Book Review: Zafar Khan. 2015. Pakistan’s Nuclear Policy: A Minimum Credible Deterrence

Date01 December 2017
Published date01 December 2017
Subject MatterBook Reviews
360 Book Reviews
His work provides a well-rounded account and analysis of conflicting domestic
and systemic pressures on China and Pakistan and their responses to such pres-
sures that do not always appear to be congruent.
Bibek Chand
Department of Politics and International Relations
Florida International University, Miami, USA
Zafar Khan. 2015. Pakistan’s Nuclear Policy: A Minimum Credible
Deterrence. Routledge: Routledge Contemporary South Asia Series,
178 pp. ISBN: 978-1138778795
DOI: 10.1177/2347797017729906
Minimum deterrence (MD) is only one of many deterrence doctrines that a nuclear
state can adopt to prevent aggressive behaviour of its adversary states. The other
types of deterrence include, deterrence via assured destruction, virtual deterrence
and opaque deterrence. During the Cold War, the USA and the USSR followed the
assured deterrence strategy through developing their nuclear weapons more than
required number. However, scholars like Kenneth Waltz argued that the number of
nuclear weapons does not matter and if a state has second strike capability, it can
deter any other states even with a small number of nuclear weapons. The policy of
MD is an appropriate strategy for the countries with limited resources, such as
India and Pakistan. Pakistan advocated this strategy to deter Indian nuclear and
conventional attacks. However, after the nuclear test of 1998, Pakistan kept the
‘minimum’ ambiguous and expanded its weapons in the name of credibility. Zafar
Khan, author of the book Pakistan’s Nuclear Policy, which has been developed
from his PhD thesis at the University of Hull, examines this shift in Pakistan’s
nuclear policy from MD to Minimum Credible Deterrence (MCD).
Zafar Khan introduces the book by providing an outline of different ways
deterrence can be used and then he further enunciates the essentials of the MD.
Khan then goes on to describe the historical development of the nuclear program
in Pakistan after independence. The nuclear energy program of Pakistan had
started following the ‘Atoms for Peace’ initiative of the USA. Even though there
was no military agenda in its first decade, Pakistan kept the possibility of such a
program open. Ayub Khan was against the development of nuclear weapon.
However, succeeding events like the defeat of Pakistan in the wars with India in
1965 and 1971, the rise of Z.A. Bhutto as a civilian leader and India’s nuclear
test in 1974 motivated Pakistan to develop their own nuclear bomb to deter
India. After the death of Bhutto and the return of military government, the nuclear
program became more ambiguous for the next two decades. Nonetheless, it is
now known that nuclear scientists, most notably A.Q. Khan, continued their
research for the militarization of nuclear weapons. The ‘tit-for-tat’ tests of 1998

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