Credible nuclear deterrence and doctrine for Pakistan
by
M. N. Shaikh
University of Calgary, Alberta, Canada

 
Pakistan and India since May 11/28, 1998 have come into the atomic age, despite their status as non-weapon states under the NPT regime. There should be no doubt about this fact. In fact, the sooner this fact is realized and absorbed by both these countries and their leadership as well as the five members of the nuclear club, the better it is for all concerned individuals and states. Despite my advice, and a minority of other Pakistani origin academics that also urged the Pakistani leadership not to go nuclear, Pakistan, however, decided to match India at the nuclear level for a variety of reasons.

The nuclear genie has been unleashed; it can not be bottled back. Therefore, it is better to weaponise the respective nuclear detonations and deploy nuclear weapons with complete Command, Control, Communication, and Intelligence (C3I) systems in place for a stable nuclear deterrence between the two rival states of South Asia. This nuclear factor is needed not so much as a peace maker, which is a misnomer, but more so for pure deterrence reasons. It guarantees against misadventure by any side. Now the need of the hour is to create a credible nuclear deterrence between India and Pakistan as well as to adopt a sound nuclear doctrine for Pakistanís armed forces. In order to stabilize the nuclear situation of the subcontinent, these countries must take a number of political, strategic, diplomatic, and tactical steps simultaneously. On the political and diplomatic front, there is a need to take a number of policy initiatives on the part of Pakistan.

First, Pakistan must immediately reassure the international community that Pakistani nuclear weapons are not for sale. This seems to have been done by both the Prime Minister and even more categorically by Pakistanís top foreign affairs bureaucrat, S.A. Khan.  Second, Pakistan has already offered to sit down with India to discuss  confidence building measures and the Kashmir affair. However, there should be a clear timeline, letís say by the end of 1999, to resolve this issue bilaterally. In case of a deadlock, which is bound to happen, the case should be submitted automatically to the UN with reference to its resolutions to ask Kashmiris to accede to either India or Pakistan as the logical and fair culmination of the unfinished business of the partition of the subcontinent. Including a third choice at this stage will not only complicate the matter more but also insult
most Kashmiris like me. It is also necessary to avoid Kashmir becoming a point of conflict between extra-regional powers and China and Russia, especially if Kashmir is used as a listening post against them.

If India comes to terms on Kashmir, then the size of the Pakistan army could immediately be reduced. In order to preserve peace, the best guarantee would still be a strong Pakistan. An increase of expenditure on naval, airforce, and the nuclear deterrence capabilities for at least a decade or so would have to be taken by Pakistan to ensure that the transition to a less hostile environment in South Asia is smooth. After that period, one could reduce all elements of hostile military posturing.

In fact, what would be the need of having large standing armed and nuclear forces, if Pakistanís main bone of contention with India had been resolved amicably. Judging from the press coverage of diplomatic activities, Kashmir is back in the limelight in multilateral fora. However, Indian diplomacy will do its utmost to reduce this issue to the back burner but Pakistani diplomats must do their best to keep England, Japan and US committed to this issue at the multilateral level.

If India accedes on Kashmir, then Pakistan could reward India by nominating her for the UN Security Council's permanent seat. In fact, this offer should be made to the Indians during the Indo-Pakistani bilateral negotiations on Kashmir

Third, Pakistan must be quick to capitalize on its biggest assets; the nuclear and missile scientists. Pakistan must send her atomic scientists on goodwill missions from Indonesia and Malaysia to all the way to Western Sahara and Morocco in the same manner as the first U.S. astronauts travelled around the globe. Now that Pakistan has proven its scientific credentials, these countries will most likely want Pakistan as their friend. Most Muslim countries, with the exception of the oil rich Gulf sheikhdoms, are poor and destitute, Pakistan could accommodate a number of these countries in their need to develop in
many fields, including military hardware and training. In fact, Pakistan with its nuclear prowess, despite adverse international
conditions and and despite severe budgetary constraints, have proven that Third World solutions must come from within the Third World.

In the short term, this move by Pakistan will signal to the U.S. and the West to lift sanctions against Pakistan or the country might be put in a position to transfer its nuclear and missile know-how to the Middle East. The Israeli lobby in the U.S. would definitely not want this to happen. Consequently, this lobby will most probably want the U.S. administration and the Congress to repeal the Pressler amendment.

