The ghost of possible nuclear holocaust in South Asia simply refuses to die down. While in the last few years the chances of a nuclear catastrophe have come down considerably, time and again some or the other incidence has kept the region in perennial tenterhooks. The recent revelation that Pakistan is building a third nuclear reactor comes as a shocker and adds to the existing paranoia. Well if Pakistan puts forward the contention that it is building this nuclear reactor to mitigate the problem of power supply and to make sure that it gets an uninterrupted supply of nuclear power, even the most diehard proponent of the cause of Pakistan would find it difficult to accept. But then history is testimony to the fact that Pakistan would essentially put forward this contention only as it has always done to bring some sort of parity with India. Though it cannot be completely ruled out that Pakistan is doing this to sort of avenge the Indo-US nuclear deal as it had expected the US to give a similar gift on nuclear package which, for all the obvious reasons it did not get. While India which along with China has been partly responsible for the stupendous increase in the price of the oil in the recent past, and it is for this reason it made logical sense for the US to amend its laws and make sure that in the future the pressure on oil prices is mitigated to some extent by making India reduce its dependence on fuel oil, through the harnessing of nuclear power. In the given scenario there’s no pertinent reason to think the same about Pakistan. For an economy which has been literally struggling to stay afloat and which as been mired with all sorts of sectarian violence and political instability, more than being a viable proposition, it is essentially expensive and rather unnecessary alternative. So, it puts to rest the theory (if and when it arises) that Pakistan is building this for civilian purpose.
In that case the only other alternative is the military one. Reports state that this new reactor will be plutonium based which makes it all the more alarming. Plutonium as ingredient is much more lethal than uranium as plutonium based nuclear bombs has bigger impact than uranium based ones. Recent reports even suggest that this new dispensation would have the capability to produce some fifty bombs per year. Complimenting this would be the Pakistani missile development program which is pretty developed, if not advanced, giving rise to a lethal combination. One thing is for sure that India is not going to sit idle at this development and would fast pace its own program to keep ahead of time.
But whatever India does, its strict governance, regulatory regime and an impeccable non-proliferation record can rest assure the world that things are under control and that the nuclear button is in safe hands. Well the same is not the case with Pakistan. And here lies the villain of peace. The army has always been politicised and it is an open secret that many in the establishment owe their allegiance to the radical Islamic movements including the Taliban. And many of them have not essentially been happy with Musharraf’s pro-US stance. And with his own position now in much jeopardy which does not rule out another military coup in the near future, the question is what would happen if this new plant instead of adding to Pakistan’s own internal security, essentially takes the radical Islam closer to have its own bomb? Certainly the political instability and the increasing grip of the radicals don’t augur well the development of this advanced reactor. And given the terrible record Pakistan has with respect to proliferation, it would not be surprising if the next AQ Khan is waiting in the offing to sell them to the likes of Osamas.
Yet all these don’t come as much of a surprise knowing Pakistan’s internal dynamics. But what about the US and what about their so called war against terrorism? What have they been doing when this reactor was being planned out? And why did the US have not been forthcoming about it? There are even more shocking revelations that the Bush Administration has been completely aware of it and yet kept tight lipped. Even on concocted assumptions when the US has gone ahead and reduced a country like Iraq to a near graveyard, it becomes intriguing to comprehend as to why Pakistan is given this special treatment? Is it because that unlike Saddam, Pakistan is not in essence against the US hegemony? Or it is a ploy to keep India at bay and forever uneasy?
Well whatever it might be, all in all Pakistan’s development of more lethal nuclear ingredients does not portend well for India. Just in case they go into wrong hands their bombs might make it difficult to travel long way to the US but it wont take too much for them to transport a few of such sophisticated missiles to India. And that is all the more reason that India should take the matter seriously.
- 08 July 2007 |