'Pakistan's nuclear arsenal unlikely to shift power balance'

"Pakistan's jump from an estimated 60 to 110 nuclear weapons is unlikely to shift the balance of power vis a vis India," said Alexander H Rothman and Lawrence J Korb from the Centre for American Progress in their analysis of the recent news reports that Pakistan's nuclear arsenal.

"Pakistan's entry into the "nuclear 100 club" does little to change the strategic situation in South Asia, nor does this determined pursuit of nuclear weapons signal a major policy shift in Pakistani behaviour," they said.

In fact, Pakistan's nuclear buildup is unlikely to affect US, Pakistani, or global security in the short term.

Instead, Pakistan's growing nuclear stockpile is simply the latest reminder of a problem of which experts and policymakers have been long aware: The outdated Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has become increasingly ineffective at combating proliferation in the twenty-first century, and the international consensus and political will necessary to update the treaty remain out of sight, they wrote.

The jump to 110 weapons may put Pakistan's arsenal slightly ahead of India's in numerical terms, it does not increase the effectiveness of Pakistan's deterrent, is said.

"In fact, Pakistan's focus on nuclear buildup appears unlikely to improve the country's security in any way. While relations between Pakistan and India are far from cordial, the most immediate threats to Pakistani stability are domestic," they said.

"Heavily reliant on foreign aid, Pakistan faces severe economic problems as well as an armed, extremist insurgency. Additional nuclear weapons are unlikely to help the Pakistani government solve either of these internal problems -- particularly considering the fact it's almost impossible to think of a situation in which it makes sense for a government to use nuclear weapons domestically," the article said.

Terrence P Smith of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies speculates that for Pakistan, nuclear weapons have become a "psychological equaliser."

"That is, while Pakistan cannot match the strength of India's economy or its conventional military capabilities, its nuclear arsenal provides an opportunity for Pakistan to one-up India, even if this victory provides negligible security benefits," the article said.

When viewed as part of a larger trend of nuclear buildup, however, Pakistan's jump from 60 to 110 warheads becomes more worrisome.

"In the long run, the security of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and weapons-usable material presents a major national security issue for the United States," it said adding that Pakistan has a history as ground zero for the illicit sharing of nuclear technology, most significantly through the rogue A Q Khan network.

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