Chagai: Twenty Years Later


To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Pakistan’s 1998 nuclear tests, Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII), organised a media workshop titled “Chagai: Twenty Years Later” on May 28, 2018. Representatives from different media outlets attended the workshop.

Speaking on the occasion, DG SSII and Member National Assembly, Dr. Shireen M Mazari highlighted that Pakistan has strong credentials on nuclear safety, security and non-proliferation, and that it meets the requirements for full integration into the global 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 being overseen by Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA).

Dr Mazari suggested that Pakistan should engage other countries, who object to India’s membership of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), through its own diplomatic measures in order to effectively deal with the issue. She stressed that Pakistan needs proactive and timely diplomacy to counter this issue and criticised the government for relying solely on China.

“Pakistan would be at a permanent disadvantage if India gets the NSG membership. Our diplomacy should be active on this issue,” Mazari said.

Unfortunately, due to Pakistan’s lack of proper policy guidance after 9/11, the US successfully delinked India’s nuclear programme than that of Pakistan. As a result, civil nuclear concessions were given to India under the 2005 US-India Nuclear Deal. The most significant issue following the deal is the unsafeguarded fuel from civil reactors that has become available to India and might be used to make weapons.

Dr Mazari said that Pakistan is frequently targeted on the issue of AQ Khan network, however, she recalled that the United States also secretly sold the material and expertise to Israel for developing its nuclear programme. “No country talks about the US nuclear proliferation to Israel” she lamented.

Dr Mazari said that Pakistan is a responsible nuclear state with a robust command and control systems. Pakistan has established National Command Authority (NCA) and it has delinked its military programme from its civilian programme. The operationalisation of this delinking was reflected in the creation of PNRA in 2001.

Pakistan’s civil nuclear programmes are under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. In 2004 the Parliament passed the export control act. The Foreign Office also has an entire set-up dealing with strategic trade controls and related issues. These things were an international requirement and Pakistan successfully completed them.

“Pakistan’s record on nuclear issue is in line with global norms of non-proliferation…Therefore, India should not be treated differently,” she said.

Dr Mazari further stressed that Pakistan’s missile technology is better and sophisticated than that of India’s ballistic and cruise missiles. On ColdStart doctrine, Dr Mazari said that India sought to inflict damage on Pakistan while remaining under the nuclear threshold. It was a limited war doctrine. In response, Pakistan developed Nasr to fill the vacuum. She said that Nasr will be used against advancing Indian forces as a tactical weapon and emphasised that after the development of Nasr, Pakistan reasserted credibility of its nuclear deterrence.

Dr Mazari also noted that Pakistan tested Babur 3 (SLCM) to ensure its deterrence by attaining second strike capability.

Civilian structures, political structures and nuclear capabilities were developed side by side. Once Pakistan tested nuclear weapons, it still tried to reach an agreement with India to avoid an arms race. Zero missile regime was proposed by Pakistan, followed by a nuclear restraint regime, which India did not agree to. Even before 1998 Pakistan proposed that both countries should sign the NPT together. India also rejected another proposal for bilaterally halting nuclear weapons development as well as dismissing several other proposals for Confidence-building measures (CBMs). “Pakistan has also declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing”. Dr Mazari said.

Terming the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) a dead treaty, Dr Mazari said, “the US Congress and India have both rejected it.” Pakistan suggested a strategic restraint regime which India rejected. India has a full-fledged missile programme including an anti-ballistic missile (ABM) System. Pakistan would have to increase the number of weapons to counter the ABM system. She said that it may give rise to further arms race and instability.

In her concluding remarks Dr Mazari said that Pakistan should highlight both India’s proliferation record and Pakistan’s efforts in terms of strengthening its command and control and nuclear safety. She added, “there should be criteria based selection in NSG for non-NPT states and not country specific.”

Press Coverage:
Express Tribune
The News

The purpose behind the creation of the SSII was to establish a dedicated academic and research institution for conducting research and trainings on important issues related to Pakistan’s security. SSII aim to put knowledge to practice by providing an alternate narrative in critical areas of Strategic Studies, especially Arms Control and Disarmament.


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