In this globalized world, time and space are shrinking with the advent of technologies. But the prevailing global interconnections are creating some irreversible collision among the sovereign units, which suggest that this Liberal democratic world became so complicated and peculiar that at this stage no one can control anything, not even superpower. Though they can regulate to some extent but can’t control. Most of the sovereign units are running on democratic principles; nevertheless, there are still several unregulated territories are operating, which is a major concern for democratic nations to deal with them. Hence, these territories provide a breeding ground for illegal activities due to the absence of law and order in that particular area. Most critical of among those territories is the Afghanistan, which became a hub of illicit trade and drug trafficking as well as the global source of terroristic movements.
Afghanistan is not only posing severe hurdles to neighbouring countries, but it is a menace to global peace. Notwithstanding, a full-fledged Afghan government, Taliban are accompanying with Al-Qaeda is the major key players in the region. They entirely disregard the policies of the government, also seeks to counterbalance the power politics in its favour. In praxis, there is no indivisible supreme authority with the capability to command over the whole territory which renders sufficient space for anarchy and turbulence in the region. This implies that afghan, as a state, failed to administer in its real sense. Consequently, it inflates the mystery to classify the nature of Afghanistan to have a meaningful analysis. Presently, Ashraf Ghani, the successor of Hamid Karzai leading the country since 2014, which signifies that Afghanistan is not a completely failed state; instead, it has some fragmented parts. This inefficiency of the state to govern according to global norms is disrupting the peace and also serve as a reservoir of illegal activities. The attack of 9/11 is a suitable example of lawlessness accompanying with the grave consequences of outgrowth of terrorism. Briefly, the geographical terrain in and around the afghan region gives a very suitable space for terrorists to flourish and hide. Hence, these non-state actors are striving to expand their magnetism to the neighbouring countries, which may prompt major security implications for the bordering countries primarily for CAR due to the weak political system and porous borders. Similarly, India is also affected by radical and extremist tendencies that stem from volatile Afghanistan. Moreover, India commenced pursuing its interests in Afghanistan with the well-established engagement. Therefore, India needs to pedal carefully to remain intact in the Taliban headed Afghanistan.
Afghanistan: Failed or Fragmented state?
Afghanistan is known for the history of invasion following with its internal strife and open- ended battle that is intensifying the situation even further without any foreseeable end. All the international efforts have been ineffective to render any useful explication of the conflict chiefly because of ethnic clashes among the civilians and Pakistani interferences. As a consequence, this engendered into convulsions and disruptions within Afghanistan. The instability and the legacy of the Taliban is also a major cause of conflict which leaves no option for the government to execute any practical solutions. However, it is quintessential to identify the speculations behind the germination of non-state actors, nonetheless the world’s most potent military interventions. Why only Afghanistan, not Pakistan or Central Asia or any other region of the world? This question diverts the attention to diagnose the nature of Afghanistan as a state first.
According to Max Weber, the territorial boundary of the country is governed by an exclusive sovereign authority termed as government or state (Gauba, 2009). However, in the case of Afghanistan, not only the state but the non-state actors also regulating different territorial area within a country. There are numerous autonomous units operating to stretch their influence over the territory. This signifies that Afghanistan failed to perform the process of law and governance efficiently. In short, the Afghan government failed to comply with all the principal features of the state, which indicates that power is divided among various stakeholders primarily where the state is weak, fragmented or in extreme cases failed (Barfield, 2010). Hence, it is incompetent for the state to exert authority over all actors within the borders of the state. Mainly if there are non-state armed actors who are maintaining autonomous character mostly by force, then it is almost impossible for the government to execute any order in that region (Rotberg, 2005). On the other hand, Afghanistan has elected president including a political system which restrains us from distinguishing Afghanistan as a failed state.
Hamid Karzai was the first Democratically elected president of Afghanistan and subsequentially his successor Ashraf Ghani is leading the country since 2014 (Nick B. Mills, 2007). It exhibits that Afghanistan has unusual features of the state but not complying with all the authentic features of a nation-state. However, it is imprecise to delineate Afghan as a failed state; instead, it shows the symptoms of fragmentation. Therefore, there is a need to crystalize the understanding of failed state and fragmented state to have a feasible conclusion. State failure is a difficult situation where state agency ceases to operate entirely or partly. In Afghanistan, the circumstances are more similar to the fragmented state where the so-called illegal non-state actors have a significant role to play accompanying with state authorities. Lastly, non-state actors do not acknowledge the hierarchy of authorities which eventually drives to the anarchy and lawlessness within a state.
