Asia Program

Events

Pakistan's Nuclear Future

February 22, 2002 // 11:00am12:30pm
Event Co-sponsors: 
International Security Studies

Summary of a meeting co-hosted by the Asia Program and the Division of International Studies with Brigadier Feroz Hassan Khan, Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs Division, Joint Services Headquarters, Rawalpindi, Pakistan, and current Woodrow Wilson Center Fellow.

The events of September 11, 2001 have shined a spotlight on tensions in South Asia. Feroz Khan discussed the problems and promise of attaining greater stability in a region where, in the words of Khan, "every expectation can go wrong." Khan, echoing a recent speech by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf at the Woodrow Wilson Center, said that the economic revival of Pakistan was paramount to the maintenance of Pakistan's security. Nuclear deterrence, he added, would have a "balanced symbiotic relationship" with economic concerns.

Khan delineated a number of geo-strategic and political factors that will influence Pakistan's nuclear capability and strategy over the next 20 years. Pakistan faces an adverse strategic environment with an unstable Afghanistan in the west and a hostile India in the east. The large disparity between India and Pakistan's geographic, economic, and military presence is a central constraint in the formulation of Pakistan's nuclear policy. This fundamental asymmetry has shaped the defensive nature of Pakistan's declared nuclear stance, which includes minimum deterrence, non-use and non-threat of use against non-nuclear states, non-proliferation, and high level command and control structures. A central challenge and goal of Pakistan's policy is to "maintain a credible nuclear deterrent force without engaging in an economically debilitating arms race."

Khan envisions a multi-tiered framework for promoting regional peace and security. This consists of an issues-based conflict resolution process, the institutionalization of a "strategic restraint regime," and the pursuit of Track II diplomacy through the expansion of economic and cultural interactions. Some of the specific recommendations proposed by Khan include the creation of Nuclear Risk Reduction Centers, the initiation of a cooperative warning arrangement with India, and the establishment of Personal Reliability Programs and Nuclear Emergency Search Teams. He also stressed the importance of shoring up safeguards against accidents and security breaches through the sharing of experiences and the implementation of advanced technologies and practices. Moreover, China, through balance of power, and the United States, through mediation and technical assistance, are two nuclear nations that can play an important role in bringing stability to the region. In conclusion, Khan argues that a doctrine of nuclear deterrence based on the concept of "mutually assured accommodation" rather than "mutually assured destruction" is the most viable path for peace in South Asia.

Drafted by Wilson Lee, Asia Program Assistant
Robert Litwak, Director, Division of International Studies
Robert M. Hathaway, Director, Asia Program

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