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Nuclear Option- Calling the Pakistani Bluff

Discussion in 'Indian Military Doctrine' started by NS52, Oct 25, 2018.

  1. NS52

    NS52 MILITARY STRATEGIST

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    Nuclear Option- Calling the Pakistani Bluff

    By

    Col Dr Narendar Singh. Ph D

    While most of the media’s attention has been focused on Iran and North Korea and their nuclear ambitions, a full-throttle nuclear arms race is now underway in another part of the world where terrorism, ethnic violence, religious extremism, border disputes and political instability are endemic.

    Appearing on the Pakistani television channel “Geo,” Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif said that Islamabad is willing to use nuclear weapons to ensure its survival.
    “We should pray that such an option never arises, but if we need to use them (nuclear weapons) for our survival we will,” Asif said, according to Geo’s website. His remark was widely reported by Indian media outlets.

    Asif’s statement about Pakistan’s willingness to use nuclear weapons is in line with Islamabad's long-standing nuclear doctrine. In contrast to India and China, which both maintain no first use nuclear doctrines, Pakistan has always maintained that it could resort to nuclear weapons to blunt a conventional attack from India.

    India-Pakistan rivalry comes with all the venom and vindictiveness of a messy divorce, which, of course, it is. The two countries have officially fought three wars against each other since their breakup in 1947 and have had numerous skirmishes and close calls since then. They have a festering territorial dispute in Kashmir. The 1999 Kargil conflict, waged a year after both countries went overtly nuclear, may have come closer to the nuclear brink than even the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. At the height of the showdown, there was credible intelligence that both sides were readying their nuclear arsenals for deployment.

    Pakistan lost all three of these wars, it has a very large army only half the size of India's, whose military budget is more than seven times larger than Pakistan's. Pakistan's Generals understand in any all-out conventional confrontation with India, they're toast. The guiding ideology of Pakistan's Army -- from the generals on down to their drivers -- is that India represents a permanent existential threat. Therefore, Pakistan clings to its nuclear weapons and attempts to maintain at least the illusion of what its generals call "bilateral balance."

    Pakistan has test fired a short-range ballistic missile and a surface-to-surface battlefield missile, both systems with nuclear capability—indicating an alarming willingness on Pakistan’s part to carryout strike in its own territory in the event of an incursion by India.

    Pakistan has also ramped up its production of fissile material. With the help of China, it has begun construction of a fourth plutonium reactor, greatly increasing its ability to turn out smaller, more efficient—and easier to steal—weapons. Latest estimates now put the number of warheads on Pakistani territory at 90 to 110, up from about 70 or so just two years ago. Pakistan has already passed its rival and main nemesis, India, and is now on track to overtake Britain as the world’s No. 5 nuclear power. If things continue unchecked, Pakistan could become the world’s No. 3 nuclear power—behind U.S. and Russia—before the end of the decade.

    "Pakistan struggled to acquire these weapons against the wishes of the world. Our nuclear capability comes as a result of great sacrifice. It is our most precious and powerful weapon -- for our defence, our security, and our political prestige," Talat Masood, a retired Pakistani lieutenant general, told me. "We keep them safe."

    Colin Gray once noted, in his book “Weapons Don’t Make War” (University Press of Kansas, 1993), that the absence of experience with nuclear conflict had resulted in the “fashionable judgment” that the only positive utility for nuclear weapons in the pursuit of states craft was in their non-use. He called out those who believed that any nuclear use option carried an unacceptable risk of uncontrollable escalation as “strategically illiterate.” If there are nation-states fearing for their security, there will be the challenge that nuclear weapons will be developed in the pursuit of national security objectives. Focusing the argument on the type of nuclear weapon ignores the real debates on how strategic deterrence policy is developed – in today’s terms and how the Indian government pursues regional stability.

    The greater concern -- not only for India, but for the United States and everyone else -- may be the direct competition between the two South Asian states. True, in terms of numbers and destructive capacity, the arms build-up in South Asia does not come close to what was going on during the Cold War, when the United States and the Soviet Union built enough bombs to destroy the planet many times over. India and Pakistan have enough to destroy it only once, perhaps twice.

