In the four decades since Pakistan launched its nuclear weapons program, and
especially in the fifteen years since the nuclear tests of 1998, a way of thinking and
a related set of feelings about the bomb have taken hold among policy-makers and
the public in Pakistan. These include the ideas that the bomb can ensure Pakistan’s
security; resolve the long-standing dispute with India over Kashmir in Pakistan’s
favour; help create a new national spirit; establish Pakistan as a leader among
Islamic countries; and usher in a new stage in Pakistan’s economic development.
None of these hopes has come to pass, and in many ways Pakistan is much worse
off than before it went nuclear. Yet the feelings about the bomb remain strong
and it is these feelings that will have to be examined critically and be set aside if
Pakistan is to move towards nuclear restraint and nuclear disarmament. This will
require a measure of stability in a country beset by multiple insurgencies, the
emergence of a peace movement able to launch a national debate on foreign policy
and nuclear weapons, and greater international concern regarding the outcomes
of nuclear arms racing in South Asia.