The results of this policy can be seen in the Pakistani Prime Ministerís immediate visit to the UAE and Saudi Arabia and the Iranian Foreign Ministerís visit to Pakistan soon after the Chagai blasts. Israelies are already rethinking their policy of transferring nuclear and missile technology to India.

In the long term, however, a host of smaller countries, especially the Middle Eastern countries, could become Pakistanís important bilateral allies and trade partners that could end their individual reliance on the industrialized North at least in some critical fields. This south to south trade route change could trigger a new era of prosperity for all and amelioration of poor and destitutes of India and Pakistan.

But Pakistan must choose its friends wisely. Three countries stand out as exceptionally important to Pakistan during its nuclear journey. These are Iran, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Pakistan must improve its bilateral relations with Iran and nurture them even further in all fields despite opposition by U.S. and a few religious political groups at home. Pakistan must fulfil Saudi Arabian peoples' desire to become self-sufficient in their own security.

Pakistan had provided defence forces to the kindom of Saudi Arabia in the past, the time to replace the American and Western alliance forces with Pakistani forces may have come. Eventually, the Saudis could become self sufficient in their defence needs. Immediately, however, they could save billions that they are remitting to the now Ďunwantedí and embarrassingly expensive American forces. Now that the threat of the Iraqi nuclear (not proven) and other weapons of mass destruction
has been removed, departure of the American forces seems fair and appropriate. It also removes friction between the U.S. and Iran.

In the wake of the Indian nuclear explosions of May 11, the Saudis are also beggining to think that the rapid increases in Indiaís defence budget and types of weaponry, e.g. nuclear, and hydrogen bombs, ballistic missiles, aircraft carriers, and long-range Russian made SU-27 bombers may not be just for increasing leverage over Pakistan. They are realizing that the depth of Indo-Israeli nuclear and military connections and cooperation is not just directed at Pakistan alone. The ultimate aim of Indo-Israeli nexus could very well be the Mid East oil for India and water for Israel. The Saudis may,therefore, be inclined
to send the Indian workers packing home as the reality sinks in that the remittances of expatriate Indians do help their government in the acquisition of Isreaeli nuclear and military hardware. In turn, Pakistan could benefit from increased recruitment of Pakistani workers for Saudi oil fields.

The Sultan/President of the United Arab Emirates and his people are intelligent, progressive, and endowed with a special sense of pride as well as desire for scientific advancement. Pakistan must offer a special training wing for the UAE nationals in scientific fields of their choice.

The above three countries must remain at the base of Pakistanís Middle East policy. In turn, Pakistanís help to them will keep a steady flow of foreign exchange and oil and gas for the countryís industrial advancement, on the one hand, and will make sure that Washington will listen to Islamabadís concerns due the Iranian connection, on the other.

Before the euphoria of Pakistanís scientific achievement dies down, Pakistan must immediately conclude long term energy, finance, and scientific exchange agreements with these countries. Initially, a number of proposed natural gas and oil pipelines between Central Asian Islamic states, Iran as well as Qatar and Pakistan should be built in the next few years. In return, Pakistan must pay them with training in military and other 'important' scientific and educational fields.

Fourth, Pakistan must solve the ongoing Afghan problem. It is essential to have Pakistanís western front quite now more than ever.

Fifth, despite an obvious set back to NPT since May 11, 1998, the core of the nuclear nonproliferation regime is still intact. Pakistan must strengthen this core by adhering to its principals, norms and standards as far as IAEA safeguards, technology transfer and observance of CTBT moratoriums, etc., are concerned.

There is no need for Pakistan to consider the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) as a dead letter. Let the Indians deal with this matter on their own and let them face the US and the nonproliferation community. Pakistanís NPT stand and her South Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ) proposals were fairly clear to the international community of nations, academics and diplomats. A concerted diplomatic effort is needed to highlight Pakistanís efforts in this regard.