The threat for Democratic World Order
In the 21st century, the world regulates on the orbit of liberal principles. The post-soviet era with a twist from fixed to flexible exchange rate system gave enormous space to flourish the liberalism or in another way globalization to its zenith. Globalization not only demands the flexible economy but also requires a stable political system for its growth. In contrast, the political system of Afghanistan is precarious and led to the outgrowth of baneful factors. The politically destabilize country consists of numerous Clan leaders, which are the main components of the political fabric of the country. The presence of these clans with diverse and distinct social beliefs and norms paves the way of the tussle. Besides, the existence of external forces since the last half-century also contributing to antagonize the culture and ignited the growth of extremist ideologies. Ever since millions of dollars and human resources has been injected, but the story remains unchanged.
Gradually, Afghanistan became the hub of transnational organized crimes with the support of highly sophisticated weapon systems. Mostly, the funding for these activities is obtained with the help of illicit financial flows and the narco trade estimated around $400 in 2018. The growth of the illicit trade in Afghanistan is indestructible, and the country is now the origin of around 90% of the global supply of heroin (Gregorian, 2020). This opium poppy cultivation is one of the primary sources of livelihood in the region. On the other hand, it also serves as a platform to establish strong linkages among the farmers and illegal outsourcing agents, furthermore undermines the credibility of state authorities. These illegitimate connections deviate and alienate the civilians from state apparatuses and inclined them towards the radical or jihadist ideologies. The “Idea of Jihad” befuddles the individual to the extent that they can be used as a suicide bombers in the name of sacrifice. Therefore, the suicidal tactics became one of the unbeatable apocalyptic methods to perpetrate terror on a broader aspect. Moreover, these new tactics bashing the U.S. and NATO to reassess its counterterrorism measures and policies to secure peace and stability. Since the last two decades, the U.S. analysts and policymakers are incompetent to design the concrete path of victory despite the persistent multilateral engagements and consistent failure, eventually leading to an unsettled withdrawal of U.S. forces in a desultory manner.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, the conflict status of Afghanistan is still getting worse notwithstanding multilateral peace talks among prominent leaders and stakeholders, which may undermine the future prospects of any settlement and inter-afghan mediations. Furthermore, the stage of reconciliation after year-long consultations once again lost its sanctity with the emergence of a global pandemic and declining interest of the Taliban. However, the Afghan crisis sinking a massive amount of human and financial resources following with the unprecedented deaths and casualties to settle the battle. Consequentially, it became a global solicitude to safeguard Afghanistan from turning into a terrorist safe haven. Terrorism and extremism are dangerous for all nations around the world. Also, the drug mafia within Afghanistan is posing a hard blow, domestically and internationally and expanding its root in the region due to its lawlessness. The development of these illegal movements within Afghanistan and around the region raises serious security concerns for the world, can also break off the stability and impede the global economic growth. Lastly, it can be said that without any focused effort to dismantle the unauthorized trade and activities, Afghanistan will continue to captivate the corruption and violence that have plagued the world throughout the turbulent history. Henceforth, it is essential to track the development process in Afghanistan and harmonize the situation with the help of the U.S. and other NATO allies to sustain a peaceful world order.
Security Implications on CAR
As it has been previously stated that Afghanistan is a war-torn nation and its devastating repercussions left the economy crumbled. This economic insufficiency plus unemployment constrain civilians to join the militancy groups. These groups have very active linkages from the Islamic world, especially from Pakistan and Saudi Arabia moreover, they were creating robust linkages to extend their scope in the other bordering countries to harbour themselves during the crisis. Additionally, they also try to woo the civilians of other nations in the name of holy wars.
