Indo-Pak Nuclear Rivalry: Need for a Modus Vivendi

-Prithvi Ram Mudiam, University of Hyderabad

 

Historical Backdrop

While Indo-Pak nuclear rivalry has been of relatively recent origin, Indo-Pak political rivalry can be traced back to pre-independence days when the subcontinent was still under colonial domination. The question of relative status between the Hindu majority and Muslim minority has always been an underlying current of the Muslim separatist tendencies in the Indian subcontinent. Muslim separatism and the subsequent demand for Pakistan was essentially a quest for parity on the part of Indian Muslims vis-a-vis Hindus who were numerically in a majority. Sir Syed Ahmad Khan broached this question as early as 1888. "Is it possible that under these circumstances two nations--the Mohammedan and Hindu--could sit on the same throne and remain equal in power? Most certainly not. It is necessary that one of them should conquer the other and thrust it down. To hope that both could remain equal is to desire the impossible and the inconceivable."1

This claim and clamour on the part of the Muslims was based on certain historical grounds, of course, as seen by the Muslims themselves. First, the Muslims conquered India from the Hindus despite the latter's numerical superiority. So, minority status which would have implied permanent political subordination and inferiority vis-a-vis the Hindus was not acceptable. As Sisir Gupta observes, "It ought to be remembered that the demand for Pakistan and the two-nation theory was advanced by the Muslim League as a culmination of its demand for parity, essentially parity of status between the 25 per cent Muslims and the rest in India. It is because of the impossibility of solving the status problem in terms of majority and minority, which almost by definition determines the status of the two groups, that the two-nation theory was advanced."2

Secondly, since the English conquered India from the Muslims, it was incumbent upon the former to ensure that the Muslims got an equal share of the power which would befit and be commensurate with their status as the erstwhile rulers of India. Krishna Menon explains: "Their (Pakistani) minds work in this way--that it was from the Mughals that the British took over. Now, the British having gone, they must come back."3

Thus, the partition of India on the basis of religion did not solve the problem of relative status of the two communities but only institutionalised it. As Keith Callard points out. "Many political leaders and most of the articulate section of the population (in Pakistan) have reacted with emotional intensity to any suggestion of Indian superiority in any field. This was probably the inevitable consequence of the years before partition." And he goes on to add. "Their attitude is rather one of intense rivalry to the point of bitter jealousy."4

Another factor that complicates Indo-Pak relations is the divergent ideological foundations of the two states. While India proclaimed itself as a liberal secular state, Pakistan declared itself to be an Islamic country. In a nutshell, the two states represented irreconciliable ideological conflict between secularism and theocracy. Prima facie, each country has a vested interest in the collapse of the other. If India's secularism is successful, given its large Muslim minority even after partition, the raison d'etre for the very creation of Pakistan is undermined. Further fragmentation of Pakistan along regional or linguistic lines would also dilute the two-nation theory. On the other hand, if India's experiment with secularism fails, it would only validate and strengthen the two-nation theory. In other words, if secular nationalism is an essential prerequisite for the survival of India's unity and integrity, religion is an inseparable part of Pakistani nationalism. This ideological antagonism would remain more or less a permanent feature in Indo-Pak relations.5 Moreover, the bloodbath that accompanied partition and the mass exodus that took place across the border in both directions made it almost impossible to establish normal relations between the two countries.

The Kashmir issue6 which closely followed on the heels of partition, more or less symbolised the underlying conflict between the two countries and buried any hopes of rapprochement in the foreseeable future. At the time of Indian independence, the princely states which enjoyed nominal independence under the British rule, were given the freedom of choice to join either India to Pakistan or remain independent. However, problems arose only in relation to three princely states, namely, Junagadh, Hyderabad and Kashmir. In the case of Junagadh and Hyderabad, though the rulers were Muslim, both the states were predominantly Hindu and neither had geographical contiguity with Pakistan. Hence, their accession to India, though causing tension and acrimony, did not poison Indo-Pak relations as Kashmir did.

