The nuclear security issue will continue to haunt the world as it moves from bi-polar to multi-polar situation. Many of the nuclear powers are engaged in combating non-state actors spreading a wave of terror across the Muslim world and the world at large. Some states that had been engaged in proxy wars with their rivals through non-state actors are now faced with their increasing force that continues to destabilise the regions. No mechanism has been devised to bring together high-level policy makers of the nuclear powers to work out the issue of nuclear security.

Pakistan became nuclear power on May 28, 1998 when it conducted atomic blasts at Chaghi in Balochistan. The atomic blasts were conducted as a tit for tat response to India that had tested its nuclear devices earlier in May. The blasts proved to be ultimate deterrence for Pakistan. Twice in the last 15 years Pakistan and India both came close to war. That was in 2001-02 and 2008 when India wanted to take major military action against Pakistan, which was blamed for supporting the terrorist activities. The matters in case of Kargil in 1999, after attack on Indian Parliament and Mumbai attack were resolved through marathon diplomatic effort mainly by USA.

Arab spring and later the wave of change of regimes and civil wars that continue in Africa and Middle East could not touch Pakistan mainly for the reason that it was a nuclear power. There have been threats of Islamist groups but none of them had been impactful mainly for the reason that Pakistan army was vigilant in ensuring that they did not spread their wings. Examples in the case are Swat that was reclaimed by the army swiftly and the ongoing Zarb-e-Azab operation that has broken chain of terrorist linkages within Pakistan. India has been making attempts to help raise the level of insurgency in Balochistan but on the whole it too has avoided direct confrontation. India has always shied away from use of force against Pakistan fearing retaliation that also carries risk of a Pakistani nuclear response. Pakistan has always held that it would not be the first to use nuclear force but when you have common border and there is no ocean in between you cannot take the risk. Indian leaders have at times threatened to conduct military operations against terrorists inside Pakistani territory but have desisted from doing so only due to nuclear deterrence.

Islamic State or Daesh is making inroads in almost every Muslim country except Pakistan. There have been attempts by some fundamentalist groups within Pakistan to show that Daesh has arrived in Pakistan but our armed forces have been quick to quell these efforts. Pakistani people mostly are progressive and not religious zealots. Daesh philosophy has not been able to find fertile ground here.

Pakistan is a responsible nuclear power and its arsenal are  in safe hands. US officials from President Obama to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff have repeatedly expressed confidence in Pakistani nuclear safeguards and security arrangements. Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine is defensive. Indian build up of weapons is worrying. Pakistan high policy makers would definitely like to counter this move that is going to start the arms race in South Asia. India is working to weaken the fact that nuclear deterrence is not enough and it may spark limited war in future.

Our country started from scratch and has made great strides in development but we lag behind many other countries in provision of facilities to its citizens. Who is to blame for the poor infrastructure in the country? Why have we not been able to succeed on the diplomatic front in recent years? After 69 years of existence we are still talking about civil and military relations. Pakistan for most part of its existence has been under quasi military rule. Establishment and bureaucracy of all the developed and powerful countries are always most strong and Pakistan is no exception. For example bureaucracy has played an important role in the development of Japan. It has ensured that there is no flaw in the implementation of development plans. It continued to make and execute development plans while the political sets changed frequently. Japanese ambassadors are all politically appointed but the professional diplomats run the missions across the globe. Pakistan at the moment is weak on the diplomatic front and perhaps the one reason is that we do not have a foreign minister. The person incharge of foreign affairs Mr Sartaj Aziz is not a diplomat. He is basically a man of finance and education. Then our COAS has to come in at times to make Pakistan’s point of view clear. For example he had to meet the US Ambassador to present Pakistan’s point of view on the drone attack in which Mullah Akhtar Mansoor was killed. It is high time Pakistan’s policy makers sat down and decide how to deal with foreign policy matters. We have to show the right kind of face to the world, which like the other nuclear powers should be of responsible diplomats and politicians.

Pakistan would soon be entering the Nuclear Suppliers Group. There is no question about that since India is likely to get the membership and other nuclear powers have no option but to allow Pakistan to join the group. Pakistan for the sake of world peace should take the initiative to develop mechanisms with other nuclear powers to ensure nuclear security. The world powers have to start with some confidence building measures in this regard.

The writer is staff member. Email: emanuelsarfraz7@gmail.com. He tweets @EmanuelSarfraz