The Myth of India’s Nuclear Deterrence

The recent unprovoked transgressions in to Indian territory by both Chinese and Pakistan Militaries (terrorists included) bring to fore the oft repeated question whether India’s Nuclear deterrence is working when it comes to Pakistan and China. Recently it was raised by Prof. Rajesh Rajagopalan in a periodical And it almost sounds true that when India flanked by ideologically hardened neighbors whose commitment towards it appears to be beyond the interest of its own people’s welfare. At least this question may not be relevant to China as it enjoys near superiority in military hardware not to mention strategic advantages.

But it is shocking that with its inferiority on conventional weapons Pakistan frustrates India on a daily basis. While reports suggest that India’s nuclear arsenal is primarily directed on China, it has never taken a clear stand on Pakistan. It is felt that though the “No First Use” doctrine has given some level of moral depth but it has yielded no tangible benefits. While the fixation of Pakistan on Kashmir is understandable, but for all its irrational behavior starting from unprovoked border firing on Indian posts , assisting terrorists to infiltrate to perpetuate proxy war to inhumane acts like beheading Indian soldiers, Pakistan has a tacit approval of China for all its acts.

The deterrence worked only till such time when Pakistan did not have nuclear weapons. There is no asymmetry between India and Pakistan with respect to number of Nuclear weapons. The message is clear for Pakistan on the no first use doctrine. If we are not going to use Nuclear weapon until we are bombarded by a nuclear weapon, there is no question of deterrence. So time has come for us to annul the no first use doctrine.

Unlike Pakistan, Indian society is not anarchic where all decisions had to be taken based on collective consensus especially if it is a decision on military retaliation. If Pakistan was in the same position it would have launched unilateral strikes on India long ago taking the advantage of conventional weapon’s asymmetry.

With the drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan is understandably in tremendous pressure to engage Jihadis in a different theater, ethnic cleansing of hazaras and ahmedia’s is a task which will be taken care by domestic Jihadis and for Jihadis whose business is transnational in nature, Kashmir in particular and India in general is their preferred battlefield and Pakistan’s security establishments are more than willing to assist their quest.

More than anything else India’s stature is taking a severe beating in international arena for its response of zero reaction on Pakistan’s violations. India had two had chances 26/11 and parliament attack. It will be absolutely foolish to wait for another such moment if we ever wanted to retaliate. Tolstoy said you may not like war but war likes you. Without a strong military diplomacy will not work. If you do not have capability or the intention to neutralize your adversary on the battlefield your diplomacy of talking will be a waste of time, especially with a state like Pakistan.

Military dictators of Pakistan have ensured the acquisition of Nuclear weapons making both Pakistan and India even on this platform. Firstly the internationally community must be held completely responsible for allowing a hardened Islamist country like Pakistan to acquire nuclear weapons.

To make our message clear it must be communicated to Pakistan that being a democracy does not mean we are weak and when it comes to national security all political parties have a same line of thought, maybe this is impossible having communists in India, but we should try out.

And importantly “no first use” doctrine must be scraped with immediate effect and the new doctrine must be worded in such a way that when a conventional and limited war is not forcing an adversary to negotiating table, nuclear weapons will be used. This will send a message to Pakistan that India will launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike. If we are doing that it means we are talking.

This entry was posted in Afpak, Pakistan, South Asia, Terrorism. Bookmark the permalink.

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