Pakistan's Nuclear Program - Why is it Necessary?
Pakistan appears at the top of charts listing critical U.S. intelligence gaps.Washington Post
Pakistan's Nuclear Program and its Atomic Bomb has been subject to much controversy and conspiracy theories.
Pakistan's Nuclear Assets are criticized for being vulnerable to terrorists, being too expensive, useless and above all aggressive. The other side of the picture is that with a mighty hostile neighbor, India and some other troublesome players in the region like Israel, the atom bomb is the last resort measure to maintain balance of power in the region.
“We(Pakistan) will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own (Atom bomb). The Christians have the bomb, the Jews have the bomb and now the Hindus have the bomb. Why not the Muslims too have the bomb?.... We have no other choice!”
― Zulfikar Ali Bhutto Emphasizing the need of Atom Bomb.
Due to the extreme secrecy surrounding this highly clandestine Nuclear Program any such interpretation of this complex issue will only serve to satisfy our curiosity but as this is an already exhausted topic, this article attempts to defend the indispensable nature of the Pakistani Atom bomb by placing a unique perspective in light of historical and current facts.
Pakistan conducted its first cold test way back in the 1983, 15 years before the 1998 tests. PAEC chairman Munir Ahmed Khan is reported to have said,
"On 11 March 1983, we successfully conducted the first cold test of a working nuclear device. That evening, I went to General Zia with the news that Pakistan was now ready to make a nuclear device."1
Pakistan's Nuclear Bomb serves as a Deterrence
The West often criticizes our Nukes as being a burden on country's meager resources and something which is useless and seldom used. Well this narrow judgement is far from reality, it is actually the bomb alone which plays a vital role in guarding our sovereignty and in a wider context the whole nation. Pakistan's Nuclear assets are the key to maintaining strategic balance in the region. This has been very evident in certain situation throughout the course of history of the country.
In our quest to justify Pakistan's Nuclear assets we will highlight those situations where the nukes played a major role in protecting the integrity of the state.
Operation Brasstacks was the largest mobilization of forces since world war II. Larger then any NATO exercise.
1987 Brasstacks Crisis.
During the 1986-87 India did an overwhelming show of its military might by mobilizing nearly its entire army near the Pakistani border under the pretext of exercising, the aim was to attack Pakistan by a preemptive surgical strike as a senior Indian General himself recounts:
"Brasstacks was no military exercise. It was a plan to build up a situation for a fourth war with Pakistan....."
—Lieutenant General P.N. Hoon, Commander Western Command, source
By this time however Pakistan had already made the nuclear bomb and Pakistani President Zia-ul-Haq did not fear to threaten India with this. Zia visited India to watch a cricket match in Jaipur with Rajiv Gandhi to ease the tension. It is widely alleged, at one point Zia leaned over to Rajiv Gandhi and said,
"If your forces cross our border by an inch, we are going to annihilate your cities."
Whether or not he spoke those words, India soon withdrew its army.
2001-2 Military Standoff (Operation Parakram).
Again in 2001-2 India and Pakistan came very close to war when in response to terrorist attacks on Indian Parliament India once again amassed its army on the border hoping to eject Pakistan out of Kashmir. Indian Prime Minister Vajpayee ordered his troops to prepare for a "decisive battle"The Guardian. But again India was restrained from attacking by the looming threat of Pakistan Atomic Bomb. Pakistan at that time did not deny its right to use nuclear weapons first if it faced a significant threat and therefore considering the threat of starting a nuclear war and partly because of international mediation India withdrew its forces from the border.
A famous Pakistani Economist in view to the situation stated that:
It was a big upset about what happened to the economy after the [atomic] tests in 1998, but was consoled that in 2002, when India mobilized half a million troops on the border after an attack on its parliament in 2001, but was finally forced to withdraw the "due to the danger of a nuclear retaliation by Pakistan....
