Pakistan’s nukes-Playing Russian roulette?

Indian Review of Global Affairs, November 28, 2013

Ambassador Arundhati Ghose, Adjunct Faculty, National Institute of Advanced Studies

It is public knowledge that since April 2011, Pakistan has conducted three tests of its Hatf-IX (NASR) missile, the latest in February of this year. The introduction of battlefield nuclear weapons for use as a deterrent to conventional land based troops has been seen and reported as a reaction to the Indian Army’s doctrine of ‘Cold Start’ which in turn was drawn up as a possible response to another Mumbai-like terrorist attack. Apart from this fairly widely reported conclusion, it appears clear that the effort behind this development is to signal to both India and to the international community, Pakistan’s willingness to escalate any move by the Indian Army against it to a nuclear level. Indeed, the Indian strategic community has been discussing the implications of Pakistan’s move for some time – a comprehensive analysis available in the public domain is the one by the International Strategic and Security Studies Programme of NIAS. At the semi- official level, Ambassador Shyam Saran, Chairman of the National Security Advisory board pointed out that India’s nuclear doctrine made no difference in the categorisation of nuclear weapons. Any nuclear attack on India or on her troops anywhere would be responded to by the inflicting of ‘unacceptable damage’. 

In recent weeks, so many concerned western ‘experts’ to the capital, to discuss the abstruse-to the Indian public-subject of “strategic stability” in Asia/ in the sub-continent. While this is a perfectly legitimate activity, their concerns, and they are perhaps valid ones, should surely be addressed to Pakistan, which has nurtured terrorists and is signalling the use of nuclear weapons on the battlefield. Efforts should concentrate on finding ways to persuade Pakistan to desist from what are obviously suicidal attempts.

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