The case of Kashmir was unique. It was the only princely state which was geographically contiguous to both India and Pakistan and had a Muslim majority with a Hindu ruler. The situation was further complicated by the existence of a popular movement. The National Conference, led by Sheikh Abdullah fought the autocratic and oppressive Dogra ruler Hari Singh for decades. Sheikh Abdullah was a secular nationalist who refused to subscribe to the two-nation theory of Jinnah and was a close associate of Nehru and a sympathiser with the goals and values of the Indian National Congress.7

Hari Singh, who initially toyed with the idea of independence, sought to buy time by signing a "Standstill Agreement" with both India and Pakistan. While Pakistan agreed to the proposal, there was no response from the Indian government because there was a delay in communicating the proposal. According to Mountbatten, it was this initial reluctance of Hari Singh to accede either to India or to Pakistan that lay at the root of the problem of Kashmir as it unfolded later.

Suspicious of India's intentions and not trusting Sheikh Abdullah, Pakistani leaders tried to force the events by encouraging if not abetting a tribal invasion of Kashmir.8 When the tribesmen were knocking on the doors of Srinagar, Hari Singh panicked and sought India's military assistance. India insisted on formal accession before any help could be rendered and Hari Singh had little choice but to sign on the dotted line, though the accession was to be later confirmed by a plebiscite after law and order had been restored in the state. Indian troops, which were air-lifted to Srinagar saved the city in the nick of time, and cleared three-fourths of Kashmir of raiders9 before Nehru sought the UN arbitration to settle the dispute, primarily at the instance of Mountbatten, a decision which he regretted later.

The battle over Kashmir was as much ideological as it was over material gains in teams of security and economic advantage. As Josef Korbel sums up. "The real cause of all the bitterness and bloodshed, the recalcitrance and the suspicion that have characterised the Kashmir dispute is the uncompromising and perhaps uncompromisable struggle of two ways of life, two concepts of political organisation, two scales of values, two spiritual attitudes, that find themselves locked in deadly conflict, a conflict in which Kashmir has become both symbol and battleground."

It should, therefore, be borne in mind that the Indo-Pak nuclear rivalry, to all intents and purposes, is an extension of the age-old Indo-Pak political rivalry, though it does add a new and more ominous dimension to it.10

Pakistan's Nuclear Quest: Concerns, Calculations and Compulsions

Pakistan's quest for nuclear technology began in 1953 with the establishment of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Committee which was soon upgraded to an Atomic Energy Commission primarily in response to India's expanding interest and activities in relation to nuclear technology. However, Pakistan's nuclear programme moved at a snail's pace until it came under the influence of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.11

Bhutto himself referred to the crucial role that he played in the development of Pakistan's nuclear programme from his death cell in 1979. "I have been actively associated with the nuclear programme of Pakistan from October 1958 to July 1977, a span of nineteen years. I was concerned directly with the subject as Foreign Minister, as Minister for Fuel, Power and Natural Resources and as Minister in charge of Atomic Energy. When I took charge of Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission, it was no more than a signboard of an office. It was only a name. Assiduously and with great determination, I put my entire vitality behind the task of acquiring nuclear capability for my country." And he went on to add, "Due to my singular efforts, Pakistan acquired the infra-structure and the potential of nuclear capability."12

However, Bhutto's nuclear ambitions for Pakistan could be traced back to a much earlier period. Addressing the National Assembly of Pakistan in 1965, Bhutto asserted: "If India builds the bomb, we will eat grass and leaves, even go hungry. But we will get one of our own, we have no alternative."13

Bhutto's zeal for nuclear capability for Pakistan, apart from rivalry with India and security considerations, seemed to have a technological dimension as well. In his book The Myth of Independence, he argues: "India is unlikely to concede nuclear monopoly to others and, judging from her own nuclear programme and her diplomatic activities...it appears that she is determined to proceed with her plans to detonate a nuclear bomb. If Pakistan restricts or suspends her nuclear programme, it would not only enable India to blackmail Pakistan with her nuclear advantage, but would impose a crippling limitation on the development of Pakistan's science and technology."14

Bhutto took over a dismembered and distraught Pakistan in December 1971 following the crisis in East Pakistan and the subsequent Indian military intervention which gave birth to Bangladesh. It was probably this humiliating defeat that crystallised Bhutto's thinking on the nuclear issue and set him irreversibly on the course to nuclear capability.

