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India-Pak wrangling on N-weapons dangerous

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There was defence minister Rajnath Singh’s tweet about changing India’s “no first use” of nuclear weapons option in future “if the circumstances change”. There is now Pakistan PM Imran Khan’s comment about India’s nuclear arsenal not being safe. Mr Singh’s statement was both impolitic and provocative in the context of the abrogation of Articles 370 and Article 35A in Jammu and Kashmir, and Pakistan’s agitated response, which has not won any serious support either in the UN Security Council (UNSC) — and it came up at the UNSC because of China alone — or anywhere else, especially in the Arab countries. So, for Mr Singh to talk about the nuclear option in a casual manner has no justification unless he had intelligence inputs about Pakistan’s thinking about nuclear options, and his tweet-statement was meant as a warning. But that was not a mature response even if it were true that the Pakistani establishment was thinking of nuclear options.

Mr Khan’s reference about the Indian nuclear arsenal being unsafe is quite laughable because it was Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal that was considered dangerous when war broke out in Afghanistan at the end of 2001, and then US President George W. Bush declared “war” on global terrorism, and the international Islamic jihadi groups were active in Pakistan. There was serious concern in the United States about rogue militant groups capturing Pakistan’s nuclear weaponry. Pakistan political and Army leaders had to issue assurances that its nuclear arsenal........

© The Asian Age