PAKISTAN’S PROJECTED NUCLEAR BOMB TEST IN CHINA AND
BENAZIR’S JEDDAH STATEMENT ON “THE KASHMIR ISSUE”: A LOUD
AND CLEAR WARNING TO INDIA, WHICH SHOULD BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY
In an interesting paper presented at the Australian National
University in 1980, Pervaiz Iqbal Cheema pointed out that
the 1974 Pokharan test by India meant that Pakistanis would
“not only have to forget about the Kashmir issue but will
have to learn to live under the shadow of a hostile and
powerful nuclear neighbour.” The report that China is
arranging a nuclear test for Pakistan at the Lop Nor testing
range for which Ms. Benazir Bhutto will finalise the
arrangements during her visit to China scheduled for January
1989, and her statement in Jeddah that the Kashmir issue
must be settled before there can be total normalisation of
Indo-Pak relations must be seen in the context of Pakistani
thinking which links the Kashmir issue to the exercise of
Pakistan’s nuclear option.
The security policy debate in India should
concern itself with the following important points:
Supporters of Ms. Benazir Bhutto in India
should not underestimate her overall adherence to her father
Zulfikar Bhutto’s line on argument that if Pakistan
restricted or suspended its nuclear programme, India would
blackmail Pakistan with its nuclear advantage. The
enhancement of nuclear deterrence against India is part of
the Bhutto legacy which has manifestly impressed Ms.
Benazir. It would be fooling ourselves to believe that the
new Pakistan regime will opt for passive defence measures.
Mr. Rajiv Gandhi’s security policy is quite confusing since
it is not based on the strategic and arms control problems
involved between India and the Sino-Pak axis. To cancel
Indian army exercises will prove to be a weak line of
argument with Pakistan unless in the negotiating process
India can restrain Pakistan’s competitive impulse for
acquiring nuclear weapons. This will require a strong
tenacity of purpose on the part of India to end the
superpower-client relationship which China and Pakistan wish
to maintain. Instead of enhancing his manoeuvrability vis-a
vis China and Pakistan, Mr. Rajiv Gandhi has shown himself
ready to make concessions unilaterally without providing
serious inducements to Islamabad to undertake any
reassessment or policy change towards Beijing.
There may still be time to prevent the
further development of Sino-Pakistan nuclear cooperation if
India refuses to abdicate its political will. Again Mr. Rajiv Gandhi’s efforts to implement piecemeal agreements
between India and China will prove to be dangerously
destabilising. A comprehensive settlement with China should
not have room for further provocations by Beijing in opening
new horizons of nuclear warfare by Pakistan against India.
Mr. Rajiv Gandhi failed to point out to the Chinese that
they were fueling the nuclear arms race in the Subcontinent
by providing their nuclear weapons know-how to Pakistan.
There is hardly any justification for
ignoring Ms. Benazir Bhutto’s statement on Kashmir. If
détente is to be promoted between India and Pakistan it can
only be on the basis of a new order of priorities. By
bringing up the question of Kashmir at Jeddah, Ms. Bhutto’s
action may presage a future tendency to strengthen her shaky
position in the Islamic world by grander visions of Islamic
Unity. The rationale behind the advocacy of those who
suggest that Ms. Benazir has to make noises on Kashmir for
reasons of expediency does not bear serious scrutiny. New
structures of cooperation and legitimate regional order can
only be developed in a balanced way with a common
perspective on confidence building measures. The Jeddah
statement is not compatible with the spirit of regional
Keeping in view the above analysis, the
following suggestions may be urgently considered:
The BJP should undertake at the earliest a national campaign
to oppose the testing of the Pakistan Bomb by China.
The BJP should educate the nation on the dangers of the
increasing Chinese military access to the Subcontinent on
account of the Sino-Pak axis.
The BJP should view the problem of Ms. Benazir’s pressure on
Kashmir realistically. The Jeddah speech is the first
disturbing sign which needs a serious response.
The BJP response to the destabilising opportunities which the
Rajiv visit to China has provided to Beijing should be to
organise a national consensus on the geo-political realities
in the Himalaya.