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South Asian Nuclear Stability: Anticipations and Fear

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In the South Asian framework, India and Pakistan get the status of de-facto Nuclear Weapons States. Both belligerent nuclear journey is of 70 years to attain and upgrade their Nuclear Weapons capability to counter their security apprehensions. From the last 20 years, both states have technologically advanced their arsenals in accordance with Credible Minimum Deterrence to preserve the strategic stability in South Asia.

On the demand of contemporary strategic environment, India and Pakistan bid for membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group to enter into the legitimate Nuclear Regime to gain Global Recognition, Power, Prestige, and Security. Apart from the needs of Nuclear energy which is pivotal and beneficial for both states, they wanted to gain supremacy in Nuclear politics which is most instigating to indulge them in Arms Race.

In Global Nuclear Order and Politics, the Great Game of big powers has great influence in Asia Pacific Region. Nuclear India and Pakistan with their Geo Strategic importance kept them in the limelight of world political setting. In the Cold War era, 5 States attained de-jure Nuclear Power Status.  At that time, they introduced the Non-Proliferation Regimes to further avert the spread of nuclear and maintained the peace and Stability of Global nuclear order. Unfortunately, now the same States with their Great Game to grasp the Power politics of Asia Pacific Region is quaking the realities of Nuclear South Asia which is conflict Prone Region by induction of new technology in South Asia.

India bid for NSG membership is disguise as it is proved in the history of Smiling Buddha. India real desire is to have access for Nuclear technology from International market, entree to international arena of nuclear commerce, get more Uranium for Nuclear Reactors and fulfill their demands of thermonuclear weapons, Import Nuclear weapons (Russia-France), projecting in Asia nuclear politics and easy to produce missile capabilities. The aggressive aims are undermining the guidelines of NSG and grave threat for regional stability. In addition to that, India Strategic ambitions eminent from its recent Strategic collaborations with France and $5 billion defense deals Russia showed their future plans are not just for the peaceful use of Nuclear Technology. Moreover, India is acquiring S-400 Truimf, Eurofighter Typhoon, LCA-Tejas Mark 1A, Mig-21s, Su-30 MKI, Rafale, AK-103 assault rifles, Nuclear Submarines from different defense deals. The existence of India’s secret nuclear city Chellakere highlights India’s ambitions to become a regional power. Their stance of matching the nuclear arsenal of China and Pakistan is a big bluff.

This is the reason back in 2008 India did an intense lobbying which forced US to invest its political capital to secure a special NSG waiver for India. President Obama explicitly committed himself to facilitate India’s entry into the four components of the international export control regime, namely the MTCR, the Australia Group, the Wassenaar, and the NSG. India recently granted with STA-1 status and avail new strategic opportunities under 2+2 Framework which opened the doors of international nuclear commerce for India. It is an open threat to regional stability and violation of NPT Regime.

On contrary, Pakistan has defensive Nuclear Posture which had maintained Full Spectrum deterrence to counter Indian Cold Start Doctrine and Pakistan Nuclear policy is not aggressive/offensive to obtain more fissile material for nuclear weapons. The reality of Nuclear South Asia is that whatsoever, the Nuclear Treaty, Group or Agreement have to be signed, India and Pakistan evaluate their Strategic calculations with each other to keep their National Security foremost.  Pakistan is adherence to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and a bilateral moratorium on nuclear testing, Nuclear Restraint Regime which exclusively aimed at preventing an arms race in the region. Pakistan proposed India to initiate peace signaling. But Indian official Stated that “No question to sign NPT”. Pakistan cannot take initiative step due to Indian aggressive policies that will destabilize the deterrent capabilities of Pakistan.

So, in such a situation If India gets the membership of NSG, it did not show its consensus for Pakistan membership and it will sabotage Pakistan sovereignty.  Pakistan wants its global recognition as the 70 years struggle of Pakistan defensive policies will be in dangers due to US and India aggressive aims.  The US exempts India from rules and regulations for civilian nuclear trade and facilitate it with a legal right for the sake of their own Great Game in Asia Pacific Region and threatened the strategic stability for South Asia.