Afghanistan crisis became a global threat due to the mounting narco trade and outreach of terrorist. Historical pieces of evidence reveal that religious extremism provides the base for terrorism while ultimately, Afghanistan is surrounded by the hard-core Islamic countries. Consequentially, the threat is not only confined to Afghanistan; slightly, it has flooded the neighbouring countries with severe repercussions. Most affected is Central Asia the immediate neighbours of Afghanistan, which provides a substantial base for the terrorist to deceive and accomplish their goals along with Pakistan’s strategic support. Central Asia’s corrupt bureaucracy and weak political system present ample possibilities to prosper the so-called unauthorized activities without any legal risk vis a vis militant groups in Afghanistan are also forming a very close nexus with the neighbouring countries to acquire human and financial resources, especially in CAR.
The threats emanating from Afghanistan is not only using Central Asia as a breeding ground for subversive activities; somewhat, it is also ruining the indigenous culture of these countries. Afghanistan is posing multifaceted economic, political and cultural challenges to the CAR because of the defective political system. The unsteady civic institutions of Central Asia and regional conflict gives leverage to infiltrators to operate under their nose. Besides, religious extremism, ethnic divisions, drug trafficking, illicit trade, and the supply of deadly weapons is the major security threats instigated by Afghanistan. Further, Central Asian routes are used for the opium trade, which is a major source of funding for the Afghan warlords. Moreover, the unresponsive governments of the region failed to harmonies the situation for better economic growth which is worrisome for the major trading partners, including India. Henceforth, the failing economies and the lack of a powerful motivation to engage with India is obstructing the fruits of mutual benefits.
India’s engagement with Afghan’s and Afghanistan
India and Afghanistan hold deep cultural linkages which can be traced back to antiquity simultaneously with the trade relations which proceeded in fragmented layers with the rise and fall of different regimes. This deep-rooted mutual connection underwent a major setback since the partition accompanied with organized stifling by Pakistan. Unquestionably, Afghanistan holds a vital status from the perspective of India’s security calculus. The vitality of Afghanistan for India are not precisely because of Pakistan but proportionately , if not more vital, attached to India’s aspiration to be and to be seen as a major player in the region. Besides, the undeniable fact is that India has always seen Afghanistan as a viaduct to extend its strategic reach beyond south Asia. However, Strategic calculations are not the sole factor; slightly, various other underlying factors are also responsible for India’s direct engagement with Afghanistan.
Firstly, due to the close alliance of mujahideen with ISI (Intelligence agency of Pakistan), Afghanistan poses serious security challenges to India. On the other hand, Pakistan has continuously tried to stimulate the turmoil in the Kashmir to disorientate the region from India, which is a primary cause of the contentious relationship between India and Pakistan. Islamabad also using Afghanistan as a vault of insurgent groups and trained them with core military tactics to meet the perverted interests against India. Pakistan is using Afghanistan, as a launchpad for training and sending Islamic militants to Kashmir. Hence, the stability of Afghanistan is the primary concern of India from Kashmir’s perspective.
Secondly, India’s engagement with Afghanistan strongly motivated with friendly gestures to advance more excellent regional stability in entirely coincides with Kautilya’s Rajamandala theory (Circle of States). Although, the world is quite different now in comparison to the Kautilya’s age (Boesche, 2002)but the geopolitical scenario of the Afpak region utterly compatible with his theory. This theory illustrates the bordering nation (i.e., Pakistan) as a hostile and the country which has aligned borders to a hostile country (i.e. Afghanistan) is a natural ally (In case of India). Accordingly, it is imperative for India to maintain a cordial relation with Afghanistan. Additionally, India can use Afghanistan to keep a check on Pakistan to dismantle the Mujahideen’s sheltered by Pakistan from time to time.
Thirdly, India’s economy is proliferating to satisfy the daily demands of the nation, following with an ambition to become a global power. To sustain this economic growth, India needs an uninterrupted supply of energy resources which can be complemented by CAR. Therefore, Afghanistan can provide a viable transit route to Central Asia to tap the unexplored chunk of energy reserves to relieve India’s energy thirst. India can utilize Afghanistan as a gateway to access Central Asian markets and to enhance energy and economic collaboration to foster the dream of South and Central Asian connectivity.
