"The nuclear deterrence remained intact during post-Pulwama stand-off between Pakistan and India as it contained the escalation to a different level at the initial stage," said senior officials of Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs and Strategic Plans Division and Arms Control and Disarmament.
Director General Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs, Strategic Plans Division Brigadier Zahir Kazmi, and Director General Arms Control and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Kamran Akhtar and defense analyst Syed Muhammad Ali were speaking at Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI), an Islamabad-based policy think tank, which had organized an exclusive media interaction of senior Pakistani officials dealing with strategic affairs on 'Pakistan's Nuclear Journey: 21 Years of Deterrence and Stability'.
Brigadier Zahir Kazmi said the purpose of deterrence is to close space for war and bring states to the negotiating table. "Stability actually means peaceful resolution of territorial disputes in the Subcontinent... no disputes means no crises and conflicts. Nuclear deterrence should be a factor of stability between Pakistan and India", he asserted.
He said deterrence worked during the post-Pulwama military stand-off despite Indian attempt to escalate to a different level by talking about mobilization of nuclear missile and nuclear submarines.
Brigadier Kazmi identified three imperatives for deterrence. First, enabling geo-strategic environment that includes sustainable mechanism for dispute resolution; second, strategic restraint and responsibility and third the maintenance of balance in nuclear deterrence capabilities through arms control rather than competition.
He further clarified that deterrence is not an end in itself but a psychological state. "It should inspire fear in which the perceived cost of deterrence breakdown is higher than the desired benefits of preferring war as an instrument for dispute resolution."
Kamran Akhtar said that the recent Pulwama incident exposed and broke the myth of responsible Indian strategic behavior. He said that New Delhi, immediately after the Indian Air Force fighter was shot down, resorted to missile threats and deployment of its nuclear armed ballistic missile submarine. In comparison, Pakistan demonstrated a much more responsible and restrained behavior that led to de-escalation, he added.
He said that Pakistan is a responsible and restrained nuclear power and the allegations regarding Dr A. Q. Khan overlook the fact that he was an individual who operated on his own, adding that he was part of a large international supply network involving thirty-one entities, spread over more than 24 countries.
"Several international accounts are based on misperceptions regarding our nuclear program that are divorced from reality," he said, adding that Pakistan's safety and security record is immaculate and an example for various countries that follow and learn from it.
He strongly dismissed the allegations regarding Pakistan possessing the fastest growing nuclear program in the world.
Citing various credible and respected international research publications including those of Harvard University's Belfer Center, he said that India has a much larger, older and fastest growing nuclear program than Pakistan but it is often overlooked. He also described the disproportionate focus on Pakistan's nuclear security as both unfair and unnecessary.
Defence Analyst Syed Mohammad Ali, in his opening remarks stated that Pakistan's nuclear program has significantly contributed towards meeting both its traditional and non-traditional security needs. Nuclear deterrence, he said, has enabled Pakistan timely manage and de-escalate several regional crises with India during the past three decades and also given our national leadership and diplomats more confidence in international diplomacy.
Earlier, Syed Sajjad Shabbir, Executive Director - IPI - welcomed the guests and said that Pakistan's nuclear program has helped maintain deterrence stability in a conflict-prone South Asia region. He announced that IPI will shortly publish a handbook on nuclear issues to create greater understanding among journalists, politicians and bureaucrats.