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Highlighting the salient features of India, Pakistan Nuclear Doctrine



Strategic culture of South Asia is comprise of hostility between India and Pakistan. Conventional war, territorial issues, arms race, rising insecurities eventually led to the acquisition of nuclear weapons.India and Pakistan became nuclear weapons states in mid-1998. A debate emerged at international level about the nuclear doctrine for the region. Nuclear doctrine is “the set of principles or rules governing the employment of a capability”. The basic use of this concept is primarily in political, military and strategic sides. If we see doctrine specifically in military terms it contain those rules and principles in which military forces maneuvers. In nuclear doctrine state mainly address two main objective first management of the nuclear weapons and second operational positioning. To avoid all type of issues related to nuclear weapons states needs to develop rules and principles to determine in which conditions these weapons will be used. Nuclear doctrine is an important piece of paper for policy maker in war like situation or in unstable situation. There are mainly two types of nuclear doctrine offensive and defensive.

India and Pakistan both states are nuclear weapon states and play a significant role in peace of South Asia. India developed its nuclear weapon in 1974 and named it as peaceful nuclear explosion. Nuclear doctrine was drafted in 1999 by National Security Advisory Board but that was never approved. In 2003 Indian government spelled out its nuclear doctrine. India opted NFU and declared its nuclear weapon program as only for deterrence purposes. NFU but retaliation is must in response to an attack on India and Indian forces anywhere. Credible minimum deterrence is there to attack aggressor with punitive retaliation with nuclear weapons. No weapons against non-nuclear weapons states or not align with nuclear power. India will retain the option of using nuclear weapons in response to any attack of chemical and biological weapons. Using of nuclear weapons against any aggressor will be in hands of elected people .e.g. Prime Minster. Lastly India will promote nuclear free world without any discrimination.

So every nuclear or conventional doctrine have some controversies which are difficult to explain and implement. No first Use is the most controversial part of Indian nuclear doctrine. Indian NFU is conditional and number of times its officials declared that they will reverse it as per the condition. It clearly means that their No First Use posture is not credible enough with regard to their adversaries. Numerous strategist and Indian officials brought Indian NFU in spotlight to evaluate its credibility. Some of them are entirely against this posture. Indian defence minister said that India should not bind itself with No First Use and say that India will react responsibly. There were number of calls during past year to revise the No First Use posture. Bharatiya Janata Party included this in its election manifesto but because of public pressure they later declared that there wouldn’t be any reversal in nuclear doctrine. It’s important to know what are the pros and cons of NFU to evaluate why NFU is so much controversial in Indian case. Those who are in favor of NFU claim that it will represent India as responsible nuclear weapon states. As late K. Subrahmanyam pointed said, as far as deterrence is concerned perception matters instead of number. So having NFU as nuclear doctrine wouldn’t matter. On the other side those who are against NFU claim that NFU is “not so much a strategic choice, but a cultural one”. They claim that if India found advantage in attacking first in any crisis, it will bring serious consequences as having No first Use posture.Bharat Karnad says that NFU is for peace time and it is not suitable for India.

Another point which is a question over Credible Minimum Deterrence, India is spending huge amount of money on military modernization and initiating arms race in the Region and at the same time they claim that they have credible minimum deterrence posture. Number of Indian strategist says that Indian Nuclear doctrine lack clarity which can lead to any situation in future.

Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons for security purposes to create a strong deterrence against India. Initially Pakistan was stick to peaceful use of nuclear technology but Indian certain actions over time provoked Pakistan to go nuclear. So Pakistan did managed to get nuclear capability. Later these elements became the foundation of Pakistan Nuclear doctrine. Pakistan nuclear posture is truly Indian centric. Pakistan has no official nuclear doctrine but official statements from military and political leadership clearly define the agendas which are part of Pakistan nuclear policy. There are some salient elements in Pakistani nuclear doctrinefirst nuclear weapons are for national sovereignty and territorial integrity. Main purpose of Pakistani nuclear weapons are to counter Indian aggression. Pakistan nuclear doctrine is consist of few main elements, first Pakistan will maintain Credible Minimum Deterrence, Secondly Pakistan will avoid any type of strategic arms race with India. Thirdly Pakistan will stop testing but it is subjected to Indian actions. Pakistani command and control structure is part of it as well. Lastly Pakistan doesn’t have No first Use policy. Pakistan put certain conditions for using nuclear weapons first.

