October 25, 2021

Pakistan Is A Nuclear Rogue State, Part 5: The Dangers of Disengagement

For peace to emerge in South Asia Pakistan must be broken up and scattered to the ends of the earth. 

An excerpt from, "Post Afghanistan, US-Pakistan relations stand on the edge of a precipice" By Madiha Afzal, Brookings, October 13, 2021:

"Over the last 20 years, Washington’s needs in Afghanistan defined the U.S.-Pakistan relationship, even if that meant Washington sometimes had to turn a blind eye to Pakistan’s sanctuary for the Taliban. Now, after the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Washington has little incentive to gloss over what it has long seen as Pakistan’s double game or to broaden ties. Washington’s attention is now east of Pakistan: on its relationships with India and other countries to counter China. In this environment, U.S.-Pakistan relations face a reckoning."

An excerpt from, "Get the Generals Out of Pakistani-U.S. Relations" By Adam Weinstein, Foreign Policy, September 30, 2021:

"Congress’s dubious attitude toward Pakistan was best summarized by Rep. Bill Keating when he recently described it as “one relationship that really always troubled me.” During that same hearing, Rep. Scott Perry struck at the heart of Pakistan’s insecurities when he exclaimed, “we should no longer pay Pakistan [for counterterrorism cooperation], and we should pay India.” Recently introduced legislation calls for an assessment of Pakistan’s past support for the Taliban but falls short of any punitive measures."

In the aftermath of the Taliban's takeover in Afghanistan the military and civilian leaders of Pakistan have treated the country as conquered territory. 

They move in and out of Kabul without visas or any sort of diplomatic protocol. And they have no shame while there, lecturing the Taliban about women's rights.

What's worse is the West is depending on Pakistan to be a beacon of civilized conduct for the Taliban. Western officials hope that Islamabad can tame the radical excesses of the Taliban regime. But that is never going to happen. They are a package deal. 

Afghanistan's ills will bleed into Pakistan. And Pakistani society does not have the antibody to deal with the Talibanization since it served as the host of the disease for over five decades.

Disengaging from Pakistan and Afghanistan will enable the Taliban disease to spread to the rest of the world body, especially Central Asia.

Leaving Pakistan to rot seems to be Washington’s preferred strategy. But that is no way to treat an open wound. Allowing it to fester will benefit no one.

The situation calls for an amputation.

It is in the interests of the United States, Europe, Russia, India, China and Iran to remove Pakistan from the map and restructure the regions that Islamabad has wrongfully lorded over since the end of WWII. 

That may seem extreme, but the circumstances demand it. The coddling of Pakistan has led to the nightmare currently unfolding in Afghanistan.

Pakistan's deranged military elite won't dissociate with the Taliban or destroy their nuclear stockpile unless they are forced to by a united global coalition. 

The U.S and China can prove they are mature superpowers by cooperating to resolve the Pakistani problem and help free South Asia of this bastardly concoction of a country. 

October 5, 2021

Pakistan Is A Nuclear Rogue State, Part 4: The End of Appeasement

Upon its admission into the United Nations, Pakistan was received by all countries except one: Afghanistan.

Afghanistan declined Pakistan’s entry into the U.N. because it laid claim to Pashtun lands in northwestern Pakistan. 

Afghan leaders brought up the matter of an independent Pashtunistan at international forums like the U.N., and encouraged Pashtun resistance movements inside Pakistan with arms.

An excerpt from, "The Forgotten History of Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations" By Daveed Gartenstein-Ross and Tara Vassefi, Yale Journal of International Affairs, February 22, 2012:

Afghanistan has never accepted the legitimacy of the Durand Line, named after its architect, Sir Henry Mortimer Durand. However, the country had little recourse when faced with a global superpower like Britain. This changed with the creation of Pakistan. Afghanistan had long been recognized as an independent state by the time Pakistan was created in 1947, and there was no particular reason to think that Pakistan was built to last. Pakistan’s lack of cohesion is signaled even by its name, as it is an acronym for the areas encompassed within the state: Punjab, North-West Frontier Province (Afghan Province), Kashmir, Sind, and Baluchistan. Additionally, Pakistan was born of a bloody partition with India—something that produced not only the two states, but also an arch-rivalry that persists to this day. Just as many Indian leaders thought the new state of Pakistan might not survive, so too did Afghan politicians.

