At the recent 74th UNGA meet, Pakistan’s PM Imran Khan wagged the nuclear tail; threatening the world in general and India in particular, in the event of India and Pakistan going to war. Prior to speaking at UNGA, Imran met amongst others Ghulam Nabi Fai, a convicted felon who has served a two-year prison for ‘conspiracy to defraud the US’ by concealing transfer of USD 3.5 million from Pakistan’s ISI to influence US government officials on Kashmir. Fai was arrested by FBI on July 19, 2011 when US-Pakistan relations were strained in aftermath of killing of Osama bin-Laden by US marines in Abottabad and while US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was visiting India. Fai pleaded guilty to conspiracy and tax evasion on December 7, 2011. Fai was also routing ISI funds to terrorists in J&K. A photograph of Imran and his delegation closeted with Fai gone public perhaps contributed to sacking of Maleeha Lodhi, aside from the pint-sized red carpet at the airport that welcomed Imran in the US, in addition to Maleeha’s other goof-ups. Returning from the US, Imran announced that those standing by Kashmiris were doing “jihad” and Pakistan will support Kashmiris even if the world does not.
Munir Akram replacing Maleeha at the UN is former Pakistani ambassador to the US who has also served as Pakistan’s UN envoy. In 2003, Akram’s live-in girlfriend, Marijana Mihic, called the Manhattan Police reporting Akram for violent assault against her, as also charges of previous violence. The US State Department asked Islamabad to withdraw his diplomatic immunity so he could face criminal prosecution as a common man. However, he escaped punishment under diplomatic immunity. A live-in relationship outside wedlock is considered un-Islamic under Sharia. Akram is famed for spitting venom against India. Pulled out or retirement, Akram must have been sounded he is replacing Maleeha, and he would latch on with the likes of Fai to buy influence in the US government.
So, naturally Akram, in a recent article in Dawn, described Imran’s performance at UNGA demonstrative of: star appeal in diplomacy; strong commitment to Pakistan’s security; external challenges Pakistan faces in Kashmir, Afghanistan, Iran and the Gulf and important roles Pakistan can play; commitment to welfare of Pakistani public, and; desire for justice and peace among and within nations. Akram writes that Imran’s speech at UNGA was “impassioned, eloquent and substantive, forcefully projecting the real nature of the BJP-RSS government, the grave human rights violations it is perpetrating in Kashmir, and the danger of a potentially catastrophic war between two nuclear-weapon states.” He further adds that while Kashmir was the central focus, Imran raised the issues of climate change, money-laundering and Islamophobia, which justifies discrimination and oppression of Muslim individuals, communities and nations and is the root cause of radicalization and extremism.
Being a full-bred radical, Akram can’t fathom that: Pakistan’s challenges in Kashmir, Afghanistan and Iran are of its own making; rather than harping on Kashmir, which is India’s internal issue, Pakistan needs to focus on ongoing genocide by its military in Balochistan, FATA and Gilgit-Baltistan; radicalization is running full-steam in Pakistan and so are cases of money laundering because of which Pakistan is in the crosshairs of FATF; Islamophobia is being caused because of radicalization and terrorism, and; Pakistan continues to be the epicenter of terrorism.
The surprising part is that a cross-section in India appear enamored with Imran’s performance at UNGA, their contention being: spoke well and was candid; good and sincere leader; most truthful PM of Pakistan who confessed everything at a forum like UNGA; knows how to keep the nation together; idea to support Kashmir’s freedom struggle and wrest it from India was planted in Pakistan by British in 1947-48 (so?); donned the role of Ummah of the Muslim world who possess the nuclear bomb; India cannot gamble on this scenario when the enemy is so unstable; melodramatic on Kashmir but spoke from his heart and warned UN that a war may result in a nuclear exchange, and; Imran is a dangerous customer. Of course the contention of nuclear war staring India in the face is beefed up by Imran having vowed to teach India a lesson and fight to the death over Kashmir.