As Pakistani nuclear capability is Indian centric so Indian further actions provoked Pakistan to bring some sort of change to counter Indian hostile and belligerent policies. Pakistan moved from Credible Minimum Deterrence to Full Spectrum Deterrence. India is modernizing its conventional forces. Developing Cold Start Doctrine type of policies which is a huge threat to stability of south Asia. So Pakistan is taking certain actions to balance Indian actions.

Pakistani Nuclear doctrine which is ambiguous and unwritten and there is only one source of information which is official statements. Inside Pakistan there is no clash over Pakistan nuclear policy. Both Military and political leadership are on the same page. Nuclear doctrines mainly serve two purposes first it play a great role of signaling to your adversary intentionally or unintentionally. Second it clarify the role of Nuclear weapons and identify the threshold. Nuclear weapons states adopted mix sort of approach, few have declared nuclear doctrine and few remained ambiguous and Pakistan is one of them.

Having an explicit nuclear doctrine can benefit a state because it clearly indicate threshold. Ambiguous and unwritten nuclear doctrine can be harmful in case your adversary imagined the threshold very low and took certain action which is intolerable. Secondly clear nuclear doctrine will help the states to gain the support of International community not only in peacetime but in crisis time as well. So in my opinion if Pakistan declare its nuclear doctrine it would help Pakistan to gain the status of responsible nuclear weapon state and it will stop India taking further actions like Balakot and claiming false surgical strikes.

As Pakistani nuclear program and doctrine is Indian centric, so the threat perception remained in India. Pakistani included no to arms race in its unofficial doctrine but on the other hand Indian military modernization is pushing Pakistan to increase its capabilities and declare its involvement in arms race as well.

Pakistan kept the option of first use as it didn’t deny it as such. But the problem lies with practicality of this concept. First use require high degree of military intelligence, early warning system and high degree of proficiency. All these concepts are debatable in context of Pakistan.

Lastly Pakistan Full Spectrum Deterrence is more or less related to NATO’s Flexible response and to keep that intact, continues up gradation in military strategy and weapons is necessary. Current economic situation and after effects of COVID-19 would create serious challenges for Pakistan to maintain FSD in future. 

Both states are nuclear weapon states and play a crucial role maintaining peace in South Asia. India had declared its nuclear doctrine but Pakistan remained it ambiguous by not declaring it officially. Both have some sort of controversies in their nuclear doctrine which can lead to any misadventure by both side. Credibility of nuclear doctrines can serve the purpose of peace well.  

Aamira Bibi is an M.Phil. scholar of Nuclear and Strategic Studies at National Defence University. She received her education at National Defence University with a Graduation in International Relations. She is an avid researcher and her work has been published in Daily Times. The area of her research is Geopolitics of South Asia, more specifically relationship between India and Pakistan and its impacts on regional security and stability.

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The Proxy War of Libya: Unravelling the Complexities



The African continent has been infamous for its desolate conditions and impoverished lifestyle for years. The violence has not spared the region either since the extremely unstable Middle-East has set the vendetta throughout the region, verging Africa in the east. Whether it comes to the spreading influence of ISIS under the flag of Boko Haram; a terrorist organisation operating in Chad and North-eastern Nigeria, or the rampant corruption scandals and ream of military cops in Zimbabwe, the region rivals the instability of its eastern neighbour. However, one conflict stands out in Northern Africa, in terms of high-stake involvement of foreign powers and policies that have riven the country, not unlike Syria in the Middle-East. Libya is one instance in Africa that has faced the civil war for almost a decade yet involves not only local powers but is also a focal point that has caused the NATO powers to be at odds.

Libya, officially recognised as the ‘State of Libya’, is a war-torn country in the Northern periphery of the African continent. The country is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea in the North, Egypt lies to its East and Sudan and Tunisia border in the Southeast and Northwest respectively. Apparent from the topography, Libya stands as an epicentre to the countries ridden with conflicts, stands the ground that was the central root of the infamous Arab Spring uprisings taking a rebellious storm right off its borders in Tunisia back in 2011. While the NATO-led campaign garnered success in overthrowing the notorious dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, and thus bringing the draconian regime to an end, it failed to account for the brewing rebels and militias in pockets throughout the state of Libya.

