War Sans Arms

Beyond de­vel­op­ing con­ven­tional and nu­clear arms, Pak­istan must work on its im­age and re­duce ex­trem­ism and in­tol­er­ance. To do this, it needs a wise, com­pe­tent, hon­est and vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship.

Southasia - - CONTENTS - By Dr. Moo­nis Ah­mar

Pak­istan beats the war

drums but does bot bother about much else.

Since the overt nu­cle­ariza­tion of South Asia in May 1998 till to­day, the dy­nam­ics of the nu­clear arms race be­tween In­dia and Pak­istan have tended to raise sev­eral ques­tions. What is In­dia’s nu­clear doc­trine vis-à-vis Pak­istan? How is In­dia’s nu­clear strat­egy suc­cess­ful in drag­ging Pak­istan into an arms race with its east­ern neigh­bour? Is In­dia ca­pa­ble of with­stand­ing first strike from Pak­istan and to what ex­tent is its “cold start” doc­trine aim­ing to match Pak­istan’s first strike ca­pa­bil­ity? Is it a re­al­ity or a pos­ture? These are the ques­tions which are raised from time to time in the con­text of the nu­clear and mis­sile arms race in South Asia.

First strike ca­pa­bil­ity means when a nu­clear armed state is able to launch an at­tack on the enemy tar­get in such a man­ner that the enemy is not able to re­tal­i­ate. Se­cond strike ca­pa­bil­ity means that a state sur­vives the first strike and is able to re­tal­i­ate in the form of a se­cond strike. The dy­nam­ics of first and se­cond strike ca­pa­bil­i­ties is a cold war phe­nom­e­non when nu­clear weapons pos­sess the abil­ity to in­flict an un­ac­cept­able level of dam­age on the other side. Un­like the Soviet Union and the United States of Amer­ica, whose main­stream ci­ties were lo­cated thou­sands of miles away, this is not the case with In­dia and Pak­istan who are im­me­di­ate neigh­bours and their ma­jor ci­ties along with their cap­i­tals are within short strike dis­tance. There­fore, the use of nu­clear weapons in the event of an In­doPak war will cause mil­lions of deaths within hours. Ac­cord­ing to Za­far Iqbal Cheema in his book, In­dian Nu­clear Doc­trine Its Evo­lu­tion, De­vel­op­ment and Im­pli­ca­tions for South Asia Se­cu­rity “Pak­istan has not given up its right of first use of nu­clear weapons, partly be­cause it per­ceives that it would un­der­mine its (nu­clear) de­ter­rence.” A lack of proper ter­ri­to­rial depth of Pak­istan fur­ther deep­ened its re­solve for a first nu­clear strike in case of a co­gent threat to its se­cu­rity and sur­vival as a state.

In­dia’s nu­clear strat­egy for the last sev­eral decades is two-pronged: first, to counter the nu­clear threat em­a­nat­ing from its north­ern neigh­bour Peo­ples Re­pub­lic of China and se­cond to deal with the nu­clear threat aris­ing from Pak­istan. If Pak­istan’s nu­clear doc­trine is pri­mar­ily In­dia-cen­tric, New Delhi’s nu­clear strat­egy and doc­trine has an in­ter­na­tional char­ac­ter. In both cases, the out­come of overt nu­cle­ariza­tion of South Asia is the un­leash­ing of a nu­clear and mis­sile arms race threat­en­ing the very frame­work of nu­clear war avoid­ance in the re­gion. If

Pak­istan pur­sued the pol­icy of min­i­mum nu­clear de­ter­rence, In­dia fol­lowed the ap­proach of cred­i­ble nu­clear de­ter­rence and both sides jus­ti­fied their ver­sions of de­ter­rence on the grounds of na­tional se­cu­rity. The end re­sult of the In­doPak nu­clear stand­off is a deep­en­ing of a nu­clear arms race at the ex­pense of hu­man de­vel­op­ment and se­cu­rity.

