Nuclear disarmament - the elusive goal!

Byline: Khalid Saleem

Writing in The Guardian some years back, Hillary Clinton, then US Secretary of State, had talked feelingly about 'a world free from nuclear danger'. She averred somewhat menacingly, 'To those who refuse to meet their international obligations and seek to intimidate their neighbours, the world is more united than ever before and will not accept your intransigence.' The only snag is that, as always, the sole superpower has insisted on applying this concept selectively and not universally.

Meanwhile, back home we continue to harp on our old hackneyed tunes. We never tire of repeating the mantra of asking the American administration to treat Pakistan on a par with India in the matter of nuclear energy. One had thought that this thesis had died with the late lamented Agha Shahi. It appears that it has not. By now, it should be fairly obvious that the Americans have no intention of doing any such thing.

It is no longer fashionable to discuss the subject of nuclear disarmament in knowledgeable circles. In this topsy-turvy world of ours - one in which such lethal toys as smart bombs, daisy cutters and the likes are the latest rage - who would have the time or the inclination to dwell on such mundane matters as disarmament: nuclear or otherwise!

How many would recall that in the 1960s when what was to be known as the 'Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)' was under negotiation, it was the Indian delegation that came up with the (infamous) compound word 'non-proliferation'! Until then, the buzzword among the multilateral circles was 'disarmament' that, admittedly, made a great deal of sense. Thanks to the inbuilt ambiguity in the compound word 'non-proliferation', the NPT emerged with enough loopholes to warrant comparison with a leaking bucket.

Had the powers that have been interested in nuclear disarmament - the sane approach that could possibly have set the ball rolling - would have been to encourage the creation of Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones. That strategy aims at creating a mesh of N-W-F Zones...

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