Pakistan will remain nuclear as long as India remains nuclear

Published: July 5, 2013

Nuclear weapons are not a source of Pakistan’s economic deprivation but provide it safety to take economic strides and develop. PHOTO: AFP

It cannot be disputed that nuclear deterrence is the key strategic factor safeguarding Pakistan’s national security. May 28 is a day of pride for Pakistan and the celebration of this day refers to the acknowledgement of all the scientists’ efforts that went into making Pakistan more secure. This day is celebrated as a national day of significance that made Pakistan a member of an exclusive club of less than ten nuclear states.

In the West, Pakistan faced huge criticism, and being a Muslim state, its weapons were named ‘Islamic bombs’. On the other hand, a wave of joy and exult pulsated through the Muslim world. It is without doubt that the attainment of nuclear weapons gave the nation renewed confidence as it ensured the security of the homeland because it was now at par with the ‘enemy’.

Pakistan was long claiming that it did possess nuclear technology but did not intend to test the weapons. Initially, the country seemed to have been seeking only civilian nuclear capabilities and the civilian nuclear programme began with participation in the US Atoms for Peace initiative. We were a reluctant entrant in the nuclear weapons game.

Yet, after New Delhi’s involvement in dismembering Pakistan’s Eastern Wing and testing its nuclear weapons in 1974, Pakistan was left with literally no choice but to respond in kind and make up for the conventional arms weakness. Please make note that while India’s nuclear programme is for prestige, Pakistan’s is purely security driven. It is a right of self defence as enshrined in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.

It was India who actually upset the balance of power and started the nuclear game in the region. These circumstances, however, prodded Pakistan to test nuclear weapons for deterrence and as an act to balance power. No country can overlook its security concerns and issues, and hence, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons serve as the guarantors of peace in the region.

Some writers have recently contented that Pakistan’s survival, in large measure, depends on economic performance, political stability, wise foreign policy, technological advancement, and in developing its civilian human resource potential rather than a nuclear prestige. However, one must keep in mind that though all these elements are essential in the stability of a nation, nuclear strength is a monumental milestone for a country in the modern world.

Nuclear weapons are not a source of Pakistan’s economic deprivation but provide it safety to take economic strides and develop. If a nuclear programme can be pursued, so can economic progress; all we need is dedication and sincerity of purpose.

Unlike what many nations think, Pakistan’s weapons are primarily “weapons of deterrence”, not prestige. The short range delivery systems being developed are meant to plug the gaps Indian planners seek to exploit. Thus, Islamabad’s full spectrum deterrence has upset Indian designs and has frustrated them.

Another rising trend amidst the political and security challenges of Pakistan is the misconception that the nuclear security here is weak. Some observers fear scenarios such as the capture of our nuclear weapons by the Taliban or a collapse of the Pakistani government resulting in the seizing of our weapons. Let me be clear that these are merely media speculations. Several US officials and other serious watchers of Pakistan’s programme have expressed “comfort” with the security of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. In fact, it is better than many others.

In conclusion then, I believe that improving the relationship between Islamabad and New Delhi and stabilising the region is the only way to avoid the rapid growth of the nuclear arms race in the region. We will obviously stop at a point where we feel we have enough to be able to deter India but whether the same applies to India is uncertain. Without nuclear weapons, our national security interests will always be in jeopardy and this is a lofty risk which we cannot take.

Follow Usman on Twitter @shau_ni

Usman Ali Khan

Usman Ali Khan

Has done his Master’s in Defense and Strategic Studies from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad and is currently pursuing his studies in the same field. He tweets as @shau_ni (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Anoop


    “700 million Indians live below the poverty line and over 500 million don’t have access to toilets, so in my opinion Pakistan will be better off than India in the long run, once we get stable.”

    Reading a lot of Urdu newspapers, huh.. Ok, let me see.

    India will reduce poverty to 22% by 2015, says the UN.

    Pakistan’s poverty rate has hit 43%, says Asian Development Bank. That report was more than an year ago so I guess its increased, since the GDP growth has been minimal since then.

    India has a lot of problems, but its also the 3rd largest Economy in the world in PPP terms. India IS a Big Boy. If it wasn’t I don’t see why NSG and IAEA give such rare and “one-time” exceptions to India for doing nuclear commerce.

