To sign or not to sign?
By AMANULLAH BASHAR
Feb 07 - 13, 2000
"Yes" or "No" to Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban
Treaty (CTBT) is the question which has become the talk of the town in Pakistan because of
the mounting pressures from the developed world especially the United States.
It is however amazing that on one side Pakistan is being pressurised
for signing the treaty, the country like US which is the great advocate of the CTBT finds
it difficult to get the treaty ratified by its own Senate on the other hand.
Notwithstanding the fact that after the Senate declined to ratify the
treaty, the US has lost a moral ground to pressurise other nations, yet people having a
moderate approach feel that there was nothing wrong in signing the CTBT being friendly to
the human life and values provided a level ground is made available to all the
Unfortunately, the situation is not so conducive in case of this
region. It is a known fact that Pakistan's security is threatened due to aggressive
designs of neighbouring India which has already imposed 3 wars on Pakistan since 1947.
Instead of showing any respect to the security and honour of the
neighbours, the Indian leadership has publicly declared its political agenda to declare
Pakistan as a terrorist state. The recent hijacking drama of Indian Airliner from
Kathmandu manipulated by India is an obvious paradigm of the conspiracies being hatched to
malign Pakistan in terrorist activities.
National Command Authority
In order to deal with the sensitive issue, the present government has
wisely decided to involve the National Security Council (NSC) to deliberate on this
subject and take a decision in accordance with the security imperatives of Pakistan.
Responding to the assignment, the NSC has approved the establishment of
National Command Authority (NCA) to act in accordance with Pakistan's nuclear policy of
responsibility and restraint and with the objective of creating an institutionalized
command and control mechanism, consistent with obligations as a nuclear power.
The NCA will be responsible for policy formulation and will exercise
employment and development control over all strategic nuclear forces and strategic
organizations in Pakistan.
It is worth mentioning here that Pakistan had already taken the
initiative last year to evolve its policy of nuclear restraint based on the following
--Pakistan will adhere to the policy of restraint which is now termed
as Nuclear Restraint Regime.
-- Since Pakistan had achieved the objectives of its nuclear programme,
the level of enrichment was brought down from 95 per cent and above to 5 per cent and
below to carry out the nuclear policy within the available economic resources.
--Pakistan out of its own free will, was to demonstrate that the
principle of non-proliferation was being adhered to, as it was a restraint based on good
FACTS ABOUT CTBT
* CTBT is the brain child of a single country i.e. the United States.
* The idea of CTBT was initiated in 1996.
* Currently 40 countries either have nuclear reactor or the capability.
* India-Pakistan and North Korea have yet to sign the treaty.
Generally speaking, there are two factions of the people including
politicians, intellectuals, representatives of trade and industry and security experts
having varied opinion about signing the treaty. While one of them are backing the treaty
while others are in the opposite camp, however both factions carry "ifs" and
"buts" in their suggestions.
Those who are in favour of the opinion that currently Pakistan's
economy is passing through its most difficult times. It will be appropriate to mention the
proceedings of a recent debate on this issue in which prominent opinion makers had a
common view that Pakistan can go for the treaty if the US and other international lenders
agree to offer substantial incentives. Former diplomat Mehdi Masud expressing his view on
the issue suggested that Pakistan should ask the US for withdrawal of all sorts of
sanctions against Pakistan and matching incentives which have been allowed to India.
Prof. Ghafoor Ahmed of Jamat-i-Islami however expressed differently.
Opposing the idea of signing the treaty, Prof Ghafoor said that it is the nuclear
capability which has effectively countered the possible aggression from India. Prof.
Ghafoor suggested that Pakistan can sign the treaty provided the five super powers are
agreed to destroy the piles of nuclear heads. The Kashmir issue is resolved in accordance
with the resolutions of the UN. The United Nations be reactivated and reorganized in the
light of its own manifesto. A total ban be declared on the international trade of
Former federal minister S. M. Masood said that there is no harm in
signing the treaty as the option for cold test would be available even after signing the
Maulana Shah Ahmed Noorani, Chief of the Jamiat Ulemae Pakistan in a
statement has said only elected representatives of the people had the right to decide
whether to sign the CTBT or not.
He was of the opinion that the objective of the United States to get
the treaty signed by Pakistan was to eliminate it as the sole Muslim nuclear power.