    But in many ways, the arms race in South Asia is more dangerous. The United States and the Soviet Union were rival superpowers jockeying for influence and advantage on the global stage, but these were also two countries that had never gone to war with each other, that had a vast physical and psychological separation between them, that generally steered clear of direct provocations, and that eventually had mechanisms in place (like the famous hotline between Moscow and Washington) to make sure little misunderstandings didn't grow into monstrous miscalculations.

    Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are central to its policy of deterrence. The officials within the nuclear establishment insist that the bomb was built only to deter the existential threat from India. (Khalid Banuri and Adil Sultan. “Comment: Building the bomb,” Daily Times (Lahore), May 29, 2008) There is nothing else to it. All these years the nuclear policy has deliberately been kept non-declaratory. The nuclear ambiguity is kept suiting the country’s security objectives. Instead of a clear-cut public document, policy objectives have been explained through statements and interviews. One thing is clear from these policy statements, the Pakistani nuclear weapon capability is only meant to deter an Indian offensive. (Tughral Yamin, “Pakistan’s Nuclear Policy & Doctrine Ten Years Hence – Where do we go from here?” Margalla Papers, Special Edition (2008))

    Keen observers have tried to make intelligent guesses of when or where a nuclear weapon could be used by Pakistan? In a 2002 interview to a group of Italian physicists, Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai, the then DG SPD had laid out four benchmarks in spatial, force, economic and political realms to deter an Indian attack. Although a little dated, these views are considered to be still valid to a great extent. (Paolo Cotta-Ramusino and Maurizio Martellini, “Nuclear Safety, Nuclear Stability and Nuclear Strategy in Pakistan – A Concise Report of a Visit of Landau Network (January 2002): 5, http://www.centrovolta.it/landau/content/binary/pakistan Januray 2002.p (Accessed on 21 October 2018)) Since Pakistan does not subscribe to the No First Use (NFU) policy, a Pakistani commentator has assigned timelines for the possible use of nuclear weapons, i.e. Pre-emptive Response Threshold, Early Response Threshold, Delayed Response Threshold and an Accumulative Response Threshold.( Khan A. Sufyan, “Exploring Pakistan‟s Nuclear Thresholds – Analysis,” Eurasia Review. May 5, 2011, http://www.eurasiareview.com/05052011-exploringpakistans-nuclear-thresholds-analysis/ (Accessed on 19 Oct 2018)) The fact of the matter is that well defined nuclear thresholds and quantified levels of minimum credible deterrence (in terms of number of warheads) can be binding and self-limiting. Having limited depth Pakistan cannot afford to draw redlines and expect the enemy to cross these before deterrence is officially considered dead. Even if the thresholds are kept deliberately vague, there are bound to be contingencies regarding when and where to use this kind of weapon system.

    This conventional asymmetry increases the danger of the nuclear arms race -- it feeds India's hubris and Pakistan's sense of failure. Here are two countries headed in opposite directions. India's $1.7 trillion economy is eight times the size of Pakistan's and has grown at an enviable 8.2 percent annually over the last three years, compared to just 3.3 percent for Pakistan. India is in the forefront of the digital revolution, and while the country's leaders were embarrassed by this summer's massive two-day blackout, Pakistan's broken-down infrastructure struggles to provide citizens with more than a few hours of electricity each day. India, the world's largest democracy, is on the cusp of becoming a global power; Pakistan, with its on-and-off military dictatorships (off now), ranks 6th on Foreign Policy's most recent Failed States Index

    Military analysts from both countries still say that a nuclear exchange triggered by miscalculation, miscommunication, or panic is far more likely -- and, significantly, that the odds of such an exchange increase with the deployment of battlefield nuclear weapons by Pakistan. As these ready-to-use weapons are maneuvered closer to enemy lines, the chain of command and control would be stretched, and more authority necessarily delegated to field officers. And, if they have weapons designed to repel a conventional attack, there is obviously a reasonable chance they will use them for that purpose. "It lowers the threshold," said Hoodbhoy, a distinguished nuclear physicist at Islamabad's Quaid-i-Azam University. "The idea that tactical nukes could be used against Indian tanks on Pakistan's territory creates the kind of atmosphere that greatly shortens the distance to apocalypse."

