It is generally known that the modern world has a great interest in the East Asia region, were some of the greatest super powers in terms of economy, strength, population, and military capabilities, are focused. For instance, Japan is a technological and economic giant, and at the same time it is a close ally to the United States since the end of World War II. It may not be a nuclear power, but no analyst can seriously underestimate the ability of the country’s Self-Defense Forces. Across the Chinese Sea, lies the greatest power of Asia; the People’s Republic of China. It can be seen as equal to the unique superpower of the International System, the United States. Economically and commercially powerful, it keeps a nuclear arsenal and armed forces that are constantly evolving technologically, although they are not as powerful as the US respectively.
Other states in the region with economic power and large populations, but with apparently inferior military capabilities, are India, South Korea, Vietnam and the Philippines. In addition to this, Russia should not be underestimated. Even North Korea’s isolated regime with an unpredictable leadership constitutes an unstable (or even failed) state. The United States maintains compelling forces in the region on a permanent basis (US Navy’s 7th Fleet). The excessive US presence provides security to its allies from the expansionism ambition of Beijing. As a result, East Asia hosts a colossal financial, commercial, technological, and industrial center of the planet.
Furthermore, the Chinese Sea is of strategic importance for the world’s trade and consequently, the global economy. It is the bridge between the Pacific and the Indian Ocean, as this is the fundamental trade route for sea merchandise and energy. This commercial route is indispensable for the States we mentioned above as well as the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and Europe. The concentration of an extended number of States, with their unique interests and cross-purposes in a relatively limited geographical area, renders the concept of a fragile balance of power. The contemporary International System of States is characterized by the hegemonic competition between USA and China, which until the present day, is mainly manifested in the China Sea. The scenario which follows is hypothetical, however it is not absurd. It anticipates a sequence of events that escalate as other States try to ensure their interests. The outcome of such a conflict is highly unpredictable, thus is perilous for global peace and stability.
The Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) are conducting their annual large-scale aeronautical exercises across the Japanese archipelago near the Beijing-disputed Senkaku / Diao Islands, with the participation of allied forces from Australia, US, South Korea, and Great Britain. The presence of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with warships, Air Force, and Coast Guard vessels for the monitoring of the Japanese forces is a given. Simultaneously, at a close range to the area of the exercises are operating naval units of the Russian Pacific Fleet, as well as warships belonging to the North Korean Navy (KPN) and Taiwan. Finally, observers of the large aeronautical exercise are from India, France, Brazil, Canada, Israel, and Saudi Arabia.
The accident drives to an unexpected escalation
During the first two days of the exercise nothing noticeable happened. However, during the third day of the exercise, a small Chinese Coast Guard vessel executed dangerous maneuvers near a Japanese Naval Destroyer. These precarious maneuvers combined with adverse weather conditions caused a major maritime accident. More specifically, the two vessels collided, resulting in the instantaneous sinking of the lighter Chinese ship along with all of its crew members. From this moment, a dramatic escalation began as their respective Governments were informed of the incident. What is crucial in this similar circumstance is the interpretation that will be given by each respective party involved. Tokyo and Beijing were definitely in the forefront, as those actors are directly involved in the accident.
Just two hours after the collision, China’s Foreign Ministry issued a vicious statement against Japan as it blamed the latter for an uninvited and highly aggressive move that cost lives of Chinese sailors. China claimed to reserve the right to respond appropriately to the Japanese challenge. As expected, the Japanese responded to the Chinese provocative statement by issuing an even harsher one to Beijing, as it has accused Beijing of intentional violation of Japanese territorial waters, harassment of Japanese self-defense forces, and violation of the Law of the Sea. The Japanese demarche ended with the affirmation that the country’s armed forces were determined to defend Japan and its interests against any possible threat. Foreign Ministry Offices and diplomatic services of both countries monitored closely with great nervousness the potential announcements of war from both sides.