Immediately after Pakistan emerged, Afghanistan put forward a demand for the creation of an independent “Pashtunistan,” meaning “land of the Pashtuns.” The idea was that Pakistan should allow the Pashtuns in the northwestern part of their country to—if they so chose—secede and become an independent state. Though the size of the envisioned Pashtunistan differed over time, Afghanistan’s proposals frequently encompassed about half of West Pakistan, including areas dominated by Baluch majorities.

Afghanistan's belligerence towards Pakistan from 1947 to 1979 has to be remembered because Pakistan’s military leaders certainly do. They have always been afraid of an Afghanistan aligned with India. 

If the British cared about Pakistan and its neighbours they would have ensured long-term security by consulting with Afghanistan's leadership before bestowing a new country on their sensitive borders.

Conflict over border demarcations between Pakistan and Afghanistan was totally predictable. The new Pakistan could just have easily been created without the territories that Afghanistan had desired for centuries. 

Over the decades since its creation Pakistan has not invested resources in this frontier area. It became the new "owners" of this land without having any previous cultural or political ties to it.

Pakistan’s control over native Pashtun lands, and other indigenous regions such as Baluchistan, has always been contested. With the absence of natural legitimacy, Pakistan relied on brute force to maintain its rule. Angry locals were massacred and entire families of political leaders were exterminated at once.

Such acts have always been met with global silence. 

So Pakistan continues to pursue a militaristic approach to solve its problems. And when it finds itself in really bad times it gets bailed out. 

At every crisis point in Pakistan’s history the West came to its aid. The financial help Pakistan receives annually is enormous.

An excerpt from, "Committee to scrutinise UK aid programme in Pakistan" UK Parliament, February 11, 2021:

Pakistan has been DFID’s largest country programme for the last five years, and was expected to amount to £302 million in 2019/20, spanning across areas including human development, climate and the environment, and humanitarian aid.

An excerpt from, "Why Trump cut millions in military aid to Pakistan" by Alex Ward, Vox, September 4, 2018:

But since 2002, the US has given Pakistan over $14 billion in aid to combat terrorism and insurgents in the region. That money is meant to reimburse Pakistan for its ongoing efforts to defeat militant groups, and it forms part of the $33 billion in total help that the US has given Pakistan over the same time period.

Western allies like Iran during the Cold War and Japan in the War on Terror have also supported Pakistan with cash and arms. 

The Shah of Iran was the first foreign leader to visit Pakistan in 1950. Iran and Pakistan worked together to suppress uprisings in Baluchistan and oppose Communism in the region.

An excerpt from, "Iran and Pakistan’s intertwined history" By Muhammad Amir Rana, Dawn, July 24, 2016:

The Shah period was the most important phase in which the two countries, despite ups and downs, remained important partners in global and regional politics. The US factor was significant which glued both countries to Seato and Cento. The author aptly explains how geography, geopolitics and the US influence brought Tehran and Islamabad closer. During the Cold War era, one of the major factors which kept Pakistan in the US bloc was the influence of the Shah of Iran. Pakistan’s foreign policy constant has been India and this factor decided the country’s relations with the outer world. The Shah knew it.

At the same time, Tehran was a key conduit to the West for Pakistan, and the Shah’s obsession with communism further nurtured their friendship as Vatanka elaborates: “For the Shah, Pakistan over the years morphed into a critical buffer zone, a line of defence against not only the Soviets but also the then Soviet-leaning India.” In the totality of Pakistan-Iran relations over the course of history, most of the credit goes to the Shah of Iran.

Since the beginning, Pakistan has been viewed as a military tool by global and regional superpowers as opposed to a sovereign country.

Its viability as a state was questioned by officials in the Truman administration. American leaders wanted an undivided India after the British exit.