    Michael Krepon contends that the Nasr missile has limited value on the battlefield as it may neither be used in “stopping tank offensives or against fast-moving targets,” nor “for blowing up railheads and bridges.” He feels that these may best be used “to warn India against advancing deeper into Pakistani territory.” He adds a caveat that this may be complicated because “the job of Pakistan’s armed forces is to prevent mushroom clouds on home soil, not to create them.” (Michael Krepon, “Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons,” Spotlight, April 24, 2012, http://www.stimson.org/spotlight/pakistans-tactical-nuclear-weapons/ (Accessed on 12 Oct 2018))

    Krepon may well be right that Nasr is only meant to deter a shallow manoeuvre within the framework of Indian Cold Start Doctrine (CSD). How would this be done, can be anyone’s guess? The use of nuclear weapons on one’s own soil can have serious repercussions and needs careful attention, e.g. the capability to handle a large segment of own population exposed to nuclear fallout. This is a serious issue and needs deep introspection and critical debate. Questions need to be answered. Is Pakistan prepared to handle the nuclear fallout? Are there credible means for early warning? Can emergency evacuation at massive scale be organized? Are there any bomb proof shelters for the civil administration? Is there enough water to decontaminate exposed peoples and material? Is there enough trained manpower to carry out thorough decontamination? Are there plentiful vaccines to treat nuclear and radiological victims? Are there enough water and food reserves in radiation proof silos?

    Owing to the lack of strategic depth it cannot afford any territorial losses. Losing real estate, even shallow ingress under the garb of the CSD or the Proactive operations is not acceptable. It would therefore use all strategic and conventional means at its disposal to enhance deterrence. Enhancing deterrence is the overarching principle of Pakistan’s defensive strategy. Short range nuclear weapons are just another way of doing that. Choices are limited. The Pakistani security conundrum is bound by many constraints. Firstly, it does not have unlimited resources. It is a fact that it is an extremely poor country. So, once it decides to develop a weapon it is not possible to develop another set of system in a bid to keep one step ahead of the adversary in a debilitating arms race. Secondly, it does not have many ready suppliers of defence hardware. Nuclear weapon purchase is a virtual no-go area. So, whatever it develops is based on its indigenous technical knowhow and human resource. Thirdly, Pakistan is suffering from an acute conventional asymmetry. This has dangerously lowered its nuclear threshold. It is in the interest of regional stability that there should be treaty to maintain a precarious strategic balance that would delay the introduction of nuclear weapons. India will not enter such a treaty as her prime threat is not Pakistan but China.

    The problem for India is that even though it holds a huge advantage in conventional forces, its mobilization process is ponderously slow. This shortcoming was exposed after the 2001 attack on the Parliament building, when it took the Indian Army about three weeks to deploy for a retaliatory strike -- enough time for the United States to step in and cool tempers on both sides. A potential nuclear crisis had been averted, but in 2004, India, still smarting from its inability to retaliate, announced a new war-fighting doctrine dubbed "Cold Start," which called for the capability to conduct a series of cross-border lightning strikes within 72 hours. The idea was not to hold territory or threaten the existence of the Pakistani state, but to use overwhelming firepower to deliver a punishing blow that would fall short of provoking a nuclear response.

    Pakistan's reaction -- or overreaction -- was to double down on developing its short-range battlefield nuclear weapon, the Hatf IX. Any incursion from India would be met with a nuclear response even if it meant Pakistan had to nuke its own territory. "What one fears is that with the testing of these short-range nuclear missiles -- five in the last couple of months -- this seems to indicate a seriousness about using theatre nuclear weapons," said Hoodbhoy, the physicist.

    While strategists on both sides debate whether the Hatf IX, with a range of 60 kilometres and a mobile multibarrel launch system, would be enough to stop an advancing column of Indian tanks -- Hoodbhoy argues that "smaller, sub-kiloton-size weapons are not really effective militarily" -- they do agree that it would take more than one missile to do the job, instantly escalating the crisis beyond anyone's control.

    The last nuclear weapon state to seriously consider the use of battlefield nuclear weapons was the

    United States during the first decades of the Cold War, when NATO was faced with the overwhelming superiority of Soviet conventional forces. But by the early 1970s, U.S. strategists no longer believed these weapons had any military utility, and by 1991 most had been withdrawn from European territory.

