GUJRAT- Experts at a moot concluded yesterday that the absence of arms control could imperil strategic stability in South Asia.

They regretted that almost every state in the world is increasing its defence budget at the cost of economic and social progress.

Experts from different walks of life expressed the views at a two-day conference titled “Strategic Stability and Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Debate in South Asia.” The conference was organised by Department of Political Science and International Relations, the University of Gujrat at its Hafiz Hayat Campus.

Since 2001, global military-industrial complex has been thriving and producing sophisticated weapons. The immense investment in missile defence system has transformed the strategic environment as well as significance of nuclear weapons in the military doctrine,” Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal said.

He pointed out that there had been a few conflicts between India and Pakistan over the past 15 years but that did not escalate. However, the modernization of conventional nuclear weapons by the two countries alarms about the probability of strategic instability, especially because arms race contains an inherent potential to destabilize the deterrence ability. The dynamics of new weapons have the inherent capability to boost the existing arms race but at the same time encourage their possessors to think that they have a strategic and military advantage or balance of power has shifted in their favour, making them go for a war.

Dr Jaspal said that offensive and defensive missile build-up programs of India could not be ignored, adding that Pakistan’s capabilities to invest in the armament industry or developing its conventional weaponry are constrained due to its global war on terrorism. He said that the most important challenge to this strategic stability in South Asia is the absence of arms control which makes the strategic environment of the sub-continent very much vulnerable. Both India and Pakistan possess the capability of retaliatory nuclear strikes, but the question is whether it will be a survivable second strike. India’s working on a missile defence system denies the second strike or retaliatory capability to Pakistan,” he said, emphasizing that India’s doctrinal transformation of defensive defence into an offensive defence doctrine is also undermining the strategic stability in South Asia.

Brig Zahir Kazmi, speaking on ‘The Imperatives of Deterrence stability in South Asia’ said that Pakistan in order to ensure peace maintains credible, minimum and conventional deterrent that would work if push comes to shove.

“Pakistan does not seek parity with India because that would involve an arms race that is neither our intent nor in our interest. Our nuclear weapons remain under a certain centralised control of national command authority and elaborate command and control system has an in-built survivability to ensure that nuclear weapons are always be available once we want to use them and will never be used either inadvertently or accidently,” Brig Zahir Kazmi said.

Dr Rabia Akhtar, Director Centre for Security, Strategy and Policy Research (CSSPR) at University of Lahore, shared her thoughts about ‘Complex Deterrence: The Drivers of Strategic Instability in South Asia’. She said that Pakistan needs to alter its vulnerabilities by strengthening its economy, adding that the country should decrease its dependency upon the US and get out of transactional mode of relationship. She also stressed that Pakistan should expand its security engagements with other countries in the region. Islamabad should also push the world powers to take responsibility for making the nuclear order more inclusive by initiating dialogue among nuclear weapons states.

Dr Adil Sultan, speaking on “International Nuclear Order/Pakistan’s Position Towards Arms Control Issues”, said that article II of NPT aims at protecting interests of the rich and the powerful. He said that India’s inclusion in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) will create a new entity. He predicted that the emerging international ‘dis-order’ is likely to be the new nuclear order for the foreseeable future.

Mr Iftikhar Ali, assistant professor at the department of International Relations of Karakoram International University Gilgit, spoke about ‘approaches of global nonproliferation regime (GNPR): Dynamics of Strategic Instability in South Asia.

Earlier, Dr Muhammad Mushtaq, head department of political science and international relations at the UoG, in his address welcomed the speakers, faculty members and students at the debate on security challenges in South Asia. He said that the event aimed at educating students and broadening their approach towards their research projects on similar topics.

Meanwhile, a workshop was held on the sidelines of the conference in which defence analysts, experts and teachers from across the country expressed their views on developing a comprehensive curriculum on “Strategic Stability and Nuclear Non-Proliferation in South Asia”. A large number of teachers from various universities attended the workshop. Dr Shahid Hussain Bukhari, Dr Zul Qarnain Haider, Ameerulllah Wazir, Ashfaq Ahmad and Raja Azhar, Muhammad Sadiq, Dr Iftikhar Ali and Naveed Qaiser, among others, proposed various suggestions for the development of the curriculum.