    So, to summarise, your Central Asian Gateway dreams are just that – Dreams. Pakistan is NOT a Democracy, by any standards. Pakistan’s poverty rate is increasing, while that of India is decreasing(If you want I can provide diverse sources to prove this). I AM right. My points hold and your comments seem ignorant of the developments happening around the world in Energy and in your own country. Recommend

  • Mark

    @ Rabia……

    You are right…India would have allotted all it’s resources to the malnourished children, had they not been in the neighbourhood of Pakistan.
    Lesson: If you have a bad neighbour, you are really done for!Recommend

  • Naresh

    @kalu mia:
    Pakistan should increase its defense budget to at least fifty billion dollars. In any case it must exceed Indian budget.
    I salute you sir. You are a man after my own heart.
    As such once Pakistan has a Defence Budget of US$ Fifty Billion India can then raise the stakes by increasing its Defence Budget to US$ 200 Billion.
    At this stage Pakistan will stop going any further as if it does it will spent its whole GDP on Defence!
    Mission Acomplished!

  • wiji

    of course it was india who dragged pakistan into a nuclear arm race. despite the fact that more than half of indian population lives below the poverty line yet a major portion of indian budget is spending on defense. why india is focusing on eradication of poverty than weaponizing itself?Recommend

  • Ajatashatru

    It’s funny how many in Pak claim that India built nuclear weapons because of its tumultuous relations with Pak. No, India never needed nukes for Pak, Pak has always been very week. India needed nukes to deter China.Recommend

  • Phajja

    Not cheers you all Indians have fears from PAKISTAN thats why Increasing you budget again and again and now also going so hyper!! So take it easy boys your master(U.S) won’t get angry out of you after reading this elegant piece of work done by the writer. GEO PAKISTAN!Recommend

  • ak murthy

    What a weird article. Please protect yourself from the taliban and drones firstRecommend

  • BP

    Why Pakistanis are not thinking about China nuclear?????? is it unimaginable?? what will happen if China drop nuclear on Pakistan.? They sale their land to China they are slave of China now.Recommend

  • Pradhan

    completely agree with you bro regarding Indian posters. However, being an Indian I can not stay Ideal when someone spead wrong information on Internet.

    I don’t really care if Pakistan has WMD or not. In this world I don’t think it is anymore difficult to assemble or make a WMD. as long as a sigle country in the world has WMD then other countries have right to have one for themselves.

    My point is why make any excuses?? India didn’t make any excuses. They wanted one and they got one. When Pakistan says that they tested weapon coz India tested in 1974 then it is wrong. You are just mis guiding people who don’t know the truth specifically Pakistanis.

    Pakistan started their project in 1972. long before India tested their nukes. here is what wiki says and I quote “Bhutto called a meeting of senior academic scientists and engineers on 20 January 1972, in Multan, which came to known as “Multan meeting”. Bhutto was the main architect of this programme and it was here that Bhutto orchestrated nuclear weapons programme and rallied Pakistan’s academic scientists to build the atomic bomb for national survival”

    so it is really irritating when educated people like you and the author claim that It is India for which you have the Nukes. By the way it is in the same year India worked in direction of weapon development and it was kept very secret only two or three bureaucrats knew about the project aprt from Indira Gandhi.
    @ET Please don’t edit it. If you don’t want to post any sentence then don’t post anything at all. Thanks.Recommend

  • BP

    Ha Ha Ha……….
    Stupid peoples don’t compare Pakistan with India its irreverent, India can comparable only with US, Russia, China and Israel.