According to Bhutto's former Press Secretary, Khaled Hasan, Bhutto convened a meeting of Pakistan's top scientists in Multan in January 1972, one month after he took over as President. He reminded the gathering of Pakistan's humiliating defeat a month earlier at the Indian hands and his determination to see Pakistan acquire nuclear capability.15 Soon after, Bhutto took personal political charge of Pakistan's Atomic Energy Commission. In 1973, talks were initiated with France for setting up a reprocessing plant at Chasma near Rawalpindi. Thus, Pakistan's quest for nuclear capability started in earnest well before India's nuclear test.

India's nuclear explosion (technically called an implosion for the test was conducted underground and the radioactive fallout was contained) on May 18, 1974, at Pokhran in Rajasthan, not far from the Pakistani border, however, proved to be a mixed blessing for Pakistan. It acted as a spur and a convenient excuse for Pakistan to accelerate its own nuclear programme and justify it to its own people. On the other hand, it made it much more difficult for Pakistan to obtain external assistance in relation to both nuclear technology and materials because Western countries, following India's nuclear test, tightened the laws concerning nuclear proliferation considerably and kept a close watch on nuclear threshold states.

Pakistan, which started negotiating with France in 1973 to buy a plutonium-reprocessing plant, despite American pressures not to do so, signed a deal for the same in 1976. However, France backed out of the deal in 1978 under American pressure. While negotiations were going on with France, Pakistan thought it unwise to put all its nuclear eggs in one basket. Hence, as an alternative strategy, a determined bid was made to pursue the uranium-enrichment path to nuclear capability which culminated in the establishment of the Kahuta plant in which Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, popularly known as the father of the "Islamic bomb" is said to have played a vital role.16

Bhutto's political reaction to India's nuclear explosion was also uncompromising and defiant. He told a Press conference in Lahore on May 19, 1974: "Pakistan would never succumb to nuclear blackmail by India. The people of Pakistan would never accept Indian hegemony or domination in the subcontinent. Neither would it compromise its position on the right of the people of Kashmir to decide their own future."17

Pakistan also tried to use India's nuclear test to its advantage in other ways as well. Bhutto warned the US that unless it lifted its embargo on arms sales to Pakistan, Islamabad would be forced to match India's nuclear capability. In the event, the US did lift its arms embargo on Pakistan, if only partially. Pakistan also suggested an Indo-Israeli collaboration in the nuclear test conducted by India18 in order to rouse the feelings of the West Asian nations (to whom Pakistan was moving closer politically) against India's nuclear test and probably also as a ploy to attract West Asian petro-dollars to assist Pakistan's own nuclear effort.

It was Bhutto's own reference to the "Islamic" nature of the Pakistani bomb in his testimony from his death cell that added a new and ominous dimension to the Pakistani nuclear programme. "The Christian, Jewish and Hindu civilisations have this capability. Only the Islamic civilisation was without it, but that position was about to change."19 While there is no conclusive evidence to establish a definite link between Pakistan's nuclear programme and the West Asian petro-dollars, there is sufficient circumstantial evidence not to brush aside such reports lightly. For instance, there were persistent reports that Libya was underwriting Pakistan's purchase of uranium from Niger.20 There were also reports of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Turkey assisting Pakistan's nuclear activities.21

Be that as it may, the Pakistani professions of commitment to peaceful uses of nuclear technology started sounding rather hollow following a series of incidents in the Eighties. In 1984, Nazir Vaid, a Pakistani national was caught trying to smuggle 50 electronic switches out of the US which could be used for detonating nuclear bombs, and was deported.22 At about the same time, Pakistan tried to purchase high-speed industrial cameras from the West which could be used for designing the conventional explosive trigger of a nuclear bomb.23 Again, in July 1987, one Arshad Pervez was arrested in Philadelphia (USA) on charges of trying to smuggle maraging steel to Pakistan which could be used in the rotors of centrifuges.24

