The aim of this paper is to analyze the implications of Pakistan Second Strike Capability on the stability of South Asia using the lens of structural realism. This paper is divided into four main parts that are how Pakistan second strike capability will influence policies at national level within in Pakistan at government level and response of epistemic community towards this development.
Secondly, how Pakistan second strike capability will have its impact on regional dynamic especially its effects on Indian side at their government level and in terms of its effects on the epistemic community of India. Thirdly, what would be the international response with respect to Pakistan second strike capability? According to the international community, this would have the stabilizing effect on the South Asian region.
India already has a second strike capability it’s the ability of the state to strike back at the enemy through sea-based nuclear weapons as their backup. But what if Pakistan also acquires this capability it would have a stabilizing effect on this region. This would balance the power in the South Asian region. The first question that is needed to be answered is whether Pakistan has a second strike capability or not. If Pakistan has a second strike that is claimed in conference arranged by SVI in Islamabad former Defense Secretary retired Lt Gen Naeem Khalid Lodhi assured those present of Pakistan’s Second Strike Capability against India – a military term meaning that Pakistan is in a position to defend itself should its land-based nuclear Arsenal be neutralized This revelation completely changed the security dynamics of the region. However, Gen Lodhi, refrained from going into further details about what exactly constitutes Pakistan’s second strike capability or whether it was land, sea or air based, nor did he provide any clues as to whether Pakistan was any closer to achieving a submarine-based “assured second strike capability” considering that India is known to be working towards this .
Pakistani sea-based second strike capability will depend on a sea-launched alternative of the Hatf-VII Babur cruise missile. The Hatf-VII a medium-range subsonic cruise missile that is submarine-based launch system would need to operate in waters relatively close to the potential enemy’s shores (in Pakistan’s case, India). This brings up a problem for Pakistan’s plans for a sea-based deterrent that more established nuclear powers with sea-based deterrents such as the United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom haven’t faced. The credibility of a second strike capability lies in the difficulty of detecting submarines carrying submarine-launch ballistic missiles. Undersea radars and other anti-submarine warfare techniques already a major point of interest for the Indian armed forces could undermine Pakistan’s sea-based deterrent.
Pakistani Government stance on Second Strike Capability
The official stance of a government of Pakistan can be traced back in 2012 when they announced the creation of a Naval Strategic Force Command. It implied that the country now possessed a sea-based second nuclear strike capability. But there is no official stance about Pakistan second strike capability because government officials avoid giving any statement related to it. The likely chances are that Pakistan is near to acquire second strike capability. According to experts, Pakistan has a potential as they had been working on improving their Naval Strategic Force since 2012.
As per India Today, “Pakistan will build two types of submarines with Chinese assistance the Project S-26 and Project S-30. The vessels are to be built at the Submarine Rebuild Complex (SRC) facility being developed at Ormara, west of Karachi. Intelligence sources believe the S-30 submarines are based on the Chinese Qing class submarines-3,000-tonne conventional submarines which can launch three 1,500-km range nuclear-tipped cruise missiles from its conning tower. A Very Low Frequency (VLF) station at Turbat, in southern Balochistan, will communicate with these submerged strategic submarines.”
This provides evidence that Pakistan is working on building its Naval Strategic force with the help of the China. They are improving the existing capacity of their submarines that can carry a nuclear warhead over them. S-30 Submarines are replicated copy of Chinese Qing class submarines that have an ability to launch a 1,500km range of ballistic missiles. But at the official level, we have no statement that claimed that Pakistan government accepted openly that they have acquired or near to the point of achieving Second Strike Capability. Although Indian side accused Pakistani side they have Second strike capability but they are avoiding to claimed it.
Epistemic community views about Pakistani Second Strike Capability
Pakistani epistemic community viewed Pakistani Second Strike capability critically because according to them the never-ending arms race between Pakistan and India will have the destabilizing effect on the region. According to the epistemic community of Pakistan, the second Strike capability will disturb the stability in the region. India will go further for an arms race in order to achieve arms superiority in the South Asian region. The increase of nuclear weapons within the region will have negative repercussions. It would increase the number of nuclear arsenals in the South Asian region.
