Saturday June 15, 2024

Threat of nuclear war against Pakistan

By Zahoor Khan Marwat
May 23, 2017

Vipin Narang, a nuclear strategist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, recently warned a conference on nuclear policy hosted by the Carnegie think tank that there was increasing evidence that India, which declared its no-first use strike policy in 2003, could launch a pre-emptive first strike against Pakistan if it feared a nuclear attack was imminent.

This was in a marked reversal of its well-known no-first use policy, according to the leading nuclear strategist. “India’s opening salvo may not be conventional strikes trying to pick off just Nasr batteries (launch vehicles for Pakistan’s tactical battlefield nuclear warheads) in the theatre, but a full ‘comprehensive counterforce strike’ that attempts to completely disarm Pakistan of its nuclear weapons so that India does not have to engage in iterative tit-for-tat exchanges and expose its own cities to nuclear destruction,” he said. 

Narang cited from Menon’s book “Choices: Inside the Making of Indian Foreign Policy” released in November 2016. “There is a potential gray area as to when India would use nuclear weapons first against another NWS (nuclear weapon state). 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.”

In addition, recent reports in Indian and international media about Indian capacity to launch a disarming first strike have clearly indicated that the BJP led government of India under the Doval-Modi duo is becoming more jingoist with every passing day. It may be noted that India’s nuclear doctrinal developments and employment strategies chiefly remain directed towards Pakistan.

On the other hand, Pakistan has acquired nuclear capability for the sole purpose of security and safeguarding her vital national interests, its territorial integrity and sovereignty and to ensure its security and survival against intense and major aggression. The programme works as a hedge against strategic threats to our security.

Experts believe that regional stability is much needed in South Asia as India touts its nuclear brinkmanship. This can only come through a strategic restraint regime, which would lead to escalation control. 

India’s test-firing of 450 km supersonic Brahmos cruise missile without notifying Pakistan has once again brought up the issue of avoiding an arms race in the region and to strive for strategic stability. Pakistan on March 16 this year once again reiterated its proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime for South Asia, which has been more or less on the table since 1998.

The belligerent Indian stance and illogical and unreasonable defence build-up has long been highlighted by Pakistan. India remains the largest importer of defence equipment in the region and its hegemonic designs are endangering peace and security in the region and beyond. It pays lip-service to the objective of non-proliferation and gives morally deplorable false statements against its neighbours while relentlessly pursuing a conventional and strategic arms build-up.

The ongoing nuclear arms race initiated by the Indian hegemonic leadership, which has fundamental discomfort with nuclear weapons in Pakistan, does not augur well in the emerging geo-strategic realities whereby trends are shifting from geo-strategic to geo-economics domain. Pakistan wants to move on and improve its relationship with India in the entire spectrum of international relations whereas India not only threatens Pakistan of massive nuclear retaliation but has also gone on a massive arms purchase spree. 

In the absence of strategic restraint, the situation appears to be getting extremely complex and uncertain. Pakistan's proposal for a Strategic Restraint Regime for South Asia remains on the table.