HW English
Dr. Arvind Kumar

20th Anniversary of Pokharan II

India crossed the nuclear rubicon on 11 May 1998 after making a comprehensive assessment on its national security requirements. Pakistan had followed the suit just within two weeks of India’s nuclear tests.There have been a number of debates whether such nuclear tests conducted by India added to its national security or decimated it. There is no denying the fact that the nature and scale of conflicts across India’s borders especially with Pakistan got enlarged but the crisis could not get escalated beyond a point despite the fact that the nuclear weapons can deter only the use of nuclear weapons. It has nothing to do with the conventional conflict. However, the escalation ladder during crisis time obviously raises the questions relating to the deterrent value of nuclear weapons. Even during the peak of the crisis with Pakistan after Kaluchak massacre in the year 2002, the nuclear weapons played an important role in containing all the alarming situations created by the West and the United States’ that both India and Pakistan will fight a war and that war will take a shape of nuclear war. It must be emphasised here that crisis got averted and both India and Pakistan behaved with maturity and deep sense of responsibility.

Undoubtedly, India’s acquisition of nuclear weapons had become a geopolitical necessity because of the growing nexus between China and Pakistan. India strongly believes that its national security interests can best be served in a nuclear weapon free world. But, unfortunately all the five so called acknowledged nuclear weapon states have so far not been able to show satisfying signs of moving towards getting rid of nuclear weapons from their inventory. The United States’ in particular instead of de-emphasising the role of nuclear weapons, has been relying on the nuclear weapons. It shows that the nuclear weapons are going to stay and hence, nuclear weapon free world will remain a distant dream.

India’s voices are being heard across global fora. It has not happened only because of India’s inherent economic strength. India’s image has been elevated in international relations because it has acquired nuclear weapons and behaves like a responsible nuclear weapon state. Pakistan on the other hand lacks maturity and reflects its traditional mindset and certainly does not behave like a nuclear weapon state because of its utterances from time to time that it will not hesitate using nuclear weapons against India during the case of any eventuality.

India, in the last twenty years, has become more confident and obviously has become a part of the agenda setting in the international system. Its negotiating style has been drastically changing. It has started negotiating with all the major powers from a position of strength in every sphere. The possession of nuclear weapons by India is seemingly becoming relevant and significant in this archaic world and complex geopolitical equations.