It is welcome news that Pakistan has been declared as the “most improved country” by the Nuclear Security Index for 2020, published by US-based Nuclear Threat Initiative. Pakistan has improved its overall score by seven points, ranking at the 19th position in the list of countries with the most secure system of nuclear materials.

Pakistan was praised particularly for adopting new on-site physical protection and cybersecurity regulations and improving insider threat prevention measures. The high score was credited due to vast improvement in Security and Control Measures, which saw a boost of more than 25 points. This boost is the second-largest improvement of any country since the Index was first launched in 2012. Pakistan also received a high score in implementation of UNSC resolutions, specifically UNSCR 1540, which states that all States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-state actors that attempt to develop or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Commendable also is our improvement in developing an independent regulatory agency to oversee nuclear safety.

After improving in the Ease of Doing Business rankings, this new development is a further stride in Pakistan improving its international image. The credit for this goes to the government and the establishment for strengthening laws and passing new regulations related to this matter of key importance. Pakistan’s weaknesses which were noted by the study were political instability and pervasion of corruption: issues which are slowly improving and can be worked on with strengthening our accountability bodies.

For years, Pakistan has been unfairly scrutinised as not being able enough to handle a nuclear programme and the growth of our programme has been misreported to overestimate its power. This study shows that the international focus has been misleading—Pakistan has evidently proven that it is capable of controlling and protecting its nuclear programme. In contrast, the nuclear arsenal of India, a much larger power which is now susceptible to ultra nationalist and fascist threats, has been downplayed. Pakistan now ranks higher than India on nuclear safety, which should give the international community something to think about, and should cause Indian authorities to get their own house in order before raising alarm about their neighbours.