In an interview with an Indian journalist, Kuldip Nayar, in early 1987, Dr Khan confirmed that Pakistan did possess nuclear capability.25 "What the CIA has been saying about our possessing the bomb is correct and so is the speculation of some foreign newspapers."26 More importantly, Dr Khan was quite outspoken about the implications of the Pak bomb for India. "Nobody can undo Pakistan or take us for granted. We are here to stay and let it be clear that we shall use the bomb if our existence is threatened." He went on to add, "I personally think that the only way to stop nuclear warfare between us (India and Pakistan) is to come to an agreement."27 Hinting at the futility of any Indian attack on Kahuta, Dr Khan asserted, "India knows what price it would have to pay for attacking Kahuta. In any case, the plant is well protected and we have not put our eggs in one basket."28

Though Dr Khan vehemently denied giving the interview later, the timing of the interview was of utmost significance. The Pakistanis knew that the real worth of nuclear weapons was their "deterrence value" not their "use value." The interview came at a time when the Indian Army was conducting a massive military exercise called "Operation Brasstacks" close to the Pakistani border and there was persistent speculation of a pre-emptive strike on Kahuta either by India alone or in collaboration with Israel. It was also probably a hint to the Americans not to link the nuclear issue with the American aid package to Pakistan by presenting the Americans with a nuclear fait accompli.

India's Nuclear Quest: Concerns, Calculations and Compulsions

Now let us examine India's possible response to the Pakistani bomb in the context of India's own nuclear policies and ambitions. It is obvious that India sees in technology the means to achieve economic progress and military might which would revive India's political fortune and enable it to deal with the developed countries on equal terms and possibly from a position of strength.

Nehru was acutely conscious of this when he observed in 1948, "Consider the past four hundred years of history, the world developed a new source of power, that is steam--the steam engine and the like--and the industrial age came in. India with all her many virtues did not develop that source of power. It became a backward country in that sense; it became a slave country because of that...now we are facing the atomic age; we are on the verge of it...if we are to remain abreast in the world as a nation which keeps ahead of things, we must develop this atomic energy..."29

Nehru was also aware of India's potential strength and hence it was all the more important for her to take the lead in science and technology. "If we do not set about it now, taking advantage of the processes that go towards the making of atomic energy...we will be left behind...That is not good enough for any country, least of all a country with the vast potential and strength that India possesses."30

It goes without saying that India's nuclear and space programmes are amongst the most sophisticated, advanced and comprehensive in the world and are designed for, and capable of, meeting India's civilian and military needs simultaneously.31 In view of India's nuclear capabilities as demonstrated by the peaceful nuclear explosion (PNE) at Pokhran in 1974 and the simultaneous development of rocket technology which would provide India, if it so desired, with the required delivery systems, the inevitable question that arises is whether India would exercise its nuclear option and cross the nuclear threshold or would it persist with its current policy of voluntary nuclear abstention.

In trying to answer this question, first we must examine the basic attitude of India's political leadership to the issue of application and adaptation of science for military purposes. From the very beginning, the Indian leaders have not been either innocent of, or averse to, the idea of military applications of science. Nehru made this quite clear as far back as 1946. "As long as the world is constituted as it is, every country will have to devise and use the latest scientific device for its protection. I have no doubt India will develop her scientific researches and I hope Indian scientists will use the atomic force for constructive purposes. But if India is threatened, she will inevitably try to defend herself by all means at her disposal."32

He, more or less, reiterated this position while participating in the Constituent Assembly Debates in 1948: "Indeed, I think we must develop it (nuclear technology) for peaceful purposes...of course, if we are compelled as a nation to use it for other purposes, possibly no pious sentiments of any of us will stop the nation from using it that way."33