The epistemic community of Pakistan viewed Pakistan Second Strike capability critically as for them it is another form of nuclear escalation between two regional players. Pakistani Second Strike Capability will not have stabilizing effect on the region. India will not accept Pakistan’s Second Strike Capability as it would undermine the power of Indian Second Strike Capacity. The balance of power as per Indian side will be disturbed because when both countries will have Second Strike capability.
The epistemic community advocated the idea of Nuclear Free Weapons Zone in South Asia because it would initially limit the number of nuclear weapons in the region and then eventually towards complete disarmament of the South Asian region. It was rejected by Indian side the epistemic community criticized the Indian role for not preventing nuclear proliferation in the region. The unnecessary arm race in South Asia is a source of concern and worry.
Indian Official Stance about Pakistan second strike capability
The Indian government openly accused Pakistan that they have Second Strike This would undermine their ability to influence Pakistan and other regional states according to their national interests. But if Pakistan acquires the Second Strike Capability it would undermine their power within the region. India has aspirations to become a regional hegemon in South Asia such developments would hurt their interests and their long-term goals in the region. India always suspects Pakistan actions because of their historical bitter legacy and history of wars between both countries.
Indian media and their government blamed Pakistan. They have Second Strike Capability and they got this technology from China. Indian observed Pak-China relations closely because for them the mutual relations between these two countries would harm their interests. India has border issues with China. The Indian government is suspicious of Pakistani policy posturing because they are major rivals in the region and compete with each other within the region. India is economically more viable than Pakistan. In terms of their nuclear capability they are more or less equal.
According to Indian side Shaheen III would suggest that Pakistan will have the ability to target Indian naval vessels in the Bay of Bengal. Pakistan would need an extremely effective and accurate terminal guidance system. This would help a missile to trace the targeted vessels movement and adjust its trajectory accordingly after flying across the entire Indian mainland. Another benefit which would make Shaheen III standout could be the multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) capabilities. Pakistan would use these payloads on Shaheen II as well.
From an Indian perspective, the status-quo is highly irrational and unstable in the long-run. The Indian problems are further increased by the fact that the Pakistani state is in despair today with a multilayer of threats emerging from its domestic instability. A society which is near to collapse with serious problems of insurgency, ethnolinguistic and politico-religious clashes and a failing economy gives India an upper hand. Despite Islamabad’s statement that its atomic weapons and the related infrastructure is in safe hands with multiple layers of security but there is a deep sense of uneasiness in the Indian strategic landscape.
Views of Indian Epistemic Community
Indian epistemic community viewed Pakistani Second Strike capability critically because according to them the never-ending arms race between Pakistan and India will have the destabilizing effect on the region. According to the epistemic community of India, the second Strike capability will disturb the stability in the region because India will go further for arms race in order to achieve arms superiority in the South Asian region. The increase of nuclear weapons within the region will have negative repercussions.
The epistemic community of India viewed Pakistan Second Strike capability critically as for them it is another form of nuclear escalation between two regional players. Pakistani Second Strike Capability will not have stabilizing effect on the region. Pakistan will not accept Indian Second Strike Capability. This would undermine the power of Pakistan Second Strike Capacity and balance of power in the South Asian region.
The epistemic community advocated the idea of limiting the number of nuclear weapons especially sea-based nuclear arsenals in South Asia. It would initially limit the number of nuclear weapons in the region and then eventually towards complete disarmament of the South Asian region. It was rejected by Pakistani epistemic community as they criticized the role of Pakistan for not making this region a stable and peaceful place without nuclear weapons.
Impact of Second Strike Capability on South Asia
According to Pakistan, their Second Strike Capability will have stabilizing effects on South Asia region because it would balance the power between India and Pakistan. India and Pakistan are two major powers of this region they need to build consensus in order to get rid of unnecessary arms race within the South Asian region. The Pakistani perspective is based upon their perception of security as they feel insecure from India.
According to an epistemic community of Pakistan, it will not bring stability but instead, this would start another type of arms race between India and Pakistan. The security dilemma is the main reason why these two states can never feel secure as they suspect each other behavior and their foreign policies. The epistemic community is of the view that they should control their nuclear arms race in order to secure the peace of the South Asian region. This can only be achieved by building trust between India and Pakistan.
