September 30, 2021

Pakistan Is A Nuclear Rogue State, Part 2: Strategic Depth For The Taliban

 Source of image: The Quint.

Pakistan has played a foolish and counter-productive game in Afghanistan, nursing a monster it believes it has the capability to control. 

Pakistan thinks it has conquered Afghanistan, achieving greater leverage for itself vis √† vis India, but so far Pakistan has been the victim of its dangerous policy, not India. 

The Taliban in Pakistan have increased their attacks against Pakistan's military and security forces since the fall of the Afghan government. It has acted as the main beneficiary of Pakistan "strategic depth" policy.

They may get more bold in the future and strike at the jugular of the Pakistani state.

Disgruntled elements within the Taliban who attach greater importance to their Pashtun identity and Islamic ideology than their loyalty to the Pakistani military may seize Pakistan's nuclear stockpile to assert their independence and push back against Islamabad.

The danger for the world is that Pakistan’s nukes are not secure. All it would take is a few sympathizers on the inside to tip off the Taliban and coordinate the extraction. 

Attempts have been made before, and will be made again. 

An excerpt from, "The agonizing problem of Pakistan’s nukes" by Marvin Kalb, Brookings, September 28, 2021:
Pakistani jihadis come in many different shapes and sizes, but no matter: The possibility of a nuclear-armed terrorist regime in Pakistan has now grown from a fear into a strategic challenge that no American president can afford to ignore.

Former President Barack Obama translated this challenge into carefully chosen words: “The single biggest threat to U.S. security, both short term, medium term and long term,” he asserted, “would be the possibility of a terrorist organization obtaining a nuclear weapon.” (Author’s italics).

The nation that has both nuclear weapons and a dangerous mix of terrorists was — and remains — Pakistan.

...Indeed, since the shock of 9/11, Pakistan has come to represent such an exasperating problem that the U.S. has reportedly developed a secret plan to arbitrarily seize control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal if a terrorist group in Pakistan seemed on the edge of capturing some or all of its nuclear warheads. When repeatedly questioned about the plan, U.S. officials have strung together an artful, if unpersuasive, collection of “no comments.”

What's more worrisome is the Pakistani military will act out its own nuclear doctrine and use nukes in a limited scope in a future confrontation with India. 

An excerpt from, "Nuclear Nightmare: Why Pakistan's Nukes Are Cause For Concern" by Kyle Mizokami, The National Interest, July 22, 2021:
Pakistani nuclear doctrine appears to be to deter what it considers an economically, politically and militarily stronger India. The nuclear standoff is exacerbated by the traditional animosity between the two countries, the several wars the two countries have fought, and events such as the 2008 terrorist attack on Mumbai, which were directed by Pakistan. Unlike neighboring India and China, Pakistan does not have a “no first use” doctrine, and reserves the right to use nuclear weapons, particularly low-yield tactical nuclear weapons, to offset India’s advantage in conventional forces.
India has way more to lose than Pakistan in an all out war, especially if it goes nuclear.

In the past cooler heads have prevailed thanks to quiet diplomacy by Washington, but if relations between the U.S. and Pakistan continue to deteriorate then tough talk will not be enough next time. 

If Pakistan's military leaders truly go rogue and abandon all reason they will not be stopped with condemnations and words. 

Title: World Must Seal Pakistani Nukes |2 Minutes With Rishabh Gulati. Source: NewsX. Date Posted: August 30, 2019.