caution. At the same time it is the only non-nuclear-armed state which operates major facilities for enriching uranium and reprocessing plutonium from spent reactor fuel, both potential routes to fissile material for a bomb. And in 2017 North Korea tested some of its nuclear-capable missiles by flying them over the archipelago to splash down in the Pacific beyond.

Such experiences change perspectives. Japanese conversations about nuclear weapons were once “sotto voce” and confined to a small cluster of “very conservative thinkers”, says Richard Samuels of MIT. Now, he writes in an article with his colleague Eric Heginbotham, “What once had been nearly taboo…has a conspicuous presence in Japan’s security discourse.”

The idea is still deeply unpopular. Mark Fitzpatrick, who used to oversee non-proliferation policy at the State Department, reckons that Japanese scientists would only comply with an order to produce nuclear weapons “in the event of a sharp deterioration in Japan’s security situation”. But his examples of such deteriorations are hardly outlandish. “In the imaginings of Japanese policymakers,” he says, “the most likely scenarios would be if South Korea goes nuclear or if the Koreas unify and keep Pyongyang’s existing arsenal.”

South Korea lacks enrichment and reprocessing capabilities, and is thus rather less well-placed than Japan to develop nuclear weapons. But it is closer to North Korea, and more worried. “Politicians are trying to normalise and remove the stigma of discussing nuclear weapons in public discourse,” according to Toby Dalton of the Carnegie Endowment, a think-tank, and Ain Han of Seoul National University.

On a technical level, the country has sought to acquire submarines powered by nuclear reactors, the fuel for which is closer to weapons-grade than that for power stations. And on January 13th it announced tests of a submarine-launched ballistic missile. No other non-nuclear state has ever seen a need for such a capability.

Polls show that a majority supports either the development of nuclear weapons or the return of the American ones stationed there during the cold war. But extending American deterrence is harder today. For America to use nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula would always have been a momentous decision, but in the past it would not have put millions of Americans on the frontline. Now that North Korean missiles can apparently reach North America, attacking Pyongyang puts New York at risk. Strategic calculations are sensitive to such things, and both South Korea and Japan know it.

Taiwan has similar worries; China’s increased ability to strike half way round the world could affect America’s willingness to come to the island’s aid in extremis. But though the country explored nuclear options as recently as 1988, the fact that, today, such efforts would furnish a much more powerful China with a pretext for pre-emptive strikes and possibly invasion makes rekindling them unappealing.

Mr Biden has not said how he plans to address North Korea’s increasing nuclear prowess and its impacts. He will be keen to avoid doing anything which encourages proliferation elsewhere. American promises, blandishments and threats have often checked nuclear ambitions among its allies. A real sense of what American and international displeasure could mean economically might well change what South Koreans say about nuclear weapons.

But North Korea is not going to give up its nuclear weapons. And any deal with America which legitimised North Korea’s arsenal in an effort to stop its growth would increase South Korea’s incentive for at least keeping the nuclear option available—a posture known in the nuclear trade as hedging. So would a resumption of North Korean missile tests. Jeffrey Lewis and David Schmerler of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS) in California recently published evidence that North Korea was preparing to test a new long-range submarine-launched missile.

The fear generated by North Korea’s growing arsenal and the fact that Japan, South Korea and Taiwan could all “produce nuclear weapons in perhaps two years—or less in Japan’s case”, according to Mr Fitzpatrick, makes East Asia a hot spot. But it is not the only one. George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment divides potential proliferators into two categories: those with ample means but less ambition, and those with greater ambition but fewer means. The East Asians fall into the first category; for the second, look to the Middle East, where insecurity is more violently manifest than in Asia and neither the fetters of liberal democracy nor the pull of alliances as strong.

According to a recent study by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, another think-tank, “Personalist authoritarian leaders seem more inclined toward the bomb, [and] their hold on power can in some ways make it easier for them to carry out their plans.” The study notes that Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s increasingly autocratic president, has begun to talk like a case in point. In September 2019 he complained to members of his ruling AK party that “some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads…But [we are told] we can’t have them. This, I cannot accept.”

Sinan Ülgen, a former diplomat who leads EDAM, an Istanbul-based think-tank, doubts that Mr Erdogan would act on this rhetoric. “At first the public may like the idea of having nuclear weapons,” he says. “But the cost for an open economy like Turkey would be too big and long-term. No government can sustain it under conditions of democratic elections.”

Not all leaders in the region toil under such constraints. “In discussions in Saudi Arabia, there’s a lot more willingness to talk openly about the possibility of proliferation,” says Gregory Gause of Texas A&M University. The obvious cause is Iran’s nuclear programme. The JCPOA, a deal struck in 2015 between Iran, the five nuclear powers recognised by the NPT, Germany and the EU, saw Iran agree to reduce its uranium stocks and enrichment capability and to have them stringently monitored by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the NPT’s watchdog, in return for relief from sanctions. But after Mr Trump pulled America out of the deal in 2018 Iran ceased respecting its constraints. On January 4th it started enriching uranium to 20% purity—nine-tenths of the way to weapons-grade—and nine days later began work on uranium metals, which can be used to fashion the core of a bomb.

