This Article is From May 10, 2016

Pak Nuclear Scientists And Their Anti-India Ideology

Pak Nuclear Scientists And Their Anti-India Ideology

Husain Haqqani's latest book, India vs Pakistan, is exclusively available on the Juggernaut app

Husain Haqqani is director for South and Central Asia at the Hudson Institute in Washington DC. He served as Pakistan's ambassador to the US from 2008 to 2011.

Pakistan has become the world's only nuclear weapon power (excluding possibly North Korea) that abjures committing to a 'no first use' policy about weapons of mass destruction. Pakistan is also the only country in the world that publicly says that its nukes exist solely for defence against a specific country - India.

As recently as March 2016, Pakistan's foreign affairs adviser, Sartaj Aziz, said that 'India, not terrorism, is the biggest threat to the region' and asked India to reduce its nuclear stockpile so that Pakistan can consider reciprocation. The claim of India being the biggest threat seemed hollow, given that 40,000 Pakistanis have reportedly been killed or injured at the hands of terrorists. Pakistan's economy, its international relations and the ability of its citizens to travel abroad with ease have all suffered because of it. Still Sartaj Aziz insisted that India imperiled Pakistan more than terrorism. He reflects Pakistan's fixation with India, which US President George W. Bush once described as an 'obsession'.

Aziz said that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal was a major deterrent against India, and 'If they increase the stockpile, we cannot reduce ours.' This stance - that one country's nuclear posture is tied solely to that of another - differs from that of all other major nuclear-armed powers. When the United States first developed nuclear weapons, and the Soviet Union, Britain, France and China followed suit, they did so on the grounds of pursuing a global security role. The US dropped atomic bombs on Japan to end the Second World War long before it was concerned about the Soviet Union.

India's nuclear programme also originated not out of a regional rivalry, but from the argument that nonproliferation should be global. Either no one should have weapons of mass destruction or everyone has the right to have them. Pakistan's nuclear programme, on the other hand, is about contention with India. Pakistan developed, and continues to develop, nuclear bombs as a direct response to India, nothing more and nothing else.

Initially, India was a strong advocate of global elimination of nuclear weapons. Under Nehru, nuclear energy for civilian purposes was declared desirable but nuclear weapons were not. Still, India did not give up on a nuclear weapons option, to make the point about the equal right of all nations to do what the superpowers did. Defeat in the Sino-Indian war of 1962 and the Chinese nuclear test of 1964 led to a drastic change in India's direction. India refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as did Pakistan, and work started on India's nuclear weapons. In 1974 India conducted its first nuclear tests. Unlike India, Pakistan did not relate its refusal to adhere to the NPT to the prospect of global nuclear apartheid. Pakistan's position was, and remains to this day, that its nuclear posture will be based on responding to 'the Indian threat'. For years, Pakistani officials declared that Pakistan would join the nuclear restraint regimes the day India does the same.

Moreover, contrary to a widely held belief, Pakistan did not start working on building nuclear weapons only after India's 1974 tests. Bhutto reportedly assembled nuclear scientists at Multan in January 1972, not even one month after Pakistan's humiliating military defeat in Bangladesh, and called upon them to chart a quick path to nuclear weapons status. 'We will eat grass,' Bhutto famously remarked about Pakistan having an atomic bomb, 'but we will get one of our own. We have no other choice.' Pursuit of the bomb, then, was about restoring Pakistan's wounded pride and preventing military humiliation like the one at Dhaka, and not just about keeping up with a nuclear India.

Feroz Hassan Khan, who served in the Pakistan army's nuclear Strategic Plans Division, has written the definitive book on how and why Pakistan made the bomb. The book is aptly titled Eating Grass: The Making of the Pakistani Bomb. 'Pakistani senior officials tapped into the genius of young scientists and engineers and molded them into a motivated cadre of weaponeers,' he wrote proudly, adding that nuclear developments were interwoven with 'the broad narrative of Pakistani nationalism'. Thus, Pakistan's nukes have 'evolved into the most significant symbol of national determination and a central element of Pakistan's identity'. They reflect 'Pakistan's enduring rivalry and strategic competition with India'.

Unlike scientists in most countries, who avoid politics, several Pakistani nuclear scientists became active proponents of Islamist and anti-Indian state ideology. The most prominent among them was Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan, a metallurgist who advanced Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme by bringing with him (some would say stealing) designs and specifications from the Dutch uranium enrichment plant where he worked in the early 1970s. A.Q. Khan, as he became known, also headed the procurement network that enabled Pakistan to covertly acquire equipment for its nuclear facilities from all over the world. After helping build Pakistan's bomb, A.Q. Khan went on to sell the designs and material for nukes to Libya, Iran and North Korea, claiming in a 2004 televised confession that he did so only for personal financial gain and not as Pakistani state policy. That somewhat implausible claim helped protect Pakistan from international sanctions for nuclear proliferation to regimes considered dangerous by most of the world.

A.Q. Khan had an exaggerated sense of self and loved publicity. I met him in 1996 in my capacity as adviser to Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto at a time A.Q. Khan wanted Pakistan's highest civilian award, Nishan-e-Pakistan, which he was awarded that August. He told me that Pakistanis had not honoured him enough, given the fact that he had ensured Pakistan's survival forever. In any other country, A.Q. Khan felt, he would have been elevated to the presidency for life in addition to being considered the country's protecting angel. He lit up whenever someone referred to him as 'Mohsin-e-Pakistan' (Benefactor of Pakistan) and wondered why that title could not be conferred on him formally by Pakistan's parliament.

In his many interviews and sponsored biographies, A.Q. Khan told the story of how he reacted to Pakistan's defeat in the 1971 war, met Zulfi kar Ali Bhutto and offered to share technology he was working on in the Netherlands that would help Pakistan become a nuclear weapons power. Fear and hatred for India was his sole motivation though later he became vehemently anti-American, too, because of US opposition to Pakistan's nuclear ambitions.

Excerpted with the permission of Juggernaut Books from India vs Pakistan by Husain Haqqani exclusively available on the Juggernaut app.