Re-engagement with Pakistan to Lessen Nuclear Tensions and Advance Regional Security in South Asia

By Andrei Marinescu

Abstract: Pakistan’s nascent but rapidly developing nuclear weapons program poses perhaps the greatest threat to regional security in South Asia. The Pakistani leadership perceives India as an existential threat and their ongoing conflict over the disputed territory of Kashmir has the potential to escalate into a nuclear exchange. Islamist terrorist groups, some of which seek to acquire nuclear weapons, are also prevalent in the region. Although American-Pakistani bilateral relations have been inconsistent, long-term regional security is of common interest and can serve as a foundation for restoring the partnership. Three options that may advance security in Pakistan are considered. The first seeks to strengthen Pakistani institutions to encourage a more moderate approach towards India. The second protects Pakistan’s nuclear program against theft of nuclear material, its unauthorized use, and miscalculation during crises. The third is predicated on U.S. mediation of the Kashmir dispute. This last policy is endorsed since it strikes most directly at the dangerous dynamic involving state insecurity, nuclear weapons, and terrorist activities.

About the Author: Andrei Marinescu is an MA student at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs of Carleton University. In his BA (Honors) degree in History at Carleton University, Marinescu specialized in American national security policy in Asia Pacific and Canadian foreign policy under the Trudeau government. For his Master’s, he has focused on international organizations that maintain global peace and security, including the International Atomic Energy Agency’s role in nuclear non-proliferation. His current co-op placement is with the Tariffs and Goods Market Access Division of Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development. He was awarded the Canada Graduate Scholarship in 2013 as well as the Ontario Graduate Scholarship in 2012.

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