Why Concerns About An India-Pakistan Nuclear War Are Highly Exaggerated?

The Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference happened in Washington came out with tweaked thesis of the IndiaPakistan “nuclear flashpoint” to claim. India has abandoned its No First Use (NFU) commitment and adopted a strategy. In case of an “imminent” launch, of a pre-emptive “comprehensive strike” against Pakistan. Such a course is being contemplated, it was argued, to spare the country the “iterative tit-for-tat exchanges” and prevent the “destruction” of Indian cities.

India-Pakistan Nuclear War

India-Pakistan Nuclear War

Whatever their capabilities to fight nuclear wars, the chances of either India or Pakistan initiating a nuclear exchange for any reason are remote for the very good reason that western governments and analysts rarely acknowledge. Because most of them are unaware or wilfully ignore the social context of India-Pakistan tensions.

India’s former defence minister Manohar Parrikar stated that India would “not declare one way or another” if it would use or not use nuclear weapons first. This said expressly to inject ambiguity of response that is crucial for the credibility of the Indian nuclear posture.

Concerns About An India-Pakistan Nuclear War

India-Pakistan Nuclear War

India-Pakistan Nuclear War

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The previous BJP government of Atal Bihari Vajpayee mindlessly made the draft-nuclear doctrine public. And later compounded the problem by replacing “proportional response” in the draft with “massive retaliation” losing its credibility was in 1999.

The second reference is to the former national security adviser (NSA) Shivshankar Menon’s observation in his recent book that the Indian nuclear strategy has “far greater flexibility than it gets credit for”. The doctrine drafters in the first National Security Advisory Board (NSAB) intended and so shaped the doctrine, especially Section 4. To make it “elastic”, to enable escaping the limitations of “minimum” deterrence imposed by the prime minister in his suo moto statement to Parliament on May 28, 1998, before the constitution of the NSAB.

The NFU declaration makes for fine rhetoric, distancing India from the hair-trigger situation. Pakistan strives for the world to believe exists in the subcontinent.

India-Pakistan Nuclear War

India-Pakistan Nuclear War

The third proof is the views of retired Lieutenant General BS Nagal, a former strategic forces command (SFC) commander. Particularly his view that a democratically-elected government cannot morally risk the annihilation of the Indian people.

Nuclear missiles in hermetically sealed canisters are ready-to-fire weapons and signal an instantaneous retaliates to strongly deter nuclear adventurism. Thus, all nuclear weapon countries keep a part of their strategic forces in ready state. There being no guarantees that a confrontation or conflict with another nuclear power will keep to a sub nuclear script.

India-Pakistan Nuclear War

India-Pakistan Nuclear War

Divided communities, continuing kith and kinship relations, shared religion and culture. It means that the so-called India-Pakistan “wars” are less wars, more “riots” — short periods of hostilities in geographically constrained spaces. Hence the famously apt description of these by the late Major General DK Pali. It original of the Baloch Regiment, as “communal riots with tanks”.

Inputs taken from a post by professor Bharat Karnad, Centre for Policy Research, and was part of the group that drafted the nuclear doctrine.

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