Un­like Pak­istan’s nu­clear doc­trine, which doesn’t rule out a first strike if at­tacked by the enemy, In­dia has no such pol­icy. Ac­cord­ing to Gurmeet Kan­wal, a renowned In­dian de­fence and se­cu­rity an­a­lyst, “af­ter a meet­ing of the Cab­i­net Com­mit­tee on Se­cu­rity, the gov­ern­ment is­sued a state­ment on Jan­uary 4, 2003, spell­ing out In­dia’s nu­clear doc­trine and the op­er­a­tional­iza­tion of its nu­clear de­ter­rent. The salient fea­tures of the gov­ern­ment state­ment in­cluded the fol­low­ing: In­dia will build and main­tain a cred­i­ble nu­clear de­ter­rent; fol­low a no-first-use-pos­ture; and will use nu­clear weapons only in re­tal­i­a­tion against a nu­clear at­tack on In­dian ter­ri­tory or on In­dian forces any­where. It was also af­firmed that nu­clear re­tal­i­a­tion to a first strike will be mas­sive and de­signed to in­flict un­ac­cept­able dam­age; re­tal­ia­tory at­tacks will be au­tho­rized only by the civil­ian po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship through the Nu­clear Com­mand Au­thor­ity; nu­clear weapons will not be used against non­nu­clear weapon states; and In­dia will re­tain the op­tion of re­tal­i­at­ing with nu­clear weapons in the event of a ma­jor at­tack against it with bi­o­log­i­cal and chem­i­cal weapons.” Pak­istan’s strat­egy to cover the whole of In­dia with the range of its nu­clear mis­siles has been highly suc­cess­ful. Mis­sile tests of Shaheen-III and Ababeel show they can tar­get all ma­jor In­dian ci­ties. Pak­istan’s lack of ter­ri­to­rial depth has cer­tainly ex­posed the coun­try to a mas­sive In­dian con­ven­tional and nu­clear at­tack, which Is­lam­abad has been able to counter by ad­vanc­ing its nu­clear mis­sile pro­gram but Pak­istan tried to com­pen­sate for its lack of ter­ri­to­rial/strate­gic depth by gain­ing an edge vis-à-vis In­dia on the long and medium range mis­siles.

In­dia tried to counter the mod­ern­iza­tion of Pak­istan’s mis­sile pro­gram with a two-pronged strat­egy. First, by launch­ing its cold start doc­trine and se­cond by pro­pel­ling a tirade against Pak­istan that its nu­clear weapons were un­safe and could get into the hands of Is­lamic ter­ror­ist groups. As far as the In­dian cold start doc­trine is con­cerned, in the event of an armed con­flict with Pak­istan, In­dian con­ven­tional forces will swiftly move and oc­cupy a ter­ri­tory with­out risk­ing a nu­clear war. The seizure of Pak­istani ter­ri­tory by the In­dian forces will, how­ever, re­quire their de­ploy­ment close to the bor­ders so that the strike corps can swiftly move and cap­ture ter­ri­tory be­fore the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in­ter­venes for a cease­fire. How­ever, the ques­tion of a suc­cess­ful In­dian mil­i­tary strike against Pak­istan and cap­tur­ing a ter­ri­tory needs to have a prac­ti­cal di­men­sion. Will Pak­istani forces al­low In­dian strike corps to pen­e­trate deep in­side their ter­ri­tory and oc­cupy a piece of land so as to pre­vent Pak­istani re­tal­i­a­tion with nu­clear weapons? While sur­gi­cal strikes are aimed to de­stroy the sanc­tu­ar­ies of in­fil­tra­tors, the cold start doc­trine aims to pre­vent Pak­istan from pro­ceed­ing with a first strike.