Thus, the Indian leaders, since independence, despite their pacifist and peaceful professions, have been aware of the military potential of scientific knowledge and had no qualms about making use of it if the situation demanded it.34 It must also be borne in mind that India's nuclear development, in general terms, has been independent of China's or much later of Pakistan's nuclear threat. India's quest for nuclear technology began, in earnest, in 1948 when neither China nor Pakistan were factors in India's nuclear calculations. Moreover, India has had serious disagreements with the superpowers on the question of instituting international controls on the nuclear programmes of developing countries. "India...viewed international controls in atomic energy as downright dangerous and discriminatory, and as a form of economic and technological colonialism."35

Thus, India's nuclear outlook has been that of a potential great power which is capable of, and determined to, follow an independent path in terms of its own national interests and perceptions in defiance of objections from other great powers. While China and Pakistan continue to influence India's nuclear policy, they have never been fundamental to it, though they could serve as convenient excuses when India decides to go nuclear.

Secondly, the probable answer to this question must also be discussed in the context of the two major objectives that underlie and govern all of India's foreign policy endeavours, namely, the attainment of great power status and the security of the nation.

It has been India's endeavour since independence to emerge as an independent and autonomous centre of power, an objective which it pursued with tenacity and relentlessness despite occasional setbacks and pitfalls. "The fact is that there has been a consistency in India's policies of national centralisation and unification since independence, as well as a foreign policy that has been global in its objectives. Criticism from outsiders has not deflected India from its recognition of itself as a major nation that has achieved great power status."36

"Indeed, the most precious element in the concept of non-alignment has been the instinctive affirmation of India's will to be genuinely independent and a source of influence in her own right. If this is the role that India wills to play, it is inevitable that she must strive to possess defensive military power, including limited nuclear capability, so that her image is not blurred by her vulnerability. It may sound strange to some, but it is true that limited nuclear armament has now become an inescapable requirement for the preservation of our real independence which constitutes the core of our nonalignment."37

This leads us to the crucial and related question of security which has been a dominant theme of India's external posture ever since independence. Simply put, the question is, can India remain non-aligned and non-nuclear and still cope with the security threat? The answer, at least, in the long run seems to be an emphatic no.

Let us now consider the options that are open to India if it chooses to remain non-nuclear. First, India can abandon its non-alignment and seek nuclear guarantees from the superpower of its choice? Given India's experience in the matter in the 1960s, this is easier said than done. Moreover, nuclear guarantees obtained even after a formal alignment have not been considered particularly effective or reliable by the Indians. To quote Mrs Gandhi, "In the final analysis...the effectiveness of a nuclear shield would depend not on the spirit in which protected powers accepted it, but on the vital and national interests of the giver."38

Abandonment of non-alignment, may also prove to be too high a price for such unreliable nuclear guarantees. As we have already seen, non-alignment is fundamental to India's foreign policy. It is both a strategy and an outlook. It is the essence of India's existence and continuance as an independent and autonomous entity and its abandonment would simply mean that India could not and would not go it alone.

Giving up non-alignment may also have serious internal repercussions for India. The internal stimulus for non-alignment is much more important than the external one. This explains the survival and strengthening of non-alignment despite an abatement in the Cold War. The delicate internal balance which has been so assiduously built over the years on foreign policy issues in India may disappear, giving room for significant internal bickering and strife which India can certainly do without.

If an aligned India is unlikely to get credible nuclear guarantees, there is little reason to believe that a non-aligned India would be able to do so. Hence, the logic of non-alignment inevitably leads India on the path of the development of nuclear weapons. If India were to achieve a credible nuclear deterrent, it would only strengthen and give substance and credence to its non-alignment. No credible nuclear umbrella would be provided to a non-aligned India. Nor can India's misgivings about being provided a credible nuclear shield even after alignment be brushed aside lightly. Thus, alignment and development of nuclear weapons appear, at least in the long run, to be mutually exclusive options for India. As Mrs Gandhi made clear in 1967, "We for our part may find ourselves having to take a nuclear decision at any moment and it is, therefore, not possible for us to tie our hands."39

In other words, "In a wider framework, India's national role conceptions are those of a big state. They seek symbolic, universalist, and pragmatic gains. The search for independent political and military power is an inevitable concomitant of such societal self-images."40

The Nuclear Stand-Off in the Subcontinent: The Way Out

While India has been justifiably concerned about Pakistan's nuclear programme, it is difficult for India to be self-righteous about it. India cannot deny to Pakistan what it claims to be within its own right to pursue.