Though gradually India has advanced its position in Afghanistan with the projection of soft power and infrastructure development. This makes India as one of the largest donors to Afghanistan, which can be manifested through milestone projects concluded by India like Delaram-Zaranj
Highway, transmission lines, Salma Dam and a parliament building in Kabul. On the other aspects, India is also cementing its position through soft power in the field of education, medical and most significantly the passion for Indian cinemas. In spite of that, India needs to recalibrate its approach to root itself as a major player in the Taliban headed Afghanistan. It is also equally significant for India to obstruct the emergence of any radical regime in Afghanistan to pacify the whole South Asian Region.
Over the decades, Afghanistan became more volatile than it was ever before. The rationale behind this is not the external force rather internal radicalization targeted on vulnerable groups in and around the region. The insurgent groups have different origins and motives which is stretching across the South Asian Region and its more threatening for the neighbouring countries in particular, whereas the bordering nations around Afghanistan provide the source of shelter and various other assistance anonymously. The most unstable among them is the CAR which also became an alternate transit route for the contraband products. To sum up, it can be said that internally fractured central Asia needs to captivate the foreign investment and strengthen the security measures to overcome the crisis. The effects of the catastrophe are not only confined to bordering nations; preferably, it has also elongated to the Indian soil at a full-scale. This signifies that India has to contain numerous direct and indirect security challenges arising from Afghanistan, which derailed the bilateral progress between Central Asia and India.
Barfield, T. (2010). Afghanistan a cultural and political history. New Jersey: Princeton University Press Princeton & Oxford.
Boesche, R. (2002). The First Great Political Realist: Kautilya and His Arthashastra. Maryland: Lexington Books.
Gauba, O. (2009). An Introduction to Political Theory. New Delhi: Macmillan.
Gregorian, D. H. (2020, 03 21). Trialogue. Retrieved from Institute of World Affairs:
Nick B. Mills, N. D. (2007). Karzai: The Failing American Intervention and the Struggle for Afghanistan. New Jersey: John & Wiley sons.
Rotberg, R. I. (2005). State Failure and State Weakness in a Time of Terror. Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution press.
Boko Haram: Religious Based Violence and Portrayal of Radical Islam
Modern-day global and domestic politics have set forth the trend that has legitimized and rationalized the use of religion as a tool to attain political gravity and interests. Similarly, many religion-oriented groups use religion to shape their political agenda and objectives, often using religion as a justification for their violent activities. Most of these mobilized groups are aligned with Islam. These groups have promoted religion-based violence and have also introduced new waves and patterns in global terrorism. Some prominent organized groups that attain world attention include Boko Haram, ISIS, Al- Qaeda, and the Taliban. These groups have potentially disrupted the political establishment of their regions. Although, a comparative insight delivers that these various organizations have antithetical political objectives but these groups use Islam to justify their violent actions and strategies based on violence and unrest.
The manifesto of Boko Haram rests on Islamic principles i.e. establishing Shariah or Islamic law in the region. A system that operates to preserve the rights of poor factions of the society and tends to promote or implement Islamic values. Hence, in this context, it negates westernization and its prospects. However, the rise of Boko Haram was based on anti-western agenda which portrayed that the existing government is un-Islamic and that western education is forbidden. Hence, the name Boko Haram itself delivered the notion that western culture or civilization is forbidden. Boko Haram has a unique political and religiously secular manifesto. Boko Haram was formed by Mohammad Yusuf, who preached his agenda of setting up a theocratic political system through his teachings derived from Islam. And countered the existing governmental setup of the Christians. The violent dynamics surged in 2009 when an uprising against the Nigerian government took the momentum that killed almost 800 people. Following the uprising, Mohammad Yusuf was killed and one of his lieutenants Abu Bakar Shekau took the lead.
Boko Haram used another violent strategy to gain world attention by bombing the UN Compound in Abuja that killed twenty-three people. The incident led to the declaration of Boko Haram as a Foreign Terrorist Organizationby the United States Department. Thus, the group continued the process of violence and also started to seize several territories like Bama, Dam boa, and Abadan. They also extended their regional sphere in terms of occupation using violent strategies. The violence intensified when in the year 2014, 276 girls were abducted from Girl’s school in Chibok. This immediately triggered global outrage and developed an image of religious extremism and violence. This process continued over the years; one reported case articulated that a Christian girl ‘Lean Shairbu’ was kept in captivity for a prolonged period upon refusal to give up her religion. Ever since, the violence has attained an upward trajectory, as traced in the case of mass Chibok abduction and widespread attack in Cameroon in the years 2020 and 2021.
