17 April, 2021

The Thousand-Year War With Ourselves

It took Kargil, and a thousand young lives, to rediscover an old truth: the Bomb is a blunt weapon

The Thousand-Year War With Ourselves
FOR 30 years, Pakistani leaders have believed their salvation lay in one single thing: the Bomb. Now, once the idea has been rendered into reality, it is plain the Bomb has failed Pakistan. It has been unable to cement the fissures in a crumbling state and society fast approaching ruin. Rather, it has hastened the collapse by removing all illusions.

The nuclear dream began with Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Educated in America at the beginning of the Cold War, a student of politics, by the time he became foreign minister in the early 1960s he saw in the bomb a route to power as much for Pakistan as for himself. Nuclear nationalism found its first champion in Bhutto who declared Pakistan would fight India for a thousand years, and that Pakistan would get the bomb even if it meant having to eat grass. In other words, he thought glory was worth the price of self-destruction.

Bhutto found his moment in the aftermath of the slaughter in East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) he did so much to bring about. As president of West Pakistan, among his first acts was to set his more than willing...

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