    Pakistan, however, seems to have embraced this discarded strategy and is now, in effect, challenging India to a game of nuclear chicken -- which seems to have made India tread carefully. More tellingly, in an interview back in 2002, Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai, the first head of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), which is responsible for Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, outlined four scenarios where Pakistan would consider using nuclear weapons against India:

    (a) If India conquers a large part of Pakistan;

    (b) If India destroys large parts of Pakistan’s army or air force;

    (c) If India tries to strangle Pakistan economically;

    (d) If India tries to destabilize Pakistan politically, including by creating large scale internal subversion.

    Tellingly, in 2008, when Lashkar terrorists attacked Mumbai, Cold Start was not implemented. These days, Indian officials seem to be backing away from the idea. "There is no Cold Start doctrine. No such thing. It was an off-the-cuff remark from a former Chief of Army Staff. I have been Defence Minister of the country. I should know," veteran Indian politician Jaswant Singh said. In a WikiLeaked classified document dated Feb. 16, 2010, Tim Roemer, then U.S. ambassador to India, described Cold Start as "a mixture of myth and reality" that, if implemented, "would likely encounter very mixed results."

    Pakistani military planners, however, continue to be obsessed with the idea of Cold Start. It comes up in every conversation about security, and it is the driving force behind the country's program to develop tactical battlefield nukes. For now, the focus is on missile delivery systems, but according to Maria Sultan, director of the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute, an Islamabad think tank, there is growing interest in using nukes in other ways -- such as to create an electromagnetic pulse that would fry the enemy's electronics. "In short, we will look for full-spectrum response options," she said.

    Both sides speak of the possibility of a limited nuclear war. But even those who speak in these terms seem to understand that this is fantasy -- that once started, a nuclear exchange would be almost impossible to limit or contain. "The only move that you have control over is your first move; you have no control over the nth move in a nuclear exchange," said Carnegie's Tellis.

    The military problem boils down to two factors:

    (a) Ways in which India can make its deterrence credible and not give a lee way for use of nuclear weapons.

    (b) Military capabilities required for credible denial and punishments threat.

    Credibility has two dimensions:

    (a) The adversary’s belief about whether India intends to implement its deterrent threat;

    (b) The adversary’s belief about whether India can implement that threat effectively.

    Pakistan is the most dramatic case in point credibility. Rapid development of a Pakistani operational nuclear arsenal has created a temporary nuclear superiority over India, if Indian weaponisation does not progress. Military biases in the past have favoured preventive wars, where the military has been in direct control of the government for more than half of the state history. Indeed, Pakistani military leaders have repeatedly advocated and initiated preventive war against India. In the fall of 1962, senior military authorities unsuccessfully urged President Mohamed Ayub Khan, the leader of military controlled government; to attack India while its army was tied down in the conflict with China. [See Stephen P. Cohen, 'The Pakistan Army’, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), p. 112.] Three years later, in September 1965, the Ayub Government did launch a preventive war on India to conquer Kashmir before the anticipated Indian- military build-up was completed. The Pakistani attack on India in December 1971 was also strongly influenced by the parochial biases and organizational interests of senior army and air force officers/ leaders since, as Richard Sisson and Leo Rose have stressed, the ruling military viewed threats to Bengal as ‘threats to their image, threats to the welfare of the military in a successor state, and threats in the way of changes that the military was prepared to barter away Pakistani sovereignty’.[See Richard Sison and Leo Rose, ‘War and Secession: Pakistan, India, and the Creation of Bangladesh’, (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), pp. 276-77.]

    Finally, unconfirmed reports that Pakistani Air Force made initial preparations for a nuclear first strike during May 1990 crisis over Kashmir are alarming not only because of the potential for miscalculated escalation, but also because Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto was reportedly cot out of the dangerous crisis decision making. [See John M. Broder and Stanely Meisler, ‘Terrifying Pursuit of Nuclear Arms’, Los Angles Times, January 19, 1992, p. A1; and Seymour M. Hersh, ‘On the Nuclear Edge’, The New Yorker, March 29, 1993, pp. 56-73.]

    Later in 1990, the Bhutto regime was ousted by the Pakistani Military, after she attempted to place her own loyal candidate as Army Chief of Staff. [Strategic Survey 1990-91, (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, 1991), pp. 214-216.]