It goes without saying that both Pakistan and India have strong motives for going nuclear. India's overwhelming superiority in conventional forces, its existing nuclear lead and Pakistan's lack of strategic depth make the nuclear option very attractive for Pakistan. Prestige and technological and economic spinoffs are other but less important considerations.

India's perception of herself as a potentially great power and her commitment to non-alignment make it almost imperative for her to go nuclear at least in the long run. While China's nuclear capability will always be a long-term strategic concern for India, Pakistan's nuclear ambitions are of much more immediate concern. Pakistan's nuclear capability can neutralise India's conventional superiority and cut into India's regional ambitions. Consequently, "Acquisition of nuclear weapons by either party mandates their possession by the other, both for deterrence and the prevention of a decisive asymmetry."41

Destroying Pakistan's nuclear installations does not seem to be a viable and realistic option for India anymore, if at all it ever was. Pakistan's nuclear programme is too advanced and diversified for such an attack to be really successful. Moreover, as one analyst pointed out, any such attempt would be "criminally stupid"42 for Pakistan can retaliate by attacking India's nuclear installations. Besides, Pakistan being long and narrow in geographical terms, there is a definite chance that the possible radioactive fallout of any such attack could affect India as well. Such an attack could also seriously impair India's relations with the Middle Eastern countries and probably China.

Moreover, nuclear proliferation in South Asia might undermine confidence in the non-proliferation regime and the will of the nuclear powers to maintain it. Given the strategic linkage between South Asia and West Asia, it can suck in certain West Asian states, particularly Israel, into the equation with unpredictable consequences. Alternatively, "The competition between Pakistan and India for political and economic advantages in the Middle East...creates powerful albeit shortsighted temptations to use nuclear leverage in more substantial ways."43

More importantly, the nuclearisation of the South Asian sub-system, given certain features which are peculiar to it and which have no precedence in the post-nuclear international system, may have graver implications for regional and even global security than most people think. The complacency that seemed to have set in in the international system about nuclear proliferation following the near nuclear paralysis that seemed to have enveloped the earlier nuclear powers does not seem to take into account the uniqueness of Indo-Pak nuclear rivalry. Generally speaking, the powers which acquired nuclear weapons earlier were internally stable and never faced a threat to their existence. Given their relatively low levels of political integration and social cohesion, both India and Pakistan do perceive real threats to their national unity and integrity which have had an external dimension in the past.

It is quite possible that in the light of the past history of the subcontinent either could and may play a covert or overt role in undermining the integrity of the other (as India did in the then East Pakistan in 1971 or Pakistan has been trying to do in Kashmir from the beginning and in Punjab since the early Eighties) if an opportunity presents itself in the future. It is this possibility which makes a nuclear war more likely in the subcontinent than it has ever been anywhere else for this may involve the very existence and survival of the states in question. When a state with nuclear capability is threatened with extinction, a prospect which is unprecedented in the post-nuclear international system, it is rather rash and dangerous to assume that it would refrain from using all the means at its disposal, including nuclear weapons, for self-preservation.

So, what is the way out? Since both countries seem to have acquired the capability to make the bomb, it is simply not possible for either to disinvent it. However, this need not necessarily mean that a ruinous nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan would logically and inevitably have to follow. The fact that both India and Pakistan possess nuclear capability may have a sobering effect on the political leadership of both the countries and may act as an inducement for political rapprochement and accommodation, if only the leaders on both sides of the border display the necessary political will and sagacity.

The acquisition of nuclear capability could provide Pakistan with a sense of psychological security against the perceived threat from India which has haunted it ever since its birth and also let it get over the trauma of the dismemberment it suffered in 1971. This feeling of relative security may help the Pakistani leadership to tone down its anti-Indian rhetoric which it hitherto considered as the most effective glue which could hold Pakistan together and encourage it to seek political accommodation with India. More importantly, the possession of nuclear capability by Pakistan could, in the long run, downgrade the centrality of the armed forces in its political system as the ultimate saviour of the country and enhance the prestige, power and leverage of the civilian political leadership vis-a-vis the armed forces. This would admirably suit the political preferences of the Indian leadership which always displayed lack of trust in the Generals who ruled Pakistan for the greater part of its existence and was wary of dealing with them.