However, this nervousness escalated over time. Analysts from every corner of the planet were seeking for valid and quick information. Kremlin spokesman, in a public statement, plead for restraint, but blatantly sided with Beijing. They urged Japan to compensate Beijing. This apparently after a conversation between the Chinese and Russian President’s. Several analysts claimed that Russia’s stance reflected the dispute with Japan over the Kuril Islands, located close to the Kamchatka Peninsula, which Stalin annexed from Japan after the end of WW II. The Japanese government has not accepted the Russian occupation over the Islands ever since then. Tokyo did not formally respond to the Russian objections, as the majority of analysts might expect, but instead it was the White House spokesman, who in turn called for restraint and emphasized that the US government, having the 7th Fleet in the region, was ready to provide any assistance to its allies, including Japan.
It was commonly known that Washington was committed to the Japanese protection over any external threat. Consequently, the United States could not back down from this obligation as it would be perceived as a weakness by its competitors. The European Union was embarrassed by the developments. While the French President called for an immediate convergence of the UN Security Council to discuss the crisis in the China Sea. After all, the permanent seats of the UNSC were held by the United States, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom, almost all the states which were directly or indirectly involved in this confrontation.
Notwithstanding, the Chinese side had a different perspective on the issue. For the Chinese Communist Party’s (CPC) leadership, it was just implausible to shrink back on such an affair, especially since the news of the incident had been spreading rapidly around the world. A significant number of Western analysts regarded that Chinese authorities spread the news deliberately in order to apply pressure on the Japanese side. Simultaneously, the country’s government put military units on alert, especially in the navy, the air force as well as its strategic missile forces. People around the World watched of the breaking news of the gigantic Chinese military mobilization. Public opinion in China was offended by the Japanese challenge while hostility between the two nations resurrected as protestors outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing demanded an immediate response from China even if it entailed a full scale war. On the other hand, the Japanese public opinion was watching the developments with self-discipline, but a vivid minority demanded a fearless response to the Chinese threats. The Chinese government’s announcement left no room for misinterpretation. For the country, the Japanese movement was undoubtedly offensive. To make matters worse, the Chinese unhesitatingly rejected the French President’s suggestion regarding the convergence of the UNSA, as they considered the issue to be bilateral and demanded reparation from Japan. The announcement was so belligerent that it was essentially considered as a Chinese ultimatum to Japan which no one expected it to be accepted.
This was the time when a war in the China Sea was suddenly a serious possibility rather than just a scenario. Without warning, two Chinese warships fired missiles at a Japanese frigate, destroying it almost completely. At the same time, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced that it was stopping all diplomatic relations with Tokyo until Japan officially apologized for the accident and agrees to compensate. All the military forces which deployed in the area during the exercise were ordered to be on high alert. An US destroyer rushed to aid the burning Japanese frigate only to be fired upon by the Chinese as well. An uncontrollable escalation was just around the corner. All US warships in the area were ordered to respond immediately to the Chinese fire. The Chinese side apparently did not expect such a dynamic and immediate response on behalf of the United States. As so, the Chinese did not return fire on the American Naval War ships. This inaction by the Chinese navy resulted in the irreparable damage of three warships and hundreds of deaths of its sailors. Eventually, the Chinese Air Force did not show the same inaction shown by the Chinese fleet. A critical strategic advantage was the proximity to the area of operations and the fact that, Chinese pilots, did not have to encounter with the Japanese air force and not with the advanced US Air Force in great numbers. The result was devastating for the allied force.
