Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII) organised a roundtable discussion on “Global Strategic Environment & Nuclear Issues Confronting Pakistan” at the National Press Club Islamabad on April 21, 2016.
Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII) organised a roundtable discussion on Thursday, April, 21 at the National Press Club Islamabad, titled “The Global Strategic Environment & Nuclear Issues Confronting Pakistan.” The panel included Dr. Shireen Mazari, Member National Assembly/ DG SSII and Ali Sultan, Vice President, Research Society of International Law (RSIL). Journalists from various media outlets participated in the discussion. The purpose of the roundtable was to inform the Pakistani journalist fraternity about the most pressing challenges facing Pakistan in the contemporary global strategic environment. Dr Mazari started with issues defining the contemporary global strategic and nuclear environment and affecting Pakistan. She said that these issues are not being discussed in the media and need adequate attention in order to educate Pakistani masses and subsequently to help chalk out a better foreign policy.
Dr. Mazari said that following the Iran nuclear agreement, the US and the West have started targetting Pakistan’s nuclear programme once again. President Barack Obama specifically singled out Pakistan during the April 2016 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington ignoring India’s growing nuclear programme. The US and the West also criticise Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons. Pakistan has always argued that it developed tactical nuclear weapons to address the gaps in Pakistan’s security policy following India’s cold start doctrine.
A major aspect of the global strategic environment is the situation in Middle East which shows the implementation of the Greater Middle East Initiative (GMEI) or Broader Middle East Initiative (BMEI). Instead of bringing democracy to the region, conflicts increased in this region, consequently destroying the non-monarchic Middle Eastern countries.
The recently published Obama doctrine revealed a shift in the Obama administration’s policy towards its allies including Saudi Arabia, which is now in a troubled relationship with the US. Dr Mazari argued that these developments must be considered while analysing the Pak-US relationship which is essentially interest based. Keeping these developments in view, Pakistani leadership should devise a sound foreign policy.
Another important issue concerns India’s aspirations to become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group. The US granted special waivers to India and signed a civil nuclear deal with it which might allow India to use its indigenous stockpiles of enriched Uranium for building nuclear weapons. The US is expected to push for India’s membership into NSG in its upcoming plenary session in June 2016. Pakistan lacks formal diplomacy over the issue and solely relying on other powers would not be enough. Dr Mazari suggested that Pakistan should engage other countries, who object to India’s membership of NSG, through its own diplomatic measures in order to effectively deal with the issue. Pakistan needs proactive and timely diplomacy to counter this issue.
Talking about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, Dr Mazari pointed out that Pakistan accorded the highest priority to the security of its facilities. The international community also recognised the fact that Pakistan’s nuclear facilities are among the safest in the world. She said that Pakistan has strong credentials on nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation, and that it meets the requirements for full integration in the multilateral export control regimes. She also reiterated that Pakistan has adopted various measures regarding physical protection of nuclear materials and has also developed strong mechanisms for regulating nuclear safety and radiation protection aspects overseen by Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA).
Dr. Shireen Mazari also highlighted the legal proceedings that are being carried out by Republic of Marshall Islands (RMI) against Pakistan, India and the United Kingdom at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands. RMI filed the lawsuits against these countries for not fulfilling their obligations with respect to the cessation of nuclear arms race at an early date and have failed to comply with the terms of the 1968 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Dr. Mazari said that unfortunately RMI’s case against Pakistan was not getting full media coverage which was of vital importance. She suggested that the media should give it proper coverage to create awareness amongst the masses as the case has serious some implications. Regarding legal aspects of the case, Ali Sultan said that initially RMI had filed lawsuits against all nine nuclear weapons states – the US, Russia, Britain, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, but the ICJ only admitted three cases against Britain, India and Pakistan because they recognise its authority, while the other six accused states do not. He said that now the case was at the stage where the ICJ was assessing its jurisdiction to proceed with the cases against the three states. He mentioned that some prerequisites for a case to be proceeded in the ICJ include a persistent dispute between two states and initially negotiations between the disputing parties before reaching out to the ICJ. In a response, he said, Pakistan chose not to participate in the ongoing hearings but instead submitted a Counter-Memorial in the case filed against it by RMI. In its Counter-Memorial, Pakistan stated that the court should declare that RMI’s claims are not within its jurisdiction. The court was assured that there was no dispute between RMI and Pakistan nor it ever suffered any damage caused by Pakistan. Furthermore, Pakistan emphasised that its nuclear programme was a matter of national security which falls within its domestic jurisdiction, which, therefore, cannot be called into question by any court. Moreover, NPT’s disarmament obligations are not applicable to Pakistan as it is not a signatory to the NPT. In the end he mentioned that now the ICJ is conducting internal discussion over the decision about the cases which might be issued in a coming few months.
DG Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII) Dr. Shireen Mazari speaks on “Global Strategic Environment & Nuclear Issues Confronting Pakistan”
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