    There is unfortunately, little reason to assume that future Pakistani governments, even if nominally democratic in nature, will be entirely resistant to parochial military pressures. [Mahnaz Isaphani, ‘Pakistan: Dimensions of Insecurity’, (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies, Winter 1989/90), pp. 10-15.]

    The fact that the threat to India probably is limited largely to conventional forces creates problems, because, all else being equal, conventional weapons are inherently less deterring than nuclear weapons. In large part, this is due to the greater unpredictability in the performance of conventional forces. No one can be certain what will happen when conventional forces fight. This uncertainty permits Indian adversaries especially Pakistan to misestimate their positions. Nuclear forces are more transparent.

    To enhance effectiveness of conventional deterrence, India should improve the prompt-denial capability through frequent demonstrations aimed at specific adversaries. In addition, India should enhance nuclear element in her regional and global deterrence strategy, particularly- although not exclusively- to deter attacks from weapons of mass destruction

    Beyond prompt denial, India should incorporate punishment into her deterrence strategy. Till to date, India has just not included punishment in her strategic thought. Inclusion of punishment in Indian deterrence strategy is necessary to convince opponents that they will substantially worse off if they threaten that which India values most.

    Indian Strategy of ‘NO First Use’ of Nuclear weapon is a sound strategy

    Imagery analysis of the Nasr missile suggests that its diameter is 30 centimetres (about 12 inches) across and could therefore be able to carry a very compact nuclear warhead comparable to the U.S. W-33 nuclear artillery shell that has a yield varying from less than 1 kiloton to about 10 kilotons. 43 Simulations of a 10-kiloton explosion produced a peak static overpressure of 33.35 psi at 370 meters (about 405 yards). This overpressure only displaced a tank by “about 2.5 meters with acceleration sufficient to inflict moderate damage to external fittings such as track guards, but the tank was able to be driven off and its gun fired after sand and debris had been removed from the barrel,” according to the 1994 study Nuclear Weapons: Principles, Effects and Survivability. Incapacitating a tank requires an overpressure of about 45 psi. [Charles S. Grace, Nuclear Weapons: Principles, Effects and Survivability (London: Brassey’s, 1994), 58.] A 1-kiloton explosion at a height of about 150 meters (about 492 feet) results in “overpressures of 45 psi at horizontal distances from ground zero as large as about 170 meters . . . then a 15 kt burst at a height of about 400 m would generate an overpressure of 3 atm up [45 psi] to a distance of about 420 meters, i.e., over an area of 0.55 km.” One 15-kiloton weapon should destroy about 55 tanks, if the tanks are spaced at 100 meters (about 328 feet) apart. (See table 1 for another estimate of the effects on tanks separated by 100 meters.) If tanks are spaced at 300 meters (or 984 feet) apart, the number of weapons necessary to achieve 55 so-called kills rises from one to eight. By this calculation, destroying a well-dispersed force of 500 tanks would likely require 100 X15-kiloton weapons. [Charles S. Grace, Nuclear Weapons: Principles, Effects and Survivability (London: Brassey’s, 1994), 58.] Although the depth of a tank formation would depend on the relative spacing between each tank, such as “50 meters apart in rows separated by 250 meters (the effective spacing would be 120 meters),” a tank force expecting a nuclear attack would be more dispersed, which would also reduce the immediate radiation effects on the tank crews. Another lower estimate posits that if “tanks were separated by even greater distances, it would require the use of over 80 nuclear weapons of 15 kt yield each to disable or kill the crews in a force of 1000 tanks.” [Charles S. Grace, Nuclear Weapons: Principles, Effects and Survivability (London: Brassey’s, 1994), 58.] According to a 2001 estimate by Ashley J. Tellis, Pakistan would need “37 weapons of 15 kt (or 57 weapons of 8 kt) to operationally disable an Indian armored division.” [Ashley J. Tellis, India’s Emerging Nuclear Posture: Between Recessed Deterrent and Ready Arsenal (Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2001), 133–34.]