Pakistan's Tactical Nuclear Weapons, the Answer to India's Might
To avoid being tracked by the sophisticated US satellite tracking systems Pakistani authorities prefer to transport nuclear warheads and other components by road in normal traffic rather then using protected conveys. So the next time you spot a container on the highway it could just be carrying nuclear warheads!
Recently Pakistan has initiated the development of Tactical Nuclear Weapons to counterbalance India's conventional might and to counter a conventional invasion by India at tactical level. The aim of these weapons is to strike on advancing armored columns and other battlefield formations heading for Pakistani territory with high accuracy and halt them in there tracks. Invading army if found funneling through the many canals and rivers in Punjab will be sitting ducks for this missile. Real time surveillance required to quickly identify targets can be obtained through AEW&C planes of air force. India has around 4,000 tanks while Pakistan has got around 2,500 of them, this edge in quantity is balanced by the edge in tactics on the Pakistani side. The moment Indian Armour comes out of its bases it will have the looming threat of Nasr over it.
An ISPR release describes the tactical ability of this missile stating:
Thanks to Former President Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, he was given the proposal of developing the bomb through Uranium route by A.Q. Khan and through the Plutonium route by PAEC scientists. Bhutto ordered both routes to be initiated simultaneously. Due to his decision Pakistan now has miniature nuclear warheads which can only be made by using plutonium.
"NASR, with a range of 60 km, and inflight maneuver capability can carry nuclear warheads of appropriate yield, with high accuracy. This quick response system, which can fire a four Missile Salvo ensures deterrence against threats in view of evolving scenarios. Additionally NASR has been specially designed to defeat all known Anti Tactical Missile Defence Systems". ISPR release 13 feb 2011
Electricity Generation, The dire need of the Country. (Nuclear Power in Pakistan)
Pakistan has three licensed commercial nuclear power plants with installed capacity of 725 Mwh combined, generating only 3.6% of the country's electricity.
Although there is no harm in stating that electricity generation is a grave requirement of the country in view of the ongoing power crisis and nuclear power is a cheap and viable alternative to oil, production of weapon grade material is also suspected to be taking place at these power plants.
Thus Nuclear Power is the solution for the aggravating power crisis in the country and perhaps also required to meet the demand of weapon grade material. Much criticism is hurled when Pakistan tries to promote nuclear power not to notice that most developed countries of the world use nuclear power to generate a significant proportion of their total electricity generation. France generating 78.8%, Britain 14.4%, USA 17% and Russia 16% from nuclear power plants but Pakistan only 3.6%.
Apart from these three commercial reactors, Pakistan has six other reactors operational for research and plutonium production.
- Three at Khushab Nuclear Complex.
- Three at Pakistan Institute of Nuclear Science and Technology, Islamabad.
Though this was albeit off the topic of nuclear weapons but I found it necessary to mention that as many of he world powers are generating cheap electricity through Nukes we also have the right to do so in view of the very serious power crisis ravaging the country and high prices of oil which is being currently used for electricity generation.
The chief motive of most public debate about Pakistan's Nuclear Program continues to be its struggle with India that has shaped Pakistan's history and its politics since the inception of these two states. Pakistan's Nuclear weapons are widely perceived as a retort to India's Nuclear weapons and its larger conventional force as well as the bitter experiences of 1947, 1965, 1971 and 1999. Pakistani fears of Indian hegemony have increased over the recent years as India's economy has started to grow at a much faster rate then Pakistan's which means that India can increase its already large defense budget at an even faster rate.
US officials suggested in 2008 that Pakistan was "producing nuclear weapons at [a] faster rate then any other country in the world" Wikileaks
A long term concern now driving Pakistan's Nuclear Program is the United States Policy of countering the rise of China as a key strategic and economic player in the region by forming a stronger US strategic relationship with India. The feature of Pakistan's Nuclear Program and that of India, thus might be knotted with the emerging contest between United States and China.
"Pakistan's nuclear program occupies a central place for the defense of the country."— General Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff 
 The News 21-Feb-2014