Thus, given the necessary political wisdom and will, India and Pakistan could come to some sort of modus vivendi which would spare the region the many apocalyptic predictions that have been made in relation to a possible nuclear holocaust in the region. However, the acceptance of political status quo between the two countries by both India and Pakistan alone could be the basis of such modus vivendi.

The Kashmir issue is often cited as a stumbling block to any such possibility. However, this need not be so. Pakistan never had a military option vis-a-vis Kashmir in spite of the diplomatic and military assistance it received from the West in general and the US in particular. The 1965 war proved this beyond all doubt to all the parties concerned. When there was widespread and virulent criticism in Pakistan that the Tashkent Agreement, which was signed under the Soviet auspices in the aftermath of the 1965 Indo-Pak war over Kashmir, was a sell-out to India because it did not provide for the return of Kashmir Valley to Pakistan, the then President of Pakistan Ayub Khan reportedly told a Pakistani writer in private, "We could not win Kashmir on the battlefield; how could we do that on the conference table?"44

The 1971 Indo-Pak war and the emergence of Bangladesh not only established India as the most powerful country in South Asia but also persuaded the most prominent to obtain from their respective patrons in the earlier days of the Cold War. Consequently, both India and Pakistan need to reorient their bilateral relations in the context of the rapidly changing international political and strategic scenario.

As has already been pointed out, Indo-Pak nuclear rivalry is but an extension of Indo-Pak political rivalry and hence any agreement on the nuclear issue should of necessity be part of a larger political understanding and accommodation between the two countries and not vice versa. This is all the more important and urgent in the context of both countries' determination not to sign either the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) or the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). India and Pakistan, instead of trying to embarrass and blame each other for the nuclear stand-off in the subcontinent, ought to exercise greater political maturity and balance than they have hitherto exhibited on the nuclear issue in their own larger interests. Both countries have a plausible case to keep the nuclear option open at the least and the mutual rancour and sniping will only diminish their political will and stamina to resist outside pressures on the issue to their great disadvantage. In other words, India and Pakistan must not undermine their respective bargaining power on the nuclear issue, which is of utmost importance to both, in futile mutual hostility and acrimony which can only be self-defeating in the long run.

Thus, given the necessary political wisdom and vision, the possession of nuclear capability by both India and Pakistan, instead of setting in motion an economically ruinous arms race between the two countries, could eliminate both conventional and nuclear conflict between them and initiate a process of negotiation as the only feasible way of settling bilateral disputes. The recent agreement between the two countries not to attack each other's nuclear installations needs to be seen as the necessary first step in this direction.

 

NOTES

1. Cited by Keith Callard, Pakistan: A Political Study, (London: Allen and Unwin, 1957), p. 11.

2. Sisir Gupta, "Indo-Pakistan Relations" in M.S. Rajan and S. Ganguly, eds., India and the International System, (New Delhi: Vikas), p. 226.

3. Michael Brecher, India and World Politics: Krishna Menon's View of the World, (London: Oxford University Press, 1968), pp. 170-171.

4. Callard, n. 1, pp. 63-65, 304 and 313.

5. Brecher, n. 3, p. 198.

6. For a comprehensive study of the origins of the Kashmir problem see Josef Korbel, Danger in Kashmir, (New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1954), Korbel was a member of the UN Commission on India and Pakistan (UNCIP) and had first hand knowledge of the problem.

Also, Michael Brecher, The Struggle for Kashmir, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1953).