The General Staff of the belligerent sides as well as the intelligence agencies and embassies were in red alert. Information coming from the area of operations was cataclysmic and often contradictory. For the Japanese side, this was the result of the Chinese Cyber and Secret Services asymmetric warfare against the allied surveillance and communication systems. The situation could easily be described as total chaos. Military units were be deployed in strategic positions while the 7th US Fleet was ready to assist its close ally in full strength. The balance of power was shifting at the expense of Beijing, a fact that the Chinese side realized in time. The country’s military Chief of Staff held a press conference in which he announced that the Chinese Strategic Forces were prepared to strike hard against the Japanese islands with nuclear weapons in the event of allied ships striking the Chinese fleet. This threat of nuclear escalation, by a direct nuclear strike, was reminiscent of 1962 and the almost nuclear war between the two super powers during the Cold War era.
The Chinese statement shocked the world’s public opinion. No one could be certain about the Chinese intentions. Governments, International Organizations, NGO’s and multinational corporations were more than restless. No official reaction came from any party involved, not even from the UN for a long period of time. Of course, away from the spotlight was intense behind the scenes conferences and meetingsto de-escalation the situation. The initiative was taken by the UN Secretary General, who, using secret diplomacy, was struggling to prevent a nuclear war. The stakes were high as it was assumed that the US Strategic Command was in high alert and ready to retaliate if there was a possible Chinese nuclear strike against Japan. This of course would have resulted with unpredictable consequences for the entire planet. Those hours were truly dramatic.
Twelve hours after the Chinese’s initial announcement and threat international observers noticed that some of the naval forces of both sides withdrew to their bases. The same happened for the naval forces of Russia, North Korea, Taiwan, as well as the other’s participants of the naval drill. Progressively military forces were evacuating the Chinese Sea. De- escalation was a reality and the news spread rapidly around the world causing a deep feeling of relief to everyone. It was clear that no one desired a nuclear war. At the same time, at UN Headquarters in NYC, the Secretary-General informed the World’s public opinion about an agreement regarding a round of negotiations in Zurich, Switzerland, between the Chinese President and the Japanese Prime Minister which has been scheduled in the forthcoming weeks. An hour later the Japanese Foreign Office confirmed the agreement as well as the Chinese side. US State Department spokesman confirmed that the situation in the region was heading to detente. Eventually peace had returned but for how long until the next crisis was another matter of discussion.
This scenario is hypothetical, as the title admits. However, our intention is not to sound as if we are warlike but instead to give an example of how easily tensions can rise due to an accident. The assembly of great military strength in a relative small area, like the China Sea, has the dynamic to cause a maritime or an air accident/disaster, as has happened in the past, with unpredictable consequences for the region, the global economy and eventually the entire planet. The hegemonic competition between China and USA is rather easy to be escalated from a current trade war to a full scale military conflict unless the two sides show self-restrain. The Asia-Pacific region is of high importance to the global economy and trade. The rise of China consists of a threat to the global interests of the United States and its hegemonic position but also intensifies the security dilemma of the others states in the region which seek to enforce their military capabilities. This course of events will drive eventually to an arms race in the region which is a reality as military spending in 2019 is at the highest level since 1988. On the other hand, the US presence in the region is considered from Beijing as an effort to place obstacles to the Chinese dominance. A possible destabilization of this region could be proved catastrophic to our modern world. This is a scenario which utterly must be avoided.
COVID-19 and Challenges to the Indian Defence Establishment
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an uncertain situation all over the world. It is defined as the greatest challenge faced by the world since World War II. At a certain point, the pandemic had forced world governments to announce lockdowns in their respective countries that led to more than half of the human population being home quarantined. Since then, social distancing, travel bans, and cancellation of international summits have become a routine exercise. Most sectors such as agriculture, health, education, economy, manufacturing have been severely hit across the globe. One such sector which is vital to national security that has been impacted due to the pandemic is defence.
The effect of influenza and pneumonia during WWI on the US military was huge. The necessity to mobilise troops across the Atlantic made it even ideal for the diseases to spread rapidly among the defence personnel and civilians. Between mid-1917 and 1919, the fatalities were more so due to the disease than getting killed in action. Due to COVID-19, there have been many implications within the defence sector. Amid the ongoing transgressions in Ladakh, it becomes imperative to analyse the preparedness of the Indian defence establishment to tackle the challenges at hand.
