Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Tuesday, June 22nd, 2021

Nuclear challenges of South Asia in post-1974


Nuclear challenges of South  Asia in post-1974

In  the post-Pokharan phase from 1975  onwards Bhutto pursued his  quest for Pakistan’s nuclear status. He  held  that only  nations with  nuclear weapons had  sovereignty. It is now known that  from the early 1980s,  China has  been  assisting Pakistan in  nuclear technology  which  was  later extended to missile technology as well. All this was within the  knowledge of the US  and  Pakistan’s nuclear capability is  now  traced to  as early as 1987.  Relations between India and  Pakistan are exacerbated by deep  mistrust, a  quick  tendency to blame the other side  for any  misfortune, belief  that the other side  is dedicated to gaining the upper hand and, in Pakistan, the  idea that India directly threatens the  survival of the  country. There is an almost paranoid tendency to see evil intent in each  other’s action, and conspiracy theories are  endemic and readily articulated by  a  vast cross-section  of the two  populations. Although Pakistan in  t e r m s  o f  population, land area , infrastructure  and Armed forces is  way  behind India which makes one come to the conclusion that it can afford to carry out a  proxy war because of the backing of China to develop its nuclear and  missile capability, the availability of Arab petro dollars and  to some  extent by  the support of the strong pro- Pakistan lobby in the USA. It is said that China helped Pakistan substantively in setting up the  nuclear reactors. We now learn that China had  decided to carry out more  nuclear tests to meet the nuclear challenge by  India in  South Asia.
Immense nuclear help by China
Following the explosion Pakistan acquired its nuclear teeth during Bhutto’s visit  to Peking in May 1976, when a secret pact was  made between the two countries and  China agreed to help Islamabad produce nuclear arms. A part of Bhutto’s  diary revealed:.Fifteen per  cent  to twenty per  cent of the work had been shelved for further talks with French and Chinese leaders; the major portion of the  project  had  been  completed, and we had thoroughly prepared ourselves to show  the  world that we also knew how to explode a nuclear bomb….My countrymen wanted me and  my government to produce a nuclear bomb.  They  talked, more  often  than not, about India’s possession of nuclear devices and  nuclear arms. Indian leaders should not shout;  they should know that Pakistan would, sooner than later; explode  a nuclear device. China according to Bhutto, had  agreed to share technology with  Pakistan  for setting up  a  big  factory on  the  outskirts  of Karachi to manufacture powerful tanks and  anti-tank missiles. Peking had also  agree d  to build two  industrial units in Pakistan’s northern territory, he  added. The year 1976 also witnessed the signing of a Pak agreement with French firm  SGN for Chasma plant after three years of negotiations. The Chasma project, however, ran into rough weather. The  Indian test and  other developments had meanwhile set in motion new thinking on matters of proliferation. The London meeting of the  nuclear supplier countries took  a new look at the export of nuclear technology and  materials.
Role of France and the US
The United States brought pressure on both France and  Pakistan to abandon the Chasma project.  France refused to do  so  and Pakistan could  not be  influenced by the  offer  of conventional arms. It was only after the  US presented the  evidence to France of Pakistani intention of using the plant for  weapon purpose that the  latter heeded the  US  pressure. By  mid  1977  France had  slowed  down  on  the contract and  in  1978  abandoned it completely. This  incident left  Pakistan to pursue the  matter of nuclear  power more or less  alone. Bhutto viewed Pakistan’s nuclear capability as the symbol of a particular civilization as he once said  that Christian, Jewish and  Hindu civilization have this capability. The  communist powers also  possess it. Only Islamic civilization was  without it, but  that position was  about to change. He  intended to share  with the Arab countries Pakistan’s nuclear capability. Saudi Arabia was also reported to have indicated to Pakistan that it would  be willing to finance a reprocessing plant for the manufacture of Plutonium in return for the  use  of this facility for itself.
Despite the fact that Americans did not like the development of Pak’s nuclear capability, Bhutto claimed that the reprocessing facility was  required to keep  Pakistan’s atomic power  stations going. He was told by Dr. Henry Kissinger that he was insulting US  intelligence. But a  page  Bhutto’s  diary indicated that Islamabad had  other alternatives too. It revealed: You  know I have  friends not  only  helpful in China but also in Saudi Arabia. As Prime Minister I built strong  bridges with Saudi Arabia. Pakistan and Saudi Arabia reached an agreement on a plan  to assist each  other  in building the  defence  strength. The agreement was designed to enable  the two countries to come closer  to each  other  in  the light of growing need  to establish a united Muslim bloc. The  agreement was intended to enable Pakistan to obtain financial assistance from  Saudi Arabia for purchasing effective  equipment for our armed forces.
No effect of change of guard
The army coup of July 1977, removed Bhutto from the  seat of power  and  after having been  overthrown he  had  disclosed that he  had brought Pakistan  to the verge of full  nuclear capability. The disclosure led to an inquiry by the British Department of Energy and Trade in 1978 pertaining to Pakistani deal  with  a British firm  for the supply of $ 1.25 million worth of electrical control equipment which  goes  into  a  nuclear bomb. According to a  section  of the British press, the Pakistan government had  placed an order with a British electrical machinery manufacturing company for equipment which it said; it needed for a textile plant but which  could be used  for a nuclear project. The  inquiry was  made in the light of a question asked in the  British House of Commons by a Labour Member, Frank, Allaun, whether the supply of equipment essential to the manufacture of nuclear weapons had the government’s approval. But what was  good for Islamabad was  that its  relations with China had  been  improving for several years, and  its  President ‘is a faithful follower’ of Bhutto’s policy.  China had  secured an access to the Arabian sea  and  the Indian Ocean by the grace  of Pakistan; if Pakistan accelerated a process of collection of arms which  can have only one target, namely, India, then India would be forced  to equip itself  to meet this challenge.

Dr. Rajkumar Singh is Professor and Head of P.G.Department of Political Science, BNMU, West Campus, P.G. Centre, Saharsa-852201. Bihar, India. Email- rajkumarsinghpg@yahoo.com

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