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21 years of Nuclearization of South Asia: Current Doctrinal Trends

Haris Bilal Malik

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Since the nuclearization of South-Asia in 1998, the region’s security dynamics have changed considerably. This has had a profound and irreversible impact on regional and extra-regional politics, the security architecture of South Asia and the international nuclear order. India had carried out its nuclear tests between 11-13 May in 1998. Consequently Pakistan, due to the emerging scenario also had to carry out its nuclear tests on 28th May 1998. Hence this May marks the 21st anniversary of the nuclearization of South Asia. During this period the nuclear doctrines of both countries have gone through several phases of evolution.   

Since the evolution of doctrinal projection of nuclear program, India had emphasized on a ‘no first use policy’ (NFU) in its first ever official document the 1999 ‘Draft Nuclear Doctrine’ (DND). India has since however gone through gradual shifts in its doctrinal posture from its DND since the first amendment came in January 2003this stated that if the Indian armed forces or its people are attacked with chemical and biological weapons, India reserves the right to respond with nuclear weapons anywhere, a clear termination of its NFU policy. Subsequently the notion of a preemptive ‘splendid first strike’ has emerged within the discourse surrounding the Indian and international strategic community.  According to this, if in India’s assessment, Pakistan is found deploying nuclear weapons, India as a contingency would resort to such a ‘splendid first strike’.

The notions of limited war under India’s 2017 Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces (JDIAF) and the 2018 Land Warfare Doctrine (LWD) are all based upon a proactive strategy and indirect threats of preemptive strikes which unofficially abandons the NFU policy. Through considerable technological advancements India has shifted has shifted its approach from a counter-value to a counter-force posture, as it demonstrates its ambitions of achieving escalation-dominance throughout the region.

India’s military expansion and its technological advancements include its missile development programs which include; super-sonic missiles, hyper-sonic missiles, ballistic missile defence system (BMD), space capabilities for intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR) and the induction of nuclear submarines. India’s recent anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon testis also indicative of this continuing trend. These technological advancements are clear indicators that India’s policies are aimed at destabilizing the existing nuclear deterrence equilibrium in South Asia.

Pakistan due to the Indian desire to establish its regional hegemony, maintained a certain balance of power to preserve its security. Pakistan’s doctrinal trajectory on the other hand has shifted from strategic deterrence to ‘full spectrum deterrence’ (FSD) by adding tactical nuclear weapons which, it claims, falls within the threshold of ‘minimum credible deterrence’. In this regard Pakistan too has developed its missile technology based on; short, intermediate and long range ballistic missiles. Pakistan’s ‘Nasr’ missile for instance was recently introduced essentially in response to India’s Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) as a ‘weapon of deterrence’ aimed at denying space for a limited war. The induction of ‘multiple independently reentry vehicle’ (MIRV), the development of land, air and sea launched cruise missiles and the provision of a naval based second-strike capability have all played a significant role in the preservation of minimum credible deterrence and the assurance of full spectrum deterrence at the strategic, operational and tactical levels.

In the contemporary complex security environment of South Asia, Pakistan’s ‘full spectrum deterrence’ (FSD) has recently been put to test. After the 26th February 2019air space violation by the Indian Air Force (IAF) following the Pulwama incident, Indian analysts have questioned the credibility of Pakistan’s FSD. Negative nuclear signaling was also evident in the statements of the Indian political leadership including Prime Minister Modi and several high-level government and military officials that have been trying to undermine the credibility of Pakistan’s FSD. Within this scenario however India’s conventional strikes was responded to via conventional means, that was widely perceived as an ‘appropriate response’. Furthermore, the situation did not escalate further because of Pakistan’s FSD remaining as one of the primary factors that remained applicable throughout the situation thus preventing the use of nuclear weapons by India.

As has been long evident India has held long term strategic ambitions to become a great power. For this purpose, India is continuously advancing its nuclear doctrines based on increasing the range and speed (supersonic and hypersonic) of its nuclear capable missiles. The current security architecture of South Asia revolves around this Indian behavior as a nuclear state. In contrast, Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine is based solely on assuring its security, preserving its sovereignty and deterring India either by ‘minimum credible deterrence’ or ‘full spectrum deterrence’. The possession of nuclear weapons by Pakistan has assured the perception of ‘massive retaliation’ in Indian politico-security hierarchy and thus prevented crisis situations from escalating further. Based on the undeniable threats from India to its existence, Pakistan must preserve this deterrence equilibrium vis-à-vis India and maintain the ‘balance of power’ in the South Asian region.  

Haris Bilal Malik is working as a Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) Islamabad.

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Defense

Pakistan’s Skepticism on India’s NFU Policy Stands Validated

Haris Bilal Malik

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The South Asian region is widely regarded as vulnerable to the threat of nuclear war. This is largely because of the Kashmir issue’s dangerous potential as a ‘nuclear flashpoint’ between India and Pakistan. This is evident in how the use of nuclear weapons is currently being debated at the highest levels of both the Indian and Pakistani leadership against the backdrop of the latest rounds of tensions over the disputed territory. This includes recent statements by Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh which have alluded to India rolling back its ‘No-First Use’ (NFU) policy regarding the use of nuclear weapons. In the wake of the ongoing hostility in the region, the likely shift in India’s NFU policy is likely to have long-lasting implications for peace and stability across the region.