Also, there is no need to sign NPT or CTBT at this stage, unless
Kashmir problem is resolved and India signs as well as ratifies these
treaties. Kashmir must now become corollary to Pakistanís nuclear
disarmament. Pakistan should refrain from reiterating that it will sign
any such treaties if India signs first and may want to reassess this
strategy for two reasons. First, it could have worked against Pakistan
had India signed CTBT days after detonating its nuclear devices.
Tremendous pressure would have been put on Pakistan and India would
have benefited from computer simulation and modelling data of nuclear
detonation for future development of her nuclear weapons. Secondly,
Pakistan need not insist on India to sign these treaties if she is
willing to conclude an equitable agreement on Kashmir. It is cledar
that Indian strategy is much more grandiose than just competing with
Pakistan on the nuclear front. Obviously, this is a competition which
India is bound to win if one compares Indo-Pakistani situations with
the Cold war competition of the U.S. and USSR. Moreover, India may very
well concede on Kashmir, if she sees that her regional and global
ambitions are jeopardized by a nuclear Pakistan.
 

Sixthly, Pakistan must not sign a no first use of nuclear weapons with
any state, especially India, as it was offered by her Prime Minister.
With the offer of no fist use of nuclear weapons, India reaps the
benefit of nuclear deterrence between the two countries and continues
to disregard any solution on Kashmir, on the one hand, and claims its
stake as a regional and possibly international power house, on the
other. Pakistanís counter offer to India should be a treaty on no use
of nuclear bombs on Indo-Pakistani cities.

On the military and strategic front Pakistan needs to take a number of
policy and other measures as well.

The most urgent need is to avoid an accidental or unauthorized nuclear
war. A hotline between the Indian and Pakistani leaders, both at the
armed forces and the political level, should be established immediately
to minimize such a scenario.[]
 

Pakistan must immediately adopt a nuclear deterrence doctrine and
incorporate it into its forcesí training and strategic as well tactical
outlook even if it entails massive retaliation strategy against any
major threat, nuclear or conventional.

Eventually, both India and Pakistan will want to go beyond first strike
deterrence (also known as "use-it-or loose-it strategy"), which seems
to be their current deterrence policy, to a second strike capability or
the Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) strategy. It means that the
country can take an atomic hit and still retaliate with its nuclear
weapons that have survived the first strike of the enemy.

Pakistan just does not have enough depth or places to conceal all its
nuclear carrying missiles or warplanes from a surprise first strike of
either India or any other nuclear armed country. Submarines are
uniquely qualified to provide a second strike capability due to a
natural stealth cover provided by many oceans and seas around the
globe. The choice of submarines is crucial. Should they be diesel,
nuclear, or hybrid? Should Pakistan manufacture its own or buy off the
shelf somewhere? These questions have been addressed before; however,
Pakistan may need to revisit them again in light of the changed
geopolitical situation of South Asia.

Fortunately, the six boat submarine fleet of Pakistan that includes
four Daphne and two Agosta class submarines is missile tested. There
are three more Agosta class boats on order from France. Pakistan must
accelerate its acquisition of the French Agosta class submarines. Next,
their local assembly and construction should be speeded up from the
current plan of action.

The current choice of French diesel subs is fairly sound and fortiuous
for two reasons. One, these boats are much more quieter than their
Soviet and German counterparts of the Indian Navy. Two, the French
nuclear missile carrying boats with nuclear power engines are modelled
on the Agosta design. Indeed, diesel subs are also quieter than their
nuclear counterparts. However, the nuclear or a hybrid submarine with
nuclear tipped missiles is considered a better guarantor of second
strike capability due to its range and longer staying power at sea.

For now Pakistan must immediately equip its existing fleet of Agosta
and Daphne class French submarines with nuclear ballistic and cruise
missiles as well as nuclear tipped torpedoes.

Moreover, the Chinese nuclear-diesel hybrid engine submarines are
rumoured to be based on the Agosta model. Both these countries have
time and again have proven to be reliable suppliers of arms and
technology to Pakistan.[] Therefore, nuclear submarinesí acquisition
from these countries, especially China, by Pakistan at a future date of
her choice will most probably not pose a major hurdle considering China
did offer these boats to Pakistan recently.

In addition to ballistic missiles, Pakistan needs to develop cruise
missiles for the following reasons. It is relatively easier to hide and
move these weapons closer to the Indian borders. The technology is
available within Pakistan. They are extremely difficult to detect
during their flight. This technology provides greater length of time
between launch and abandonment; if desired, such mechanisms could be
incorporated with innovative sofware solutions and satellite based
homing devices. This option could provid some flexibility of time and
recall almost along the same lines as a piloted airborne carrier. Some
technological problems will be faced by Pakistan in the fields of
computers and software but it should not be impossible to overcome this
problem.

