THE numbers are staggering. According to a new report by two international think tanks, Pakistan is estimated to possess 120 nuclear warheads. Within the next decade, the report claims, it could have up to 350 nuclear weapons, making Pakistan’s the third-largest nuclear stockpile in the world. Not bad for a country that has a 4000 MW energy shortfall.
During a trip to Joint Staff Headquarters last week, a Senate defence committee heard why arms stockpiling continues at this pace. India is Pakistan’s only external threat, the committee was told, and it continues to amass Pakistan-specific weapons worth billions. This apparently meant that Pakistan had few options but to stock up too.
But there are other ways to view this conundrum. Writing in this paper last week, Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon, the authors of the above-mentioned report A Normal Nuclear Pakistan, argued that Pakistan currently has sufficient nuclear stockpiles to deter India from engaging with it in a conventional war or deploying nuclear weapons. They called for Pakistan’s military leadership to acknowledge its success in achieving ‘strategic’ deterrence — enough to prevent war, nuclear or otherwise — rather than pursue ‘full spectrum’ deterrence, which would entail the endless acquisition of more nuclear weapons.
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