    India will not come any respect of Pakistan, forget India because India is far from Pakistan.Recommend

  • awellwisher

    What about Bangladesh? After all, they were part of Pakistan too and carved out of India. They too should get nukes. Pakistan should keep building more and more nukes, missiles, fighter jets, tanks, warships, submarines. The military should be doubled in size in the next five years and its budget increased three times the current level. Pakistan needs to do all this to make sure that it maintains the balance of power with India.Recommend

  • Gp65

    India has unilaterally declared that a no first use policy where it comes to nuclear weapons. When it is a unilateral declaration, naturally there is nothing to sign.Recommend

  • Muhammad

    “Pakistan will remain nuclear as long as India remains nuclear”!
    So this is your final decision?Recommend

  • irfan

    @ all people. Can we have a nuclear free world please, friends?? Recommend

  • irfan

    @pakistani friends- quality of life of ordinary pakistanis is very poor. focus should be on that. Recommend

  • American

    @Murali Nair:
    Your facts are so wrong.1) Pakistan still have more Muslims than India. You just have the highest minority, but they are still less than Pakistan.2) Pakistan’s nuclear technology is unclear, in one report they said that Pakistan have more nuclear war-heads than India, and more technologically advanced.

    You see most of the comments here are from people who don’t know anything and just spreading hate-speech, Indians always over-exaggerate.
    India is in a slump the same as Pakistan right now, just that their problems are different, Pakistan is suffering from Terrorism, Bankruptcy, Poverty etc, India is suffering from separatist movements, difference of classes, health problems etc.

    We don’t have time to wage wars now, we need to improve ourselves, we both are in a dump situation, Pakistani’s know it while india is too much in delusion over bollywood and its glamour, just look around you and yet you’ll see where you are.

    The fact is Nuclear warheads are just a pain, we should throw away these warheads, and focus on EDUCATION. When we will be ahead in education, we can then show how powerful we are, not by having nuclear warheads.We should get developed first, have an healthy environment, educate people and live peacefully. When they both will throw away arms, peace and prosperity itself come to our land. Tensions will cut down. The outside world portray India as a slum and a dirty bad place, often called it as a “garbage disposal”. Pakistan is portrayed as a place of terrorists, an unfriendly place, and a place where no one can live safely, often called “a prison”.

    We need to work together to get the best of what we can.
    Thank You
    From an American.Recommend

  • Naresh

    Not cheers you all Indians have fears from PAKISTAN thats why Increasing you budget again and again and now also going so hyper!! So take it easy boys your master(U.S) won’t get angry out of you after reading this elegant piece of work done by the writer. GEO PAKISTAN!
    India’s Economy is Nine Times Pakistan’s Economy. So if Pakistan’s Annual Defence Budget is US$ TEN Billion then it stands to reason that India should have an Annual Defence Budget of US$ NINETY Billion.
    The USA or China has nothing to do with India’s Annual Defence Spending.
    I hope that China with Foreign Exchange Reseve of Over US$ THREE TRILLION gives its Higher than the Himalays Friend at least US$ TEN Billion so that Pakistan does not have to approach IMF or World Bank or Asia Development Bank.

  • Dahri

    Pak will remain nuclear as long as India does. India is Pak’s biggest enemy. LeJ, TTP, BLA is all Indian sponsored terror in Pakistan. Islamic Bomb for those who trying to target Islam through nefarious designs.Recommend

  • Poaqiano

    @Nazish Javed:

    What balance of Power, Economic, Cultural , Educational ,Spirtual, Military or Human Intelligence ? Try to tell in any civilized country that you are a Paki and you will find out the true worth of being a Paki. Recommend

  • collins okeke

    Germany,Japan,S.korea,spain,Australia are all surviving without it…while all of U̶̲̥̅̊ patriots argue 4 one side or the order,d fact remains dat nuclear weapon is @ strategic deterence against any form of external aggression..n of cos bear in mind dat only 3 countries(US,Russia n China) have d in depth capabilities of launching nukes 2 any part of the world.Uk n France depends on submarine platforms..hence d truth remains dat Pak went nuclear 2 deter India..Recommend

  • friendly indian

    What is good being Pakistan Nuclear country . Still you guys not able to produce one single Train Engine to serve yr country people .Recommend

  • BP

    whether Pakistan exist or not, whether it has nuclear power or not, Indians are not worried about it and don’t care but in this context why author compare with India?? why not compare with other countries??? is it inti-india formula???? if author have minimal common sense then he would not publish this blog. you people want to say you are the hero in the world? but its actually represent ZERO in front of the world.Recommend

  • Asjad

    My head bows down in shame and disgust.In the day and age countries are creating regional blocs and removing imaginary boundaries, a Pakistan writes an useless blog, which is printed by ET to attract a fight between self righteous Indians and Pakistan. Guess what we fall for it.Recommend

  • Baba Ji

    -“Pakistan will remain nuclear as long as India remains nuclear”- …. Well even after that !!!! Cannot trust Ram Gopal and Co. Recommend

  • Arslaan Shah

    @Aneel Kumar:
    you are not an Indian for sure.. a pakistani trying trying to pose as indian and admitting india is weaker.. stop keeping yourself in a bubble..”TECHNOLOGY” comparision lol.. and by the way its ANIL.Recommend

  • Indian

    “What I find astonishing is the amount of Indian trolls on Pakistani websites.”