Mr Biden says he will rejoin the JCPOA, in which case Iran has said it will return to compliance. Israel and Iran’s Arab rivals oppose such a revival, just as they opposed the deal in the first place. They see it as legitimising Iran’s nuclear infrastructure while placing only temporary limits on what it can do with it. In 2018 Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, told CBS, an American broadcaster, that the kingdom “does not want to acquire any nuclear bomb, but without a doubt, if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible”. Mr Fitzpatrick reckons that “Saudi Arabia is the proliferation concern number one around the world.”

Despite its announced intention of building 16 nuclear-power stations, Saudi Arabia’s nuclear technology remains far behind that of Japan or South Korea. That need not, in itself, thwart any nuclear ambitions it has or develops. In the past, Western intelligence officials were concerned that Pakistan—which is thought to have had its bomb programme financed by Saudi Arabia in the 1980s and 1990s—might supply a complete nuclear device or know-how to the kingdom.

Alternatively, Saudi Arabia could rely on less-direct outside help. In a forthcoming paper, Nicholas Miller of Dartmouth College and Tristan Volpe of the Naval Postgraduate School describe the growth of an “autocratic nuclear marketplace”. The “gold standard” for deals in which countries buy civilian nuclear-power plants has been that their enriched fuel has to be imported and the used fuel sent out of the country for disposal, thus providing no domestic route to fissile material. Russia and China do not always abide by this standard; and the authors point out that 19 of the 33 reactors exported since 2000 came from those two countries. Last year the Wall Street Journal reported that China was helping Saudi Arabia build a facility for processing uranium ore. That is not the same as enriching it. But it worries Western officials.

China has also armed the kingdom with ballistic missiles. In 2019 researchers at MIIS discovered that a suspected rocket-engine plant south-west of Riyadh bore a resemblance to a Chinese-built facility. This does not necessarily mean it wants nuclear weapons; their perceived utility as conventional weapons is seeing ever more countries build up ballistic-missile forces. But an already established missile capability is definitely a useful thing for a potential proliferator to have.

Wider-spread ballistic-missile capabilities and laxer deals on nuclear fuel are not the only current developments that could be of help to proliferators. America’s National Nuclear Security Administration warns that technological advances like 3D printing and powerful computer-aided design “may create new and worrisome pathways to nuclear weapons”.

But proliferators face new challenges, too. “The world’s capability to know what somebody is doing is much greater than it was at the time that Saddam Hussein was pursuing weapons and that gives a lot more time to react,” says Tom Countryman, America’s under-secretary of state for non-proliferation from 2011 to 2017. Non-governmental organisations regularly unearth and publicise secret facilities using “open” sources—most notably images taken by satellites like those which researchers at MIIS used to spot North Korea’s looming missile test and Saudi Arabia’s rocket plant.

The IAEA has honed its remote monitoring capabilities in Iran in recent years, using tamper-proof cameras and radiation detectors that send back a steady stream of data. And Mr Volpe points out that ever more manufacturing technology is likely to be monitored from afar by its creators. Such capabilities could be used for more than scheduling maintenance. He envisages an “Internet of Nuclear Things” in which suppliers can scrutinise the tasks for which the machines they sell are used.

This all offers hope that the covert pursuit of nuclear weapons has become harder. But what of overt pursuit? For a country to leave the NPT would undoubtedly provoke a crisis. But India’s experience shows that a country with real heft can weather such disapproval. As Ms Mukhatzhanova puts it, “Countries that are important, economically and politically, might count on being accepted into the system if they break out.” To try to cut a frankly proliferating South Korea out of the world economy in order to bring it back into the NPT stable would be a huge undertaking.

No way back

Most nuclear-curious states, Iran included, are more interested in hedging than in actually building a weapons programme. Yet hedging by several rivals at once produces a situation where cascading proliferation becomes all too easy to imagine. An Israeli military strike on Iran, for instance, might persuade it of the need for a nuclear deterrent, thus triggering a response by Saudi Arabia which might in turn strengthen ambition in Ankara—or Cairo.

Once the world would have hoped that American diplomacy, engagement and suasion would have kept such risks in check, and over the coming few years they might. But America’s centrality is on the wane. As Mr Gause points out, “A pervasive sense…that the United States is leaving the region” underpins Saudi discussion of proliferation. The risks entailed in offering a nuclear umbrella are clearly increasing. And although Mr Biden has always been a staunch advocate of arms control, the same was not true of his predecessor, and may well not be true of his successor. Proliferation has not proceeded anything like as fast as once was feared. But it has not stopped, and it could well accelerate. ■

This article appeared in the Briefing section of the print edition under the headline “Who’s next?”