After establishing a regional foothold Boko Haram improvised new alliances especially in 2015 after the government recaptured some of its territories that pushed the militant group near Lake Chad and to the hilly areas. Consequently, Abu Bakar Shekau turned towards international alliance and pledged its allegiance to IS. This created two branches of Boko Haram called Jamat u Ahlis Liddawatiwal Jihad (JAS) headed by Abu Bakar Shekau and Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP) lead by Musab Al Barnarwai. The ISWAP developed strong social, political, and strategic roots in the region. It has embedded itself socially in the hearts and minds of people by establishing their caliphate and judicial system.
The pattern of religion-based conflicts has transformed the global religious conflicts. That is often referred to as extremist terrorism based on religion. Hence the rise of Boko Haram also involved demographics that complimented their political objectives. As the state of Nigeria is an amalgamation of Christians and Muslims; and has been constructed as a distinct ethno-lingual society, historically. The Christians resided in the South of Nigeria while the Muslims were located in Northern Nigeria. The northern side suffered from poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, and public health issues under the government of Goodluck Jonathan. His government was centrally weak and marginalized the Northern side. This also contributed as one of the major factors that granted an edge for the influence and legitimacy of Boko Haram. Therefore, the main reason that triggered the organization and its move was based on Islamic principles of Jihad and Tajdid. This presents new notions of religion to recruit and incorporate more people into their community. The concept of Jihad has been historically driven which reflects and justifies acts against the unjust state and its authority. It also expands the capacity for social hostilities against the non-religious entities promoting hatred and non-acceptance. This also breeds religious extremism and rigidity that further validates the use of violence on their behalf. Hence Jihad acts as a driving force to strive against the un-Islamic state structure for Islamic religious social fabric. Moreover, this religiously derived conception of violent confrontation has always been legitimized in terms of the historic concept of war and terms of self-defense.
As a radical and contemporary religious belief; Jihad is regarded as the manifestation of religious violence and extremist terrorism. The establishment of the caliphate and state-like institutions represents a radical Salafist view regarding the establishment of the Islamic state structure. The ISWAP acts as a pseudo-state or state with in state that has established its authority and control. The reflection of another religious proclamation ofTajdid refers to the renewal of religious norms that aims at reconstruction or reset of social structure in accordance with Islamic values. Jihad and Tajdid collaboratively serve to generate notions about the reset of the political framework as an Islamic state system. The socio-religious reconstruction is particularly divergent from the western one. As western societies are often pluralistic, while Boko Haram’s vision aims as establishing Islamic social composition. Moreover, the western setup provided constitutional provisions to women in terms of rights, freedom, education, and liberty. This completely contradicted their conceptualization of women. Hence, this also generated gender-based violence as means to protect Islamic values. This was closely witnessed during the abduction of girls from their school. Furthermore, Islamic radicalization has been pursued through different channels that have extensively contributed to narrative building amongst the population, propaganda, and the development of a religious mindset in the African region. One of the most prominent tactics used for the purpose has been achieved through the propagation of literature. The scholars started to preach about Jihad and its implications since the 15th Century. The channel continues to date where the teachers preach about these scholarly findings that further encourages the youth to turn towards radical Islamization. The degree of radicalization elevates as Boko Haram propagates the concept of exclusivism that tends to oppose other value systems and beliefs. This creates a rift the society and deteriorates the sense of co-existence. As a result, Boko Haram represents a destructive paradox that promotes religious extremism and violence through misinterpretation of Islamic principles. Pursuing the political agenda of Boko Haram under the banner of Islamic law; which is power-oriented and would help them maintain dominance politically, economically, and territorially in the African region.
Security of nuclear materials in India
The author is of the view that nuclear security is lax in India. More so, because of the 123 Agreement and sprawling nuclear installations in several states. The thieves and scrap dealers even dare to advertise online sale of radioactive uranium. India itself has reported several incidents of nuclear thefts to the international bodies. The author wonders why India’s security lapses remain out of international focus. Views expressed are personal.
