‘Nuclear deterrence remained intact during Pulwama crisis’

Brig Zahir Kazmi, Mr Kamran Akhtar and our worthy friends from media. Welcome to Islamabad Policy Institute’s Lecture Series – this one being exclusively organized for media.

I wish to offer my gratitude to all of you for taking time out of your busy schedules and gracing the occasion with your presence.

This month we observed 21 years of “overt” nuclearization of South Asia. Nuclear tests by India and Pakistan in May 1998 brought nuclear deterrence in conflict ridden South Asia into full play. The deterrence to a great extent helped in preventing large scale hostilities between India and Pakistan.

Three aspects of Pakistan’s nuclear program are noteworthy. First, the nuclear factor was injected in South Asia by India, and Pakistan only responded to this new threat by following suit.  While the motivation of India’s nuclear program is seeking a status, primarily because of its ‘great power’ aspirations, Pakistan’s nuclear program stems from security, more so following its tragic experience in 1971.  Second, the nuclear program is specific to security concerns in South Asia viz-a-viz India, notwithstanding baseless propaganda about the so-called greater ambitions.  Pakistan’s nuclear program is defensive and reactive in nature solely to provide a minimum credible deterrence to preserve peace and regional security via a stable balance of power in South Asia.

Third, since 2000 Pakistan has a very transparent and publicly well-defined system of command and control which is under the direction of an elected civilian government. Pakistan’s track record of nuclear safety and security is impeccable and has been recognized as such even by its detractors and critics.

Pakistan is, however, unfortunately a victim of the global non-proliferation politics.

These were some of my general observations about Pakistan’s nuclear program, which often remains in media spotlight. We have two eminent speakers today, who would talk about the program and its associated aspects in detail. They will try to answer your queries.

At the end, I would like to announce that Islamabad Policy Institute would Insha Allah soon publish a handbook for media persons on nuclear issues. We believe that it may be helpful for some of your younger colleagues in understanding the complicated issues related to the nuclear field and reporting on them.

The objective of the initiative is to enhance the understanding of our upcoming journalists.

Thanking you once again for being here with us today.

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