Keeping in mind the implications of the above-mentioned statement Pakistan’s response has been articulated at various strategic levels in Pakistan. For instance, Prime Minister Imran Khan in his article for the New York Times condemned this likely shift by terming it as a ‘not-so-veiled’ nuclear threat to Pakistan. Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi condemned India’s assertion of changing its NFU policy by terming it highly unfortunate and reflective of India’s irresponsible and belligerent behavior. At the military level, Pakistan has always doubted India’s NFU policy to have ever existed in the first place. This was reflected in Pakistan military’s official spokesperson Major General Asif Ghafoor’s statement in which he clearly said that India’s ‘no first use’ was its sole prerogative and if it wanted to change its policy then it was its own choice.

Contrary to India’s declared NFU policy, Pakistan has never made such a commitment or statement and has deliberately maintained a policy of ambiguity concerning a nuclear first strike against India. This has been carried out with a view to assuring its security and to preserve its sovereignty by deterring India via both minimum credible deterrence and full-spectrum deterrence capabilities. This posture asserts that since Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are for defensive purposes in principle, they are aimed at deterring India from any and all kinds of aggression. Therefore, even now Pakistan is likely to keep its options open and still leave room for the possibility of carrying out a ‘first strike’ as a viable potential deterrent against India if any of its stated red lines are crossed.

Furthermore, India’s NFU policy is hardly verifiable or justifiable when taken at face value as a credible policy option because of Indian offensive missile advancements and growing nuclear arsenal. This is also evident from India’s enhanced missile developments which include; hypersonic missiles, ballistic missile defence systems, enhanced space capabilities for intelligence, reconnaissance, and surveillance and the induction of nuclear powered ballistic missile capable submarines. Such recent developments indicate that India’s nuclear weapons modernization is aimed at continuously enhancing its deterrence framework including its second-strike capabilities. As such it is also evident of India’s shift towards employing a counterforce instead of a counter value approach to nuclear warfare. By continuously seeking an edge over Pakistan in terms of more accurate strike and, intelligence gathering capabilities, supported in tandem by enhanced BMD systems, the shifting trends indicate that India might find it more feasible to abandon its NFU policy and flirt with the possibility of a more offensive as opposed to defensive nuclear posture.

However, since Pakistan has long doubted India’s NFU policy anyway, India’s attempt to rethink, reconsider, reinterpret or shift away from its NFU policy would do not really make much difference for Pakistan’s strategic calculus. The first amendment in the NFU policy in 2003 which was based on the Indian Cabinet Committee on Security’s (CCS) review of its nuclear doctrine had already denied the NFU policy. According to this review, if the Indian armed forces or its citizens were attacked with chemical or biological weapons, then India would reserve the right to respond with nuclear weapons. Moreover, India’s preparations for a limited war or a low-intensity conflict against Pakistan under its more recent doctrines such as the 2017 Joint Doctrine of the Indian Armed Forces (JDIAF) and the 2018 Land Warfare Doctrine (LWD) are also based upon more proactive offensive strategies and indirect threats of preemptive strikes which have long since eroded the credibility of its NFU policy.

Hence, based on this context, the likelihood of India shifting its declared position on the No First Use nuclear policy against the backdrop of ongoing tensions over the Kashmir issue presents a highly irresponsible and destabilizing move by the Indian government. Especially during a situation where exercising calm and restraint are of the utmost importance, India has willfully put at stake the delicate strategic balance which exists in the South Asian region. This is likely to pose severe and long-lasting implications for peace and stability across not only the South Asian region but the entire world at large.

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Russia does not exclude nuclear war in Europe

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In these latter days the issue of the risk of nuclear escalation in a non-nuclear conflict and war by mistake is acutely on the agenda.

Obviously, strategic stability is in deep crisis. According to the report which is based on the results of a situational analysis directed by Sergei A. Karaganov and held at the Russian Foreign Ministry, “it would be a mistake to think that the new military-strategic landscape is stable. 

From author’s point of view, the main threat comes from a risk of military conflict between nuclear powers, including an unintended nuclear or non-nuclear conflict, which can subsequently escalate into a global nuclear war, with the probability of such escalation now being higher than before.
According to the report, it is clear that Russia is convinced that the U.S. has been consistently destroying its traditional architecture – the system of nuclear arms control agreements, again considering options to use nuclear weapons in a conventional conflict for winning the war, and refusing to begin serious negotiations to strengthen strategic stability.

The author is sure that this creates a vacuum in the field of nuclear weapons and lowers the threshold for their use at a time when the risk of an armed clash between nuclear powers in the current political and technological situation remains quite high.

As for Europe is concerned, the report states that more serious risks of inadvertent military clash come from the U.S.’s continues efforts to build up its military infrastructure, including missile defences and drones, in Eastern Europe, its plans to increase its low-yield nuclear weapons arsenal and put those weapons on strategic delivery systems in order to neutralize the Russian military threat. Numerous the U.S. proposals to strengthen its military presence and deployment of weapons in the territories of Poland and the Baltic States clearly indicate that the U.S. allows the possibility of a regional military conflict with Russia in Europe and is taking measures to prevent Russia from winning it by using of tactical nuclear weapons or conventionally-armed medium-range missiles.

