This month MFI’s president Dr. Imad-ad-Dean Ahmad was interviewed by Farspress on the crisis in Pakistan. Among the main reasons for the spread of Taliban influence across Pakistan, Dr. Ahmad cited the US presence as a major motivating force. Although you cannot ignore the polarizing effect of “American influence”, real or perceived, in South Asia, the Pakistani government is not without its share of fault in the blame game. Restricting political freedoms, maintaining an atrocious education system and mismanaging the budget continue to push Pakistan to the brink of destruction.
However, the Pakistani government has outdone itself in proving its own ineptitude. Within the near year, Pakistan plans to produce new plutonium for production in more powerful, more mobile nuclear weapons. India has begun similar actions and both countries are claiming the weapons are for defensive purposes. How exactly will another nuclear arms buildup with India solve any of Pakistan’s current problems?
Facing a humanitarian crisis displacing 1.5 million Pakistanis, a defiant population inhabiting the northwest regions of the country and pressure from America’s increased combat in Afghanistan, Pakistan once again focused on the one enemy who poses the smallest imminant threat to its sovereignty. The expansion of nuclear capabilities only serves as superficial strategy distracting from much needed policy change.
Security assurances from the Pakistani government do not counteract the fact that more nuclear material inherently creates a larger risk. Furthermore, the sheer economic costs associated with this nuclear build up will not help solve any of the current problems plaguing Pakistan. Nuclear weapons are come with a panoply of risks and can be counter-productive to any broader strategy for Pakistan to stabilize itself. Such ill-considered strategies encourage America’s pursuit of an interventionist agenda in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, India’s ability to increase nuclear material production is a legacy of the Bush administration’s partiality towards India. Without the ability to secure nuclear fuel from the United States, India would not have the surplus material to increase their nuclear arsenal. Once again, the US has enacted policies with contradictory objectives, creating even larger problems.
U.S. officials now seek a global approach towards curbing the buildup of nuclear weapons, which is the correct response. Nuclear weapons, while providing a strong incentive to respect a country’s sovereignty, threaten the existence of all humans and all civilizations worldwide. In practice, the weapons serve no practical purpose and can only function as a deterrent.
Given the difficult agenda and large ambitions of the Obama administration, I doubt any meaningful progress will be made on this issue. Pakistan will continue to unnecessarily focus resources on the external threat while Taliban and U.S. ambitions drive the country further into poverty. From the Indian perspective, Pakistani stability would lead to developing trade and promoting prosperity across the region. However, the more radical and unstable Pakistan becomes, the more likely it is for the radicalism and instability to spill into India.
Imran Malik, Program Assistant
Minaret of Freedom Institute