Amid raging pandemic in the southern Indian state of Maharashtra, the anti-terrorism squad arrested (May 6, 20210) two persons (Jagar Jayesh Pandya and Abu Tahir Afzal hussain Choudhry) for attempting to sell seven kilograms of highly-radioactive muranium for offered price of about Rs. 21 crore. The “gentlemen” had uncannily advertised the proposed sale online.. As such, the authorities initially dismissed the advertisement as just another hoax. They routinely detained the “sellers-to-be” and forwarded a sample of their ware to the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre. They were shocked when the centre reported that “the material was natural uranium”. As such the squad was compelled to book the duo under India’s Atomic Energy Act, 1962 at Nagpur police station (Explained: ATS seizes 7 kg uranium worth Rs. 21 crore from a scrap dealer…Indian Express May 7, 2021).
Not a unique incident
The event, though shocking, is is not one of its kind. Earlier, in 2016 also, two persons were arrested by Thane (Maharashtra) police while they were trying to sell eight to nine kilograms of depleted uranium for Rs. 24 crore. It is surmised that sale of uranium by scrap dealers in India is common. But, such events rarely come in limelight. According to Anil Kakodar, former chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, `Factories using uranium as a counterweight in their machines are mandated to contact the Atomic Energy agencies and return uranium to them. They however resort to short cuts and sell the entire machine with uranium in scrap’.
India media scarcely report such incidents. However, Indian government sometimes reports such incidents to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to meet disclosure requirements. According to international media reports (February 25, 2004), India reported 25 cases of “missing” or “stolen” radio-active material from its labs to the IAEA. Fifty-two per cent of the cases were attributed to “theft” and 48% to the “missing mystery”. India claimed to have recovered lost material in twelve of total 25 cases. It however admitted that 13 remaining cases remained mysterious.
India’s reports such incidents to the IAEA to portray itself as a “responsible state”. It is hard to believe that radio-active material could be stolen from nuclear labs without operators’ connivance.
Nine computers, belonging to India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation establishment at Metcalfe House, New Delhi, were stolen. India communicated 25 cases of ‘stolen or missing’ uranium to the IAEA. In different incidents, uranium in varying forms and quantities continue to be recovered from scrap dealers and others by Indian authorities. The recoveries include fifty-seven pounds of uranium in rod form, eight kilograms in granular form, two hundred grams in semi-processed form, besides twenty-five kilograms in radioactive form, stolen from the Bibi Cancer Hospital.
Too, the ‘thieves’ stole three cobalt switches, worth Rs. 1.5 million, from Tata Steel Company laboratory at Jamshedpur (Jharkhand). A shipment of beryllium (worth $24 million), was caught in Vilnius, on its way to North Korea. Taiwanese authorities had intercepted a ship carrying dual-use aluminum oxide from India to North Korea. A New Jersey-based Indian engineer Sitaram Ravi Mahidevan was indicted for having bypassed US export procedures to send blue-prints of solenoid-operated valves to North Korea.
We know that the Taiwanese authorities had intercepted a ship, carrying dual-use aluminum oxide from India to North Korea. The oxide is an essential ingredient of rocket casings and is, as such, prohibited for export to “rogue” countries.
Despite recurrent incidents of theft of uranium or other sensitive material from indiandian nuclear labs, the IAEA never initiated a thorough probe into lax security environment in government and private nuclear labs in india. However, the international media has a penchant for creating furore over uncorroborated nuclear lapses in Pakistan. The Time magazine article ‘Merchant of Menace’, had reported that some uranium hexafluoride cylinders were missing from the Kahuta Research Laboratories. Pakistan’ then information minister and foreign-office spokesman had both refuted the allegation. Masood Khan (foreign office) told reporters, `The story is a rehash of several past stories’.
Similarly, Professor Shaun Gregory in his report ‘The Security of Nuclear Weapons’ contends that those guarding about 120 nuclear-weapon sites, mostly in northern and western parts of Pakistan, have fragmented loyalties. As such, they are an easy prey to religious extremists.
