Press Release – Book Launch “The Security Imperative – Pakistan`s Nuclear Deterrence and Diplomacy”

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Press Release
ACDC-ISSI Book Launch
Book Title: The Security Imperative – Pakistan`s Nuclear Deterrence and Diplomacy
Author: Ambassador Zamir Akram, Advisor SPD
March 22, 2023

The Arms Control & Disarmament Centre (ACDC) at the Institute of Strategic Studies (ISSI) hosted the launch of the book titled The Security Imperative – Pakistan`s Nuclear Deterrence and Diplomacy authored by Ambassador Zamir Akram. The keynote address was delivered by General (R) Zubair Mahmood Hayat, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (CJCSC). There was a large attendance of academics, former and serving Pakistani diplomats, experts from think tanks and members of the foreign diplomatic corps in Pakistan at the event.

In his welcome remarks, DG ISSI Ambassador Sohail Mahmood lauded Ambassador Zamir Akram for his valuable contributions to the field of nuclear diplomacy throughout a diplomatic career spanning over 38 years. While highlighting the importance of the theme, he said that building nuclear deterrence was Pakistan`s indispensable response to the existential threat posed by India`s nuclearisation. Meanwhile, Pakistan`s nuclear diplomacy has remained sharp, tenacious and imaginative; it has illustrated to the world the country’s India-specific rationale for the development of nuclear deterrent, reinforced efforts to maintain strategic stability in South Asia, opposed unfair and discriminatory approaches; and continuously countered the smear against Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme. Ambassador Sohail Mahmood added that the conceptual framework underpinning Ambassador Zamir Akram’s book is clear and unambiguous; it is the security imperative that singularly drives Pakistan`s pursuit of nuclear deterrence. He also underlined that the book illustrates the contributions of Pakistan’s diplomats and offers a distinctively Pakistani perspective on this important subject.

In his keynote address, General (R) Zubair Mahmood Hayat said that for Pakistan, the security threat is both real and existential, which was further intensified by the Indian quest for war, domination and hegemony as so-called ‘net security provider’ in the region. India is the biggest nuclear ‘black hole’ in the world that introduced nuclear weapons in South Asia and the Indian Ocean. The NSG waiver by the US, the Indian acquisition of BMD, and ASAT capabilities are the most destabilising factors in South Asia. Furthermore, narrative building is a core component of every aspect of the nuclear deterrence spectrum and Ambassador Zamir Akram has put forward Pakistan`s narrative in an effective manner. The essence of this book is how diplomacy transcends into nuclear diplomacy to support the national policy and posture, he said.

Earlier in his introductory remarks, Malik Qasim Mustafa, Director ACDC-ISSI, said that the book starts its journey by revisiting important questions like what was Pakistan’s security imperative to pursue the development of nuclear weapons, how it acquired this technology and the formulation of nuclear doctrine with emerging realities. The author explains how the inherited legacy of disputes and hostility between India and Pakistan and geography are the main security imperatives. He argues that the country achieved deterrence exclusively for deterrence against a nuclear-armed India and to prevent war, as “a full-scale war ceased to be an option for either country.”

Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Director, School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR) at Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad, in his comments said that the author sounds nuclear optimist while describing Pakistan`s reasons for developing a nuclear programme. Ambassador Akram meticulously narrated Pakistan`s nuclear history, separating facts from fiction. As a first-hand diplomatic account of Pakistan`s nuclear programme set in the broader geopolitical context, this book is a distinctive addition to the existing literature in the field.

Major General (R) Ausaf Ali, Advisor Strategic Plans Division (SPD), said that this book elucidates almost all facets of Pakistan`s nuclear programme. It highlights the technical, financial and security challenges faced by Pakistani engineers and scientists. Above all, this book is a narration of how our skilled diplomats quietly but successfully contested, protected and determined Pakistan`s nuclear future at key capitals and various multilateral forums in an unfriendly environment.

In the author`s roundup, Ambassador Zamir Akram highlighted the biased and unfair treatment towards Pakistan in the nuclear realm. He stressed that Pakistan had repeatedly made clear that the development of its nuclear programme was a ‘security imperative’ and India-specific. The failure of security alliances to protect Pakistan`s territorial integrity and sovereignty in 1965 and 1971, contributed to engendering the determination to acquire nuclear weapon capabilities. The 1998 testing was the finest hour in the history of Pakistan. These tests brought about a paradigm shift in the historic correlation of power between Pakistan and India and replaced it with a new security calculus between India and Pakistan. He also said that credible deterrence does not remain static because of changes in technology and policy. Therefore, Pakistan should be vigilant and continuously evolve its conventional and nuclear capabilities to avoid nuclear ‘blackmail’ from India.

In his concluding remarks, Ambassador Khalid Mahmood, Chairman BoG ISSI, stated that this book launch is significant because Pakistan`s narrative on nuclear deterrence is coming from an experienced diplomat. The book provides a comprehensive overview of the nuclear saga in South Asia – drivers, motivations and double standards of the international community.