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Pakistan’s Pathway to the Bomb: Ambitions, Politics, and Rivalries, Mansoor Ahmed

Reviewed by C. Christine Fair
 

Mansoor Ahmed has written a revisionist volume that re-examines the various influential persons who gave form to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program between 1968 and the May 1998 nuclear tests. Ahmed is much more motivated by the determinants of the process by which Pakistan pursued vertical nuclear proliferation rather than the external drivers of the same. While accepting that it was the security dilemma with India that fundamentally motivated Pakistan’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, he argues that the varied and often competing political equities of Pakistan’s rivaling nuclear elites determined the trajectory of Pakistan’s nuclear program. One of the overarching goals of this book is to explicitly destabilize the prevailing belief that Abdul Qadeer Khan was the most consequential person who shaped Pakistan’s path to a nuclear weapon. Moreover, Ahmed contends that the extant literature cannot explain how Khan’s illicit proliferation network was able to emerge from Pakistan’s centrifuge-enrichment project in the 1980s and perdure for more than a decade. His book instead dilates upon the importance of Munir A. Khan, who was a nuclear power engineer and chairman of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission from 1972 to 1991, as well as the author’s uncle.

In this book, Ahmed aims to dispel eight purported conventional wis

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