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Indian nuclear doctrine revision to pose security risks for Pakistan: experts

By our correspondents
August 22, 2017

Islamabad: Experts speaking at a roundtable discussion hosted by the Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) feared Monday that revision of nuclear doctrine by India would exacerbate Pakistan’s security concerns and undermine South Asia’s deterrence-based stability.

They were participating in a discussion titled ‘From Counter Value to Counter Force: Change in India’s Nuclear Doctrine’ to deliberate on the recent debate about the likely shift in India’s nuclear posture and its implications for Pakistan as well as regional strategic stability.

Experts agreed that expansion of nuclear capabilities and revision of posture could have serious security implications for Pakistan. Furthermore, the resulting environment could further reduce the space for dialogue between the two countries.

Statements by Indian officials and scholars have indicated that the Indian government could be considering a revision in its ‘No-First Use’ nuclear doctrine to include the option of pre-emptive strikes. Under the existing doctrine, India could carry out retaliatory strike against Pakistani cities, but that too could change to include pre-emptive strikes against Pakistani nuclear assets.

Speaking on the occasion Dr. Christopher Clary, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Albany, New York, said that pre-emptive nuclear strike by India would be very difficult, but was not impossible because of acquisition of technology from US and Israel as well as indigenous development of its nuclear assets.

Dr. Clary believed that India could be playing up the idea of counter-force strike to deter Pakistan by adding credibility to its posture; keep the option of such a strike available to itself in the eventuality of a breakdown in deterrence; pre-empt an imminent attack; or bait Pakistan into an arms race for exhausting its limited resources.

post-doctoral fellow at Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University Dr Mansoor was of the opinion that India, by expanding its capabilities, could be moving towards a possible change in its nuclear posture and realization of its counterforce targeting aspirations.

Dr. Mansoor said, India could be doing so to inflict a decapitating first strike on Pakistan and maintain escalation dominance in case of a conflict. He also highlighted the conventional discrepancies between India and Pakistan.

Earlier on, the Executive Director of CISS Ali Sarwar Naqvi highlighted two factors of concern for Pakistan’s security namely, the growing Indo-US cooperation and the ambiguity shrouding the narrative. Dr. Naeem Salik, senior fellow at CISS, said Indian statements about its nuclear doctrine were a typical reflection of India’s jingoism.