Currently, there are two groups who are supporting India and Pakistan. US administration and Congress look unwilling to lend their support for Pakistan’s cause.  Out of 48, 41 members are with India while China, Ireland, New Zealand, Austria, Turkey, South Africa have objections to exceptionalism and insistence on development of uniform criteria for the entry of all non-NPT nuclear states. Hence, it is vital to strengthen the criteria and norm-based approach and revisit multilateral approaches to strengthen the Proliferation Regime. Criteria Based Approach will benefit Pakistan security concerns.

Rationally, Pakistan’s case for entering in Global Nuclear Order as a responsible nuclear state is strong. Because Pakistan is a state party to various international instruments including IAEA Code of Conduct on Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM), and participates in the IAEA Incident and Trafficking Database (ITDB). It also dynamically participates in the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism (GICNT) and regularly submits reports to the UN Security Council 1540 Committee. Pakistan has rationalized and reinforced its export control regime and enhanced its engagement with multilateral export control regimes.

On September 2018, it is the Pakistan diplomatic achievement to become the member of IAEA Board of Governor. It is the International recognition of Pakistan as a responsible nuclear power state and the positive advances in the nuclear field. The re-election of Pakistan to the Board reflects the acknowledgment of the country’s nuclear safety and security credentials in accordance with the international standards. By using the platform of IAEA, Pakistan must take up critical non-proliferation issues including criteria-based approaches & push again for Multilateral Approaches to the Nuclear Fuel Cycle.

Pakistan must strong its diplomatic lobbying and to collaborate with others NSG member states to defend Pakistan strong stance and regional urgencies to get membership of NSG along with India. Tasnim Aslam, head of the UN desk at the Foreign Office stated that “Pakistan has the expertise, manpower, infrastructure and the ability to supply NSG controlled items, goods, and services for a full range of nuclear applications for peaceful uses,”.

In new emerging threats, there is the need for the dialogue process to enhance the stability. India’s policy of isolating Pakistan and the hostile attitude adopted by the Modi administration towards Pakistan is hazardous for the South Asian Stability.

Independent Researcher/ Freelance Columnist Area of Interest: Defence and Security Issues MPhil from Quaid e Azam University Islamabad in Defence and Strategic Studies, Master from Bahhahudin zakaria University Multan in International Relations

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Defense

The Proxy War of Libya: Unravelling the Complexities

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The African continent has been infamous for its desolate conditions and impoverished lifestyle for years. The violence has not spared the region either since the extremely unstable Middle-East has set the vendetta throughout the region, verging Africa in the east. Whether it comes to the spreading influence of ISIS under the flag of Boko Haram; a terrorist organisation operating in Chad and North-eastern Nigeria, or the rampant corruption scandals and ream of military cops in Zimbabwe, the region rivals the instability of its eastern neighbour. However, one conflict stands out in Northern Africa, in terms of high-stake involvement of foreign powers and policies that have riven the country, not unlike Syria in the Middle-East. Libya is one instance in Africa that has faced the civil war for almost a decade yet involves not only local powers but is also a focal point that has caused the NATO powers to be at odds.

Libya, officially recognised as the ‘State of Libya’, is a war-torn country in the Northern periphery of the African continent. The country is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea in the North, Egypt lies to its East and Sudan and Tunisia border in the Southeast and Northwest respectively. Apparent from the topography, Libya stands as an epicentre to the countries ridden with conflicts, stands the ground that was the central root of the infamous Arab Spring uprisings taking a rebellious storm right off its borders in Tunisia back in 2011. While the NATO-led campaign garnered success in overthrowing the notorious dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, and thus bringing the draconian regime to an end, it failed to account for the brewing rebels and militias in pockets throughout the state of Libya.

Over the following years, weaponry and ammunition was widely pervaded across the region in spite of strict embargo placed. The pilling artillery and unregulated rebels cycled the instability in the country leading to the successive governments to fail and eventually split the country in two dominant positions: The UN-recognised Government National Accord (GNA), led by Tripoli-based leader and prime minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, and the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by the tailing ally and successor to Gaddafi, General Khalifa Haftar.

