ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Pakistani military and the nation’s recently dissolved government have been touting a “strategic pivot” toward increased cooperation and transparency with regional neighbors, but it is far from clear whether these major shifts would affect Islamabad’s nuclear weapons.
The outcome of national elections in May could be decisive on the matter. All major parties agree that the time has come for Pakistan to work with Afghanistan on resolving security issues prior to the pullout of U.S. troops at the end of 2014.
What is less clear is to what extent Islamabad will also reach out to strengthen ties with its rival to the east, India, and whether regional engagement might include any sort of nuclear rapprochement.
No matter who wins power in upcoming elections, Pakistanis are expected to continue rallying around atomic arms as the crown jewel of their national security forces.
“There is a great confidence that nuclear deterrence helps the country assure its security” against conventional war with India, said Maleeha Lodhi, a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States and now a top political commentator.