Forget the arms race, we have bigger problems!

Published: February 25, 2011

As The New York Times reported earlier this month, the Pakistani government has steadily increasing its nuclear stockpile over the past two years. It has amassed as many as 110 deployed nuclear warheads, which puts the country on the path to replace Britain as the world’s fifth largest nuclear power.

Pakistani leaders and nuclear advocates are quick to point to India as the principle reason for why the country needs a large nuclear arsenal, as relations between the two neighbours have been strenuous over the last 60 years.

What they fail to understand, however, is that the real risk to Pakistan comes from within the country in the form of Taliban and religious extremists who are hell-bent on disrupting democracy and destabilising the country.

With each attacks, these extremists gain a stronger foothold  towards their ultimate goal – ruling Pakistan in a manner that resembles eighth-century Arabia.

Currently the Pakistani government is unstable. If the nuclear development and deployment programs continues to be expanded there is a possibility that one of these weapons may fall into the hands of the very extremists who wreak havoc on the country. The thought of nuclear weapons in the hands of rogue elements does not bode well for the well being of the world.

In an ideal world Pakistan would be able to pre-empt, capture, and expel militants. But as long as Afghanistan remains in a state of flux, the Taliban will continue to make their way in to the country to spread destruction and extremist philosophies.

Neither India nor Pakistan benefit from instability and a growing extremist presence in Pakistan, and this alone should be reason enough for the two nations to work together, towards restoring better relations. By improving relations with India, we will not only will we no longer have a nuclear armed enemy (and thus a major reason to slow down the arms buildup) but this will also open the possibility for shared intelligence and cooperation when it comes to combating Pakistan’s enemy from within.

The Indian government must work in collaboration with Pakistan to temper relations between the countries and reduce their nuclear arsenal. Pakistan should reciprocate.

Without such cooperation the future of the entire region will continue to be at risk.


Aziz Nayani

Is a writer who currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His work has appeared on the Huffington Post and Foreign Policy's AfPak Channel. He tweets @AzizNayani

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