Disrupting the Status Quo
Many personnel in the Indian armed forces have been tested positive for COVID-19. This puts the operational capabilities at risk. In one isolated incident, 26 personnel of the Navy had been placed in quarantine after being tested positive for COVID-19. The French and the Americans had a great challenge ahead of them as hundreds of soldiers were getting infected onboard their Naval vessels. Furthermore, the Army saw some cases being tested positive as well. In one such incident, the headquarters of the Indian Army had to be temporarily shut down because of a soldier contracting the virus. These uncalled disruptions are very dangerous for our armed forces. These disruptions challenge the recruitment process and training exercises.
Since the Indian Army has been involved in quarantining tasks, this exposes the personnel to the virus. As a result of this, the first soldier was tested positive on March 20 in Leh. Among them, those who work as medical personnel are even more exposed to the virus. In order to enforce damage control to the operational capabilities, the Army made sure that the non-essential training, travel, and attending conferences remained cancelled. They called off any foreign assignments and postings for the time being. The Army also made it a point to extend leaves for that personnel who were already on absence. This was a major preventive measure adopted to prevent further infection.
As a result of the lockdown that had been imposed nationwide, the defence services were forced to temporarily stall all the activities that relate to soldiering during peacetime. These activities include training, pursuing professional qualification, fitness tests and regimes, equipment maintenance such as unit assets and stores, up-gradation of the cadres among others. Since the Indian Army boasts of a force that has signed up voluntarily to guard the borders, most of the troops are away from their families, which makes it even more difficult during the times of crises. The mega biennial naval exercises scheduled to be held in Vizag were cancelled due to COVID-19. A total of 41 navies were planned to be a part of the joint exercises called MILAN. The Service Selection Board (SSB) training and the recruitment process have been put to a halt as well. This will severely impact the intake process for this year.
The Army’s capable of operating in a Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) environment and has sufficient equipment like infantry vehicles, helicopters and tanks which can operate without any hassles. Since instances of chemical warfare have been witnessed in West Asia and other regions in the last two decades, the focus of the Army has been on that and not on biological warfare. Most Armies believe that bio-weaponry is still fictional and won’t come into play any time soon. Naturally, due to this mindset, most Armies are not capable of handling biohazards. This is a major setback in the time of COVID-19 and has to be addressed.
Riding Down the Slope
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the Indian economy has been nose-diving day by day. This is some bad news for the defence sector since the military spending will possibly be reduced as a result of the slowdown. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), India’s GDP will grow at 1.9 per cent. This is one of the lowest in the history of post-independent India. Allocations and spendings will naturally take a hit and will take a long time to revive again. Defence manufacturing will also face a setback and discourage indigenous players who are looking at getting involved in the manufacturing and innovation sector. MoD has already received the Ministry of Finance’s circular that called for the defence spending to be limited to 15-20 per cent of the total amount allocated. This will ensure that the defence budget is not the priority for the finance ministry. A gap of Rs. 1,03,000 crore has been highlighted between the requirement and the allocated money. More than 60 per cent of this allocated amount anyway goes towards paying salaries and pensions. This means that the modernisation efforts will face a major slowdown in the next two years. Defence procurement is already difficult due to the bureaucratic hurdles, now the monetary crunch only adds more woes.
