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Nukes Do Not Help Pakistan

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Nuclear weapons have primarily constrained Pakistan in its rivalry with India. There are several important ways in which they have constrained its rivalry with India.

Firstly, Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons has led to the reduction of its international credibility vis-à-vis India, making it likelier that other states will increasingly align themselves with India and its positions in its rivalry with Pakistan. This is because Pakistan is generally considered an untrustworthy partner due to its history of double dealing (as with the US in Afghanistan) as well as a sponsor of militant and terrorist groups in neighboring countries such as India and Afghanistan. Given its history of instability and willingness for a first-use of nuclear weapons policy, its possession of nukes has only made other countries even more distrusting of it and willing to constrain it.

Secondly, Pakistan’s nuclear program is expensive, an expense it can barely afford given its crumbling economy, infrastructure, tax base and substandard education. As India’s economy is significantly larger, it can afford to spend more on its nuclear program and military while proportionately spending less of its revenue than Pakistan on the military. In the long run Pakistan’s attempt to keep up with India militarily will damage it as it cannot compete with an economy that is already 8 times larger than it.

Thirdly, the existence of nuclear weapons makes it harder for Pakistan to attempt to fight a conventional war with India (in order to wrest Kashmir from it, for example), as this could lead to a nuclear war. Pakistan is no longer in a position to attempt adventures like its 1965 War without risking a destructive scenario. As a result, its conventional military options become limited, forcing it to resort to more asymmetric options which are generally unable to make long term gains and make Pakistan seem even of a pariah state. These asymmetric options require militant groups which are destabilizing Pakistan itself.

Fourthly, in the event of a nuclear war with India, due to the reasons of geography and size, India would merely be severely damaged while Pakistan’s use of nuclear weapons would set into motion a chain of events that would probably led to its utter destruction.

It is true that nuclear weapons have emboldened Pakistan in some ways. They have led to the perception in Pakistan that it has erased the conventional military advantage of India and if it is able to construct and deploy tactical battlefield nukes, this advantage might be employed on a tactical level as well. Furthermore, it allows some cover for Pakistan to act with impunity in sponsoring terrorist attacks on India without fear of reprisal. While these issues have had some security consequences for India, they have not affected India’s overall long-term advantage over Pakistan nor are an existential threat to India. As long as India’s economy continues to grow, its advantage over Pakistan will continue to grow and unless Pakistan acts in an especially irrational manner by deploying nuclear weapons against India in a surprise attack, Pakistan will find its ability to influence India several constrained in the long run. In totality, despite Pakistan’s possession of nuclear weapons in an attempt to balance India, Pakistan has been declining more and more relative to India in power, prestige, and ability and it has found nuclear weapons to be a constraining factor.

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Written by Akhipill

December 30, 2012 at 8:15 PM

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , ,

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