Over the following years, weaponry and ammunition was widely pervaded across the region in spite of strict embargo placed. The pilling artillery and unregulated rebels cycled the instability in the country leading to the successive governments to fail and eventually split the country in two dominant positions: The UN-recognised Government National Accord (GNA), led by Tripoli-based leader and prime minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, and the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by the tailing ally and successor to Gaddafi, General Khalifa Haftar.

While both GNA and LNA vied for the control on Libya, foreign powers involved rather similar to the labyrinth of stakes in Syria, each state split over the side supporting their part of the story and ultimately serving their arching purpose of interference in the region. Despite of the ruling regime of Al-Sarraj since the controversial election win of GNA in 2016, Haftar-led LNA controls an expansive territory and has been launching offensive attacks against the GNA alliance. GNA enjoys the support of US, Turkey, Qatar and Italy; each serving either ideological support or military backing to secure the elected government of Libya. Meanwhile, LNA is backed by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France. While the western powers see GNA as an economically stabilising solution to the Libyan crisis, Russia and France eye Haftar as a key ally to expand influence in the African region and reap control of the oil-rich resources under control of Haftar’s troops in the oil-crescent territory.

The Turkish regime, on the other hand, eye Libya as a direct answer to the Russian influence in the Syrian war that has been pushing the Kurdish alliance stronger along and within the southern borders of Turkey. This has led to recent clashes and direct escalation in the proxy war waged in Syria. Turkey plans to incentivise the leveraging position against Russia in Libya by deploying military advisory to Tripoli to strengthen their position against the Russian-backed Haftar to ultimately deter the alliance from spreading far in the African region.

The power split in Libya was exacerbated in 2017 following the Gulf crisis that led to the boycott of Qatar by the Arab quartet led by Saudi Arabia. Libya stood as a battle ground for both strategic and military positions to one up the other alliance in external power games while the internal matters of Libya are long forgotten and population left clueless and desperate for welfare. Since then, the vested interests in Libya have side-lined yet the peace process has been encouraged by both UN and Merkel-led ‘Berlin process’ in support to the UN efforts to restore peace in Libya. However, the strained relations and foreign demarcation is still apparent even though no escalation has been in action for months.

Now the ceasefires have been in talks for a while and except for a few skirmishes, the powers have been curbed since June 2020. The silence could imply room for diplomatic efforts to push a much-awaited resolve to this complex proxy war. With the recent turn of events in the global political canvas, wheels of the betterment might turn in favour of Libya. Saudi Arabia has recently joined hands with Qatar, opening all borders to the estranged ally and resuming diplomatic relations. Turkey is eying the coveted spot in the European Union since the UK exit. The US in redefining its policies under the revitalising administration of Joseph Biden while Russia deals with the tensed relations with the Gulf since the oil price war shattered the mutual understanding shared for years. The core players of the Libyan Proxy war are dormant and may remain passive due to external complexities to handle. Yet, with regional powers like Egypt threatening invasions in Libya and both GNA and LNA showing no interest in negotiation, a conclusive end to the Libyan crisis is still farfetched.

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Pakistan Army’s Ranking improved



According to data issued by the group on its official website, Pakistan Army has been ranked the 10th most powerful in the world out of 133 countries on the Global Firepower index 2021.Especially the Special Services Group (SSG) is among the best in the world.  Just behind; 1- United States PwrIndx: 0.0721,  2- Russia PwrIndx: 0.0796, 3- China PwrIndx: 0.0858, 4- India PwrIndx: 0.1214, 5- Japan PwrIndx: 0.1435, 6- South Korea PwrIndx: 0.1621, 7- France PwrIndx: 0.1691, 8- United Kingdom PwrIndx: 0.2008, 9- Brazil PwrIndx: 0.2037, 10- Pakistan PwrIndx: 0.2083.

Global Firepower (GFP) list relies on more than 50 factors to determine a nation’s Power Index (‘PwrIndx’) score with categories ranging from military might and financials to logistical capability and geography.

