The Compass

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The Good Pakistan's Nukes Could Do

We're used to viewing the Pakistani nuclear program with something approaching hair-pulling horror, but CATO's Ben Friedman looks on the bright side:

Lots of people point out that Pakistan’s big problem is India — that its preoccupation with its largely indefensible Indian border prevents it from devoting sufficient resources to pacifying its restive Pashtuns and encourages it to employ high-risk strategies like using extremists to tie down Indian forces in Kashmir.

What you don’t hear much is that nuclear weapons, and particularly the secure second strike capability that Pakistan is likely pursuing, is a potential solution to this problem. Nuclear weapons are a cheap form of defense. In theory, the security that they provide against Indian attack would allow Pakistan to limit its militarization, stop bankrolling extremists, and focus on securing its own territory as opposed to its border. (Note: I’m not arguing that that’s necessarily right, I’m arguing that if you think vulnerability to India is what creates danger for us in Pakistan, you should consider the utility of nuclear weapons in solving this problem).

I don't know enough about Pakistan's military doctrine to pass any kind of judgment on this, but it's worth pondering.