ISLAMABAD - Defense Expert Dr Christine Leah said yesterday that exclusion of nuclear weapons from today’s South Asian environment would negatively impact the region’s stability.

“If you were to reduce the role of nuclear weapons, it would graphically expose conventional imbalances in South Asia,” said Dr Leah, a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University’s Grand Strategy Programme.

She was speaking at a Roundtable Discussion on ‘Conventional and Nuclear force Modernisation and its Regional Implications’ at the Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) here.

The event was attended by nuclear experts, officials, journalists and research staff of CISS and other local think tanks.

Dr Leah said this aspect of nuclear arms being essential for regional stability was not given much consideration in the West, where “nuclear issues were seen in silos”.

“You cannot disconnect nuclear weapons and nuclear strategies from issues of conventional force imbalance and thus from conventional arms control,” she maintained.

Dr Leah believed that arms control and disarmament efforts would not be much successful in Asia-Pacific region because it would be difficult to reach agreements and then ensure their compliance. Absence of experience about formal legal arms control agreements in the region, she observed, would be another impediment towards moving in that direction.

Western powers, Dr Leah contend detached nuclear issues from conventional matters so much that the separation worked to the detriment of Pak-India ties.

Executive Director CISS Amb Sarwar Naqvi said in Pakistan security concerns vis-à-vis India dictated the conventional and nuclear policies of the country. “In Pak-India case whatever happens is a function of our bilateral relationship. We have overwhelming security concerns, some very real concerns, because of the history of our conflict,” he said.

Dr Naqvi was also of the opinion that with nuclear deterrence enjoying pre-eminence in the stability discourse, people tended to overlook conventional deterrence.