Our unique, in-house formula allows for smaller, more technologically-advanced, nations to compete with larger, lesser-developed ones. In the form of bonuses and penalties, special modifiers are applied to further refine the annual list. Color arrows indicate a year-over-year trend comparison.

The geopolitical environment, especially the regional security situation, is quite hostile. Pakistan is bordering India, a typical adversary and has not accepted Pakistan’s independence from the core of heart, and always trying to damage Pakistan. The Kashmir issue is a long standing issue between the two rivals. On the other hand, the Afghan situation is a permanent security threat for Pakistan. Bordering Iran means always facing a danger of aggression from the US or Israel on Iran, resulting in vulnerabilities in Pakistan. The Middle East is a hot burning region and posing instability in the region. The growing tension between China and the US is also a source of a major headache for Pakistan.

Under such a scenario, Pakistan has to be very conscious regarding its security and sovereignty. Although Pakistan’s ailing economy is not supporting its defense needs, it may not compromise strategic issues for its survival. Pakistan focuses on the quality of its forces instead of quantity. The tough training makes a real difference—the utilization of Science and Technology-enabled Pakistan to maintain its supremacy.

Pakistan is situated at a crucial location – the entrance point to the oil-rich Arabian Gulf is just on the major trading route for energy. Pakistan is at the conjunction of Africa, Europe, Eurasia, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and China. Pakistan is a pivotal state and always focus of world powers.

During the cold war era, Pakistan sided with the US and protected the region’s American interests. The US military establishment knows well that as long as Pakistan stands with the US, it can achieve all its strategic goals in the region. However, It was the American choice to give more importance to India and ignore Pakistan.

Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and struggling for the promotion of peace globally. Pakistan always raises its voice at the UN and other international forums for oppressed ones and against any injustice. Pakistan. In the history of seven decades, Pakistan was never involved in any aggression against any country. Pakistan’s official stance is, “We are partner for peace with any country, any nation, or individuals.” Pakistan is a partner and supporter of any peace-initiative in any part of the world. 

However, Pakistan is always prepared to protect its territorial integrity and will not allow any aggressor to harm our sovereignty at any cost. Pakistan is determined for its independence and geographical integrity.

Pakistan is no threat to any country or nation. Neither have any intention of expansion. But always ready to give a tough time to any aggressor.

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Israel continues its air strikes against Syria after Biden’s inauguration: What’s next?



A family of four, including two children, died as a result of an alleged Israeli air strike on Hama in northwestern Syria on Friday, January 22, Syrian media said. In addition, four people were injured and three civilian houses were destroyed.

According to a military source quoted by Syrian outlets, Israel launched an air strike at 4 a.m. on Friday from the direction of Lebanese city of Tripoli against some targets on the outskirts of Hama city.

“Syrian air defense systems confronted an Israeli air aggression and shot down most of the hostile missiles,” the source said.

The Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported that there were loud sounds of explosions in the area.

In turn, the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on alleged strikes resulted in the death of Syrian citizens.

Over the past time, Israel significantly stepped up its aerial bombardment. This incident was the fifth in a series of Israeli air attacks on targets in Syria in the past month and the first after the inauguration of the U.S. President Joe Biden. Foreign analysts and military experts said that Tel Aviv intensified air strikes on Syria, taking advantage of the vacuum of power in the United States on the eve of Biden taking office as president.

While the Donald Trump administration turned a blind eye on such aggression, a change of power in the United States could remarkably limit Israel in conducting of military operations against Syria and Iran-affiliated armed groups located there. As it was stated during his presidential campaign, Joe Biden intends to pursue a more conciliatory foreign policy towards Iran. In particular, he unequivocally advocated the resumption of the nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In this regard, Tel Aviv’s unilateral actions against Iranian interests in Syria could harm Washington’s plans to reduce tensions with Tehran.

By continuing air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, Israel obviously sent a massage to the United States that Tel Aviv will consistently run anti-Iran policy, even if it will be in conflict with the interests of the Joe Biden administration. On the other hand, such Israeli behavior threatens to worsen relations with the United States, its main ally.

In the nearest future, the US reaction on the Israeli belligerent approach toward Iran will likely determine whether the relations between Tehran, Tel Aviv and Washington will get better or the escalation will continue.

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