India on the hand is of the view that Pakistan Second Strike Capability will have a destabilizing effect on South Asia because it disturbs the balance of power. Pakistan Second Strike Capability will undermine the power of Indian superiority in terms of creating a security threat for them by challenging their abilities to launch the possible attack if they are targeted by Pakistan. In general, Indians view Pakistan Second Strike Capability as the major threat to their security. The security dilemma will cause more harm to the stability of the South Asian region.
According to Indian epistemic community, the Pakistani Second Strike Capability will cause more problems for both countries because they already feel insecure from each other. This would create more apprehensions about Pakistan. They are not willing to work for the stability of South Asian region their national interests are most vital than the regional security and harmony. The Indian epistemic community is very critical in explaining the role of Pakistan in promoting peace in the region and ending the never-ending nuclear arms race in South Asia.
According to structural or neo-realism first two concepts ‘anarchy’ and ‘structure’ are entwined. The ‘structure’ of the international system is called as ‘anarchic’. ‘Anarchy’ does not imply the presence of chaos and disorder. It simply refers to the absence of a world government (Waltz 1979, 88). With no overarching global authority that provides security and stability in international relations. The world politics is not formally and organized in hierarchical order. International politics is shaped by ‘anarchy’, in contrast to domestic politics that is structured by ‘hierarchy’. The international system is often defined in terms of an anarchic international structure.
An ‘anarchic structure’ has two main characteristics First every actor in the international system is responsible for protecting itself this interpretation the international system is “self-help system”. This system is consists of egoistic units who mainly search for to survival. National states are the only entities in international relations that have the centralized legitimate authority to use force to look after them from external threats. Sovereign states are the main units of the international system and the primary actors in world politics. Therefore, the organizing principle of the international structure is ‘anarchy’, and this ‘structure’ is defined in terms of states. Secondly, states always feel threatened by a potential attack from others.
According to structural realism international world order is anarchic in nature as there is no centralized authority means that at international level there is no authority that regulates the behavior of states. The states are independent in their domestic dealing with people residing inside the state. Sovereignty is a power of a state to do whatever within the boundaries of the state no external power can interfere into the matters of the state. The state protects itself from threats by self-help as there is no authority that can provide security to the state.
Pakistan Second strike Capability is based upon the structural realism main assumptions that at international level there is anarchy that means there is no single authority at the international level that can ensure the security of the state. Under these circumstances, Pakistan Second Strike Capability is based upon the principle of self-help. Pakistan had to rely on its capabilities to ensure her security.
Pakistan feels insecure because India acquires Second Strike Capability and the balance of power is disturbed in the South Asian region. In order to ensure the security of Pakistan, they also acquired Second Strike Capability and try to balance the power in the South Asian region. As per structural realism, it is right of the state to ensure its security by relying on their abilities without any help from external powers or external actors to protect their vital national interests. In case of South Asia, Pakistan and India are rivals and both competing with each other to dominate the regional politics of the South Asia.
In my view, Structural realism explains the behavior of Pakistan because they feel insecure of growing non-traditional security threats emerging from India. India is far more superior in comparison to Pakistan in terms of its conventional power. Pakistan is competing with India by increasing nuclear capability and tactical weapons also called as mini-nukes. Pakistan is small state as compared to India in terms of its size and power. There is no centralized authority that can provide security to all states so they had to rely on their capacity to protect them from external threats.
Pakistan is relatively an insecure state because of the historical legacy of bitter relationships with India and they have fought numbers of wars in order to reassert their power within the South Asia. Pakistan is not as strong as India but Pakistan tried to project its power within the region. The Second Strike Capability of Pakistan is the example how they are trying to maintain a balance of power in South Asia. Although India has aspirations to become regional hegemon Pakistan is trying to maintain a balance to prevent India from dominating the whole region of South Asia. According to structural realism, anarchy is the main root cause of the conflict and insecurity that why states tend to accumulate more power in order to feel secure. The structural realism explains Pakistan Second Strike Capability in most appropriate manner because it is the international structure that is forcing Pakistan to improve their security by increasing their capacity to deal with insecurities.
According to Pakistan, their Second Strike Capability will have stabilizing effects on South Asia region because it would disturb the balance the power between India and Pakistan. The Pakistani perspective is based upon their perception of security as they feel threatened from India. According to the Pakistan, their Second Strike capability will help to maintain a balance of power because India already has second strike capability if both states have this capability. It would balance the power configuration of South Asia.
