New Delhi: Home to a slew of extremist groups and with as many as 120 warheads, Pakistan adds to the dangers it presents for South Asia and, indeed, the entire world, The New York Times editorial board opined on Sunday, urging the world powers to rein in its nuclear weapons program as an international priority.
“With as many as 120 warheads, Pakistan could in a decade become the world’s third-ranked nuclear power, behind the United States and Russia, but ahead of China, France and Britain. Its arsenal is growing faster than any other country’s, and it has become even more lethal in recent years with the addition of small tactical nuclear weapons that can hit India and longer-range nuclear missiles that can reach farther,” the NYT editorial said.
Stressing on “the fact that Pakistan is also home to a slew of extremist groups, some of which are backed by a paranoid security establishment obsessed with India,” the paper urged the world powers to rein in its nuclear weapons program as an international priority in view of the dangers it presents for South Asia and, indeed, the entire world.
“The major world powers spent two years negotiating an agreement to restrain the nuclear ambitions of Iran, which doesn’t have a single nuclear weapon. Yet there has been no comparable investment of effort in Pakistan, which, along with India, has so far refused to consider any limits at all.”
The paper expressed displeasure over the recent meeting at the White House on October 22 between President Obama and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan that appeared to have gone nowhere.
“Yet it would be wrong not to keep trying, especially at a time of heightened tensions between Pakistan and India over Kashmir and terrorism.”
At the moment, Pakistan is a pariah in the nuclear sphere to all but China… Pakistan has done itself no favors by refusing to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and by giving nuclear know-how to bad actors like North Korea. Yet, it is seeking treatment equal to that given to India by the West, the paper opined.
The NYT acknowledged that for decades, India was also penalized for developing nuclear weapons. But attitudes shifted in 2008 when the United States, seeking better relations with one of the world’s fastest-growing economies as a counterweight to China, gave India a pass and signed a generous nuclear cooperation deal that allowed New Delhi to buy American nuclear energy technology.
In order to secure American support for its membership in the 48-nation Nuclear Supplier Group, Pakistan, an American official said, would have to stop pursuing tactical nuclear weapons, which are more likely to be used in a conflict with India and could more easily fall into the hands of terrorists, and halt development of long-range missiles. Pakistan should also sign the treaty banning nuclear weapons tests.
The paper wrote that such moves would undoubtedly be in Pakistan’s long-term interest. It cannot provide adequate services for its citizens because it spends about 25 percent of its budget on defense. Pakistan’s army, whose chief of staff is due to visit Washington this month, says it needs still more nuclear weapons to counter India’s conventional arsenal.
“The competition with India, which is adding to its own nuclear arsenal, is a losing game, and countries like China, a Pakistan ally, should be pushing it to accept that.”
The NYT also had a piece of advice for PM Modi.
“Meanwhile, Narendra Modi, India’s prime minister, has done nothing to engage Islamabad on security issues, and he also bears responsibility for current tensions. The nuclear arms race in South Asia, which is growing more intense, demands far greater international attention.”