Pak Nuke Saga: What it means for India

I thought Yashwant Sinha’s comments were pretty mild considering Musharaff’s decision to test a 2000km-range ballistic missile to celebrate his successful navigation of Pakistan’s nuclear fiasco. That decidedly pugnacious move demonstrates his continued willingness to vilify India and redirect popular anger. After that there was no reason for India to be silent any longer. Of course, Pakistan was quick to declare that selling nuclear weapons to Libya, Iran, North Korea and possibly to Iraq and al Qaeda are purely an internal matter, which is ‘case-closed’ anyway, and hence no need for anyone to make any ‘gratuitous’ suggestions for a more detailed international investigation into the matter.

Here’s an interesting article from Shekhar Gupta on what the whole saga means for India.

What does it mean for India? It is easy to snigger. Then go around the world smugly saying, I told you so. But look at the big picture. Or, as Strobe Talbott says, Clinton always told his foreign policy sherpas, think bigger. The perfidy of the Pakistani scientists, the stupidity of its establishment and the crudity of the way it has handled the aftermath have brought a real opportunity to take our own diplomacy forward, to move the goal-posts and, ultimately, to strengthen our own security.

If the global focus shifts from pure Islamic terrorism to proliferation with terror implications, it does two things for us. First, it brings an opportunity to confirm our status as a responsible nuclear state. When the new government is sworn in, it should put in place even more transparent and stable command and control systems and ensure compliance with all the “good” international laws, norms and treaties on proliferation. We must strengthen our own export controls further, to bring them on a par with the older nuclear states. This is a real opportunity. But this is the smaller one of the two.

The bigger one is that it can break the one element that has unchangingly defined the India-Pakistan equation and the international (particularly American) role in it. It is the linkage of the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir with the nuclear issue. The equation so far has been simple: you must prevent India and Pakistan from going to war over Kashmir because they may end up nuking each other. In other words, the subcontinent’s nukes were a problem only because of the India-Pakistan hostility on Kashmir. But after the latest revelations, the Pakistani nukes have come to be seen as a threat in their own right. You have to read carefully between the lines from the testimony anti-proliferation expert Michael Krepon made before the Senate Foreign relations Committee on January 28. “Much could be accomplished,” he said, “if Pakistan stops holding these measures (nuclear risk reduction) hostage to a Kashmir settlement and if India engages Pakistan and dissident elements in Kashmir on a serious and sustained basis.”

Immediately for us, it is an opportunity to underline to the world that Pakistani nukes are not less scary than any “loose nukes” nightmare and are a threat irrespective of what happens in Kashmir. Further, that this threat won’t go away even if there is a settlement on Kashmir. In the longer run it may be a key to durable peace, and nuclear stability — if not total safety — for our children. [Shekhar Gupta/Indian Express]