In a manner Imran Khan’s achievement at UNGA by reading out the army’s script that capitalized on short memories of Indians, has been spectacular. Imran has revived Pakistan’s erstwhile make-believe strategy of ‘Rationality through Irrationality’, not that there aren’t enough vested interests in India willing to fan this thought. Repeating the idea time and again makes it look real – deeming Pakistan as an irrational actor to the extent of ‘initiating’ a nuclear exchange. All this while Pakistan plays the Nester Games theory and continues its double games in India, Afghanistan and elsewhere. Undr its cover, efforts to destabilize India are doubled, drone-deliveries across the IB in Punjab included, while we mull over shooting them and erecting 100 feet high drone fences along the border. That Pakistan is getting through this idea despite India calling Pakistan’s nuclear bluff in Balakot is absurd. Those yelling ‘nuclear war’ perhaps view our strike corps or IBGs racing full-speed across without creating conditions for Pakistan to implode, relying only on its economic crisis.
Do we really think that Pakistan army that dictates the defence and foreign policy of Pakistan will really trust the nuclear button with a prime minister or puppet like Imran Khan? Yes, Imran has the nuclear button but without the power to press it; that function will remain with the army. Imran can snort as much narcotics and project himself as a maverick by shouting into the mike to get through the message of Pakistan being highly irrational. Pakistani army knows India is not doing enough for Pakistan to implode internally at the sub-conventional level, conventional can’t last long with international pressure and mommy Beijing has establishments running in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoJK) and a brigade-worth of PLA establishing in Diamar district close to Chilas. Imran may project himself as Pakistan’s Nuclear Bogeyman, but the army is not irrational enough for the crore-commanders to sacrifice the empires they have built within the country. All of them cannot run off like Musharraf and even he wants to get back to his personal kingdom in Pakistan.
On October 5, 1999, Yossef Bodansky, US terrorism analyst, in his interview published in the ‘Komsomolskaya Pravda’ citing multiple intelligence sources claimed that Osama Bin Laden had obtained ‘from ‘several to 20 tactical nuclear warheads, specifically making efforts to purchase ‘nuclear suitcases’ in Kazakhstan. But why then Osama or for that matter any terrorist organization has never used a nuke is because there are really no non-state actors; they are based on land, need administration and need support. Nuclear retaliation can obliterate them as also their dreams – be it a caliphate or whatever. The Pakistan army knows that India’s nuclear doctrine is contextualized on adversary crossing the nuclear threshold irrespective of the yield of the nuke used. Our doctrine also states that in event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons, India retains the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons.
Yet some scholars and media at home and abroad including western think tanks love to paint scenarios of nuclear holocaust on the Subcontinent, and as Imran said going beyond the borders of India-Pakistan. Japanese media quoting Japan’s Defence White Paper says North Korea has achieved miniaturization of nuclear warheads. South Korea’s 2018 Defence White Paper released in January 2019 also reported North Korea’s ability to miniaturize nuclear weapons appears to have reached a considerable level. In 2012, US scholars were talking of China using TNWs to force India give up more territory, despite China have a declared policy of ;no first use’. According to RAND Corporation, in certain contingencies in Western Pacific or Baltics, US need for taking Russia’s long-range artillery or neutralizing Chinese anti-ship missiles, may require striking targets within Russian and Chinese territory, which in turn would raise prospect of adversaries threatening use of nukes against US or allied forces.
Thomas Reed, former US Air Force Secretary, while releasing his book ‘The Nuclear Express: A Political History of the Bomb and its Proliferation’ had told media that China under Deng Xiaoping, decided to proliferate nuclear technology to communists and Muslims in the third world based on the strategy that if the West started getting nuked by Muslim terrorists or another communist country without Chinese fingerprints, it would be good for China. That is how Pakistan and North Korea, both aligned with Beijing, became nuclear. Rising tensions in the Middle East especially over Iran provides another possibility of crossing the redlines. The world needs to look at all this rather than merely harping upon Pakistan initiating nuclear strike on India.