    The answer is simple. we have more internet users then your country. so you are dwarfed when it comes to trolling …. lolRecommend

  • nitsiey

    @Rabia: You are right… We Indians started out with peace imbalance in South Asia and Pakistan followed us. But ‘Rabia’ ji we never started out with frequent ceasefire violations, terrorist intrusions which is practiced by Pak army.

    The fact is Pakistan can try to match Indian military strength but cannot match Indian morals/ethics. Just follow articles about Pak army crossing LOC and killing Indian soldiers (They were beheaded – most cruel act). I have utmost respect for soldiers irrespective of any country/religion but Pak army has no morals. The real problem is Pak always remain in denial mode. Even during Kargil war Pak army had entered into Indian territory (Nawaz Sharif was PM saying he was unaware and Mussaraf Chief of Army knowing everything but lying in front of world). That time Pak denied saying those are terrorist dressed in army uniform. It was until retaliation from Indian army that’s when Pak accepted it was army indeed.

    Peace is not achieved by matching military strength. It is achieved by maintaining good morals and I’m sure you will get the same in return. Recommend

  • arn yo

    uhhh if thats the case then our nuclear weapons hace the range to cover whole of pakistan and our army has the spirit to capture islamabad so you see if you go nuclear there will be no Pakistan left……[email protected]: Recommend

  • arn yo

    ohh please american please dont say anything if you dont know anything …….
    it was pakistan who attacked India only 1 year after independence and attacked thereafter for 4 times……and as far as India is concerned India might not be as big a economy as America but it is the 3 rd fastest and the 6th richest country in the world so please it is you who is talking wrong about India……and you see only a few days back the pakistanis crossed the border and killed 5 indian soldiers now tell me do Indians exaggerate and if you think i am telling a lie you can google it………so please the next time you comment about India comment with some sense as you may be hurting the sentiments of 1 Billion Indians…[email protected]: Recommend

  • bvsprasad


    the author has rightly justified the country’s prerogative to be nuclear armed in the event of india’s testing in 1974, but India has also rightly proceeded to equip with as much capability to provide am minimum deterrent against Chinese hegemony ….So india’s nuclear doctrine is not directed against Pakistan but to thwart any mis adventure by them..So India will pursue till such time as it feels these defences reach MAD levels, as the Russians and Americans have reached…. So it is preposterous to assume India will be the nuclear aggressor vis-a-vis Pakistan….Calls for better relations can progress only if Firing across LOC in any disguised form is halted once and for allRecommend

  • KHAN

    Pakistan MashAllah had tested all missiles but what india proud of is AGNI series but POOR peoples AGNI was failed when tested on 2012…:P buahhahahahahRecommend

  • Vipin Indian

    y u ol cnt talk abt peace…if pak says its bcz of there security..thn let it bi blv they olso hv d ryt to mak nuclr weapons if othrs hav…n let thm hold the responsibity fr their intrnl issues..til its nt harmng us n same apply fr pak..olso..v shld nt wrry abt the economic grwth of both countries..there’s ntg fr comparisn..n if there’s any dn lt it b..hw it harms ys v wil cum strng if any mischiefs is done frm d othr side of d line…peaceRecommend


    India will never start any war against of PAKISTAN anymore… Coz India can’t even fight at one side of eastern border…. And if INDIA come to strike on PAKISTAN then millions of innocent civilians gonna die within 3 minutes and 24 seconds…. India will have no chance to even use a single nuclear weapon against of PAKISTAN……. So stay safe and don’t try PAKISTAN again….. Otherwise you will be no more…. Pakistan will always be a biggest threat for you……Recommend