Frederick W. Kagan and Michael O’Hanlon, also draw a gloomy portrait of the situation in Pakistan. In their article, published in The New York Times, dated November 18, 2007, they predicted that extremists would take over, if rule of law collapses in Pakistan. Those sympathetic with the Taliban and al-Qaeda may convert Pakistan into a state sponsor of terrorism. They pointed to Osama bin Laden’s meeting with Sultan Bashiruddin Mahmood and Chaudhry Abdul Majeed, former engineers of Pakistan’s Atomic Energy Commission (having no bomb-making acumen).
They claimed that U.S. military experts and intelligence officials had explored strategies for securing Pakistan’s nuclear assets. One option was to isolate the country’s nuclear bunkers. Doing so would require saturating the area, surrounding the bunkers, with tens of thousands of high-powered mines, dropped from air, packed with anti-tank and anti-personnel munitions. The panacea, suggested by them, was that Pakistan’s nuclear material should be seized and stashed in some “safe” place like New Mexico.
The fact is that the pilloried Pakistani engineers had no knowledge of weaponisation (“When the safest is not safe enough,” The Defence Journal -Pakistan), pages 61-63). The critics mysteriously failed to mention that Pakistan is a party to the UN Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials. The steps taken by Pakistan to protect its nuclear materials and installations conform to international standards. The National Command Authority, created on February 2, 2000, has made fail-safe arrangements to control development and deployment of strategic nuclear forces. Pakistan’s nuclear regulatory authority had taken necessary steps for safety, security, and accountability of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, facilities, and materials even before 9/11 incident. These controls include functional equivalent of the two-man rule and permissive action links (PALs). The indigenously-developed PALs are bulwarks against inadvertent loss of control, or accidental use of weapons. So far, there has been no security lapse in any of Pakistan’s nuclear establishments.
Abdul Mannan, in his paper titled “Preventing Nuclear Terrorism in Pakistan: Sabotage of a Spent Fuel Cask or a Commercial Irradiation Source in Transport”, has analysed various ways in which acts of nuclear terrorism could occur in Pakistan (quoted in “Pakistan’s Nuclear Future: Worries beyond War”). He has fairly reviewed Pakistan’s vulnerability to nuclear terrorism through hypothetical case studies. He concludes that the threat of nuclear terrorism in Pakistan is a figment of imagination, rather than a real possibility.
There are millions of radioactive sources used worldwide in various applications. Only a few thousand sources, including Co-60, Cs-137, Ir-192, Sr-90, Am-241, Cf-252, Pu-238, and RA-226 are considered a security risk. The Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) has enforced a mechanism of strict measures for administrative and engineering control over radioactive sources from cradle to grave. It conducts periodic inspections and physical verifications to ensure security of the sources. The Authority has initiated a Five-Year National Nuclear-Safety-and-Security-Action Plan to establish a more robust nuclear-security regime. It has established a training centre and an emergency-coordination centre, besides deploying radiation-detection-equipment at each point of nuclear-material entry in Pakistan, supplemented by vehicle/pedestrian portal monitoring equipment where needed.
Fixed detectors have been installed at airports, besides carrying out random inspection of personnel luggage. All nuclear materials are under strict regulatory control right from import until their disposal.
Nuclear controls in India and the USA are not more stringent than Pakistan’s. It is not understood why the media does not deflect their attention to the fragile nuclear-security environment in India. It is unfortunate that the purblind critics fail to see the gnawing voids in India’s nuclear security.
The ‘research work’ by well-known scholars reflects visceral hatred against Pakistan. The findings in fresh ‘magnum opuses’ are a re-hash or amalgam of the presumptions and pretensions in earlier-published ‘studies’. It is time that the West deflected its attention to India where movements of nuclear materials, under the 123 expansion plan, are taking place between nuclear-power plants sprawling across different states.
Above all, will the international media and the IAEA look into open market uranium sales in India.
