India-Pakistan: Who’s Chicken? Playing for Keeps
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 12 Apr , 2016

One is not quite sure, given the dissonant and discordant voices emerging from Pakistan, as to whether our search for a peaceful way forward has once again been completely stymied or has just hit another speed- breaker. Time, and actions by the Pakistani establishment, will tell. The fact, however, cannot be disputed, whatever spin the opposition may like to put, that Prime Minister Modi made a genuine and path breaking attempt to get the dialogue jump started.

Let us also not forget that Mrs. Indira Gandhi despite holding 92000 prisoners of war was unable to carve out a more favourable accord at Simla to end the Kashmir imbroglio.

If dialogue has indeed been stalled, as the Pakistan High Commissioner has stated, then Pakistani motive is incomprehensible given that Mr. Modi would have been attending the SAARC summit to be held there in a few months from now. Certainly such an action would put a question mark on Mr. Modi’s willingness to be seen interacting with a political establishment that obviously has little control over issues that matter. If that were to happen, there seems little possibility of the Summit being taken seriously, becoming no more than just another talking shop.

The Opposition, and chiefly the Congress party, would have us believe that Mr. Modi’s policy towards Pakistan has been one that was neither consistent nor progressive, wavering from an utter refusal to meet to an effusive and casual visit to the Nawaz Sharief ancestral home. There is however, no gainsaying the fact that in all its years in power, the Congress and its allies were not very different and in fact completely lacked the toughness that Mr. Modi exhibited in responding to cross-border firing as also the boldness he showed in permitting the Special Investigation Team from Pakistan to visit Pathankot. Let us also not forget that Mrs. Indira Gandhi despite holding 92000 prisoners of war was unable to carve out a more favourable accord at Simla to end the Kashmir imbroglio. Let alone that, she was unable to get all our POW’s home, reportedly fifty four of them still remain at the mercy of the Pakistani  government and our uncaring political, bureaucratic, media and judicial establishment, apart off course from the public that shows more interest in the fate of ‘B’ grade actors from Bollywood.

In whatever manner the Indo-Pak tango plays itself out is unimportant in the short term as there can be no change in the status quo. However, there is one vital issue, even more important than the fate of Kashmir that cannot wait for the dialogue process to restart. This is the issue of tactical nuclear weapons that Pakistan is working hard to acquire, an issue that was also discussed at great length in the recently concluded Nuclear Summit in Washington. Such weapons of extremely low yields and limited impact radius and consequently lesser ability to cause damage are only effective if deployed in penny packets in the likely theatre of operations. Such deployments not only adversely impact on its command and control because authority for its use is obviously delegated, if it is to be effectively utilized, but also because their physical security is bound to be less than fool-proof as many such systems have to be secured.

Given the numerical superiority of conventional forces that India has and also the nullification of its nuclear umbrella, the only viable option left with Pakistan was to consider the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons…

There would then be every possibility of their security elements and processes being compromised, especially in view of the Jihadi threat that afflicts that country and also given the fact that radicalization within its forces is not unknown. A specific dialogue to convince Pakistan of the inadvisability of deploying such weapons is of utmost importance as once they are deployed the world will face a host of challenges that can only make this region infinitely more dangerous.

The simple fact is that Pakistan has decided to deploy these weapons only after the Indian Army revealed its “Cold Start” doctrine.  One may recall that one of the major lessons that emerged after “Operation Parakram” ended was that the failure of our strike elements to move into their launch pads in a viable time frame robbed India of any offensive options. The only manner in which this issue could be suitably addressed was to reorganize our holding formations in such a manner as to give them limited offensive capability that could be set in motion very quickly. The adoption of this doctrine once again gave the initiative in our hands as we had built up the capability to quickly set in motion offensive operations along a very wide front capable of ingressing into Pakistan up to a limited depth of somewhere in the region of 10-15 Kms.

Most importantly, this was a viable punitive option for dealing with any future event like the attack on Parliament or the Mumbai Attacks. Also, the limited advance into Pakistan also precluded the possibility of Pakistan using its nuclear option against us. While international analysts were unimpressed by this doctrine and didn’t hesitate to suggest this, Pakistan understood its true import as it would result in Pakistan losing approximately 1500-2000 sq. Kms of territory in five or six areas, all within Punjab, a totally unacceptable scenario.

Given the numerical superiority of conventional forces that India has and also the nullification of its nuclear umbrella, the only viable option left with Pakistan was to consider the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons and adopt the erstwhile NATO doctrine of “graduated response”. That is if conventional forces were facing defeat to then graduate to the using of tactical nuclear weapons and if that did not lead to a cessation of hostilities a massive nuclear attack. This response had not been accepted by the Soviet Union at that time, which insisted that any use of nuclear weapons would be met with massive retaliation. India too has not made any changes in its nuclear doctrine enunciated in 2003 in which it has threatened massive retaliation against any use of nuclear weapons against it.

…India must cease the initiative and take necessary credible action to renounce its cold start doctrine unilaterally, thereby forcing Pakistan to reconsider its deployment of tactical nuclear weapons.