Pakistan Second strike Capability is based upon the structural realism main assumptions that at international level there is anarchy which means that there is no single authority at the international level. Under these circumstances, Pakistan is also improving its ability to protect her from potential threat emanating from the Indian side. Pakistan Second Strike Capability is based upon the principle of self-help. Every state is dependent upon their own capacity to protect them from external threats.
India on the hand is of the view that Pakistan Second Strike Capability will have the destabilizing effect on South Asia because it will disturb the balance of power in the region. Pakistan. In general, Indians view Pakistan Second Strike Capability as the main threat to their security. The security dilemma in case of South Asia will cause more harm to the stability of this region.
To conclude the stability of South Asia is dependent upon the behavior of both Pakistan and India they need to build trust and their nuclear doctrine are not very clearly stated as they have few abstract concepts within their doctrines. Pakistan and India need to remove the misunderstanding to bring peace and stability in the region. South Asia is a significant region in terms of its geostrategic location and its role in international politics is promising because they take part international negotiations on disarmament and non-proliferation.
Sleepwalking Toward Nuclear War
Authors: Des Browne, Wolfgang Ischinger, Igor S. Ivanov, Sam Nunn
This weekend marks the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, one of the world’s most horrific conflicts. One of the best accounts of how this tragedy began, by the historian Christopher Clark, details how a group of well-meaning European leaders—“The Sleepwalkers”—led their nations into a war with 40 million military and civilian casualties. Today, we face similar risks of mutual misunderstandings and unintended signals, compounded by the potential for the use of nuclear weapons—where millions could be killed in minutes rather than over four years of protracted trench warfare. Do we have the tools to prevent an incident turning into unimaginable catastrophe?
For those gripped with complacency, consider this scenario. It is 2019. Russia is conducting a large military exercise in its territory bordering NATO. A NATO observer aircraft accidentally approaches Russian airspace, and is shot down by a Russian surface to air missile. Alarmed, NATO begins to mobilize reinforcements. There is concern on both sides over recent nuclear deployments in the wake of the collapse of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. Suddenly, both NATO and Russia issue ultimatums—each noting their respective nuclear capabilities and willingness to use them if vital interests are threatened. Europe is edging towards a conventional conflict, and the risk of escalation to nuclear use is very real.
Each of the strands in this hypothetical scenario is visible in the wind today, exacerbated by new threats—such as cyber risks to early warning and command and control systems, which can emerge at any point in a crisis and trigger misunderstandings and unintended signals that could accelerate nations toward war. This is all happening against a backdrop of unease and uncertainty in much of the Euro-Atlantic region resulting from the Ukraine crisis, Syria, migration, Brexit, new technologies, and new and untested leaders now emerging in many Euro-Atlantic states.
What can be done to stop this drift toward madness?
When leaders from across Europe meet in Paris on 11 November to mark the 100th anniversary of the conclusion of World War I, those with nuclear weapons—President Donald Trump, President Vladimir Putin, President Emmanuel Macron and Prime Minister Theresa May—should reinforce the principle that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. This principle, articulated at the height of the Cold War by the presidents of the United States and Russia, was embraced then by all European countries. It would communicate that leaders today recognize their responsibility to work together to prevent nuclear catastrophe and provide a foundation for other practical steps to reduce the risk of nuclear use—including resolving the current problems with INF and extending the New START Treaty through 2026.
There remains the challenge of rebuilding trust between the United States, NATO and Russia so that it will again be possible to address major security challenges in the Euro-Atlantic region. This was done throughout the Cold War and must again be done today. This process could begin with a direction by leaders to their respective governments to renew a mutually beneficial dialogue on crisis management, especially in absence of trust.
Crisis management dialogue was an essential tool throughout the Cold War—used for managing the “day-to-day” of potentially dangerous military activities, not for sending political signals. Leaders should not deprive themselves of this essential tool today. Used properly, crisis management can be instrumental in avoiding a crisis ever reaching the point where military forces clash inadvertently or where the use of nuclear weapons needs to be signaled, let alone considered, by leaders with perhaps only minutes to make such a fateful choice.
In reviewing the run up to past wars, there is one common denominator: those involved in the decision making have looked back and wondered how it could have happened, and happened so quickly? In Paris next week, 100 years after the guns across Europe fell silent, leaders can begin taking important steps to ensure a new and devastating war will not happen today.
