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In 1947, British India was separated into the Muslim state of Pakistan (with West and East sections) and the largely Hindu India. Pakistan’s geostrategic position next to Communist China combined with the anti-communist attitude of its military made it a natural ally for the United States, and Pakistan joined a number of US-sponsored alliances in return for US military and economic assistance. Pakistan’s relationship with neighboring India remained in conflict,

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however. The states fought two wars over the disputed Kashmir territory – in 1947-48 and 1965. A third war in 1971 resulted in East Pakistan becoming the separate nation of Bangladesh.

As the relationship with India deteriorated, a clandestine nuclear weapons program was launched to offset the country’s conventional inferiority against India and to earn it the “prestige” of being the first Muslim nation acquire the atomic bomb. A turning point in Pakistani decision-making was the 1965 war with India, which showed the disparity between the two countries’ military capabilities and endangered Pakistan’s security alliances with the West.

India’s first nuclear test in 1974 strengthened Pakistan’s determination to acquire its own nuclear arsenal. Pakistani Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto regarded India's nuclear program as a vehicle for intimidating Pakistan and establishing “hegemony in the subcontinent.” He vowed that Pakistanis would “eat grass” to keep up with India.

Only two weeks after India again tested nuclear devices in May 1998, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced that Pakistan had successfully conducted five nuclear tests and later declared that whether the country was “recognized as a nuclear weapons power or not” it was, in fact, “a nuclear power.”

Pakistan's nuclear arsenal is estimated to contain approximately 60 warheads. Pakistan is not a party to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) nor the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and is opposed to the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT).

On April 24, 2014, the Republic of the Marshall Islands filed a lawsuit against Pakistan at the International Court of Justice for violation of customary international law regarding the obligation to negotiate for an end to the nuclear arms race and for nuclear disarmament. The case is expected to last into at least 2016.