An excerpt from, "India and Pakistan in American strategic planning, 1947–54: The commonwealth as collaborator" By H. W. Brands, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 1986: 

American officials had been disappointed that the pre-independence unity of India had not been preserved, for in unity, they believed, lay resistance to communism. Two states on the subcontinent were more unstable than one, but if India and Pakistan could settle their problems peacefully, security could still be achieved. A full-scale war, however, besides destabilizing the present moderate governments of the two countries, threatened to unleash the fissiparous tendencies latent in the sub-continent, leading, if not checked, to what American officials unoriginally called the 'Balkanization' of South Asia. Ultimately, in an effort to head off such an outcome, the Americans would feel obliged to intervene in the Kashmir dispute, but for the time being they preferred to leave this Commonwealth problem to the Commonwealth. The American Under-secretary of State, Robert Lovett, told Noel-Baker that American mediation would be undesirable on two counts. First, it would distract the American Congress from the more important task of defending and rebuilding Europe. Second, it might draw 'undesirable Russian attention', thus compounding the difficulties of the subcontinent with the competition of the cold war. 

The wise policy of non-intervention towards Pakistan and India was replaced with foolish interference in 1971 during the Nixon administration, when the U.S. came to Pakistan's aid to crush an uprising in East Pakistan, now Bangladesh.

Since that time, and especially after 1979, Washington and Islamabad became closer out of desperation more than anything else. Due to its policy to turn Afghanistan into Russia's Vietnam, Washington helped transform Pakistan from a somewhat functioning country into the complete mess it is today. 

It looked away when it acquired nukes in the 1980s. It looked away when it supported international terrorism in Afghanistan in the 1990s after the Soviets departed. And it looked away this year when it put the Taliban in power after two decades of meaningless fighting.

A change in policy is desperately needed. 

An excerpt from, "Rethinking Western Strategies Toward Pakistan: An Action Agenda for the United States and Europe" By Frédéric Grare, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 10, 2007, Page 48:

Sanctions on Pakistan have also been inhibited by a lack of consistency in policy. U.S. governments have always been concerned about nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and democracy (and more recently narcotics), but their relative importance has varied over time. The Pakistani leadership has always been aware of shifting U.S. priorities and has played them to its advantage.

Pakistan became a pariah state after the overthrow and execution of the elected prime minister, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. But the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan changed the hierarchy of U.S. priorities and brought Pakistan back into favor. Supporting the mujahideen and, consequently, Zia ul-Haq’s military regime, became the number one concern to which all other objectives were subordinated, including the prevention of nuclear proliferation. Democracy has never, in practice, figured very highly in U.S. priorities. In Pakistan it has been merely important.The United States has always lacked a coherent strategy toward Pakistan. Beyond a series of stated general objectives, it has pursued a series of ad hoc policies dictated by circumstances. For a long time, the Cold War obscured this. But when this geostrategic framework disappeared, what remained was an absence of real U.S. concern for Pakistan. U.S. policies appeared to be incoherent, contradictory, and unfair, which allowed the Pakistani leadership to manipulate public opinion against the United States while it manipulated the United States through agitation of the masses. U.S. policy proved ultimately counterproductive.

Washington’s outlook on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and South Asia has been cynical. It lost in Afghanistan because it didn't have its heart in it. It was not willing to go to war with Pakistan to save Afghanistan. And that's fair. A country's core national interests should always come first.

But the policy of appeasing Pakistan has to end.

October 3, 2021

Pakistan Is A Nuclear Rogue State, Part 3: A Numbers Game

Source of image: India Today.

While it is true that there aren't any "loose nukes" in Pakistan as of today, that reality could quickly change tomorrow. 

With the Taliban taking over Afghanistan, Pakistan’s internal stability has come into question. 

The sheer amount of Pakistan’s nukes makes them a vulnerable and attractive target for Islamic terrorists in Pakistan and beyond. 

Or, worse, rogue elements within the Pakistani military could wake up one day and change their allegiance to the Taliban if they believe their military leaders have deviated from Islam. They can jeopardize Pakistan’s nuclear security better than any terrorist group.

So, just how many nuclear weapons does Pakistan possess?

An excerpt from, "Fact Sheet: Pakistan’s Nuclear Inventory" Center For Arms Control And Non-Proliferation, August 29, 2019:

Pakistan is believed to have a stockpile of approximately 160 warheads, making it the 6th largest nuclear arsenal. Pakistan is actively developing nuclear weapons, and experts project that it may have the 5th largest arsenal by 2025 with 220-250 warheads.

It is not just the volume of nukes that makes Pakistan dangerous, it is the fact that it is willing to bring them into play without any moral reservations. 

Whereas more powerful and confident countries recognize that nuclear weapons are a last resort, only to be used in extreme circumstances, if at all, Pakistan’s scared military has threatened to use tactical nukes against India early on in a war. 