Des Browne, a former British defense secretary, is Vice Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and Chair of the European Leadership Network.
Wolfgang Ischinger, former German Ambassador to the United States, is Chairman of the Munich Security Conference and Professor for Security Policy and Diplomatic Practice at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin.
Igor S. Ivanov, former Russian Foreign Minister and Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation from 2004 to 2007, is President of the Russian International Affairs Council.
Sam Nunn, a former Democratic US senator, is Co-Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative.
First published in our partner RIAC
S-400: A Game Changer in South Asia
India and Russia have signed a US$5b deal, under which India will receive S-400 air defence missile system – that is poised to be game changer in South Asian strategic environment.
The Russians have definitely made a breakthrough with sales of weapons to some NATO countries with uncertain futures in the bloc (e.g. Greece, Turkey) and strong US client countries such as Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states such as the UAE. India’s procurement of five S-400 regiments that is expected to be completed in 2020 is something that is giving a new dynamics to the issue.
The main usage of S-400 long-range missile is against stand-off systems including flying command posts and aircraft such as the E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS). These aircraft, which are used by the US and its NATO allies with a squadron stationed in Japan at Kadena Air Force Base and in the UAE at al-Dhafra, are vulnerable to S-400 interceptors and lose their stand-off range protection.
The S-400 missile system is a state-of-the-art air defence and anti ballistic missile platform with a maximum range of 400km against aircraft while reportedly can engage ballistic missiles at 40km range. It is considered one of the best defense systems in existence. Russian-made Almaz-Antei S-400 Triumf air defense systems (NATO reporting name: SA-21 Growler) are expected to be fully integrated with the Indian Air Force’s IACCS (integrated air command and control system). The IACCS is an automated command and control system for air defense, which integrates the service’s air and ground-based air sensors and weapons systems.
The S-400 Triumph missile defense system is a significant strategic upgrade in India’s military hardware and in its pursuit to become a global power. The development is particularly worrisome for Pakistan. The system if deployed along Pakistan border will provide India an edge of 600kms radar coverage with option of shooting down incoming aircraft from 400kms from its territory.
However, India’s purchase of S-400s and its option to acquire upgraded US Patriot systems remains on the table as well. This extensive arms shopping spree by Indian side includes C-17 Globemaster and C-130J transport aircraft, P-8(I) maritime reconnaissance aircraft, M777 lightweight howitzers, Harpoon missiles, and Apache and Chinook helicopters. The US will likely accept India’s request for Sea Guardian drones, and American manufacturers including Lockheed Martin and Boeing are contenders for mega arms deals with India. This (S-400) will further destabilize strategic stability in South Asia, besides leading to a renewed arms race which is disadvantageous for the peace of entire region.
The Countering America’s Adversaries through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) law tries to push back against Russia’s malign activity around the world.
“We urge all of our allies and partners to forgo transactions with Russia that would trigger sanctions under CAATSA,” a State Department Spokesperson said
When asked about India’s plan to purchase multi-billion S-400 missile defense system from Russia.
“The Administration has indicated that a focus area for the implementation of CAATSA Section 231 is new or qualitative upgrades in capability – including the S-400 air and missile defense system,” the spokesperson said.
Islamabad has from decades faced various stringent sanctions and severe political pressure from Washington. This all is evident from opposition over transfer of any sophisticated arms including the F-16s falcons.
The silence over such issue by Washington seems to be a part of its ‘Pivot to Asia’ policy, considering China as the next global adversary. Washington is in a difficult position where it is seeking to bolster ties with India to counter China’s growing assertiveness while maintaining pressure on Russia. Whereas, China may not fret over the S-400 system deal provided to India but it will have implications for Pakistan’s Air Force and missile program both.
Finally, it cannot be underestimated that most of Indian defense system is Pakistan centric. As far conventional weapons are concerned, the balance has always been in India’s favor, because of India’s better and larger economy. Therefore, Pakistan is concerned about this deal keeping in mind that it disrupts the equation of conventional weapons that exist in this region.
The induction of S-400 might lower the nuclear threshold to a new level that is already precarious with the waivers and blessings by big powers to India. These moves have the capacity to lead the region in a spiraling arms race which can bring about an increase in instability through the escalation of an already dangerous arms buildup in the region.
