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Nuclear Arms Race in South Asia

Nuclear Arms Race in South Asia

South Asia is a region locked up in several conflicts and disputes that have resulted in wars between India and Pakistan; the two nuclear neighbours and archrivals. The region is the most volatile and unpredictable security complex. There are several states in it and all of them have different patterns of relations. India, being the most populated country and an economic giant in this region, enjoys dominance and all other states, except Pakistan, formulate their policies as per Indian wishes. Pakistan is the only challenger to India in South Asia.

India and Pakistan are two nuclear powers of South Asia and they share an untrustworthy relationship backed by violent history of three wars, with one war (1971) leading to the dismemberment of Pakistan. The fragile peace in the region made both India and Pakistan to become aspirants for nuclear weapons. India detonated its nuclear device first in 1974 and then in 1998, Pakistan also followed India’s footprints and conducted nuclear tests in 1998. The nuclearization of South Asia explains the action-reaction syndrome at its best. The action taken by India (achievement of nuclear-capable status) not only threatened the peace and stability of the whole South Asia but also had seriously undermined international efforts to abandon arms race.

A factual assessment of South Asia’s situation uncovers that India and Pakistan both are racing to achieve their respective goals; however, the intentions of both are vastly different. Pakistan is aspiring to maintain minimum credible deterrence whereas India is looking for its strengthened status in the region. Since becoming a nuclear state, India had always endeavoured to expand the horizon of its nuclear muscles that presently appear to have extensive Western approval as well. In conventional weaponry, India has an edge over Pakistan and is still working to improve it along with nuclear modernization to promote its objective of becoming a regional hegemonic power.

Nuclear Arms Race in South Asia 2Ex-Indian Army Chief Sundararajan Padmanabhan foresees Indian army in 2020 and says: “The Indian army in 2020 will be an optimally equipped and weaponized force, with the capability to operate effectively in an integrated joint services environment, over the entire spectrum of conflict, in a regional context.” Sea-based strategic capability which India and Pakistan currently lack ensures the effectiveness of Second-Strike Capability, now India is envisioned to acquire it by 2020. Admiral Madhvendra, a former Naval Chief of India says: “Now that India is a declared nuclear weapon state with a ‘No-First-Use’ policy, it is absolutely essential that we put our second strike capability in nuclear submarine as soon as possible.” To meet up its strategic plans India is now expanding massively and is also vigorously adopting new ways to accessorize its military force. Under the shadow of ‘123 Agreement’ with the US, India is developing as well as improving its nuclear warheads. The Agreement enables India to get uninterrupted fuel supply which is for civilian use but the record of India’s clandestine use of civilian purpose technology for nuclear weapons raises concerns.

Nuclear Arms Race in South Asia 1In such a volatile environment where India is doing whatever it wants to do and no one has the authority to check on India rather proponents of arms control are sponsoring this all, then obviously uncontrolled and unmanageable arms race will get its roots deep in the existing peculiar environment. Irrespective of Western media hype and other anti-Pakistan powers who are voicing the miscalculations and propagating Pakistan as a fastest-growing nuclear programme in the world, factual assessment reveals that Indian pursuit for regional hegemony and overwhelming spending on nuclear buildup compelled Pakistan to boost its defence spending.

After the described scenario, Pakistan is left with no choice but to struggle for balancing power equation in the region because its security policy is India-centric. Reality check exposes that it’s India that is instigating nuclear arms race in South Asia and Pakistan is compelled to take measures that can ensure its sovereignty. At present, President Obama’s visit to India in January 2015, and expanding US nuclear cooperation with India would further exacerbate arms race in South Asia. The growing Indo-US nexus in nuclear sphere prompted Pakistan to counter the Indian threat by adopting the policies that would boost and ensure its second strike capability. The nuclear cooperation would definitely trigger an arms race in South Asia, which would ultimately threaten the deterrence stability in the region, and the world at large.

Courtesy: Foreign Policy News

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