Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Nuclearization of South Asia 1998: Pakistan's Domestic Constraints

Academic journal article South Asian Studies

Nuclearization of South Asia 1998: Pakistan's Domestic Constraints

Article excerpt


India and Pakistan are two countries that, having tussles since the day they emerged on the globe as independent countries in 1947. The dispute between the two countries has a number of constraints in terms of historical, political and strategic terms. However, the most important amongst them is Kashmir, over which a number of wars have been fought. In May 1998, the relations between India and Pakistan took a new turn when India conducted its nuclear tests on 11 and 13 May 1998, followed by Pakistan conducting its own series of nuclear tests on 28 and 30 May 1998. Thus began a complicated nuclear race between the two that concerned the international community at large because any conflict between the two having a nuclear angle would have global ramifications. This research is focused on the domestic constraints of Pakistan related to the nuclear issue of 1998 and provides a better perspective, from a Pakistani viewpoint. The acquisition of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan did not lead to instability in the region, both have adopted a policy of deterrence, the leadership of both sides is thinking rationally and stable relations in the form of deadlock are current. Both in India and Pakistan there exists a common belief that their nuclear programs are the guarantors of national security and national power. Due to these explosions, nuclear weapons have been put to political use by both countries. And both states are now targets for the nuclear missiles of all the other nuclear weapon states, as well as each other.

Key Words: Nuclear weapons, explosions, constraints, India, Pakistan.


Nuclear weapons, importance is linked to political value. "Nuclear weapons are not instruments for fighting wars and their military value actually derives from the political effects of the existence of nuclear arsenals, including their ability to define and shape political stability between rival nations and blocs and signify power in relations between states"(Chellaney, 1991: p.312) For political reasons, nuclear weapons enable "mutual kill."(Broodie, 1946: p.23) Nuclear weapons development is also considered as the advancement of defense capabilities and a stronger military. Explosions show that nationalism is an important force behind the nuclearization of India and Pakistan. Pakistan emerged as a nuclear leader of the Muslim world and the whole nation is together on the nuclear issue. According to Rodney Jones, nuclear weapons for Pakistan, "would strengthen the unity of the country and in that sense, its security." (Jones,1997: p.212). Nuclear weapons are considered an important component of power and India as a large state, wanted to have power projection capabilities for political purposes in the region and beyond. (Subrahmanyam, 1981: p.12). Nuclear weapons might give a sense of strength and power to the military and political leaders of Pakistan. On the Indian side scientific developments have been shaped by nationalism and the whole nation feels proud.

Nuclear explosions and missile programs on the Indian and Pakistani side are the result of nationalism in the form of technological advancement and there exists a national consensus on both sides to deter their enemy and a show of power. Nuclear developments of India and Pakistan have not resolved border tensions and the disputes over Kashmir. Another point of view is that nuclearization is basically a political problem, leaders use nuclear policy as an instrument of self-defense and a deterrent against her enemy. The Long standing India- Pakistan rivalry pushed them both to go for the nuclear option.

Nuclear Explosions by India and Pakistan 1998

South Asia became overtly nuclearized on 11th and 13th May 1998, when India exploded nuclear devices. India justified its nuclear explosions by claiming it did this in order to contain China, which was providing co-operation to Pakistan in developing nuclear and missile programmes and also to stop China's naval activity in the Indian Ocean. …

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