Moreover, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had announced earlier that more than 9,000 posts belonging to the Military Engineering Services (MES) will be abolished in the said industrial division. The reason cited was that this would bring about a balance to the expenditure. Due to the lockdown, the military development has taken a hit and has seen a decline in the production of freights. As of now, there is no manufacturing that is ongoing as far as fighter planes or aircraft, in general, is concerned. Some of the signed defence deals and contracts are said to be reviewed due to the financial crunch. India’s defence budget is expected to see some cuts due to the economy slowing down. The pandemic has worsened this even further. There is already an existing order to cap the spending for the first quarter of this fiscal year. Most of the payments that are being disbursed is largely that of paying for the existing contracts. This will diminish any scope for procurement of newer defence equipment that helps in modernising the armed forces in the long run. According to a report, it says that the Ministry of Defence is looking at a savings of anywhere between Rs. 400 and 800 billion in the 2020-21 financial year. To quote Yuval Noah Harari from his recent article in the Financial Times would seem relevant in this case, “Many short-term emergency measures will become a fixture of life. That is the nature of emergencies. They fast-forward historical processes. Decisions that in normal times could take years of deliberation are passed in a matter of hours.” India has displayed the significant political will to make impactful decisions during the pandemic. The question is, how far and how soon can we push ourselves to be prepared on all fronts?
Rafale deal: A change in aerial balance in South Asia?
The induction of the first consignment of five Rafale jets in the Indian Air Force inventory is considered to be a game-changer in the aerial balance of the South Asian region. A multi-billion-dollar package will be beneficial to increase the air prowess of Indian Airforce. While equipped with weapons of tangible accuracy including long-range SCALP and Meteor missiles, it will be able to hunt any target with accurate precision. The arrival of French-made engines has concerned neighboring Pakistan and China due to its high accuracy of conducting sea and ground attacks.
The experience of operation ‘Swift Retort’ and Chinese intrusion in Ladakh, compelled New Delhi to introspect the efficiency of IAF in any major or minor engagement in the future. The deal to acquire Rafale fighting jets to plug the loopholes in the aerial power of IAF was inked in September 2016. This induction is meant to enhance the Indian Air force’s operational capabilities and will also assist it to overcome the technological disparity with the US manufactured Pakistan’s F-16 and Chinese Chengdu JF-17 thunder. However, the task for PAF to restrict IAF moves in the future has become more challenging. Despite its competence and better training of its personals as compared to IAF the air superiority is still not guaranteed if the technological gap between IAF and PAF gets wider. Notably, it’s hard to assess the proficiencies of one jet over another because the ‘man behind the machine is more critical’.
Rafale is a twin-engine Medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRC) whose design instigate from Dassault Mirage with an up to date frame of the 1990s, already used by the French Navy and air force as well as by Egypt and Qatar. Furthermore, these jets were also engaged in combat missions in Afghanistan and Libya where they demonstrated a high proficiency. Whilst JF-17 thunder holds a conventional design originating from Mig 33 having an airframe of 1980s and it also demonstrated its capabilities in PAF’s Operation “Swift Retort”.
In an overall assessment, JF17 is a lightweight, conventional, fuel-economical, and cost-effective jet aircraft. The most momentous factor in JF17 thunder is it’s beyond visual range capabilities and integration of AESA radar that will not only allow detecting the wide-ranged targets but also to detect and lock multiple targets instantaneously. Meanwhile, it is less disposed to jamming and leaves a low sign to radar that makes the detection of fighter difficult hence increasing its reliability. Moreover, a crop numerical advantage and training aptitude due to the use of a similar platform and its cost-effectiveness makes itself a suitable aircraft for the Pakistan air force. Similarly, the ability of any up-gradation domestically for JF-17 also increases the feasibility of this aircraft, while Rafale lacks this opportunity because Indians lack the platform that can guarantee any domestic up-gradation for Rafale. Generally, Dassault Rafale is advanced in airframe, delta wing Canard design, semi stealth specter to counter threats as well as MBDA meteor that makes it a very affluent fighter with a high operational cost.
Rafales are considered superior over existing fighter jets present in PAF inventory and with the advanced technology they will relish an edge over Pakistani jets. But in case of any aerial engagement on Pakistani soil, Experts orate that in such a scenario Pakistani fighters will enjoy an edge due to its enhanced Air defense ground environment (ADGE) and also a window will remain open for PAF that when and where to carry out a counter strike as it did during operation ‘Swift Retort’. In such case, Indian numerical advantage and war resilience will be of less significance because these factors are relished by the party having a counter-strike option and that party will decide that how much allocation of resources is needed to engage for a mission after having a careful assessment of adversary’s air defense capabilities.
