In the backdrop of the existing tensions existing between India and Pakistan, a latest report released by leading US think tanks say that Pakistan would have the third largest nuclear stockpile in the world behind US and Russia in another ten years. The report is certain to ring alarm bells in New Delhi’s security establishment. Pakistan is already estimated to have 120 nuclear warheads against India’s 100, according to a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the Stimson Center. .
Pakistan is building tactical nuclear weapons to check the asymmetry with India in conventional capabilities, according to another report in 2012 by nuclear expert Hans M Kristensen. This view seems vindicated as Pakistan recently built its fourth reactor, Khushab military facility, which is a plutonium producing unit. Pakistan is adding around 20 warheads to its nuclear arsenal annually due to its insecurities about India which is also a nuclear power.
Going at the current rate, Pakistan could have around 350 warheads in next five to ten years which would leave the European powers like the UK and France far behind. India has given a commitment of no first use of weapons, while Pakistan has not given any such commitment and even keeps reminding India that it is a nuclear power, the best example being the recent statement by Pakistan’s National Security Adviser Sartaj Aziz who said nuclear power Pakistan knows how to defend itself. Such statements coming from senior figures in Pakistan’s administration doesn’t augur well for the region’s stability and fails to inspire any confidence about Pakistan’s commitment to maintain peace in the region.
If Pakistan’s growing nuclear ambitions is not addressed by the international community, it could end up becoming one of the least stable regions of the world, as Pakistan grapples with not just external threats but grapples with internal threats as well. With the presence of strong violent extremist groups that threaten the stability of Pakistan and its perennial hostile stance towards India, Pakistan’s growth of nuclear arsenal needs to be monitored.
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