There is a sinister security threat facing India that is insufficiently noticed. It emanates from the frequent terrorist attacks successfully penetrating high security locations of Pakistan’s military establishment. It is a matter of time before similar terrorist penetration might occur in Pakistan’s nuclear facilities. If that happens, India will be the prime target for a nuclear attack. Even if there is a nuclear explosion inside Pakistan, the radiation fallout could seriously damage India. The problem therefore cannot any longer be swept under the carpet.
The BJP has demanded steps by the world powers to denuclearize Pakistan. The Congress has criticized the BJP for raising this sensitive issue through the media. Is Congress privy to steps by foreign powers to address the problem and therefore would not like to publicize the issue? If indeed the UPA government is seized of the problem and is silently contemplating steps to address it; should not all opposition parties be taken into confidence? Hypothetically, if the western powers after obtaining sanction from the UN were to forcibly neutralize Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, would that be a satisfactory response? I believe not. The risk of minimal retaliation by Pakistan cannot be dismissed. The brunt of the danger from a desperate nuclear reprisal by Pakistan would have to be borne by India. And quite frankly, the US and other western powers inspire little confidence about devising a foolproof method of defusing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
The threat from uncontrolled nuclear weapons in Pakistan is heightened by the Pakistani mindset in a state of denial and teeming with conspiracy theories. Pakistan’s Dawn columnist, Mr. Ejaz Haider, in a recent article insinuated that America and India might have indirectly fomented the recent terrorist attack on the Mehran naval base in Karachi. Mr. Haider’s reasoning is based on his assumption that America and India are beneficiaries of the terrorist attack on the Mehran case. This just goes to show how far removed from reality are even enlightened Pakistani analysts. To think that successful terrorist attacks against the Pakistan military establishment please India is the height of absurdity. Such attacks make India and the rest of the world sweat from fear that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons might fall into terrorist hands. That the Pakistanis seem oblivious of this imminent threat indicates how urgent the crisis is.
Instead of forcible denuclearization of Pakistan prone to accident there is a radical non-violent alternative that might be considered. India can offer jointly with Pakistan to denuclearize its weapons in a two-phase plan. In the first phase both nations could allow representatives from the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to our nuclear installations to ensure their security. In the second phase both nations could allow the world bodies to destroy our nuclear arsenals after all nuclear nations are made to accept a concrete time bound plan to achieve total nuclear disarmament in the world. This is what Rajiv Gandhi had proposed to the UN. This is what a terrorism-infected world needs for its safety. The challenge is to devise a practical nuclear disarmament plan that makes the UN sole custodian of all nuclear weapons allowed to survive in the world.
Many decades ago America’s renowned military analyst General Maxwell Taylor wrote The Uncertain Trumpet. He proved how ineffective nuclear weapons were for actual deterrence. The use of nuclear weapons in war might be contemplated only in a situation demanding total mutual destruction. If India wants security it must create an infantry trained citizen army that renders foreign occupation of any Indian territory impossible.
This proposal might appear quite crazy and utopian today. How would it appear if there did take place some time in the future a terrorist nuclear attack in South Asia? If Pakistan considers this proposal unacceptable we might even request Islamabad to let the Chinese safeguard their nuclear arsenal after giving a public guarantee to the world that the weapons would not fall into the wrong hands. After all Pakistan trusts China and apparently is yearning to be its colony. Beijing also should not mind guarding nuclear weapons that it helped to create. An official assurance by Beijing would inspire much greater confidence than anything uttered by Islamabad. If Pakistan cannot accept any such offer it should not be surprised by a future pre-emptive strike by the West. The situation is too dangerous.