Revisiting the No First Use Policy of India Vis-À-Vis India’s Nuclear Doctrine
The object of deterrence is to persuade an adversary that the costs to him of seeking a military solution to his political problems will far outweigh the benefits. The object of reassurance is to persuade one’s own people, and those of one’s allies, that the benefits of military action, or preparation for it, will outweigh the costs.The object of reassurance is to persuade one’s own people, and those of one’s allies, that the benefits of military action, or preparation for it, will outweigh the costs.- Michael Howard
India’s new political discourse on revisiting its nuclear doctrine has once again attracted transnational debate on the efficacy of no first use policies, despite the fact that India has repeatedly recapitulated that it is amenable to negotiate no first use treaties bilaterally or multilaterally with all nuclear weapons states including China and Pakistan. Foreign policy and strategic affairs are developed on the basis of a country’s long-term national interests and soft-power and take into consideration both internal diaspora and external factors. The foreign policy of a country does not change when governments change, but the foreign diplomacy and strategic priorities undergo changes. The Narendra Modi government has so far not suggested any change in the nuclear doctrine or the No First Use (NFU) policy on which India’s declaratory nuclear doctrine is based, but the BJP’s election manifesto promised to “study in detail India’s nuclear doctrine, and revise and update it, to make it relevant to challenges of current times.” The debate was further fuelled when former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar questioned NFU policy reckoning national responsibility and political independence. Former Commander-in-Chief of Indian Strategic Forces, Lt-Gen BS Nagal, questioned NFU doctrine by posting whether it was viable for India’s political leadership to accept huge casualties by subduing its hand, realising that Pakistan was about to use nuclear weapons.
The Donald Trump administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review embellishes the range of significant non-nuclear strategic scenarios in which the United States may scrutinize nuclear weapons use. After the recent visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to China last week, China appreciated steps taken by Pakistan in strengthening the global non-proliferation regime. The joint statement issued;“In this context, China supports Pakistan’s engagement with the Nuclear Suppliers Group and welcomes its adherence of Nuclear Suppliers (NSG) Group Guidelines,” while Beijing’s political clout continues to barricade India’s bid in becoming a member of the NSG, the 48-member crème da la crème league, which administers global nuclear trade. The Indian nuclear doctrine was articulated in 1999 and looking at the current geopolitical developments across the world especially the growing friendship of our neighbours, it is high time to review it. The main features of India’s nuclear doctrine as summarized by Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) meeting in January 2003, held over four and a half years after the May 1998 tests are:(i)Establishing and maintaining a credible minimum deterrent; (ii) A “No First Use” policy, i.e. nuclear weapons to be used only “in retaliation against a nuclear attack on Indian territory or on Indian forces anywhere”; (iii)Nuclear retaliation to a first strike will be “massive” and designed to inflict “unacceptable damage” and such a nuclear retaliatory attack can be authorized only by civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority; (iv) No use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states; (v) India to retain recourse of retaliating with nuclear weapons in the event of a major attack against it with biological or chemical weapons; (vi) Continuance of strict restrictions on the export of nuclear and missile-related materials and technologies, participation in FMCT negotiations, continued moratorium on testing; and (vii) Take measures for establishing a nuclear weapon free world, through global, verifiable and non-discriminatory disarmament.
It is a common misconception that the locution ‘No first use’ is China’s contribution to international peace and stability. In actuality, the no first use formulation dates back to circa 1925 when the international community concluded a no first use treaty on chemical weapons and toxins in the Geneva Protocol. India’s not so detailed nuclear doctrine based on the concept of NFU is ambiguously strengthen by a policy of assured massive retaliation. The intent of the active retaliatory provision is to convince warmongers that, any threat or use of nuclear weapons against India shall involve measures to counter the threat, and any nuclear attack on India and its forces anywhere shall result in massive retaliation, inflicting damage to the adversary. It means that if anyone dared use nuclear weapons against India, the nation would confidently retaliate and inflict unacceptable damage on the initiator. This is India’s doctrine of credible deterrence. Picking up from this interpretation, it is clear that the Indian doctrine is hinged on the concept of deterrence by denial and not by punishment. This diplomacy is intended to put the adversary on notice that the use of nuclear weapons will imply massive retaliation. The nature of retaliation and the parameter to judge massiveness is still vague, while a policy of assured retaliation, combined with a small nuclear force built on the principle of sufficiency, could overall be characterised as minimum deterrence. China backed Pakistani government officials and diplomats have been explicitly critical of India’s no first use doctrine on the grounds that it is only a declaratory policy and can be easily amended when the necessity arises.