While both GNA and LNA vied for the control on Libya, foreign powers involved rather similar to the labyrinth of stakes in Syria, each state split over the side supporting their part of the story and ultimately serving their arching purpose of interference in the region. Despite of the ruling regime of Al-Sarraj since the controversial election win of GNA in 2016, Haftar-led LNA controls an expansive territory and has been launching offensive attacks against the GNA alliance. GNA enjoys the support of US, Turkey, Qatar and Italy; each serving either ideological support or military backing to secure the elected government of Libya. Meanwhile, LNA is backed by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France. While the western powers see GNA as an economically stabilising solution to the Libyan crisis, Russia and France eye Haftar as a key ally to expand influence in the African region and reap control of the oil-rich resources under control of Haftar’s troops in the oil-crescent territory.

The Turkish regime, on the other hand, eye Libya as a direct answer to the Russian influence in the Syrian war that has been pushing the Kurdish alliance stronger along and within the southern borders of Turkey. This has led to recent clashes and direct escalation in the proxy war waged in Syria. Turkey plans to incentivise the leveraging position against Russia in Libya by deploying military advisory to Tripoli to strengthen their position against the Russian-backed Haftar to ultimately deter the alliance from spreading far in the African region.

The power split in Libya was exacerbated in 2017 following the Gulf crisis that led to the boycott of Qatar by the Arab quartet led by Saudi Arabia. Libya stood as a battle ground for both strategic and military positions to one up the other alliance in external power games while the internal matters of Libya are long forgotten and population left clueless and desperate for welfare. Since then, the vested interests in Libya have side-lined yet the peace process has been encouraged by both UN and Merkel-led ‘Berlin process’ in support to the UN efforts to restore peace in Libya. However, the strained relations and foreign demarcation is still apparent even though no escalation has been in action for months.

Now the ceasefires have been in talks for a while and except for a few skirmishes, the powers have been curbed since June 2020. The silence could imply room for diplomatic efforts to push a much-awaited resolve to this complex proxy war. With the recent turn of events in the global political canvas, wheels of the betterment might turn in favour of Libya. Saudi Arabia has recently joined hands with Qatar, opening all borders to the estranged ally and resuming diplomatic relations. Turkey is eying the coveted spot in the European Union since the UK exit. The US in redefining its policies under the revitalising administration of Joseph Biden while Russia deals with the tensed relations with the Gulf since the oil price war shattered the mutual understanding shared for years. The core players of the Libyan Proxy war are dormant and may remain passive due to external complexities to handle. Yet, with regional powers like Egypt threatening invasions in Libya and both GNA and LNA showing no interest in negotiation, a conclusive end to the Libyan crisis is still farfetched.

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Defense

Pakistan Army’s Ranking improved

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According to data issued by the group on its official website, Pakistan Army has been ranked the 10th most powerful in the world out of 133 countries on the Global Firepower index 2021.Especially the Special Services Group (SSG) is among the best in the world.  Just behind; 1- United States PwrIndx: 0.0721,  2- Russia PwrIndx: 0.0796, 3- China PwrIndx: 0.0858, 4- India PwrIndx: 0.1214, 5- Japan PwrIndx: 0.1435, 6- South Korea PwrIndx: 0.1621, 7- France PwrIndx: 0.1691, 8- United Kingdom PwrIndx: 0.2008, 9- Brazil PwrIndx: 0.2037, 10- Pakistan PwrIndx: 0.2083.

Global Firepower (GFP) list relies on more than 50 factors to determine a nation’s Power Index (‘PwrIndx’) score with categories ranging from military might and financials to logistical capability and geography.

Our unique, in-house formula allows for smaller, more technologically-advanced, nations to compete with larger, lesser-developed ones. In the form of bonuses and penalties, special modifiers are applied to further refine the annual list. Color arrows indicate a year-over-year trend comparison.