As far as the ques­tion of the safety of Pak­istani nu­clear ar­se­nal is con­cerned, since quite long, there ex­ists nu­clear com­mand and con­trol au­thor­ity (NCCA) which is re­spon­si­ble for the safety of its nu­clear as­sets in case of any pos­si­ble ter­ror­ist at­tack. Fur­ther­more, NCCA also aims to en­sure nu­clear safe­guards and pro­tec­tion. In fact, the per­cep­tion about the lack of proper com­mand and con­trol of nu­clear weapons in Pak­istan was re­in­forced when ter­ror­ist at­tacks took place at the Army Gen­eral Head­quar­ters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi, the Mehran Naval Base in Karachi, the PAF Kamra Air Base and the Karachi Air­port. But, Pak­istan has re­peat­edly ruled out any pos­si­bil­ity of an en­croach­ment of its nu­clear ar­se­nal by ter­ror­ist or­ga­ni­za­tions. Fur­ther­more, for long the myth of an ‘Is­lamic Bomb’ is be­ing talked about in dif­fer­ent world cap­i­tals. Is­rael’s in­se­cu­rity vis-à-vis the ‘Is­lamic Bomb’ held by Pak­istan was also ex­ploited by In­dia with the pos­si­ble plan of a joint Indo-Is­raeli raid on Pak­istani nu­clear in­stal­la­tions, which Pak­istan has termed as wish­ful think­ing in view of what the Pak­istani mil­i­tary es­tab­lish­ment terms as ‘ im­preg­nable’ de­fence of its nu­clear in­stal­la­tions. But there ex­ists a gap in In­dian nu­clear strat­egy and pos­ture. New Delhi has re­gional and in­ter­na­tional power am­bi­tions which re­quire the ac­cel­er­a­tion of its nu­clear weapons pro­gram.

To a large ex­tent, In­dia is suc­cess­ful in drag­ging Pak­istan in an ex­pen­sive nu­clear arms race. This arms race has be­come so dan­ger­ous that Pak­istan’s spokesman of the Min­istry of For­eign Af­fairs has re­vealed that In­dia was build­ing a nu­clear safe city in or­der to pro­tect its lead­er­ship and im­por­tant per­son­al­i­ties in case of a nu­clear war. Nu­clear safe ci­ties and nu­clear bunkers are cold war phe­nom­e­non and can­not be repli­cated in the In­dian and Pak­istani con­text be­cause of the costs in­volved. How­ever, the state­ment of the Pak­istan For­eign Of­fice about In­dia build­ing a nu­clear safe city was im­me­di­ately de­nied by New Delhi as it called it

Un­less, Pak­istan puts its own house in or­der, it will be im­pos­si­ble on its part to cope with threats em­a­nat­ing across the bor­ders.

de­void of facts. In­dia thinks that in view of Pak­istan’s frag­ile econ­omy, lur­ing its east­ern neigh­bour into a nu­clear arms race will be a se­vere drain on its re­sources. Like­wise, by mod­ern­iz­ing its con­ven­tional forces, In­dia hopes to drag Pak­istan in a full-fledged nu­clear and con­ven­tional arms race much to the detri­ment of its econ­omy. But, what are Pak­istan’s op­tions and choices? Can Pak­istan con­tinue with its doc­trine of min­i­mum nu­clear de­ter­rence while dis­re­gard­ing the mod­ern­iza­tion of In­dian nu­clear forces?

One wise op­tion for Pak­istan is to im­prove and strengthen its econ­omy and mod­ern­ize its in­fra­struc­ture. With a vi­brant econ­omy, a bet­ter qual­ity of life of the peo­ple, mod­ern in­fra­struc­ture, good gov­er­nance and the rule of law, most of the is­sues which cause hu­man in­se­cu­rity will be taken care of. Oth­er­wise, if Pak­istan tries to match with the In­dian con­ven­tional and nu­clear arms race with a frag­ile econ­omy and in­ter­nal po­lit­i­cal dis­cords, it will be coun­ter­pro­duc­tive and dan­ger­ous for its sur­vival as a state. Fur­ther­more, Pak­istan must bet­ter its im­age at the in­ter­na­tional level by elim­i­nat­ing those forces who are in­volved in ex­trem­ism, in­tol­er­ance, mil­i­tancy, rad­i­cal­iza­tion, vi­o­lence and ter­ror­ism. Un­less, Pak­istan puts its own house in or­der, it will be im­pos­si­ble on its part to cope with threats em­a­nat­ing across the bor­ders. This would re­quire a wise, com­pe­tent, hon­est and vi­sion­ary lead­er­ship to put Pak­istan on the road to mean­ing­ful de­vel­op­ment and progress.

The writer is Mer­i­to­ri­ous Pro­fes­sor of In­ter­na­tional Re­la­tions and Dean Fac­ulty of So­cial Sciences, Univer­sity of Karachi.

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