President Obama's recent proclamation, in Prague, to embark upon a campaign to achieve worldwide elimination of nuclear weapons is quite refreshing. The world would, indeed be a much safer place sans nuclear weapons. Ostensibly, giving his reaction to a rocket launch by North Korea, Obama opted to take a broader perspective of the nuclear proliferation issue. By acknowledging the moral responsibility of the US for the first use of nuclear weapon, and hence to lead the de-weaponisation drive, he indeed ascended the higher moral pedestal. Owing to the prevalent world order, America is, certainly, in a unique position to underwrite this kind of an initiative. This indeed is a paradigm departure from the previous American track record. A number of non-proliferation initiatives, even in the post cold war era, ended up as non-starters due to covert or overt obstreperous mindset of the US. Current statement of the president also carries contradictions, which must be managed for ensuing success of the initiative. Major causes of proliferation have been two; firstly the permanent members of UNSC acquired the status of nuclear weapon states as a symbol of pride and as a compulsion of cold war dynamics. The second reason was the reaction of developing nations towards perpetuation of the classes of nuclear haves and have-nots, through discriminatory regimes like the NPT and MTCR etc. Once the genie of proliferation got unleashed, amongst the developing states, in the form of overt nuclear explosion by India and covert weapon development capability by Israel, then regional dynamics became the driving forces for proliferation processes and venues. Regional dynamics comprised of potential hot spots like Kashmir and Palestine. The states having stakes in these conflicts had failed to resolve them through conventional wars. Thus, they embarked upon acquiring the magic weapon with a hope of getting the desired solutions. However, this capability resulted in perpetuation of these conflicts, because in the presence of nuclear weapons, even conventional wars became a non-option. In fact the conventional and nuclear doctrines became so intricately enmeshed in regional settings that it was no longer possible to discern them individually. They became a mysterious continuum. Practically, these nuclear weapon states have lost the option of going into even a limited conventional conflict, without the fear of escalating into a nuclear shoot out. In Pakistan-India setting, at least three wars have been averted due to this fear of escalation. Nevertheless, sentiments on Kashmir never cooled off. Likewise, though there has been no formal war in the Middle East since 1973, Israel has not been at peace, either. These conflicts, however, continue to persist, and betray the achievement of mutually acceptable solutions. These hot spots carry on simmering, looking for an opportune time to explode. Therefore, without taking these regional realities into account, any denuclearisation campaign would be still born. Theoretically speaking, denuclearisation of these conflict harbouring regions would unleash conventional wars for settling these disputes. Therefore, these regional conflicts must be resolved to the satisfaction of all stakeholders before pressing for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Obama has promised the development of a missile defence system for Europe, as long as there is an Iranian threat of developing nuclear weapons. This justification for Europe's missile shield is not plausible. At best Iran is a potential nuclear weapon state, with hardly any worthwhile capability to harm Europe. Overplaying Iranian capability to justify the defensive shield could become a major hurdle, as Russia would not buy the proposition. Moreover, any defensive shield weakens the deterrence. Another contradiction is Obama's resolve to strengthen NPT, CTBT, FMCT and MRCT etc regimes. In their present format, these regimes are discriminatory and thus are not likely to serve the non-proliferation objectives. There is a need to design new non-proliferation regimes that would ensure the access of all nations towards peaceful utilisation of nuclear potential. Universal application of recently concluded US-India treaty could encourage voluntary, weapon-class, denuclearisation. We definitely need a nuclear weapons free world. However, such an arrangement can only be sustained through fair and just instruments. Strengthening of already discredited treaties would enhance the suspicion and, as a corollary, hamper the speed of elimination of weapons. Pakistan has all along been advocating a nuclear weapons free South Asia. However, Pakistan had to go nuclear as a regional compulsion to balance off Indian pursuits in this field. The outline of the new regime should essentially be non-discriminatory, based on universal access to peaceful applications of nuclear technology in the fields like health care and power generation. Any attempt to have an arrangement for perpetuating the status quo in not likely to succeed. To show the resolve, as well as sincerity of purpose, it would be appropriate that US suspends work on its futuristic developmental plans, inclusive of all projects aimed at militarisation of space. Likewise, in anticipation to progressive elimination of nuclear missiles, work related to development of missile shields should also be held in abeyance. It is through such confidence building measures that Obama can mould the world opinion towards universal denuclearisation. Considerable work has already been done at various forums like Shannon Mandate and Five Ambassadors (A-5) proposal for universal non-discriminatory multilateral treaty. Presently near dormant disarmament mechanism under the auspices of UN needs to be revitalised. Keeping in view the intricacies linking conventional and nuclear capabilities, especially in regional settings, there is a need to take a wholesome approach by integrating work on related areas like UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light weapons. Similarly, concrete steps should also be taken to curb numerical and technological escalations in conventional and nuclear capabilities. Envisaged nuclear world order must take care of the overall security matrix of all nations. Visionary objectives always need an out of the box strategy The writer is a retired air officer of the Pakistan Air Force. E-mail: