Pakistan 'expanding nuclear arsenal to deter US attack'
Pakistan is expanding its nuclear arsenal to deter an American attack on
its status as an atomic power, according to India's former foreign
Asia's triangular arms race has traditionally reflected the rivalries
between India and China and India and Pakistan, but according to an
influential former adviser to Manmohan Singh, the Indian prime minister,
Pakistan now regards the United States as a potential threat.
In an article for The Hindu newspaper, Shyam Saran said Islamabad had
invested in a new generation of plutonium-based warheads, increased the
size range of its arsenal, and improved the accuracy of its missiles.
Washington has voiced its concerns over the build-up in the region
but believes it reflects Pakistan's long-standing fear of arch rival
India's conventional force superiority.
But according to Saran, Islamabad's burgeoning nuclear arsenal is
increasingly aimed at deterring its fractious ally in the war on terror,
the United States. Its fear that Washington may strike to wipe out
Pakistan's nuclear capability dates back to just after the 9/11 attacks
when then President Musharraf said it had been warned to support the war
on terror or face being "bombed back to the stone age."
Despite his acquiescence, relations between the two countries have
been strained ever since and reached their lowest point following the
2011 special forces raid which killed Osama bin Laden at his home in the
center of Pakistan's main garrison town Abbotabad.
"While the immediate threat to its strategic assets passed,
Pakistan's suspicions of US intentions in this regard have now risen to
the level of paranoia," Saran said.
His comments follow the latest in a series of missile tests last week
when the Pakistan Army confirmed it had fired a nuclear-capable Hatf-V
medium range missile capable of hitting Indian cities as far east as
Lieutenant-General Talat Masood, a retired senior Pakistan Army
commander and nuclear expert, said Saran's claims had some truth in
them. "I would not say it [Pakistan's growing nuclear capability] was
meant to counter America – that would be suicidal. But there has always
been a fear in Pakistan's strategic community and government, in the
recent past, a feeling that America is unfavorably inclined towards our
nuclear program and if things got worse it could neutralize our nuclear
weapons capability, go after them," he said.
The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute voiced its
concerns about the nuclear weapon build-up earlier this year after India
developed a nuclear submarine and Pakistan unveiled a series of short
Pakistan is believed to have more nuclear warheads than India – 110
to 100 – and Washington remains concerned about the security of its