    Table 1: The Effects of Nuclear Weapons Against Tanks Separated by 100 Meters

    Yield (kilotons) Number of tanks destroyed by blast Number of tank crews disabled by radiation

    15 64 360

    10 48 290

    5 32 190

    1 10 110

    Source: A. H. Nayyar and Zia Mian, “Pakistan and the Nasr Missile: Searching for a Method in the Madness,” Economic and Political Weekly 50, no. 39 (September 2015), http://www.epw.in/system/files/pdf/2015_50/39/Pakistan_and_the_Nasr_Missile.pdf.

    Regardless of how effective a 0.5-kiloton or 15-kiloton battlefield nuclear weapon might be in destroying enemy armour, logistics, mechanized forces, or troops, any nuclear detonation on the battlefield will have strategic repercussions. While it is true that hundreds of low-yield nuclear weapons deployed on an assortment of delivery platforms are necessary for effective warfighting strategy, even a simple deterrence strategy calls for a limited number of low-yield weapons for counterforce targeting. Given limits on fissile material stockpiles and production capacity, Pakistan will probably not have the ability to deploy hundreds of warheads for battlefield use in the foreseeable future. But deterrence lies in the eye of the beholder, and Pakistan’s full spectrum deterrence posture appears to be a deliberate strategy to generate risk and instability at the tactical level to enhance stability at the strategic level. Pakistan’s success will depend on the efficacy and robustness of its command and control systems during a crisis.

    It is also important to analyse the interface of TNWs with Pakistan’s conventional forces and their impact on force employment. Pakistani officials insist that “they have integrated conventional and military plans in a manner that assures safe deployment, retains assertive command and control, reliable communications, and assured effectiveness of TNWs in the battlefield.” Several scholars have raised the possibility that TNWs are inherently destabilizing when deployed so close to a border, as they would be in Pakistan. Such risks relate to questions of “battle-space management, field security problems, and the probability that India would pre-emptively attack the weapon systems once they have been flushed out of peacetime storage,”[ Feroz Hassan Khan, Going Tactical: Pakistan’s Nuclear Deterrence Posture and Implications for Stability (Paris: Proliferation Papers, Institut Français des Relations Internationales Security Studies Center, September 2015), 27 . http://www.ifri.org/en/publications...al-pakistans-nuclear-posture-and-implications.] Pakistan does not have a declared nuclear doctrine, nor has it shown telltale signs—like reorganization of the conventional force structure to incorporate nuclear tactics—of a shift to a warfighting strategy. One should assume that Pakistan’s doctrinal lag or opacity is therefore, deliberate, and is meant to further complicate and confuse the India’s assessments of Pakistan’s nuclear use thresholds.

    Then why Nuclear Weapons are unlikely to be employed in any conflict in South Asia. The factors that play are:

    (a) Geography. Even shallow penetrations envisaged by integrated battle groups would likely threaten Pakistani defences in the more vulnerable sectors south of the river Sutlej and up to Rahim Yar Khan and the Thar Desert. While the desert terrain does provide some space for manoeuvre warfare, “the operational conditions in the South Asian desert are different compared to the rolling terrain of the Fulda Gap region” in Central Europe.[ Sannia Abdullah, “Cold Start in Strategic Calculus,” IPRI Journal 12, no. 1 (Winter 2012): 1–27; “Echoing the Soviet concept of the ‘Operational Manoeuvre Group,’ India reconfigured its offensive formations into Reinforced Army Plains Infantry Divisions (RAPIDs) which were coupled with mechanized forces and backed with air and artillery firepower. Concurrently, Pakistan developed its counter military doctrine which included riposte and counter-offensive as essential components of its offense-defence strategy and its nuclear deterrent.” Khan and Weuger, Battlefield Nuclear Weapons and Deterrence Strategies, 11.] The more densely populated and built-up areas in the Punjab province to the north, and densely populated areas close to the border along the Sialkot-Kasur axis offer greater advantages to the defence. All the same, “the Pakistani geography [does] not allow the luxury of giving 30–50 km of territory in some critical operation areas before resorting to TNW. In areas where the lines of communication [are] perilously close to the border—such as the heartland in Punjab—the scope for trading space would be very limited. Pakistan must stop any Indian incursion at the border as a matter of both national pride and military necessity.” It also would result in massive casualties as the territory is densely populated.