The Growing Pakistani Nuclear Horn: Daniel 8

Pakistan Army’s Ranking improved

By Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan

January 24, 2021

According to data issued by the group on its official website, Pakistan Army has been ranked the 10th most powerful in the world out of 133 countries on the Global Firepower index 2021.Especially the Special Services Group (SSG) is among the best in the world.  Just behind; 1- United States PwrIndx: 0.0721,  2- Russia PwrIndx: 0.0796, 3- China PwrIndx: 0.0858, 4- India PwrIndx: 0.1214, 5- Japan PwrIndx: 0.1435, 6- South Korea PwrIndx: 0.1621, 7- France PwrIndx: 0.1691, 8- United Kingdom PwrIndx: 0.2008, 9- Brazil PwrIndx: 0.2037, 10- Pakistan PwrIndx: 0.2083.

Global Firepower (GFP) list relies on more than 50 factors to determine a nation’s Power Index (‘PwrIndx’) score with categories ranging from military might and financials to logistical capability and geography.

Our unique, in-house formula allows for smaller, more technologically-advanced, nations to compete with larger, lesser-developed ones. In the form of bonuses and penalties, special modifiers are applied to further refine the annual list. Color arrows indicate a year-over-year trend comparison.

The geopolitical environment, especially the regional security situation, is quite hostile. Pakistan is bordering India, a typical adversary and has not accepted Pakistan’s independence from the core of heart, and always trying to damage Pakistan. The Kashmir issue is a long standing issue between the two rivals. On the other hand, the Afghan situation is a permanent security threat for Pakistan. Bordering Iran means always facing a danger of aggression from the US or Israel on Iran, resulting in vulnerabilities in Pakistan. The Middle East is a hot burning region and posing instability in the region. The growing tension between China and the US is also a source of a major headache for Pakistan.

Under such a scenario, Pakistan has to be very conscious regarding its security and sovereignty. Although Pakistan’s ailing economy is not supporting its defense needs, it may not compromise strategic issues for its survival. Pakistan focuses on the quality of its forces instead of quantity. The tough training makes a real difference—the utilization of Science and Technology-enabled Pakistan to maintain its supremacy.

Pakistan is situated at a crucial location – the entrance point to the oil-rich Arabian Gulf is just on the major trading route for energy. Pakistan is at the conjunction of Africa, Europe, Eurasia, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and China. Pakistan is a pivotal state and always focus of world powers.

During the cold war era, Pakistan sided with the US and protected the region’s American interests. The US military establishment knows well that as long as Pakistan stands with the US, it can achieve all its strategic goals in the region. However, It was the American choice to give more importance to India and ignore Pakistan.

Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and struggling for the promotion of peace globally. Pakistan always raises its voice at the UN and other international forums for oppressed ones and against any injustice. Pakistan. In the history of seven decades, Pakistan was never involved in any aggression against any country. Pakistan’s official stance is, “We are partner for peace with any country, any nation, or individuals.” Pakistan is a partner and supporter of any peace-initiative in any part of the world. 

However, Pakistan is always prepared to protect its territorial integrity and will not allow any aggressor to harm our sovereignty at any cost. Pakistan is determined for its independence and geographical integrity.

Pakistan is no threat to any country or nation. Neither have any intention of expansion. But always ready to give a tough time to any aggressor.

Babylon the Great Stands Up to the China Nuclear Horn EU

U.S. reaffirms Taiwan support after China sends warplanes

“We urge Beijing to cease its military, diplomatic, and economic pressure against Taiwan and instead engage in meaningful dialogue.”

Ambassador Kelly Craft accompanied the tweet with a photo of herself in the U.N. General Assembly Hall where the island is banned. She carried a handbag with a stuffed Taiwan bear sticking out of the top, a gift from Taiwan’s representative in New York, Ambassador James Lee.

Taiwan and China separated amid civil war in 1949 and China says it is determined to bring the island under its control by force if necessary. The U.S. switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, but is legally required to ensure Taiwan can defend itself and the self-governing democratic island enjoys strong bipartisan support in Washington.

Tsai has sought to bolster the island’s defenses with the purchase of billions of dollars in U.S. weapons, including upgraded F-16 fighter jets, armed drones, rocket systems and Harpoon missiles capable of hitting both ships and land targets. She has also boosted support for Taiwan’s indigenous arms industry, including launching a program to build new submarines to counter China’s ever-growing naval capabilities.

China’s increased threats come as economic and political enticements bear little fruit, leading it to stage war games and dispatch fighter jets and reconnaissance planes on an almost daily basis toward the island of 24 million people.