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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

The Hardest Hard Power

Aisha Saeed |

The term ‘power’ in international relations has various interpretations but remains a vital part of the subject throughout. Power is one of the determinant agent of a state’s survival in the world and varies in context depending upon on the country in question.

Back in the year 1998, a power tussle became evident in South Asia. To balance the equation of power in the region, Pakistan decided to go against the international understanding of avoiding the spread of the ultimate source of hard power.

Traditionally, hard power refers to the use of military or other coercive methods or strategies against another state to maintain dominance, to attain a desired outcome or submission.

The military exercises this particular form of power, which is granted by the state and comprises of all the sources and weapons under the control of the military.

Read more : Pakistan: Hard choices ahead for a ‘Soft State’

Along with the weapons under command and the control of the military, nuclear weapons are not only a form of hard power but also the most dangerous form of it.  The authorization to use nuclear weapons however, in most countries, is held by the Commander in Chief of the country.  The development of nuclear weapons, particularly for defensive purposes, come under the Strategic Forces Command (Pakistan).

With this in mind, the concepts like Deterrence and Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) typically allude to nuclear studies and their usage in international conflicts.

28 May marked the day Pakistan canceled out India’s nuclear equation in the region.  However, Pakistan suffered the consequences of conducting successful nuclear tests in Balochistan in terms of sanctions later on. Pakistan conducted Chagai – I and Chagai – II in response to India’s Operation Shakti.

Further, Pakistan continues to explore and expand the use of nuclear weapons for its defense. Recent tests done by Pakistan’s Army, Air Force and Navy have many speculating that the weapons tested carry the ability to induct nuclear warheads.

Nuclear experts discuss the subject of such weapons as a separate kind of power in international relations.

Most of the nuclear industry works in great proximity with Pakistan’s armed forces, making the nuclear weapons of Pakistan the ultimate source of Hard Power – The hardest hard power.

Pakistan’s nuclear weapons have been on the radar of the international community for a reason – If threatened to the extent of invasion, Pakistan could be forced to use its nuclear power. Moreover, the hysteria that Pakistan’s nuclear assets could fall into the wrong hands comes out from the fear of Pakistan doing the unimaginable – as many thought when t first acquired nuclear capability.

Although, many nuclear experts might not refer to nuclear weapons as the hardest form of hard power,  in terms of Pakistan, it stands as the ultimate defensive and offensive hard power.  Pakistan does maintain the policy of not using its nuclear weapons as a first option in case of conflict but at the same time, it maintains a thorough doctrine and deployment process.

Read more: Is US still the only superpower in world?

Initially, Pakistan’s aim was to cross out India’s nuclear equation, With this in mind, under the current situation of the world,  Pakistan’s nuclear power forces the need to negotiate through lesser coercive methods, which include the subsequent use of the opposite of hard power ; the soft power, which requires the use of economic and cultural influence

Pakistan has long been dependent on the build-up of its hard power, which carries justifications of its own, given the fact that weaker militaries are easier to defeat in a short span of time, through direct military engagement.

Therefore, having the upper hand in hard power has directed India’s use of soft power to counter Pakistan.

To counter the low intensity coercive moves by other countries that occur vis-a-vis soft power, Pakistan needs to develop its front in usage of smart power – a balance between and soft power.

While Pakistan is secured by its ‘hardest hard power,’ it needs to re-think and formulate an alternative doctrine – The smart power doctrine.  The sooner Pakistan understands the power that comes as a result of combining the two components of hard and soft power, the more it can achieve and secure its position in the international arena. While Pakistan has its nuclear program to stand tall for, particularly within the community of Islamic countries, it needs the extra power for its future – the ultimate smart power.

Aisha Saeed is an Independent Research Analyst on Media and Foreign Policy. She has worked with the Center for Strategic and Contemporary Research as a Political Analyst and with stratagem.pk as an In-House Analyst. The views expressed in this article are the authors own and do not necessarily reflect the Global Village Space’s editorial policy.