A round table briefing with select media personnel was organized by the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) at its premises on January 23, 2017. The objective of the briefing was to give a broad overview of Pakistan’s perspective on the nuclear issues in the region and creating a better technical understanding of the journalist community on these issues. The meeting was chaired by Executive Director CISS Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi and the briefing was given by CISS Senior Research Fellow Mr Syed Mohammad Ali.
In his introductory remarks Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi welcomed the journalists in the meeting and was of the view that there is a strong need for interaction between academia, think tanks and the journalist community so that a better understanding on complex technical and strategic issues can be brought out.Syed Mohammad Ali made the following remarks during his presentation to the journalists:
- It is important to organize these interactive meetings regularly to improve our understanding of nuclear issues. It is not just the military aspect, which is significant and dominant in media narratives, but also diplomatic and political aspects surrounding the nuclear program that should be understood in a comprehensive manner.
- This briefing covers the existing trends in South Asia regarding nuclear developments and what options does Pakistan have to address the challenges.
- History of nuclear technology is old in South Asia. Institutions such as Government College Lahore and Physics Department in Punjab University had an important role to play in supplying technical manpower to work on nuclear development.
- The Indian nuclear program in first decade of independence was steered by Dr Homi Baba. Dr Baba was in constant touch with Congress leader Jawaher Lal Nehru during the 1930s who eventually became India’s Prime Minister. Therefore India was ahead in terms of vision of becoming a nuclear power.
- Pakistan on its part benefitted from US Atoms for Peace program of 1950s. It was a global program in which Pakistani scientists participated. The opportunity was availed of to learn the technical knowhow of nuclear science and those Pakistani scientists became the resource for establishing our nuclear infrastructure.
- India operationalized its reprocessing plant in 1960s and had attained the technical ability to assemble nuclear weapons in 1962.
- India’s goal was to have a nuclear program to attain international stature and prestige. India was also a vocal opponent of the NPT and championed the right of “haves not” of having right to access to nuclear technology.
- On the other hand it must be noted that Pakistan’s objective in pursuing a nuclear weapons program was for self defence and for regional peace. Pakistan had a very bitter experience of the 1971 episode of breakup of the eastern half of country and it increased our determination to start a viable nuclear weapons program.
- Indias nuclear test of 1974 dubbed as “Smiling Budha” further validated Pakistani concerns and increased our determination to pursue nuclear weapons.
- It is important to understand the context of 1998 nuclear tests by India on May 12. Nuclear testing is about testing your capability. India tested its capability and had doubts about Pakistan’s capability. It dubbed Pakistan’s nuclear weapons as a bluff. But Pakistan proved India wrong.
- Nuclear doctrines are also important component of nuclear strategy. It must be understood that Pakistan’s objective is war avoidance, whether small or big, as nuclear weapons are not for war fighting.
- India announced its nuclear doctrine in two public documents. One in 1999 and the other ‘draft doctrine’ in 2003. Pakistani analysts and officials view Indian nuclear doctrine with extreme suspicion and held the view that India’s proclamations could not be trusted. Indian nuclear doctrine also had many contradictions.
- India made the cold start doctrine public in 2004 and it encompassed quick military action inside Pakistan along the international border, holding territory and imposing conditions on Pakistan that it would otherwise won’t accept.
- Pakistani journalist community needs to keep highlighting the danger that Indian hostile military doctrine poses to regional peace and stability. India is contemplating war fighting under a nuclear overhang which will have grave consequences for strategic stability in region.
- The new Indian military leadership has now publically embraced cold start doctrine and has invested many resources in fielding a credible threat on Pakistani borders. The journalists must highlight the dangers of recent deployment of T-90 tanks on Pakistani borders by India.