Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hoodbhoy on Pakistan's nuclear test anniversary

Pervez Hoodbhoy has been a vocal opponent of nuclear weapons. Here is an excellent assessment by him on the 11th anniversary of Pakistan's nuclear tests - and at a time of crisis in Pakistan:
Some had imagined that nuclear weapons would make Pakistan an object of awe and respect internationally. They had hoped that Pakistan would acquire the mantle of leadership of the Islamic world. Indeed, in the aftermath of the 1998 tests, Pakistan’s stock had shot up in some Muslim countries before it crashed. But today, with a large swathe of its territory lost to insurgents, one has to defend Pakistan against allegations of being a failed state. In terms of governance, economy, education or any reasonable quality of life indicators, Pakistan is not a successful state that is envied by anyone.

Contrary to claims made in 1998, the bomb did not transform Pakistan into a technologically and scientifically advanced country. Again, the facts are stark. Apart from relatively minor exports of computer software and light armaments, science and technology remain irrelevant in the process of production. Pakistan’s current exports are principally textiles, cotton, leather, footballs, fish and fruit. This is just as it was before Pakistan embarked on its quest for the bomb. The value-added component of Pakistani manufacturing somewhat exceeds that of Bangladesh and Sudan, but is far below that of India, Turkey and Indonesia. Nor is the quality of science taught in our educational institutions even remotely satisfactory. But then, given that making a bomb these days requires only narrow technical skills rather than scientific ones, this is scarcely surprising.
This is the issue. Just having a bomb does not make a country more scientific. In fact, Pervez starts his article with the example of North Korea. What has it achieved by its nuclear tests other than the ability to blackmail international community? Putting aside the moral issues, we are still at least 60 years too late in making any breakthroughs in nuclear science. And of course, the threats that Pakistan face today cannot be deterred by its nuclear arsenal.
It was a lie that the bomb could protect Pakistan, its people or its armed forces. Rather, it has helped bring us to this grievously troubled situation and offers no way out. The threat to Pakistan is internal. The bomb cannot help us recover the territory seized by the Baitullahs and Fazlullahs, nor bring Waziristan back to Pakistan. More nuclear warheads, test-launching more missiles, or buying yet more American F-16s and French submarines, will not help.

Pakistan’s security problems cannot be solved by better weapons. Instead, the way forward lies in building a sustainable and active democracy, an economy for peace rather than war, a federation in which provincial grievances can be effectively resolved, elimination of the feudal order and creating a society that respects the rule of law.

It is time for Pakistan to become part of the current global move against nuclear weapons. India — which had thrust nuclearisation upon an initially unwilling Pakistan — is morally obliged to lead. Both must announce that they will not produce more fissile material to make yet more bombs. Both must drop insane plans to expand their nuclear arsenals. Eleven years ago a few Pakistanis and Indians had argued that the bomb would bring no security, no peace. They were condemned as traitors and sellouts by their fellow citizens. But each passing year shows just how right we were.
Excellent point. Read the full article here.


Ali Kazim Gardezi said...

Excellent article. Have already shared it on my facebook as well as on my mailing list.

Although I do believe that it maybe necessary for Pakistan to go nuclear, given the rants from India, but equal importance, if not more, must be given to education and health sector. We need to strengthen our institutions. We need to fight the extremism, in person and in thinking.

That should be our prime focus now.

Farooq Kamal said...

It’s a bit too pessimistic an opinion. Yes we are far behind and no signs of catching up any soon but what has it taken away from us? I think it has given hope to people in that we are capable of achieving something; just like the JF-17 which was is originally a dumped Mic-31 design later acquired by the Chinese but we can still take pride in assembling those (its clear the Chinese partnered us to get hold of avionics and radars which the EU wouldn’t sell them directly). We are doing something and hopefully we would do much more

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