A country’s military power and nuclear status are shaped by its military command and control, the success of its economic system, the characteristics of its nuclear weapons, and its ability to operate them.
Defence and nuclear scholar Vipin Narang coined the term “catalytic” for the state’s undeclared or secret nuclear capability. It seems that from 74 to 98, Pakistan’s nuclear status was “catalytic”. Western lords and Pakistan’s allied superpowers always suspected that Pakistan’s nuclear program was on a war footing. While Pakistan quietly moved towards its destination due to Indian threats to its security.
After the war of 1971, Pakistan’s strategic planning underwent significant changes. The unfaithful silence of the international community at the time of the fall of East Pakistan made the Pakistani governing apparatus realize that relying on the security promises of the world powers would be suicidal.
Achieving nuclear capability in all circumstances will be the only guarantee for national security. After India’s atomic tests in 1974, its intentions were all exposed. And under General Zia ul Haq, Pakistan became more active in pursuing nuclear capability.
Pakistan adopted a double platform strategy for nuclear weapons. One was the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission, which began work on plutonium reprocessing, and the other was Kahuta Research Laboratories, which took over the uranium enrichment department for the production of these weapons. This successful planning did not halt the rapid and determined journey towards the simultaneous development of nuclear weapons and missiles.
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In 1986, India mobilized with nine division troops on the borders of Rajasthan and Punjab in the wake of multi-phase Brasstacks military exercises . The Khalistan movement was at its height during this period. And India wanted to prevent Pakistan from supporting the Sikhs by putting pressure on the borders.
Although the Pakistani military had American anti-tank weapons and heavy firepower, the ongoing war against Russia on the Western Front led to a simultaneous war with India on the Eastern Front was against Pakistan.
During the Brasstacks military exercises, the Indian Army Chief General Sunderji was also going beyond government orders. Which were raising doubts and ambiguities about the secret motives of these exercises. Later, General PNN, the head of the Indian Western Command, also admitted that the Brass Tech military exercises were in fact a plan to start fourth war with Pakistan.
Russia was active to defeat Pakistan, which was fighting against it and on the other hand, the United States was active to save its ally Pakistan. The options available to Pakistan were extremely limited and complexed. General Zia ul Haq had to keep his promises to the United States that Pakistan would not build a nuclear weapon. On the other hand, to prevent Indian aggression, nuclear weapons were necessary to the extent of “Now or Never”.
However, in March 1984, the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission and Kahuta Research Laboratories conducted a preliminary test. But at that time there were no delivery systems, i.e. missiles or planes to fire nuclear weapons.
At this critical juncture in the height of the Brass Tech crisis, Pakistan’s undeclared nuclear weapons blasting capability was also uncertain. In this situation, the Pakistani leadership was deeply concerned that India might be ready to start a war under the guise of brass tech exercises. The defense think tank feared that there could be a catastrophic attack by India on Pakistan’s nuclear plant, similar to the attack on Israel’s Iraqi nuclear plant.
Under the guise of Brass Tech war games, the Indian Army was confined to Rajasthan in early January 1986 and then the expansion of Indian troops from Rajasthan to the Azad Kashmir border by January 23 was an indication of India’s aggressive covert intentions.
Since the United States was in dire need of Pakistani forces against Russia at that time, Pakistan’s weak position in the Brasstacks crisis forced the United States to make every possible intervention to end the crisis. The US has pursued a strategy to protect Pakistan’s nuclear program from Indian threats, despite international concerns.
However, the combined effects of US diplomatic efforts and General Zia ul Haq’s cricket diplomacy finally ended the crisis that had reached its peak in January 1987.
The Brasstacks crisis was the first hot test of Pakistan’s strategic framework and an instructive experience. The test was a perfect combination of diplomacy, a safe strategy to complete the nuclear program and a diplomatic plan by the Pakistani leadership and defense think tank to save the nuclear program.
This crisis has taught us what it means to have nuclear power as a threat to national security. And what is the significance of lobbying or diplomatic plans with allies for the benefit of the state.
The crisis of Brasstacks war games also highlighted the perception of serious threats to the security of a nascent and incomplete nuclear-capable country and the importance of conventional defense technology over the nuclear capability of an enemy country.
The lessons learned from the Brasstacks Crisis were revealed to the world during the Kashmir Crisis in 1990, when Pakistan achieved India’s ambitions with an undeclared but fully capable nuclear power and the availability of nuclear payable active missiles. The United States, which had intervened to save Pakistan in the Brass Tech crisis under its ideology of necessity, was also reluctant to intervene in support of Pakistan due to the Pressler Amendment issue.
And then everything has changed since the 1998 nuclear tests. Destructive missiles like Shaheen, Ghauri, Hatf, Ra’ad and Babar are always ready to fire nuclear weapons. Blackmail lessons from untimely delivery of F-16s and other weapons contracts to the US result in bright signs of a successful journey towards a golden destination of self-sufficiency in Pakistan’s aircraft manufacturing and production of modern weapons, JF-17 Thunder and Al Khalid tanks .
The lessons learned from Brasstacks nerve-wracking crisis and the Pakistani leadership’s successful diplomacy with the US over its nuclear program are key to the success of our nuclear program. But it must be remembered that the US, which specializes in changing allies under the theory of necessity, would not have needed Pakistan’s services in the Afghan war, perhaps Pakistan’s nuclear program would have reached the point of success much later.
In the Afghan war against Russia, the sacrifices made by us as allies of the United States have had far-reaching consequences. According to me, the foundations of Pakistan’s nuclear power today include the sacred blood of 60,000 martyrs of the Pakistani army and people in the Afghan War and the War against Terror.
BY : TIPU 7
Also read this article on Pakistan tactical weapons