An excerpt from, "Nuclear Notebook: How many nuclear weapons does Pakistan have in 2021?" By Hans M. Kristensen and Matt Korda, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, September 7, 2021:

Pakistan is pursuing what it calls a “full spectrum deterrence posture,” which includes long-range missiles and aircraft for strategic missions, as well as several short-range, lower-yield nuclear-capable weapon systems in order to counter military threats below the strategic level. According to former Pakistani officials, this posture––and its particular emphasis on non-strategic nuclear weapons––is specifically intended as a reaction to India’s perceived “Cold Start” doctrine (Kidwai 2020). This alleged doctrine revolves around India maintaining the capability to launch large-scale conventional strikes or incursions against Pakistani territory below the threshold at which Pakistan would retaliate with nuclear weapons.[i]

In 2015, a former member of Pakistan’s National Command Authority, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Khalid Kidwai, said the NASR short-range weapon specifically “was born out of a compulsion of this thing that I mentioned about some people on the other side toying with the idea of finding space for conventional war, despite Pakistan nuclear weapons.” Pakistan’s understanding of India’s “Cold Start” strategy was, he said, that Delhi envisioned launching quick strikes into Pakistan within two to four days with eight to nine brigades simultaneously (Kidwai 2015). Such an attack force might involve roughly 32,000–36,000 troops. “I strongly believe that by introducing the variety of tactical nuclear weapons in Pakistan’s inventory, and in the strategic stability debate, we have blocked the avenues for serious military operations by the other side,” Kidwai explained (Kidwai 2015).

An excerpt from, "Why Pakistan’s ‘Defensive’ Tactical Nuclear Weapons are So Dangerous" By Kyle Mizokami, The National Interest, April 6, 2021:

Tactical nuclear weapons, also called nonstrategic nuclear weapons, are low-yield (ten kilotons or less) nuclear weapons designed for use on the battlefield. Unlike larger, more powerful strategic nuclear weapons, tactical nuclear weapons are meant to destroy military targets on the battlefield. Tactical nuclear weapons are meant to be used against troop formations, headquarters units, supply dumps, and other high-value targets.

. .  Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, particularly tactical nuclear weapons, are seen as an asymmetric means of offsetting India’s advantage in conventional forces. Even if a Pakistani Army offensive into India fails and the Strike Corps counterattacked, tactical nuclear weapons could blunt their spearheads, ideally halting them in their tracks. 

Pakistan has an unknown number of tactical nuclear weapons, but we can get an idea of how many exist by counting delivery systems. A report by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists claims that the country has approximately 20-30 transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) vehicles designed to carry the NASR/Hatf-9 short-range ballistic missile. The TEL is a four-axle vehicle that can carry two or more NASR missiles. Assuming each TEL is armed with two NASR missiles with a single warhead each, Pakistan has somewhere in the area of 60 tactical nuclear weapons, or approximately one-third of its arsenal.

Title: Pakistani tactical nukes - an analysis. Source: Cybersurg - Shiv's Military Aircraft Channel. Date Posted: October 24, 2015.

Title: India and Pakistan - Do Nuclear Weapons Enhance Security for Nuclear Proliferators? Source: TAUVOD. Date Posted: July 7, 2015.

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 à 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.

September 29, 2021

Pakistan Is A Nuclear Rogue State, Part 1: The 1999 Kargil War

An excerpt from, "Report: India, Pakistan Were Near Nuclear War in '99" by Alan Sipress and Thomas E. Ricks, The Washington Post, May 15, 2002:

Pakistan was preparing to possibly fire nuclear weapons during a 1999 border conflict with India, moving the countries closer to nuclear war than was commonly known at the time, according to a new article by President Bill Clinton's chief White House adviser on South Asia.

Bruce O. Riedel, a senior director on the Clinton administration's National Security Council, reports that U.S. intelligence had developed "disturbing evidence that the Pakistanis were preparing their nuclear arsenals for possible deployment." This information came as India was seeking to turn back an incursion by Pakistani-backed forces in the disputed territory of Kashmir, with heavy casualties, and as both sides mobilized for an all-out war.

Title: Bruce Riedel: U.S. Presidents Since JFK Have Dealt with Crises in Pakistan and India. Source: Brookings Institution. Date Posted: March 25, 2013.