The nuclear doctrine of a country decides a country’s nuclear force structure, command and control system, alert status and its deployment posture. The prerequisites of the First use doctrine are hair-trigger alerts, launch-on-warning and launch-through-attack strategies and elaborate surveillance, early warning and intelligence systems with nuclear warheads loaded on launchers and ready to fire. Jaswant Singh in ‘Against Nuclear Apartheid,’Foreign Affairs, vol. 77, no. 5, September/October 1998has written, “No other country has debated so meticulously and, at times, sinuously over the chasm between its sovereign security needs and global disarmament instincts, between a moralistic approach and a realistic one, and between a covert nuclear policy and an overtone.” What our neighbours often deliberately ignore, is that India has at multiple times offered to negotiate a mutual no first use treaty with Pakistan that would be binding and verifiable. India has a very clean record of adherence to international norms. Unfortunately, a paradoxical approach has been followed by India’s principal opponents, who have violated numerous treaties with impunity, including the NPT and the MTCR. Nuclear weapons are now becoming a mere political weapon rather than weapons of ‘warfighting’. India’s nuclear doctrine is foundationally drafted based on the concept of minimum deterrence, which means that the policy and strategy would be driven by the minimalist principle. The concept of minimum deterrence is not completely a doctrine but is a nuclear force structure. The Indian doctrine can be interpreted to be framed on ‘assured retaliation’ and this is to be implemented by a minimalist nuclear force as an assured retaliation force structure is postulated on the dogma that no one will start a nuclear tussle if the adversaries are assertive of a nuclear retaliation.
In the book ‘Dragon on our Doorstep: Managing China through Military power’, authors Pravin Sawhney and Ghazala Wahab argued, “Let alone China, India cannot even win a war against Pakistan. And this has nothing to do with the possession of nuclear weapons- the roles of nuclear and conventional weapons are separate in the war planning of India, China and Pakistan. The reason India would be at a disadvantage in a war with Pakistan is that while Pakistan has built military power, India focussed on building the military force. In this difference lies the capability to win wars.” Nonetheless, there lies an undeniable connection between nation’s conventional military capabilities and its dominance over other nations. A nuclear-armed nation with low military capability as compared to its adversaries may find it absolutely necessary to espouse an in extremis first use strategy to impede a conventional military strategy that may threaten to undermine its territorial integrity. This in nutshell is the nuclear dilemma of Pakistan. This may be one of the reasons why Pakistan does not accept India’s offer of a bilateral no first use treaty as a nuclear confidence building and risk reduction measure. On the other hand, India’s existing defence machinery due to low investment is becoming outdated, as China is rapidly reindustrialising its armed forces, raising deployment units and improving the logistics infrastructure in Tibet with a subtle intransigence in resolving the outstanding territorial and boundary dispute with India.
Former National Security Advisor Shiv Shankar Menon in his book Choices argued, “There is a potential grey area as to when India would use nuclear weapons first against NWS. Circumstances are conceivable in which India might find it useful to strike first, for instance, against an NWS that had declared it would certainly use its weapons, and if India were certain that adversary’s launch was imminent.” Many analysts have argued that India has gained nothing and has unnecessarily elected to bear the horrendous costs of a nuclear strike by choosing to adopt a purely retaliatory nuclear policy. India’s tempestuous relationship with its neighbours, changing paradigm of Indian Ocean diplomacy and its desire to be a global power is shaping the framework of its nuclear weapons programme and policy. In order to engage global nuclear powers in a productive positive dialogue, there has to be a special diplomatic effort from the Ministry of External Affairs to strengthen its position as a responsible partner in the nuclear stability dialogue.The domain of Nuclear security has always been the prerogative of the Prime Minister Office, and it is the right time for India to revisit the existing framework and articulate and advocate for an international consensus to draft a new policy taking into account the geopolitical changes in South Asia.
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