The author consider that this is a rather dangerous tendency: for Russia, the use of tactical nuclear weapons or conventionally-armed medium-range missiles against it would mean a strategic strike and would inevitably trigger a nuclear second strike against the U.S. or those countries which deployed its nuclear weapons.

Thus, countries which are ready to deploy any kind of weapons suggested by the U.S. will turn themselves to real targets for Russia.
Nuclear war in Europe is no more a ghostly threat, but a very real one.

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Infectious Diseases and National Security: Who will frame National Health Security Policy of Pakistan?

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Health plays an influential role in fostering economic growth and sustainable development. Because of its indirect impact on human development, better health boosts rates of economic growth and contributes to wealth creation. In the past decades, new healthcare challenges and emerging infectious disease outbreaks have drawn global attention particularly in developing countries like Pakistan. Traditionally, health and security occupied separate domains, but in recent years the imperative fusion between health and national security has been recognized by policymakers, security and defence analysts in both developed and developing countries. The last two or three decades have seen sharp rise in non-traditional threats to national security, such as infectious diseases. There are many lines of attack that infectious diseases can intimidate national security i.e. increased rates of morbidity and mortality, massive damage on public health and health infrastructure, political instability, and economic volatility.

Emerging and reemerging infectious diseases, and their pandemic potential, pose a challenge to national security in the 21st century that cannot be overlooked. Though, the historical threat to national security by epidemic diseases is not new; the threat has increased in recent past and is growing rapidly in Pakistan. Correspondingly, reemergence of mosquito-borne infections such as dengue, chikungunya, zika, and more virulent forms of malaria and new more severe forms of viral respiratory infections have evolved. Pakistan is one of several countries, which together bear 95% of the burden of infectious diseases, and the trend is on the rise. According to statistics, Pakistan had not been able to control the burden of communicable diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, dengue fever, typhoid, hepatitis, cholera and other infectious diseases. Malaria, dengue, polio, and tuberculosis, are among the top killers. Pakistan is ranked fifth on the list of high-burden TB countries, and worst of all; Pakistan is one of the three remaining countries where poliomyelitis, also called polio, is still endemic. An average of about one million lives claimed yearly by malaria (estimated 12% of the rural population is believed to carry malaria parasites in their blood) and anticipated mortality rate of 48 thousand deaths per year as a result of TB cases. Similarly, infectious diseases are the biggest killers of children in Pakistan, causing 60% of all child deaths under 5 years of age.

At present, Pakistan is facing multiple challenges in healthcare, which can be broken down into social issues, technical constraints, lack of trained human resources, infrastructure, effective legislation and policymaking, awareness and negligence. The structure and function of the current healthcare system in Pakistan is far below international standards and ranked at 122 out of 190 countries in terms of healthcare standards. Pakistan does not have an organized healthcare system; even health priorities are not properly defined by present government (except Health-card). There is no evidence of strong political will, and inter-ministerial and inter-departmental conflicts, corruption, awful governance, and lack of correspondence are rampant to cope with national health security issues.

Epidemiologically, the behavior of epidemic is usually compared to previous outbreaks. The reemergence of Dengue virus (year-to-date, thousands of dengue cases are reported and hundreds of deaths in last few months) along with the dispersion of infectious diseases geographically throughout Pakistan demonstrate that Ministry of Health (MoH) and Ministry of Defence (MoD) are not incorporated and interconnected to address the national health security issues. Likewise, research and development (R&D) for new tools and technologies to prevent, detect and respond to emerging disease threats and outbreaks have not been considered by authorities with growing need in the country. As seen with the Dengue and Chikungunya outbreaks, there is a shortage of appropriate diagnostic equipments and vaccines to manage the response and lack of regulatory framework for fast-tracking and surveillance technology, tools and techniques when rapid respond is indispensable.

To cut a long story short, health security has become a national priority in many countries, supported by loyal and devoted leadership. They are approaching health security in a holistic manner, including, social, technical, economic, diplomatic, military and intelligence-related aspects. On the contrary, the link between infectious diseases and national security is relatively a new concept in Pakistan. A new paradigm is needed that links infectious diseases to national security and recognize the broad effects of diseases on society. Response to infectious disease threats should be strategic priority of health and security agencies in Pakistan. Ministry of Defence needs to acknowledge its role in ensuring that the state’s population is fit and healthy since there are no signs that the Ministry of Defence is awakening to this responsibility. At a time when our conception of national security is evolving rapidly, we must look hard at uncertain and non-traditional threats, specifically. Today, Pakistan is facing a wide range of threats to national health security, including disease outbreaks and pandemics. As health threats are evolving, protecting Pakistan from 21st century health security threats need a clear strategic direction and teamwork between Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Health. Of course, with uncertainty and ambiguity, a large amount of work is needed to bring analytical clarity to the national health security paradigm.

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