A Discussion with The Honorable Tariq Azizuddin
Consul-General for Pakistan
Rapporteur: The Custodian
(At The RAND Corporation, 7/23/98)
Rapporteur's Note: Where possible, I try to identify speakers. I'm not positive of all their identities, and may refrain from ID'ing them on grounds of requests from RAND and the Consul-General. All of the Consul-General's remarks are for public record, as far as I am aware; I have verified this with Dr. Ashley Tellis, the Consul-General's RAND contact and the organizer of this event before posting this page. The format of this talk was a small discussion group; Mr. Azizuddin read from a prepared speech for perhaps 20 minutes, and then opened the floor to questions.
Mr. Azizuddin (PCG hereafter, for Pakistani Consul-General) began with a prepared speech which consisted of an abbreviated history primer on the South Asia region, specifically India and Pakistan. The high points to this speech were the following: The last indigenous empire to unite the area was displaced by the British approx. 300 years ago. The British ruled through a policy of "divide and rule" for the next 250 years (he was careful never to use the term 'colonialism' or its derivatives). Then WWII drained the British Empire of strength to the point where it decided / was forced to set up the partitioning of the region into autonomous nations.
(At this point, he had used the word imperialist 9 times by my count. I was becoming nostalgic for Cold War funding levels. -TC)
The British then assured future conflict in the region by creating Pakistan as a geographically split nation, and by allowing the province of Kashmir to accede to India in response to a formal "instrument of accession" (i.e. a treaty or other document) which, PCG claims, is constantly referred to by India but which has never actually come into the light of day. He stated firmly that he didn't believe it in fact existed. He offered his theory of events, which is that the British deliberately left Kashmir as a bone of contention, citing evidence that when other provinces (he named one specifically and I didn't catch which) tried to accede to India, in this case a province not in as geographically proximate location, that ruler
was told by the British that since he was a Hindu ruler in a land of Muslims, he would not be permitted to set that policy. (I may have gotten the particulars of this last specific
example wrong; I was rushed at this point. -TC)
Continuing, he noted that all of the contention between India and Pakistan was based on the problem of Jammu/Kashmir. He mentioned India's '600,000-man occupation force' and made reference to the wars fought by the two countries without explicitly mentioning which side initiated hostilities. (My history is a tad weak, but I believe Pakistan invaded the Jammu/Kashmir area on two occasions…? -TC)
He continued his speech by noting that the Pakistani nuclear tests, done 15 days after India completed theirs (Pokhran-II), was a "purely defensive action which serves to restore stability to the region." In addition, he described the Jammu/Kashmir problem as intractable and spoke of a need for an external solution. Finally, he noted that Pakistan had been under U.S. sanctions since 1990 and that the sanctions recently imposed in response to the tests would not change the situation appreciably. Friendly phone calls from foreign leaders were nice, he stated, but they would not provide a security guarantee.
India was painted as a large, belligerent power bent on regional domination, whose nuclear program was assisted by the U.S. and USSR and others beginning early on in the nuclear age. Further, India's conventional military consists of some of the best Russian equipment available- Su-27, Su-30, MiG-29, etc. etc. and that India is working on sea-launched ballistic missiles as well as the 'Agni' IRBM program.
Following the Indian tests, the U.S. and allies managed to act surprised despite Pakistan's repeated warnings and calls for assistance either diplomatic or military to help illustrate the Indian nuclear threat. India's unprovoked tests, followed by a rash of sightings of F-4 Phantom jet aircraft over Pakistani territory (a plane that Pakistan does not have in inventory, he added) demonstrates the belligerent nature of India's actions.
As far as the two nations' nuclear tests are concerned, PCG stated that "There are no more doubts; the era of ambiguity is over," as far as their nuclear capabilities are concerned. The rest of the world only cares about nonproliferation; in all its concern, is has not concerned itself with the real issue underlying security or lack thereof; Jammu and Kashmir.