It is imperative that Pakistan must let go its military reliance on the
U.S., not so much out of spite but for strategic reasons. This country
has never been reliable due to its global commitments and commercial
interests. Pakistanís reliance on the U.S. can tantamount to suicide
during the nuclear age, especially in light of the convergence of the
U.S. and Indian strategic interests in South Asia and the Middle East.

China, Germany and France[] have proven fairly reliable and can pretty
much provide everything that Pakistan needs. Pakistan can forget about
becoming self-sufficient in the production of high technology weapons
now or for sometimes in the near or even far future. Instead of harping
on this point, Pakistan should get whatever it can and transfer as much
of technology as possible

Pakistan needs to have a reliable force multiplier in its airforce.
Pakistanis have been fixated on the F16s and Mirage 2000 for all the
wrong reasons. Both these planes have their own unique problems. The
first has problem of supply and the second is very expensive. What
about the Mig-29 or Sukhoi SU-27? It seems that Russia will sell to
anybody with hard currency. Failing that one could approach Ukraine or
Belarus[] for either technology as both these cuntries have most of
these technologies and have been parading their military hardware in
various air shows. In the long run, China is bound to induct these
systems in her drive to modernize the PRC armed forces. That alone
assures Pakistan of reliable supply of critical components and spares
for these weapon systems.

Above all, Pakistan must improve its quilt-work of a radar system. A
substantial investment in developing or acquiring AWACS is essential
after Prithvis, Agnis and Shaktis have come to the neighbourhood. A
better long term approach would be to develop and launch a couple of
satellites, both low orbit and geo-stationery types in the near future,
through two competing nuclear development establishments and three
missile development organizations of Pakistan.[]

Last but not least, it is hoped that neither Pakistan, nor India will
ever have to use the awesome power of the atom against their own kith
and kin. Letís also hope that saner elements in their leadership will
prevail and not test a futile attempt to test each otherís nuclear
preparedness. In the meantime, the U.S. and the most advance nations of
the world may consider transferring C3I systems to these countries for
possible unauthorized use of these weapons of mass destruction.

____________

ENDNOTES:

1. A little known fact of Indo-Pakistani situation was revealed by a
former C-in-C of Pakistan Air Force, Asghar Khan, in his book, Generals
in Politics, that during the Rann-of-Kutch skirmishes between India and
Pakistan the two air chiefs talked with each other on phone and decided
to refrain from using their airforces on the grounds that it could
escalate into a general war between the two states. It seems that the
use of a hotline style communication is already favoured by the two
states at various levels.

2. France did renege on her 1976 reprocessing plant agreement with
Pakistan under intense pressure from the U.S. However, Pakistan built
this plant at a much less cost with the help of already supplied blue
prints and some technical support from the Chinese. In turn, Pakistanis
also took the Uranium route to the bomb which remained out of
international inspection regime and provide Pakistan with a much more
broadbased technological platform for her nuclear option.

 3.

4. It seems that the Russians were in favour of Pakistanis acquiring
some Belarussian SU-27 a while back.

5.

6.  After the 1977 coup of General Zia-ul-Haq, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khanís
Research Laboratories came under the aegis of the Pakistan army and
worked on Pakistanís nuclear weapons independently of the PAEC.
Subsequent Pakistani governments of Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif
seem to have restored the PAEC bomb and missile research separate from
Khan Research Labs. It explains, therefore, the American confusion
about the Pakistani programme. It also tells that why Pakistan had two
different types of indigenous missiles and why there was so much
duplication of work at basic level. It was not just to scatter research
facilities from any Osirak type of pre-emptive strikes but also shows
scientific empire building and competition as well as military and
political struggle in Pakistani circles on the control of nuclear
decision-making. In light of these reasons, it compels one to raise
some questions: whether there really was a threat from India or whether
there really was an unidentified F16 in Pakistanís airspace just hours
before Pakistanís nuclear experiments were conducted? Could these
incident mark a point in Pakistanís recent history where the armed
forces made the decision to induct the nuclear weapon system now
because the opportunity was provided by Indiaís decision to go nuclear?