Even as Pakistan struggles to keep its economy afloat and avoid bankruptcy, the annual report of Rajnath Sing-led Ministry of Defence says that despite the Balakot airstrikes, Islamabad is continuing its anti-India operations and increasing its nuclear stockpile. A Times of India story quoting the defence ministry report said that there has been no change in Pakistan’s stance. In fact, it is ‘persistently’ targeting India. Though there has been a considerable dip in the cross-border terrorism, the key narrative of Pakistan’s India policy remains same. The defence ministry’s report is concurrent with what a global watchdog reported in its assessment of Pakistan’s nuclear aspirations.
According to a column in the ‘Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’, Pakistan is ahead of India in terms of nuclear arsenal. At present, Pakistan has 140-150 warheads. Whereas, India has just 130-140 warheads. “Analysis of a large number of commercial satellite images of Pakistani army garrisons and air force bases shows what appear to be mobile launchers and underground facilities that might be related to nuclear forces,” the ‘Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists’ report said. If the trend continues, by 2025, Pakistan will have around 220 nuclear warheads. It should be noted that India, Israel, and Pakistan never signed the NPT and possess nuclear arsenals. A report by the Arms Control Association, Pakistan has lowered the threshold for nuclear weapons use by developing tactical nuclear weapons capabilities to counter perceived Indian conventional military threats.
China, France, Russia, United Kingdom, and the United States have been officially recognised as possessing nuclear weapons by the NPT. The treaty legitimises these states’ nuclear arsenals, but establishes they are not supposed to build and maintain such weapons in perpetuity.
The alarming trend shows that Pakistan has not shifted its focus from nuclear arsenal to economic crisis. Imran Khan government is battling the worst financial crisis. On July 3, the IMF had approved the crucial bailout, saying it would help reduce public debt and expand social spending. Pakistan faces dangerously low foreign reserves, a tax base of barely 1 per cent of its population, crushing trade deficits and a hefty defence budget.