It’s also important to know that PAF and IAF can carry out surprise air raids nearby to the international border in peacetime without the probability of interception by adversary radars. Neither sides have the strength and capabilities to maintain 24/7 air surveillance across a 3323-kilometer long international border. Hence it’s also necessary for Pakistan to counter or deter any kind of surgical or tactical strike in the future. But the concern is still there that after the Balakot experience will India be deterred for conducting similar strikes in the future?
While viewing this scenario and having an experience of Balakot episode, PAF efforts to enhance its capabilities of airborne intercept radar and BVR missiles in JF-17 thunder’s fleet are noteworthy. However, PAF should pursue an up-gradation on its existing F16 squadron. The presence of Rafale and S-400 air defense system will be challenging for PAF to retaliate, but the Indian S-400 and Rafale jets can’t shield the whole international border so the PAF needs a careful assessment to choose the targets that are not under the umbrella of S-400 or the access of Rafales while keeping in mind not to carry out an action that can trigger the adversary towards any escalation.
In a nutshell, the arrival of French-made engines equipped with long-range SCALP and meteor missiles having high precision is not only beneficial for Indian air prowess but it has also concerned its neighbors notably Pakistan for countermeasures. The experience of Operation Swift Retort and the recent military standoff in Ladakh has compelled New Delhi to modernize its Soviet-era air force by the induction of Dassault Rafales that will provide IAF an edge over the existing fighter jets in PAF’s inventory. However, the crop numerical advantage and training aptitude due to the use of a similar platform increases the feasibility of JF-17 thunder in PAF’s inventory. Hence in case of any aerial engagement in future the numerical advantage will be of more concern as 100+ JF-17 thunders will relish an edge over 36 Rafales and PAF will have the option of counterstrike that when and where to carry out a retaliation after carefully assessing the adversary capabilities in light of S-400 air defense system and Dassault Rafales. Hence Rafale jets have air superiority over existing Pakistani fighter jets but it can’t alter the aerial balance in South Asian region unilaterally.
Pakistan’s Nuclear Diplomacy: Commitment Towards Non-Proliferation
Ever since Pakistan became a nuclear weapon state, Pakistan’s nuclear diplomacy has been in practice on the principles of restraint and responsibility. Pakistan was even reluctant to enter the club of nuclear weapon states but soon after India had conducted its first nuclear test in the year 1974, going nuclear became Pakistan’s strategic compulsion. India’s series of nuclear tests in 1998 had compelled Pakistan to demonstrate its nuclear weapon capability accordingly to restore the strategic balance in South Asia. The development of Pakistan’s nuclear weapon capability primarily serves the purpose of a credible and reliable defence against the existential threat from India and to maintain peace and stability in the region. After the inevitable nuclearization of South Asia, Pakistan has never been a part of any arms race in South Asia. Pakistan can neither afford and nor have an intent to indulge in an arms race in the region This is evident from the very fact that Pakistan has always been open for dialogues and arms control initiatives at the regional and international levels. In this regard, Pakistan’s recent proposal at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva is also part of its responsible nuclear diplomacy to urge the international community to take steps and develop consensus on arms control and disarmament. These factors show Pakistan’s commitment and adherence to achieve the goal of nuclear non-proliferation.
