Our Beacon Forum

Nuclear deterrence keeps our adversaries at bay
By:Asif Haroon Raja
Date: Sunday, 5 July 2009, 5:47 pm

Nuclear deterrence keeps our adversaries at bay

In pursuant of its stated objectives, India dismembered Pakistan into two in 1971. Basking in the sunshine of glory it embarked upon an ambitious force modernization program and also carried out weapon grade nuclear test at Pokhran in 1974 to become unchallenged regional power. RAW had a hand in KGB-KHAD supported insurgency in Balochistan in 1970s.. Sindh was picked up as the prime target for subversion on the model of East Pakistan. RAW supported Al-Zulfiqar in 1980s and also helped MQM in forming its militant wing to accentuate rural-urban divide in Sindh. The world took no notice of all these threatening events endangering the very existence of Pakistan. Taking into account the military balance tilting heavily towards India and its inability to bridge the widening conventional gap, Pakistan was left with no option but to go nuclear to avert 1971 like tragedy. Unlike India pilfering nuclear material from Canadian nuclear reactor installed at Tarapur and getting away with it, Pakistan undertook the nuclear path at its own, without foreign assistance and under immense adversity. Dr AQ Khan led team of scientists achieved the miracle of producing enriched uranium in about six years time, which helped in turning Pakistan into first Muslim nuclear state. Huge resources at the cost of vital development works had to be diverted towards this clandestinely run project and the nation bore economic hardships gladly since it was question of survival of the country.

Evers since, Pakistan nuclear program has come under immense censure. All possible means were applied to knock it down in its infancy stage. Hats off to those who were at the helm of affairs; they bore the onslaught stoically and not for once wavered. Pakistan made another landmark in the field of guided missiles and produced better delivery systems than India. It’s Command and Control Authority (C&CA) too is much superior to that of India and matches any nuclear state. In the wake of malicious propaganda warfare launched by Indo-US-Israeli lobbies against safety of our nuclear program, Pakistan has further fine-tuned its security systems and taken added measures to leave no scope for theft. It has gone to the extent of keeping warheads and delivery means separated and stored in different locations. Nuclear doctrine hinging on credible minimum deterrence, spells out threshold beyond which use of nuclear option becomes inevitable and also keeps its first strike option. It is only when conventional forces are unable to contain ingress of invading forces that nuclear option come into play and not otherwise.

It is this fear of use of WMDs which pose caution on the enemy. This fright that the invasion would become extremely costly in terms of human casualties has kept India at bay. 1985-86 troop mobilization (Exercise Brass-tacks), 1990-91 heat up along Kashmir border, May-July 1999 skirmish in Kargil, 2002 and 2007 military standoffs, all had likelihood of ballooning into full-fledged war. As a minimum these offensive acts were meant to overawe Pakistan. However, on each occasion when Indian leaders were breathing fire and itched to decimate Pakistan, Pakistan armed forces showed its full resolve to fight the invaders and also brandished its nuclear weapons which took the heat of belligerence out of them. No other means employed had any impact on jingoism of Indian leaders bordering madness. The planned Indo-Israeli surgical strikes against Kahuta Plant in 1980s and in May 1998 after Indian nuclear tests were also averted due to dread of nuclear reaction.Â
From 1979 till May 1998, our nuclear deterrence worked by following policy of ambiguity. Only reason for India to carryout overt nuclear tests in May 1998 was to see whether Pakistan actually had the nuclear capability or it was bluffing. Our tit-for-tat response cooled down fire-eating Advani and Jaswant Singh and their tone and tenor changed. It was essentially because of our impressive progress in the fields of nuclear and missile technology which forced India to abandon its strategy of direct war and instead adopt indirect strategy to destabilize Pakistan from within. This strategy had also been successfully applied in former East Pakistan before applying the military instrument.

India is desperate to offset Pakistan's nuclear deterrence capability since it pours cold water on its expansionist designs. One way is to build up its stockpiles of both strategic and tactical nuclear bombs far outmatching Pakistan’s modest stock. In this regard, Indo-US civilian nuclear deal would give a quantum jump to its nuclear ambitions. It has developed second strike capability and is working on achieving third strike capability as well. It is stock piling low yield tactical nuclear bombs and has produced wide array of missiles including sea-borne cruise missiles. Israel has become its biggest arms supplier and is also cooperating in the nuclear field. AWACs, anti-missile systems, electronic means and spy satellite have recently been procured from Israel. India being a strategic partner of USA is a hot candidate for becoming part of US defence shield.

In the wake of nuclear threat from Pakistan, India has conceived a new doctrine called Cold Start in which mobilization period has been cut to three days and war is declared suddenly. Mobile forces leap for tactically important shallow objectives within the border belt under air supremacy and stay clear of core areas so as not to give an excuse to Pakistan to use its nuclear option. The idea is that Pakistan already suffering from lack of strategic depth can ill-afford to lose space. As such, it would be compelled to fight major battles with bulk of its forces along the border and thus presenting a vulnerable target to air and small tactical nuclear weapons, usage of which is authorized to operational commander in the field. This option has also been made dependent upon the success of its preparatory maneuver in the form of covert operations by RAW to soften Pakistan from within as it is currently doing unabashedly.

In the face of Indian Cold Start doctrine which India is eager to launch, our nuclear weapons should be in assembled and ready form rather than in dispersed and disassembled state with delivery means separated from warheads and stored in different locations. This has been done merely to satisfy overweening Americans concerned about safety of our nuclear weapons not realizing that it runs against the principles of deterrence and operational preparedness. This arrangement as a safety measure was in order had it been done secretly without anyone else knowing about it. If not all, at least one-fourth of weapons should be in state of readiness both for deterrence and to cater for element of surprise.

Anti-nuclear lobbyists like Pervez Hoodhbuoy and Farrukh Saleem who sing dictated tunes that nuclear bomb is a liability and not a strategic asset should be ignored. The 45-year Cold War between the two super powers didn’t turn into Third World War because each side had credible nuclear deterrence. Had Afghanistan and Iraq possessed nuclear weapons, USA would never have dared to attack. Iraq was invaded only when US leaders became 100% sure that it was not in possession of WMDs. IAEA inspectors had sniffed each and every nook of Iraq and had given all clear signal. So was the case with non-nuclear North Korea in 1953 and Vietnam. North Korea and Iran are not being touched despite their belligerence since former is now a nuclear power with long range ballistic missiles and latter is suspected to have already crossed the threshold. Pakistan was spared in October 2001 and till this day because of its nuclear capability. These live examples are ample proofs that nuclear weapons are best suited for weaker nations threatened by bullies. Our nuclear doctrine based on credible minimum deterrence and first strike option has helped in keeping our adversaries at bay.