Biological warfare: A global security threat
Biological warfare is not a new concept in arena of international politics as it has been used as a tool to sabotage enemy in previous centuries. Biological weapons are a sub-category of Weapons of Mass destruction (WMDs) in which there is a deliberate use of micro-organisms like pathogens and toxins to cause disease or death in humans, livestock and yields.Form its usage in 14th century by Mongols to its usage by imperial Japan during 1930s-40s against Chinese, it has always been a threat to global security. The evolution of bio-weapons can be broadly categorized into four phases; first phase includes the post WWII developments with the evident use of chlorine and phosgene in Ypres.The second phase was marked by the use of nerve agents like tabun, cholinesterase inhibitor and anthrax and plague bombs. The initiation of third phase was marked by the use of biological weapons in Vietnam war during 1970s where deadly agents like Agent orange were used. 4th and last phase include the time of biological and technological revolution where genetic engineering techniques were at their peak. Traditionally they have been used in wartime in order to defeat enemy but with the emergence of violent non-state actors, bioterrorism is another potential threat to the security of states. There are certain goals that are associated with the use of biological weapons. Firstly, it is purposed to hit to economy of the targeted country, breaking down government authority and have a psychological effect on masses of the targeted population. It is also a kind of psychological warfare as it may hit a smaller number of people but leaves impact on wider audience through intimidation and spreading fear. It also creates natural circumstances under which a population is induced with disease without revealing the actual perpetrator.
With the advancement in genetic engineering techniques more lethal biological weapons are being produced everyday around the world. Countries which are economically deprived are more likely to pursue such goals as it is difficult for them to go for heavy military sophistication keeping into consideration their poor economic conditions. Biological weapons serve as inexpensive tool for developing countries to address their issues in prevailing international security environment. During the initial decades of cold war, united states of America (USA) and Soviet Union went for acquiring tons of biological weapons alongside nuclear proliferation.
The quest for these weapons reduced during 1970s with the formation of Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). This convention was presented in 1972 before countries and finally came into force in 1975 with 150 countries who signed this convention and 140 countries who fully joined this treaty. This convention prohibits any biological weaponization in order to promote peace and stability around the world. But this convention has obvious defects as it is unable to address many issues like it doesn’t prevents itself the use of biological weapons but just reinforces 1925 Geneva Protocol which forbids the use of bio-weapons. Convention allows ‘defensive research’ to which there are many objections that what is incorporated into this defensive research. It is non-binding to the signatory states and in case if countries are proliferating it lacks the effective oversight techniques to look after them either they are pursuing these biological weapons capabilities or not. Since the inception of this convention till now it has clearly failed in stopping the countries from acquisition as well as usage of these weapons. This is evident as there were many cases after 1975 where these weapons were used as in 1980s when Iraq used mustard gas, sarin and tabun against Iran and many other ethnic groups inside Iran. Another incident which was highlighted was Sarine nerve gas attack in Tokyo subway system leaving thousands injured and many got killed. In post-cold war era, however, the number of these attacks reduced as much attention was shifted to terrorism after 9/11 attacks with the change in global security architecture.
“Anthrax letters” in post 9/11 attacks revealed yet another dimension of bio-weapons which was the threat of bioterrorism from non-state actors. US became a victim of bio-terrorism when in 2001 a powder was transported through letters containing bacterium called anthrax infecting many people. One purpose which terrorists have is to make general masses feel as if they are unsafe in the hands of their government which can be best achieved through the use of these weapons. The fact that biological weapons are cheaper and more devastating than conventional weapons make it more likely for biological weapons to be used by terrorists. Also, the fact that they are easy to hide and transport and a smaller quantity can leave long-lasting impacts on larger population makes these weapons more appealing. Now that we are facing a global pandemic in the form of COVID-19 which according to some conspiracy theories is a biological weapon pose even more serious challenge to the international security in coming decades. There is no such scientific research which proves Corona Virus as a biological weapon but the realization here is that whether or not it is a biological weapon but world was least prepared for it. Not only the developing countries but also developed states suffered more despite having enormous medical infrastructure. The fact that there has been decline in the incidents related to bioterrorism should never let us think that there is no possibility of such attacks. The fact that world failed to handle Covid-19 puts a question mark on the credibility of measures if we are faced with bio-terrorism. The medical community as well as general population needs to develop an understanding of how to respond if there is such attack. At the international level there is a dire need to develop some strong norms which discourage the development and use of such weapons in any capacity.
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