As part of its non-proliferation efforts, in the past, Pakistan had also proposed various Confidence Building Measures (CBMs)at the regional level. For instance, in 1974 Pakistan had proposed to make South Asia a nuclear-weapon-free zone (NWFZ), in1978 proposal for the joint Indo-Pak declaration renouncing the manufacture and acquisition of nuclear weapons was presented. Similarly, in 1979 Pakistan had proposed the mutual inspection of each other’s nuclear facilities to build confidence and promote transparency. Moreover, being a responsible international player, in 1979 Pakistan had proposed to simultaneously sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)along with India as non-nuclear-weapon states. In 1988 Pakistan had proposed a bilateral treaty to ban the nuclear tests to elude overt nuclearization and reduce the nuclear risk. With the high risk attached to the emerging technologies and delivery systems, in 1994 Pakistan had proposed the South Asia zero-missile zone. Hence over the period, Pakistan has continued its efforts towards nuclear CBMs by proposing various regional and bilateral non-proliferation initiatives. These were aimed at strengthening strategic stability and to reduce the risk of any nuclear conflict in the region. Unfortunately, India has always shown a negative attitude to all such proposals and disrupted various technical, political, and strategic level talks on nuclear CBMs. This historical evidence further validates Pakistan’s appropriate nuclear diplomacy and enhances its credibility as a responsible nuclear-weapon state.
In continuation of its responsible nuclear diplomacy, most recently at the plenary meeting of CD, being held in June 2020, Pakistan has put forth its concerns regarding the nuclear disarmament. While speaking at the conference, Pakistan’s permanent representative to CD Ambassador Khalil Hashmi deliberated upon that with the emerging global conflicts, the consensus on non-proliferation and disarmament has also abraded. The likelihood of a resumption of nuclear testing by countries like the USA, Russia, and India and increased prospects of nuclear use has made the global arms control regime dormant. The increasing trend of double standards and discrimination of the western countries was also highlighted. It was pointed out that the politics of granting waivers to certain states particularly India serves as one of the reasons that the confidence in the nuclear non-proliferation regime has eroded. India’s aspiration of regional hegemony and aggressive military posture against Pakistan are the main contributing factors towards instability and turbulence in South Asia. Moreover, India’s non- compliance with international law has emboldened it to intimidate its neighboring countries and to continue its brutalities in the Kashmir region. India’s irresponsible and incendiary rhetoric combined with its enhanced and aggressive nuclear capabilities is a huge threat to regional peace and security.
To address the above concerns, Pakistan has outlined eleven points roadmap to build the global consensus on non-proliferation. Some of the important steps include; the ‘right of equal security for all states’ in both conventional and non-conventional domains at the national and international levels. The SSOD-I (Special Session on disarmament) has unanimously agreed to this principle of equal security. This shows that Pakistan’s nuclear diplomacy and its non-proliferation efforts have been acknowledged at such an international forum. Another pragmatic step would be that through a non-discriminatory Fissile Material Treaty, all the states must eliminate the current fissile material stock and abandon future production. Likewise, all non-nuclear-weapon states must be provided with security assurances until nuclear disarmament is achieved. A non-discriminatory and universal agreement must be developed to address the concerns regarding the proliferation and development of ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) systems. Furthermore, there is a need to strengthen laws to prevent the militarization of outer space and development of LAWS (Lethal Autonomous Weapons System) to be brought under international regulation. Hence to deal with the existing and future challenges to nuclear non-proliferation, international efforts are needed to rethink and re-evaluate the foundations of the non-proliferation regime.
Hence, in this nuclear age, global strategic stability cannot be achieved through discriminatory non-proliferation measures. There is a need for an enabling environment at both the global and regional levels for successful nuclear non-proliferation engagements. In South Asia, India’s offensive doctrines of a limited war under a nuclear overhang, nuclear brinkmanship, and notions of a splendid first strike have posed a serious threat to regional security. In this regard, CBMs and crisis control along with nuclear risk reduction are direly needed to help reinstate a stable regional nuclear order. This would likely serve the key to enduring peace and stability. Despite India’s perilous and pessimist role in the non-proliferation realm, Pakistan should continue to act responsibly and maintain a constructive and responsible nuclear diplomacy.
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