Nuclear deterrence led to the de-escalation of tensions during the post-Pulwama military stand-off between India and Pakistan, a senior official associated with Pakistan's nuclear programme said here Friday.
Brigadier Zahir Kazmi, Director General Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs at Strategic Plans Division (SPD) told journalists that the stated purpose of deterrence was to close space for war and bring states to the negotiating table. "Stability actually means peaceful resolution of territorial disputes in the subcontinent... nuclear deterrence should be a factor of stability between Pakistan and Hindustan," The Express Tribune quoted him as saying during a media interaction with senior Pakistani officials dealing with strategic affairs.
Tensions between India and Pakistan escalated after the February 14 Pulwama attack by Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror group which killed 40 CRPF personnel. Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting a JeM training camp in Balakot, deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an Indian pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.
Brig Kazmi said deterrence worked during the post-Pulwama military stand-off despite India's attempt to escalate to a different level by talking about mobilisation of nuclear missile and nuclear submarines. He clarified that deterrence was not an end in itself but a psychological state. "It should inspire fear in which the perceived cost of deterrence breakdown is higher than the desired benefits of preferring war as an instrument for dispute resolution," the report quoted him as saying.
The Director General Arms Control and Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Muhammad Kamran Akhtar said that Pakistan demonstrated a more responsible and restrained behaviour during the Indo-Pakistan standoff that led to de-escalation. He claimed that Pakistan was a responsible and restrained nuclear power and the country's safety and security record was immaculate and an example for many countries. At the media interaction organised by Islamabad Policy Institute, Akhtar dismissed the allegations that Pakistan possessed the fastest growing nuclear programme in the world.
Defense analyst Syed Muhammad Ali said Pakistan's nuclear programme had significantly contributed towards meeting both its traditional and non-traditional security needs. Nuclear deterrence, he added, had enabled Pakistan timely manage and de-escalate several regional crises with India during the past three decades. This, he said, also gave Pakistan's leadership and diplomats more confidence in international diplomacy.