    Any successful Indian armoured thrusts, even on a small scale of a few kilometres in depth, would lead to rapid escalation. Given the Nasr’s 60-kilometer range, there are three possible-use scenarios, according to a recent U.S. Naval Postgraduate School Report Battlefield Nuclear Weapons and Deterrence Strategies. First, “at 3 kilometres [penetration], Pakistan would have the option of a broad range trans-border employment.” Second, “at 20 kilometres, Pakistan would have the option of employment across the border or on its own territory.” Finally, “at 35 kilometres, Pakistan would be faced with employment on its own territory.”

    Pakistani analysts argue that this might force Pakistan to use battlefield nuclear weapons on its own soil against attacking Indian forces, a possibility strongly denied by Pakistani strategic planners. Strategic planners insist that the “Nasr would not be targeted at populated areas inside Pakistan. . . . and no Pakistani official [had] said the weapons would be used on the nation’s own soil.” [ Sannia Abdullah, “Cold Start in Strategic Calculus,” IPRI Journal 12, no. 1 (Winter 2012): 1–27; “Echoing the Soviet concept of the ‘Operational Manoeuvre Group,’ India reconfigured its offensive formations into Reinforced Army Plains Infantry Divisions (RAPIDs) which were coupled with mechanized forces and backed with air and artillery firepower. Concurrently, Pakistan developed its counter military doctrine which included riposte and counter-offensive as essential components of its offense-defence strategy and its nuclear deterrent.” Khan and Weuger, Battlefield Nuclear Weapons and Deterrence Strategies, 11.]

    It should also be remembered that the drainage system along the western border has put India in a distinct advantage any employment of TNWs which results in a fallout the radio active dust on settling down would be carried down stream into Pakistan thus contaminating the water sources for years to come depending upon the half life of the substance. This would adversely affect the future generations.

    (b) Weather. The weather on the western front has winds blowing from East to West for approximately 8 months and for the rest 4 months the winds are from North West. This coincides with level of water in the rivers. Hence Pakistan choice is limited for employment to just four months. It is also the period when the air is heavy and dust so crated will linger in atmosphere for long time causing a collateral damage on the population.

    (c) Collateral Damage. Pakistan is unlikely to use TNWs in self-defence unless it faces a survival dilemma that recalls the NATO position in West Germany in the 1950s and 1960s. Then, as now, the threat of limited ground incursion between 10 kilometres (about 6 miles) and 50 kilometres (about 31 miles) was equally the threat of losing major urban, industrial, or critical logistical centres. “The Soviet concept of operations entailed a ‘high rate of operations,’ that would rapidly destroy NATO defences and allow the Warsaw Pact forces to seize deployment areas and overrun all weapons, including tactical nuclear missiles and artillery. They would then be able to either continue into Europe or hold fast and sue for peace. The Warsaw Pact forces would not have to travel for to gain the upper hand, politically or militarily. Moreover, 25 percent of West Germany industry and 30 percent of the population was within 100 kilometres of the border. Losing 100 kilometres would also cut communication with Denmark and the lower Danube valley. Another 50 kilometres and West Germany would be as good as lost; the Soviets would hold the Rhine, thereby cutting communication between NATO’s northern and southern army groups, and they would control the ports, airfields and the prepositioned stores along the Weser River. This compression of time and distance, then, incentivized the Allies’ adoption of tactical nuclear weapons, which would ideally deter the Soviet Union from invading.” Khan and Weuger, Battlefield Nuclear Weapons and Deterrence Strategies, 9. How aptly it applies to Pakistan.

    The operational complexities of TNW deployment are deepened by doctrinal and force posture developments across the border in India. Understanding Pakistan’s predicament, therefore, requires first drawing doctrinal inferences from India’s developments. India is, in some measure, also modernizing its forces with the goal of transforming nuclear strategy into a counterforce strategy designed to pre-empt Pakistan’s tactical first use.

