Pakistan’s nuclear rhetoric

There has been vague talk for more than a year of India building a ‘secret nuclear city’ somewhere in South India. This secret city is supposed to have powerful centrifuges and other sophisticated instruments to enhance India’s nuclear stockpile quickly and hugely. Satellites are supposed to have taken photographs of the site. Who originally spread this sensational story is not known but the Pakistani media has been continuously harping on it and using it to divert the world’s attention from its own ambitious nuclear weapons programme. India has denied all rumours of a so-called nuclear city. It is Pakistan which is known to have a nuclear stockpile which is growing fast. Going by the reported rate of Pakistan’s plutonium and highly-enriched uranium production programme, it will be able to add another 200 nuclear warheads in the next ten years. Add to this its estimated present nuclear armoury of 130 to 140 warheads, and in a decade’s time it will have about three hundred and fifty nuclear warheads.
By no stretch of imagination does Pakistan require such a huge nuclear arsenal as a deterrent against the supposed threat from India. Most of Pakistan’s nuclear warheads are low-yield tactical weapons that can be used against an advancing artillery or tank column. What makes the situation potentially far more dangerous is the penetration of jihadi ideas in the military establishment in Pakistan. It is the Pakistan army and the ISI that have been nurturing the jihadi organizations and their leaders. The recent house arrest of JeM chief Masood Azhar by the Pakistan army was an eye-wash according to many Pakistan watchers. China’s unwillingness to ban the JeM chief exposes its collusive role in protecting terrorists and promoting terrorism.
China is also building up its nuclear arsenal quickly but it is targeted against the United States. Pakistan’s by contrast is India-specific. The $54 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor that passes through the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and the China-Pakistan joint development of the Gwadar port are two geo-strategic developments that India cannot but feel concerned about. Pakistan’s fast growing nuclear arsenal and its leaders’ repeated threats to use nuclear weapons against India make the situation extremely dangerous. Pakistani propaganda about India’s ‘secret’ nuclear city has to be seen in the context of the evolving situation. The Beijing-Islamabad axis directed against India is now a reality. India has to have the minimum nuclear deterrent against its two regional adversaries. There cannot be any let up on this score.

Sunday, 12 February, 2017