The geopolitical environment, especially the regional security situation, is quite hostile. Pakistan is bordering India, a typical adversary and has not accepted Pakistan’s independence from the core of heart, and always trying to damage Pakistan. The Kashmir issue is a long standing issue between the two rivals. On the other hand, the Afghan situation is a permanent security threat for Pakistan. Bordering Iran means always facing a danger of aggression from the US or Israel on Iran, resulting in vulnerabilities in Pakistan. The Middle East is a hot burning region and posing instability in the region. The growing tension between China and the US is also a source of a major headache for Pakistan.

Under such a scenario, Pakistan has to be very conscious regarding its security and sovereignty. Although Pakistan’s ailing economy is not supporting its defense needs, it may not compromise strategic issues for its survival. Pakistan focuses on the quality of its forces instead of quantity. The tough training makes a real difference—the utilization of Science and Technology-enabled Pakistan to maintain its supremacy.

Pakistan is situated at a crucial location – the entrance point to the oil-rich Arabian Gulf is just on the major trading route for energy. Pakistan is at the conjunction of Africa, Europe, Eurasia, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and China. Pakistan is a pivotal state and always focus of world powers.

During the cold war era, Pakistan sided with the US and protected the region’s American interests. The US military establishment knows well that as long as Pakistan stands with the US, it can achieve all its strategic goals in the region. However, It was the American choice to give more importance to India and ignore Pakistan.

Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and struggling for the promotion of peace globally. Pakistan always raises its voice at the UN and other international forums for oppressed ones and against any injustice. Pakistan. In the history of seven decades, Pakistan was never involved in any aggression against any country. Pakistan’s official stance is, “We are partner for peace with any country, any nation, or individuals.” Pakistan is a partner and supporter of any peace-initiative in any part of the world. 

However, Pakistan is always prepared to protect its territorial integrity and will not allow any aggressor to harm our sovereignty at any cost. Pakistan is determined for its independence and geographical integrity.

Pakistan is no threat to any country or nation. Neither have any intention of expansion. But always ready to give a tough time to any aggressor.

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Defense

Israel continues its air strikes against Syria after Biden’s inauguration: What’s next?

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A family of four, including two children, died as a result of an alleged Israeli air strike on Hama in northwestern Syria on Friday, January 22, Syrian media said. In addition, four people were injured and three civilian houses were destroyed.

According to a military source quoted by Syrian outlets, Israel launched an air strike at 4 a.m. on Friday from the direction of Lebanese city of Tripoli against some targets on the outskirts of Hama city.

“Syrian air defense systems confronted an Israeli air aggression and shot down most of the hostile missiles,” the source said.

The Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported that there were loud sounds of explosions in the area.

In turn, the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on alleged strikes resulted in the death of Syrian citizens.

Over the past time, Israel significantly stepped up its aerial bombardment. This incident was the fifth in a series of Israeli air attacks on targets in Syria in the past month and the first after the inauguration of the U.S. President Joe Biden. Foreign analysts and military experts said that Tel Aviv intensified air strikes on Syria, taking advantage of the vacuum of power in the United States on the eve of Biden taking office as president.

While the Donald Trump administration turned a blind eye on such aggression, a change of power in the United States could remarkably limit Israel in conducting of military operations against Syria and Iran-affiliated armed groups located there. As it was stated during his presidential campaign, Joe Biden intends to pursue a more conciliatory foreign policy towards Iran. In particular, he unequivocally advocated the resumption of the nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In this regard, Tel Aviv’s unilateral actions against Iranian interests in Syria could harm Washington’s plans to reduce tensions with Tehran.

By continuing air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, Israel obviously sent a massage to the United States that Tel Aviv will consistently run anti-Iran policy, even if it will be in conflict with the interests of the Joe Biden administration. On the other hand, such Israeli behavior threatens to worsen relations with the United States, its main ally.

In the nearest future, the US reaction on the Israeli belligerent approach toward Iran will likely determine whether the relations between Tehran, Tel Aviv and Washington will get better or the escalation will continue.

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