An open letter to DG SPD

One thing is clear: a nuclear Pakistan cannot afford to be a pariah state in the comity of nations

An open letter to DG SPD

Dear Sir, Pakistan is a nuclear state, with a stockpile of more than 130 nuclear weapons. There is no way these 130 weapons can be used without blowing up the whole planet. With four operating plutonium production reactors, Pakistan’s capacity to produce fissile material for weapons continues to grow. When would it stop? No one seems to know the answer. Do you?

I am sure you are aware of the fact that Pakistan has enough weapons to ensure that war in South Asia is no longer an option. We do not need a shift from a strategy of ‘minimum credible deterrence’ to ‘full spectrum deterrence’. So, maybe, you should finally, solve this puzzle: how many nuclear weapons are enough? Because it seems, it is high time we stopped producing more nuclear material for weapons. Nuclear weapons are meant to deter a nuclear war, not arm the country to fight one.

Our growing nuclear arsenal, along with the induction of tactical nuclear weapons, is not the most sensible strategy.

There is no gainsaying the fact that India has one of the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenals. But the international community is not ready to accept the logic that the future trajectory of our nuclear programme should depend on how much Indian nuclear arsenal grows. Pakistan’s economy is only one-seventh of India’s and what certainly makes more sense is competing with India in the economic realm.

Our current nuclear approach continues to send alarms to the international community. Part of the reason why the international media is also swarming with apprehensions about our nuclear capability has to do with your organisation’s complete failure on the diplomatic front. It is an unfortunate fact that our government has, thus far, remained unable to gain international support against India’s involvement in Balochistan and our tribal areas. And what explains this failure to appraise the world of our legitimate security concerns is the presence of the weak and uncharismatic leaders that dominate Pakistani politics at the moment.

Then there is the issue that our nuclear establishment has also made no bones about impressing upon the international community the need to understand the threats emanating from India’s conventional military strength. The course of events over the past one year shows that our political government and military leaders have not been quite successful in fighting our case on the diplomatic front.

It is highly unfortunate that Pakistani scholars are so ill-informed on issues of national security that in different international conferences and seminars they rely only on hackneyed phrases and diplomatic jargon to fight Pakistan’s case. Our nuclear establishment does not make any serious effort to select competent people for this purpose, relying on individuals who parrot the official position of the Pakistani government without actually thinking about what it means.

The one thing our nuclear security managers should have understood by now is that the only way for Pakistan to be accepted as a normal nuclear state is to win over diplomatic support in favour of our nuclear stance. One way to gain the support of the international community is by letting the Conference on Disarmament (CD) start negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).

Pakistan’s refusal to allow even the start of formal talks on the FMCT is an unsustainable position. What is worse is that, taking advantage of our collective failure to muster enough support, some members of the CD only blame Pakistan’s obduracy for the deadlock of the CD.

More alarmingly, a myriad of vested interests and misguided writers in both Pakistan and India are influencing the public mind. And the very few people who are trying to make people aware of this rush towards nuclear insanity are being branded ‘traitors’ or ‘American agents’. This also explains why about 1.5 billion people of South Asia are being held hostage to the myopic vision of the nuclear establishments of both countries.

Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division (SPD) will have to stop relying on such dogmatic writers and, instead, engage qualified foreign experts who can reconcile our broader national security approach with certain reasonable demands from the international community. A decent beginning can be made if Pakistan allows the start of talks on the FMCT. The academics in our country should help bring down the emotional rhetoric on this issue. Pakistan cannot afford to appear as a country violating the UN resolution and blocking the CD from implementing its agreed agenda.

As director general of the SPD, you should play a role in bringing fundamental changes to Pakistan’s emerging nuclear posture and ensure that our country earns a respectable place in the global nuclear order. One thing is clear: a nuclear Pakistan cannot afford to be a pariah state in the comity of nations.

I hope you appreciate my concerns.


The writer is a US-based nuclear security analyst and can be reached at