He said that the people feared that the political government could not
protect the nuclear programme and if the army was to sign the CTBT, it would certainly
create a schism between the armed forces and the people as had been witnessed in Algeria.
He expressed the hope that the armed forces would take a decision which was in the best
interest of Pakistan.
Qazi Hussain Ahmed, Amir of Jamat-i-Islami has recently said that
unless the Kashmir issue is resolved Pakistan should take a firm stand against the treaty.
Pakistan should be treated at par with other states having nuclear power.
Referring to the arrogant attitude of India, Israel and others, he said
that these states have to be tamed to show respect for the human values and justice.
It may be mentioned that more or less similar views have been expressed
by the central leadership of the ousted Pakistan Muslim League. According to Ejaz Shafi, a
central leader of PML, the elected representatives and the parliament has the jurisdiction
to decide whether Pakistan should go for CTBT or not.
Imran Khan, Chairman Pakistan Tehrik Insaf has demanded of the present
government that CTBT be linked with the solution of Kashmir issue in accordance with the
UN resolutions and compensations from the World Bank and the IMF.
He has also demanded a referendum to have a public opinion on the CTBT.
He said that India and Pakistan had fought 3 wars only because of Kashmir issue and even
today India is out to declare Pakistan as a terrorist state. Historically speaking
Pakistan never waged war against India, it was India which was an aggressor against
Pakistan. It was India which bifurcated Pakistan into two parts and today interfering in
Pakistan's internal affairs. All these facts are enough to prove that there is a great
danger to Pakistan's security. Under these circumstances Pakistan should not enter the
treaty without a massive support from the people of Pakistan.
Ghinwa Bhutto, Chairperson of Pakistan Peoples Party (Shaheed Bhutto
Group) has urged the government to sign the CTBT. She has urged the government that there
was no justification for delaying its signing.
Ghinwa talking to her party office-bearers and workers said that no
damage would be caused to the image and solidarity of the country by signing the CTBT.
The representatives of the business community are more concerned about
what they called it the ever growing foreign debt which is somewhere in the region of $34
billion. They feel that the debt servicing was causing crippling effects on the economy as
over 96 per cent of the total GDP of the country is being drained out in debt servicing.
They feel that the national economy has been given a breather for a limited period of one
year through rescheduling of the loans. Although the rescheduling has given a temporary
relief on one hand but the loans have been piled up for the next year. The economic
reforms introduced by the government may provide some relief for the time being it may
however not sufficient to resolve the issue in the wider prospects. Haji Yaqub Karim,
former chairman SITE Association of Industry was also of the view that the signing of the
CTBT should be linked with the solution of the Kashmir issue which is root cause for
various economic ills for Pakistan. He said that one of the reasons behind piling of up of
the huge foreign debt was political unrest between India and Pakistan hence there is every
justification in asking for some instant incentives from IMF and the World Bank to reduce
the burden of huge foreign debt. On the other hand there should be some concrete steps to
resolve the Kashmir Issue to bring peace and prosperity in this region. Since the doctrine
behind the CTBT is to ensure global peace and security, the solution of Kashmir issue be
placed on top of the agenda by the US who is the champion for the cause of peace and
tranquillity through CTBT.
In order to get rid of this difficult economic situation, signing of
the CTBT can be used as a bargaining leverage to get maximum compensation in the shape of
the write offs of the foreign debt, Yaqub Karim said..
Aviation experts have expressed surprise over Indian latitude they
provided to the hijackers to fly uninterrupted from Amritsar where they had landed for
fueling the hijacked plane. They let it to go only because it was the part of the plan to
get Pakistan involved in terrorist activities.
The Indian efforts to declare Pakistan as a terrorist state were
however proved a futile exercise due to fabricated informations unleashed by Indian
lobbyists and media. So much so, even the US Congress has started realizing that declaring
Pakistan as terrorist country would not serve any purpose.
Doug Bereuter, Chairman of the Asian and Pacific sub-committee of the
House of Foreign Relations Committee has recently said that he does not believe that such
a move is appropriate or is in the US national interest, certainly not on the basis of the
information available and verified. Beside rejecting the reports spread by Indians against
Pakistan by declaring them as unauthenticated he also considered the interests of the
United States. He said that placing Pakistan on the list of terrorist countries would mean
that we have totally cut off Pakistan, that we thereby no longer seek to influence the
course of events in Pakistan.