A. Campbell-Johnson, Mission with Mountbatten, (Connecticut: Greenwood Press, Westport, 1977).

7. For further elaboration of this point, see. M.J. Akbar, The Siege Within (London: Penguin, 1985).

8. S. Gopal, Jawaharlal Nehru, Vol. II, (London: Jonathan Cape, 1979), p. 18.

9. For a detailed account of the military operations in Kashmir, see Lt Gen L.P. Sen, Slender was the Thread, (New Delhi: Orient Longmans, 1969), Major S.K. Sinha, Operation Rescue, (New Delhi: Vision Books, 1977). For a Pakistani viewpoint, see Maj. Gen. Akbar Khan, Raiders in Kashmir, (Karachi: Pak Publishers, 1970).

10. Josef Korbel, n. 6, p. 25. See also Brecher, pp. 51-54.

11. For an account of Pakistan's nuclear activities before Bhutto, see Shyam Bhatia, Nuclear Rivals in the Middle East, (London: Routledge, 1988), pp. 88-91.

12. Z.A. Bhutto, If I Am Assassinated, (New Delhi: Vikas, 1979), p. 137.

13. Dawn, November 21, 1965.

14. Z.A. Bhutto, The Myth of Independence, (London: Oxford University Press, 1969), p. 153.

15. Shyam Bhatia, n. 11, pp. 94-95.

16. Sreedhar, ed., Dr. A.Q. Khan on Pakistan's Bomb, (New Delhi: ABC Publishing House, 1987), pp. 9-13.

17. Dawn, May 20, 1974.

18. Dawn, June 25, 1974.

19. Z.A. Bhutto, n. 12, p. 138.

20. The Sunday Times, November 25, 1979.

21. Sreedhar, Pakistan's Bomb: A Documentary Study, (New Delhi: ABC Publishing House, 1987), pp. xiii-xv).

22. The Daily Telegraph, July 12, 1985.

23. The Financial Times, October 29, 1986.

24. Shyam Bhatia, n. 11, p. 105.

25. For the text of the interview see Sreedhar, n. 16, pp. 151-155.

26. Ibid., p. 151.

27. Ibid., p. 155.

28. Ibid., p. 154.

29. India: Constituent Assembly Debates, Vol. 15, 2nd Session, April 6, 1948, pp. 3326-38.

30. Ibid., p. 3315.

31. For a detailed study of India's nuclear and space programmes see, India 1985: A Reference Annual, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India, New Delhi, 1986, pp. 106-116 and also Onkar Marwah, "National Security and Military Policy in India" in Lawrence Ziring, ed., The Subcontinent in World Politics, (New York: Praeger, 1982), pp. 88-90.

32. Dorothy Norman ed., Nehru: The First 60 Years, (London: Bodley Head, 1965), p. 186.

33. n. 29, pp. 3326-38.

34. See Mohammed B. Alam, India's Nuclear Policy, (New Delhi: Mittal Publications, 1988), pp. 7-48.

35. M.J. Sullivan, "Indian Attitudes on International Atomic Energy Controls," Pacific Affairs, vol. 43, no. 3, Fall 1970, p. 354.

36. Stephen P. Cohen and Richard L. Park, India: Emergent Power? (New York: Crane Russak, 1978), p. 5.

37. Raj Krishna, "A Need for Nuclear Arms," in Paul F. Power, ed., India's Nonalignment Policy, (Boston: Heath and Co., 1967), p. 53.

38. Asian Recorder, July 30-August 5, 1967, p. 7833.

39. The Hindu, May 6, 1967. For a detailed discussion of India's rather futile search for a nuclear guarantee following the Chinese nuclear explosion, see A.G. Noorani, "India's Quest for a Nuclear Guarantee" Asian Survey, vol. VII, no. 7, July 1967, pp. 490-502.

40. Onkar Marwah, n. 31, p. 93.

41. Jed C. Cnyder and Samuel F. Wells Jr. eds., Limiting Nuclear Proliferation, (Massachusets: Ballinger, 1985), p. 74.

42. K. Subrahmanyam quoted in India Today, March 31, 1987, p. 75.

43. Rodney W. Jones, Nuclear Proliferation: Islam, the Bomb, and South Asia, (Beverly Hills: Sage Publications, Beverly Hills, 1981), p. 53.

44. Cited by S.M. Burke, Mainsprings of Indian and Pakistani Foreign Policies, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1974), p. 191.