ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Zia MianSubscribe to Zia Mian

States of Insecurity

After the terrorist attacks of September 2001, the United States is an irretrievably changed nation. Its relations with the rest of the world are defined solely in terms of its own security and strategic self-interest. South Asia, for the US, is a region of 'geopolitical significance'. While relations between the Bush administration and the governments of India and Pakistan veer between caution and an enforced bonhomie, the south Asian diaspora in the US, still small compared to other ethnic communities, is today among the richest and most influential in that country. Emigration to the US, first a trickle in the initial decades of the 20th century, rose to a flood by the late 1960s and 1970s. At present, apart from Silicon Valley, US citizens of south Asian origin are prominent in academia, administration and business. 'Letter from America', a column that we inaugurate with this issue, will be in the nature of an occasional colloquium, where, from their unique vantage point as insiders, writers and academics based in the US present a perspective of that country as well as of the others in the two continents that constitute the Americas. In an attempt that will also highlight aspects largely missed by the wider south Asian media, the hope also is, in some manner, to build an understanding between peoples of the two regions. In the first column, Zia Mian describes the fearsome ring of security that is today a characteristic of present day Washington DC, capital of the world's most powerful nation.

Making Weapons, Talking Peace

Advice on nuclear issues in both Indian and Pakistan is dominated by the nuclear weapons complex, the military and the foreign ministries - institutions that have a vested interest in maintaining their power, influence and funding. To find a way forward both governments would do well to seek out other perspectives, find people outside government to develop new ideas, and encourage public debate.

Nuclear Early Warning in South Asia

India's 1999 Draft Nuclear Doctrine proposed the setting up of 'effective intelligence and early warning capabilities', to provide 'early warning, communications, damage/detonation assessment'. Pursuing this policy, India has started acquiring key components of such an early warning network, including the Green Pine radar from Israel. Pakistan too has hinted at matching Indian plans for putting in place early warning systems. Against this background this study examines the different ingredients that go into the setting up of early warning systems and assesses their effectiveness. Using the insights gained from the study it also draws policy inferences about the viability and advisability of early warning systems in south Asia.

Possession and Deployment of Nuclear Weapons in South Asia

This paper examines some of operational requirements and the dangers that come with the possibility that in the foreseeable future India and Pakistan may deploy their nuclear arsenals. The authors first describe the analytical basis for the inevitability of accidents in complex high-technology systems. Then they turn to potential failures of nuclear command and control and early warning systems as examples. They go on to discuss the possibility and consequences of accidental explosions involving nuclear weapons and their delivery systems. Finally some measures to reduce these risks are suggested.

Beyond Lahore: From Transparency to Arms Control

As the US and USSR did decades ago, India and Pakistan have started to turn to 'transparency' measures as a way to reassure themselves, and the international community, about the nuclear dangers they have created. These measures, however, do not confront the central fact that the two countries now have acquired the means to fight a nuclear war. The recent tests of Agni-II and Ghauri-II and references to Agni-III, Ghauri-III and Shaheen-I and II demonstrate just how little restraint the Lahore agreements impose on the two states continuing to develop their nuclear arsenals.

Pages

Back to Top