In the 1970s, the then prime minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, famously declared that, “We will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will have our own,” while referring to the attainment of nuclear weapons. Forty years after that declaration, we both have the bomb and — with electricity, gas, petrol and other shortages — are on the verge of eating grass too.
A few days ago, I had the honour of speaking at the book launch of Professor AH Nayyar’s new book, Taaqat Ka Saraab, which is an edited volume of articles in Urdu by leading Pakistani and Indian scientists pointing out the complications and dangers of being a nuclear state. In today’s Pakistan, nuclear technology is considered almost an element of faith. Hardly any space is given to those who argue that nuclear weapons are detrimental to Pakistan, South Asia and the world, and the impression is that anyone opposing them is unpatriotic, as if nuclear weapons are the cornerstone of the country. It is a pity that even after nearly 70 years of existence, many in Pakistan think that opposing anything like nuclear weapons or Islamisation of the country will undermine the existence of Pakistan. At least I am sure that Pakistan will not suddenly disappear if we give up nuclear weapons; it is a lot stronger than that.