Three quotes from his speech should serve to summarize the conclusion:
At this point, the question period began. A cast of characters follows. Note that some of these are paraphrased from notes; any errors are of course mine. I may have missed recording one or two questions when folks started arguing and I was unable to keep up. I do guarantee that none of the positions stated herein were contradicted in those answers. Note that all statements in quotes are literal quotations to the best of my knowledge and handwriting. -TC
- PCG: Pakistani Consul-General (Mr. Azizuddin)
- 2PK: Second Pakistani gentleman; unidentified
- RANDn: An unidentified RAND speaker
- (name): An identified RAND speaker
RAND1: You've noted that your nuclear program is fairly small and new. Do your forces, and do Indian forces as far as you know, maintain PALs on their weapons?
PCG: I cannot speak to weapons, however, any nuclear devices produced by Pakistan would definitely incorporate PALs. Although I am not informed on Indian practices, they certainly have the technical sophistication to incorporate them, and I would say that they had them, yes.
RAND2: Related to the question of domestic support, I notice that your nuclear program tests as well as some facilities are in the province of Baluchistan, and that there have been protestors arrested in conjunction with this province. Are these protestors a domestic anti-nuclear group?
PCG: No. One important thing about Pakistani politics and the Pakistani government that one must understand is that it is strongly reflective of tribal politics. Therefore, whenever the Federal Pakistan government does anything in a province, any province, there are always protestors from a tribe who feel that their sovereignty is being impinged upon.
RAND2: Then can you give us a picture as to why the tests were held there? Was it for its location?
PCG: More for its terrain; the province contains a great deal of unreclaimable rocky land. If Pakistan was to test on land, this was the most practical and desolate piece of land available.
RAND2: One last point; is your nuclear program a civilian or military program? That is, are the weapons maintained by a civilian or military authority? India, for example, has a civilian-controlled nuclear program.
PCG: Any program that builds nuclear bombs is not civilian. Pakistan is a democracy; our Prime Minister is popularly elected, and the authority rests with him; therefore, from that point of view, the weapons are controlled by civilians. However, they would be used, of course, by military personnel.
ASHLEY TELLIS: For clarification, are weapons in the Pakistani nuclear program under a tight centralized authority, or would they be dispersed and under the control of dispersed commanders, say in time of crisis? Is there a single decision point or would the weapons/authority be delegated?
PCG: These weapons are for self defense and deterrence. In event of use, their placement would be determined by the strategic situation at the time. I can assure you that at present they are safe, both in terms of physics and security- i.e. they are stable and reliable, and are under tight security control to prevent any interference with them.
TC: It seems to me that given the 15-day delta between the Indian and Pakistani tests, Pakistan would, it appear, have had a wonderful opportunity to demand concessions from the US and other states expressing concerns in return for its restraint. Was this subject broached? If not, what *would* have Pakistan asked for in order to avoid testing?
PCG: During the 15-day lag, the Prime Minister received 5 urgent, personal phone calls from President Clinton; and several others from Tony Blair, PM Hashimoto, etc. so there was of course interaction. Pakistan has been under sanctions since 1990 designed to weaken our conventional forces; we have tried to purchase F-16 aircraft from you which are sitting in the Arizona desert, and we have not been repaid our monies. We tried to purchase aircraft from other countries, such as fighters from Sweden, but the U.S. blocked the sale by stating that Pakistan could not receive the engines for these planes, which are produced in part by U.S. firms. What the U.S. government has put into policy, the rest of the world follows, at least in this case. India has a large and capable conventional military; we attempt to purchase 28 obsolete F-16s, and have been blocked. (note that he jumped right onto the F-16's...they
had not yet been mentioned by anyone. -TC)
MICHAEL SWAIN: You've told us about Pakistan's dealings with its adversary India, and with the world community concerning the conflict over Jammu and Kashmir; yet, you haven't mentioned perhaps the most important player in the region. Has Pakistan ever given consideration to a security arrangement with China?
PCG: "The days of security agreements and military pacts are over." quote -TC He noted that NATO is an exception and in fact is no longer really a security agreement since it only envisions operating outside of Europe. Pakistan has never discussed this possibility (a pact with China) because China has its own national interests, and directly borders India.
MICHAEL SWAIN: So Pakistan would not enter into such an agreement?
PCG: "China would not go to war with India for Pakistan."
RAND3: Pakistan has not made a no-first-use pledge.
PCG: Correct. These weapons are for deterrence. In the event of a nuclear war there wouldn't be anything left.
