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India-Pakistan Consensus on Nuclear Arms Ban Urged

29 April 2000

Karachi, April 29: Conflicting views on whether Pakistan should sign the CTBT or not emerged during a day-long seminar on Saturday. The anti-bomb lobby was well-represented and vocal in the seminar, organised by the department of International Relations, University of Karachi.

Recognising that the majority seems to favour signing the treaty after India does so, former director-general of the Islamabad-based Institute of Strategic Studies, Lt.-Gen. (retd) Kamal Matinuddin, emphasised the need for a consensual approach to the issue.

He said the nation was divided on the issue because the average citizen was concerned whether the signing would lead to a roll-back of country's nuclear programme, and would Pakistan be compelled to open up its nuclear facilities for an international inspection, and what would happen if India explodes another device. Will Pakistan still be bound not to do so?

He said the people would also like to know about the concessions and benefits to Pakistan as India would get when both sign the CTBT and will Pakistan be able to upgrade its nuclear weapon after signing the treaty.

He, however, saw no harm in delinking Pakistan's decision from that of India's and signing the treaty now as Islamabad has already declared a moratorium on further testing and because "we cannot afford to detonate the weapon, if India does not do so".

"Signing the treaty would in no way downgrade our minimum nuclear deterrent," he said, adding "some financial benefits would accrue from signing the treaty".

Leading exponent of the pro-CTBT stance, Prof Pervez Hoodbhoy was of the view that immediate signing of the treaty was in Pakistan's interest whether argued from a non-proliferationist point of view or from a state-centred Pakistani nationalist perspective.

He said the signing of the treaty would make development of new types more difficult and slow down the pace of nuclearization and reduce the nuclear tension in South Asia.

He said the signing would enhance goodwill for the country and result in a significant improvement of Pakistan's precarious economic condition, without affecting its nuclear capability in any significant way.

Dr. Hoodbhoy claimed that the escape clause in the CTBT enables Pakistan to test the device again, which, he said, was a source of reassurance.

He said Pakistan would not be subjected to intrusive verification of its nuclear facilities. He said that the chemical weapons convention, to which Pakistan was a signatory, allowed for far more intrusive inspections.

M. B. Naqvi speaking about the precarious economic condition of the country, said refusal to sign the CTBT would increasingly make it difficult for the IMF to extend the necessary bailout that Pakistan shall need from 2001 onwards. He, however, said this was not the precondition.

Advocating the need for giving up mystical belief in the magical power of nuclear weapons, he noted that ever since nuclear weapons have been tested and the notion of nuclear deterrent had been proclaimed, Indo-Pakistan relations have nose-dived and military tensions have continued to mount. "Nuclear weapons have not made the two countries more secure, peaceful or peaceable".

Tarik Jan, a senior research fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies at Islamabad, believed that the CTBT was a tool for US supremacy and it carries a whole mindset of the West.

He claimed that the US was a "great practitioner of power, with a mad desire of domination. Proliferation, he said, was central to US security and it had little to do with nuclear free world.

CTBT was a master plan and signing of the treaty would increase country's dependence and reduce the margin of national security, he said.

"Our problems are not going to be solved by signing the CTBT and that we will have to resolve them through our own efforts.

"Deterrence is a must for the defence whether it is nuclear deterrence or the conventional one," he said.

"We will have to undertake efforts to earn a rightful place for ourselves in the comity of nations".

Jan said that tests were vital for updating and verifying data and claimed that the US had appropriated the anti-nuke lobby's agenda for Third World nations, while it continues to retain nuclear superiority.

Retired General Ghulam Umer of the PIIA said both India and Pakistan should avoid engaging in nuclear arms race and should not hesitate to sign the CTBT.

Development of nuclear weapons would create a dangerous situation; therefore, both the countries should attend to their domestic challenges. He said the concept of nuclear safe zone deserved consideration.

Monis Ahmer urged India and Pakistan to avoid further erosion in the already strained relations and redefine their security priorities on the basis of existing realities.

He believed that the issue of CTBT gave the two warring neighbours to formulate basic areas of understanding, including a consensus on the question of banning nuclear testing. He called for a pragmatic Indo-Pak approach on the issue.

Ahmar Bilal Soofi made a presentation on the legal aspects of the issue. Mutahir Ahmed spoke on the role of nuclear nationalism and religious extremism and the issue of CTBT in South Asia. He said in both the countries extremists believed that possession of nuclear weapons would provide guarantee of security.

Prof. Dr. Zafar H. Zaidi, vice chancellor of the university of Karachi, said that there should be a meaningful debate on the CTBT.

Prof Talat Wizarat, Fatehyab Ali Khan, Shaikh Mutahir Ahmed, Shaista Tabassum and Arshi Saleem Hashmi also spoke.

Earlier, chairman of the department of international relations, University of Karachi, Prof. Sikandar Mehdi, highlighted the academic activities of the university.

The DAWN Group of Newspapers, 2000

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