Bereuter said the US nuclear policy to deter proliferation and push
would-be nuclear powers had failed and should be replaced. "It almost certainly
served a useful purpose, but ultimately it did not succeed. This policy may have helped
deter proliferation for many years, but with the nuclear tests that time has passed.
"Laws that were enacted to deter proliferation now, limit our
ability to engage in very important ways with India and Pakistan to actually avoid nuclear
confrontation, he observed.
He said that the US now should work closely with India and Pakistan to
better assure that the control of this nuclear capability in their hands is as safe as
" We have fail-safe technology and experience with redundant
command and control systems, elements of which we can share, to ensure that inadvertent or
unauthorized nuclear launches do not occur" he suggested.
According to Bereuter it was extremely important for India and Pakistan
to have such technology. Hem recalled that Kargil crisis and said there were widespread
rumours in both India and Pakistan of imminent nuclear attack by the other wide.
With armies mobilizing and air planes being lost, the risk of
escalation was very real. In such a situation, emergency inter-country communications
channels and secure command and control of nuclear assets are essential, he felt.
Indian Defence Minister George Fernandes has described the
Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty(CTBT) as a moribund document, with little chance of
short term resuscitation.
Last year's vote by the US Senate against ratification of the CTBT
resulted in the treaty sliding into a coma, Fernandes said in the inaugural address to an
international conference on Asian Security in the 21st Century.
"This has introduced serious uncertainties about the treaty coming
into force in the foreseeable future, Fernandes said.
India has been under intense US pressure to sign the CTBT since it
conducted a series of underground nuclear tests in May 1998.
During his speech Fernandes stressed India's nuclear policy was purely
defensive and "very close" in nature to that of its giant neighbour China.
"We are committed not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear
states. Our strategy therefore, will be one of retaliation only".
This policy should reassure everyone who is not contemplating of posing
a threat to India.
Fernandes also called for an "international" condition to
combat " cross-border terrorism in Asia" which he warned was being driven by
drug trafficking, money laundering and "religious extremism".
"What we are experiencing is the continuing tragedy imposed on
innocent people by Pakistan, through its international transborder terrorism for over 15
years" Fernandes alleged.
"The level and viciousness of violence has been increasing.
Fernandes used his speech to deliver a timely plug for greater defence spending ahead of
Finance Minister Yashwant Sinha's budget scheduled to be unveiled on Feb 29.
Reductions in defence spending to 1.3 per cent of gross domestic
product last year from 3.6 per cent in the mid-1980s had seriously affected the military's
modernization and preparedness, he said.
Our experts feel that we must possess conventional capability of a
sufficiently high level in order to lift the nuclear threshold as much as possible.
Bill Clinton's visit
Although President Bill Clinton's visit to South Asia was not directly
related to the signing of the treaty, yet it is generally being felt that itinerary of his
visit South Asia includes India and Bangladesh while there is no mention about Pakistan.
While accepting the credentials of Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistani's new
Ambassador to Washington, President Clinton although reaffirmed his commitment to work
intensively to see the dialogue between Pakistan and India resumed on all issues, yet he
did not mention whether he would like to visit Pakistan as well. One can only wonder how
the visit to South Asia without including Pakistan can be stated as a success visit to
this region. People are of the view that President Bill Clinton who is a great advocate of
CTBT is using his visit as a sort of pressure tactics against Pakistan. The President will
visit India from March 20 for five days and will arrive in Bangladesh on March 25. Experts
in International Relations feel that the visiting South Asia without Pakistan is beyond
imagination. The change in itinerary is expected any time. They feel that President
Clinton is playing his last innings in the face of forthcoming presidential elections in
the United States and most probably he would like to make his visit a success by including
Pakistan in his itinerary.
Under these circumstances there are strong feelings that signing of the
CTBT at this stage would not be in the national interest of Pakistan. There is absolutely
no hurry at this stage to say yes or no to the treaty.
Signing the CTBT by Pakistan should be seen in the backdrop of the
chronic Kashmir issue posing a serious threat to the security of Pakistan and Indian
conspiracies to declare Pakistan as a terrorist state.
Pakistan being the only country within the Islamic world to have the
distinction to achieve the nuclear capability. This is a status which is not being
swallowed by the anti-Pakistan forces for the reasons best known to them. People in
Pakistan are however not ignorant to this fact. They feel that they have every right to
live in peace and prosperity by applying the modern technologies their scientists have
achieved for socio-economic uplift of the 140 million people living in Pakistan.