RAND3: So does Pakistan reserve the right to use these weapons in the event of a conventional attack?
PCG: The choice to go nuclear cannot be left entirely to India.
RAND4: It seems to me that Pakistan has more fundamental problems than Jammu and Kashmir or even the nuclear tests which may have been directed against China in any case. It appears to me that you and the Indians have taken actions that apart from sanctions may mean grave damage to your economies. Is this correct?
PCG: We're not in a downward spiral. Everybody has problems at some point in their development. If there are problems, they are a price we must pay for maintaining our security vis-a-vis India. Kashmir is the fundamental problem, since it is the base of the conflict between Pakistan and India. The British did not set up Pakistan as a favor to the Muslim community; they did it to further the divide and rule strategy and therefore create opportunities for themselves later. They left Kashmir unresolved to force and/or augment problems between India and Pakistan.
ASHLEY TELLIS: What you're saying is that in the case of Jammu and Kashmir, we have a weak state, Pakistan, with a very strong interest in this problem, and a strong state, India, which doesn't have a strong interest but doesn't want to disturb the status quo. (PCG agreed.) Then what can be done?
PCG: No one will resolve this from outside because the powerful nations which might have the resources to help (U.S., China, Japan, Russia) all view India as a 950-million person market, and they do not wish to set a precedent that might lead to the Balkanization of India by allowing a plebiscite which would call for the secession of Jammu and Kashmir. We do not ask that the provinces be given to us; we ask that the Indians be forced to abide by the United Nations Security Council resolution that calls for resolution of the dispute, which can only be solved by a plebiscite. The last were PCGs words. -TC
ANDREW MANNING: Does Pakistan view the NPT as hypocrisy on the part of the 5 original nuclear weapon states? What do you see as the NPT's future in South Asia?
PCG: If proliferation extends beyond present levels in South Asia, it's not going to be by Pakistan or India.
TC: You've said that Pakistan desires to acquire military hardware as a response to threatening moves by India. As a sometime political scientist apprentice, I'd like to ask you about your predicted reaction by India. If you were to acquire the F-16's, would you predict that this India would see this move as a strong response and thus back down? Or would you predict that India might become more aggressive in a conflict spiral sort of situation? (PCG req. clarification) For example, if you did get the F-16's, this might appear to India to be the acquisition by Pakistan of 28 nuclear delivery vehicles in a fashion much more reliable than undertaking the costs, time and risk associated with developing missiles.
PCG: The F-16 is a conventional aircraft as well as nuclear; that is what India is concerned with since the last time we went to war Pakistan's U.S.-built F-86 Sabres inflicted a high cost on the Indian Air Forces.
TC: Either way, though, these planes are a threat to India, then. Do you think this will make the situation better through stability, or worse through fear even if they do give you a better chance of defending yourselves in conflict?
PCG: "The F-16's are not a threat to India. They are a defense for Pakistan."
MICHAEL SWAIN: The proximity of your two nations and the proximity of your nuclear program to the Indian border, if applied to our experience in arms racing, would seem to indicate that any further weaponization would be concentrated on highly alert, fast reacting forces due to the short warning times available. This would make such forces, which we all agree are subject to accident...? (general assent)...which are all subject to accident, at grave risk of being triggered in error. Do you see this as a possible path?
PCG: Yes. if current conditions persist, both sides will go that route, but we're still talking, which means we both believe there's an option. There will shortly be a summit between our two prime ministers; this will be the first time they have met as prime ministers, and we are hopeful that the talks will be productive. There is no decision to increase weaponization on the Pakistani side. During the last tests, Indian rhetoric was so inflamed that we though they might actually begin a conflict! The current government is a coalition government; India has a bad record with coalition governments. The last time there was one, it was in power for 14 days. The (BJP) had run on platforms of 'tough on Pakistan' and 'defiance of the established powers through demonstration of strength.' This set of promises, coupled with the weaknesses of the coalition government, almost forced them to do this to maintain control!
This is why we felt they were dangerous, because their government might have been forced into actions which they knew would be damaging.
The discussion formally ended at this point, and I left to attend a meeting; the PCG remained for continued chatting with several RAND researchers, however.