    Once India’s force modernization—primarily the introduction of 4.5-generation combat aircraft, such as the Su-30MKI and Rafale, and upgraded Mirage-2000, MiG-29s, and Jaguars for interdiction, close air support and air superiority, coupled with superior ISR, cyber, and space capabilities—the Indian Air Force (IAF) will seek to carry out pre-emptive and preventive strike missions against Nasr and other SRBM batteries in conjunction with unmanned combat aerial vehicles armed with precision guided munitions.[Rahul Bedi, “Indian MoD Approves A330 AEW&C Purchase,” Jane’s Defense Weekly, March 30, 2015, http://www.janes.com/article/50304/indian-mod-approves-a330-aew-c-purchase; Pallava Bagla, “India's Fourth Navigational Satellite Successfully Launched,” NDTV, March 28, 2015, http://www.ndtv.com/india-news/indias-fourth-navigational-satellite-irnss-1d-launched-from-sriharikota-750364?utm_source=ndtv&utm_medium=top-stories-widget&utm_campaign=story-4-http%3A%2F%2Fwww.ndtv.com%2Findia-news%2Findias-fourth-navigational-satellite-irnss-1d-launched-from-sriharikota-750364; Man Aman Singh China, “Ambala-based ‘Strike Corps’ Conducts Major Exercise in Rajasthan,” Indian Express, April 24, 2015, http://indianexpress.com/article/ci...e-corps-conducts-major-exercise-in-rajasthan/] India is seeking a quantum leap in its ISR capabilities with the acquisition of intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance (ISTAR) aircraft from the United States.[Vivek Raghuvanshi, “India Requests ISTAR Aircraft From US,” Defence News, June 4, 2015, http://www.defensenews.com/story/de...-carter-engine-lca-aircraft-carrier/28510113/] It is also establishing an independent navigational satellite network in space, recently launching the fourth of seven planned satellites. [V. Ayyappan, “India Successfully Launches IRNSS-1D, Fourth of Seven Navigation Satellites,” Times of India, March 28, 2015, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/...avigation-satellites/articleshow/46727095.cms] Pakistan is also ramping up its Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and satellite navigation capabilities under their 2040 space program,[Usman Ansari, “Pakistan Re-equips Squadron with AEW&C Planes,” Defence News February 28, 2015, http://www.defensenews.com/story/de...ips-squadron-with-new-aewc-aircraft/24140709/] and meanwhile has adopted the Chinese BeiDou-2 satellite-navigation system for both commercial and military use in order to reduce the ISR asymmetry that currently exists between Pakistan and India. [Usman Ansari, “Pakistan Employs China's BeiDou Guidance System, but Access Not Guaranteed,” Defence News, March 7, 2013; “Pakistan Adopts Chinese GPS Satellite System,” Dawn, May 18, 2013. http://www.dawn.com/news/1012104/pakistan-adopts-chinese-gps-satellite-system.]

    ISR and cyber asymmetries are particularly destabilizing as these can prompt India to attempt to degrade C2 and ISR networks in Pakistan. Further, since the introduction of missile defences, coupled with canisterized, nuclear-capable, and potentially MIRVed (meaning the payload is a multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle) ballistic missiles like the Agni-V, ISR asymmetries incentivise escalatory behaviour even more. U.S. National Security Council official Peter Lavoy has said that, “India may be able to identify and target Pakistan’s strategic assets with its enhanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities and it may be able to reach and destroy Pakistani strategic assets using its improved precision-strike aircraft and missile capabilities.” [Khan, Going Tactical, 30]

    Indian strategists and scholars are already advocating revisions to the massive retaliation strategy to create the option for conventional and nuclear counterforce targeting: “India would look for a doctrine which can provide ‘flexible response’ options ‘allowing policy makers every possibility in a crisis—pre-emptive strike, counter-force and counter-retaliation.’”101 These flexible response options, or even first strike, would be a reaction to Pakistan’s intended use of battlefield nuclear weapons and “could thus be described as a no–first use strategy” from an Indian perspective.

    South Asia is more likely to be affected in the foreseeable future by the growing asymmetry in conventional forces and the expansion and modernization of strategic forces. The asymmetry is pushing India toward limited war strategies and escalation dominance, which strategic elites believe can be achieved during a short, sharp, limited war below Pakistan’s perceived nuclear thresholds. The costs of failing at this brinksmanship, however, are far from evenly distributed because a limited war for India will most likely be a total war for Pakistan. In this environment, the introduction of tactical nuclear weapons by Pakistan in response to India’s limited war strategy is only a means of reinforcing deterrence and enhancing stability at the higher level of conflict by inducing instability at the lower levels.
     

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