Imran Malik Pakistan has been one of the main objectors to starting negotiations on the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), due to the fact that it is predicated upon a discriminatory disposition of perpetuating inequalities and disparities. It also objects virulently to its potentially biased mode of implementation by the United States, members of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and others. The State considers the treaty to be criminally insensitive to its strategic compulsions and regional realities, and that it directly impinges upon its sovereignty. Pakistans response to the treaty thus must cater for all contingencies of strategic import arising out of its potential operationalisation. The countrys main objection is that the FMCT concerns itself only with the cutting off future stocks of fissile materials without taking into account the existing stocks. Fissile material asymmetries and superiorities will thus be frozen for good - favouring India in South Asia and Israel in the Middle East Indias ability to produce more weapons of mass destruction (WMD) has been further enhanced by the Washingtons self-serving civilian nuclear power deal with it. This deal allows India to import nuclear fuel from the NSG, and thus freeing up its domestic production of fissile material for its military nuclear programme, giving it a potentially additional capability of 40 to 60 nuclear weapons a year - multiplying Pakistans sense of insecurity and negative threat perceptions by that much more Furthermore, the transfer of latest defence and space technologies from the US, and other members of the NSG, is helping India modernise its nuclear assets or systems. This is, indeed, hi-tech force multiplication at a grand scale. Unfairly, Pakistan continues to suffer embargoes on similar technologies. This is widening the differential in the nuclear forces between India and Pakistan - qualitatively and quantitatively. For example, the acquisition of Ballistic Missile Defence Systems (BMDS) by India would erode the deterrent value of Pakistans nuclear arsenal and seriously disturb the strategic equilibrium in the regional context. In a hypothetical case, India could destroy the bulk of Pakistans nuclear arsenal in a first strike, and then quantitatively degrade its second strike response through the modern BMDS to either naught or to an acceptable level for it Pakistan will, thus, be forced to seek a counter to this development. This could mean a triad capability - land, air and sea based nuclear launch platforms, which in turn could give further impetus to the already ferocious nuclear arms race with devastating strategic and economic implications. The world must understand Pakistans predicament. The country faces an existential threat from an inimical India. There is a vast and growing technological and quantitative differential between the conventional forces of the two countries. Pakistans nuclear programme is essentially geared to neutralise this Indian conventional superiority. Therefore, Pakistans reliance on its nuclear forces becomes directly proportional to the differential in the conventional forces of both the countries - the larger the differential, the more will Pakistan rely upon its nuclear forces and vice versa. Similarly, the larger the differential, the lower would be Pakistans thresholds Even more seriously, a stage may come when Pakistan may be constrained to make a strategic paradigm shift in its military strategy -making its nuclear strategy the predominant one over land, air and maritime strategies That may have potentially horrendous strategic implications for the region. So the US would be well advised to desist from starting something whose implications it has no control over and which it cannot bring to a sensible closure. Needless to say that Pakistans nuclear forces assume savoir like proportions for it. They are in fact The Equalisors - as they even up the odds for the nation in seriously hostile geopolitical and geostrategic environments. The FMCT in its current form threatens to negate and neutralise these Equalisors with devastating existential implications for Pakistan. Thus, it is constrained to ensure that this deterrence is not degraded or neutralised, ever - irrespective of the cost. Pakistan must also make the point that the geopolitical and geostrategic environments that were the raison d'tre of this treaty have changed drastically. We now have India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea and potentially Iran on the nuclear bandwagon too. Their geostrategic compulsions in their regional contexts have to be factored in as well. The situation is further compounded by the US civil nuclear power deal with India, which will cause the implementation of the treaty to be held to ransom, primarily because of its blatant bias and disregard of strategic regional realities. Therefore, the treaty will need to take into account the wider context of nuclear disparities and inequities it threatens to freeze and their strategic consequences and implications. Pakistan should also enlarge the spectrum of its arguments and move it beyond the Indo-Pak and even South Asian contexts. Similar inequities will emerge in the Middle East between Israel, the Arab world and Iran. Pakistan and China must make efforts to bring more sanity, justice and fairplay into this treaty as a whole. Otherwise, it will fail to achieve anything that it will ever intend to. By default the FMCT must be more realistic than idealistic. It must not be considered in isolation either. It must cater for regional and bilateral realities, sensitivities and compulsions. Elements of demonstrable and tangible justice, fairplay and non-discrimination have to be brought into the treaty, for example, the issue of existing stocks. Only then will it be acceptable to countries like Pakistan, Iran, North Korea et al. Only an equitable and unbiased treaty will work. And the US and the NSG must pay heed, else this and similar international regimes will continue to lose credibility at the hands of their expediencies and crass commercial benefits. The writer is a retired brigadier and defence analyst Email: im_k@hotmail.com