In addition opinion among the military hierarchy in India suggests that it is unwilling to be cowed down by deployment of tactical nuclear weapons which they feel can be neutralized by using higher proportion of NBC protected mechanized forcesand targeting areas in the vicinity of Pakistan’s border cities so that those cities would also bear the brunt of nuclear fallout if such weapons were used. Whether such confidence is misplaced or not is a difficult question to answer and best avoided by erring on the side of safety and progress.

While militaries of both sides continue to play a game of chicken- of who yields first. The truth is that game theory suggests that the worst outcome occurs when both sides do not yield and it is thus too serious a matter to be left unattended. It is a matter of simple logic that India must cease the initiative and take necessary credible action to renounce its cold start doctrine unilaterally, thereby forcing Pakistan to reconsider its deployment of tactical nuclear weapons. Towards this end, India must take the help of the international community to force Pakistan to accept the status quo. While such an action will adversely impact our punitive capability against Pakistan to some extent, it must be kept in mind that we have the most to gain by Pakistan not deploying tactical nuclear weapons.

Moreover, this was just one option that we had postulated and it should not be difficult for us to come up with other options that do not scare the Pakistani military establishment to the extent this has.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Brig Deepak Sinha

is a second generation para trooper and author of “Beyond the Bayonet: Indian Special Operations Forces in the 21st Century.” He is currently a consultant with the Observer Research Foundation.

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8 thoughts on “India-Pakistan: Who’s Chicken? Playing for Keeps

  1. “It is a matter of simple logic that India must cease the initiative and take necessary credible action to renounce its cold start doctrine unilaterally, thereby forcing Pakistan to reconsider its deployment of tactical nuclear weapons.”

    The above solution that you have suggested is too ‘Gandhian’, towards a country which has practiced unswerving hostility towards India, since the time it was created. Use of Force is the last Option of a democratic country like India. But when the situation deteriorates and the political leadership decides that Offensive actions have to be taken, then “tactical nuclear weapons” if employed by Pakistan should not be considered as a deterrent. The efficacy of Tactical nuclear weapons developed by Pakistan is doubtful at best, and a war with India is likely to be the occasion that it is ‘first’ tested. And as per our undeclared ‘No First Use” Policy, all restraints will get removed automatically, and the total annihilation of our adversary using nuclear weapons has to be carried out immediately. This credible threat is the best antidote to avoiding the use of nuclear weapons in the first place by both the warring parties.

    For the furtherance of peace in this Subcontinent, it is unavoidable for India to keep the Pak military establishment forever “scared” of launching any misadventure either directly or through its proxies. This is what Israel has successfully demonstrated against its adversaries, ALWAYS. We also do not have any other option as war is not a game like a friendly Hockey Match.

  2. There can be no two opinions regarding importance of continuous dialogues between India and Pakistan. Any diplomatic effort must factor in role of expansionist China in de-stabilizing and weakening India. In the near future, India may not get access to NSG because of hostile China. Two hostile neighbours have their policies co-terminus with regard to support to terrorists, ANEs and separatist movements. It is unlikely that any peace overtures, despite best efforts by Indian leadership will actually yield something tangible, so long military continues to be in the back seat driving and Pakistan continues with a sham democracy. Our Prime Minister may go out of way to improve bilateral relations; but we can only expect hostility, support to drug mafia, terrorism, funding of separatists movements and inflow of Counterfeit Indian Notes. Need of the hour is to strengthen our internal security and improve governance, woefully lacking. We have just witnessed the trailer in Haryana, collapse of administration, dereliction and abdication of duty at all levels. Shows how fragile we are in handling any crisis.

  3. 1. Smt Indira Gandhi should have released Pakistani PsW only after Pakistan vacated J&K.
    2 Gestures/initiative like those by .Shri Modi are taken as our weakness by Pakistanis and never in the spirit in which we, the Indians, consider.
    3.Behavior of Pakistani establishment since its creation proves that none of our renunciations can force Pakistan into corresponding action.

  4. Well there are options.
    Go all out in Baluchistan.
    Money is a big game in Pak specially so amongst the tribals – pay to ensure the Economic Corridor being created by the Chinese is continuously sabotaged.
    Keep up the pressure in FATA – good place to wear the Paki Army out. They are most unwilling to serve there and face a lot of cas.
    Liven up the LOC – make it hot for Pakistan there.
    Take out a couple of terrorist training camps with cruise missiles. I am sure they wont fire a nuke at us and face complete annihilation because of a few jihaddis.
    India should also raise the bogey of a Nuclear war – arming and keeping Nukes ready because of Paki threat is the only way to get the international community’s attention to Pakistan. Pacifism doesn’t pay with Pakistan.

  5. i am enjoying the weeping and helpless of these indian kafirs(indian ganga jumni hinduus)the game plane was indian hindu army(as per haram chood chankiya the deceiver) to make terrorist gangs(ttp) and(harami altaf hussain and anwar) in karachi and in pakistani fata to divide pak army and also to make 40 divisions and to attack on pakistan with divided great pak army.but plan is badly failed.i salute to pakistani scientist who developed nasr.i suggest to pak army make only 20 division(1 muslim is equal to 50 hinduus)against 40 division but with30000 anti tanks missile and plus 30000 anti APC missiles> believe me no need to use tactical nuclear wapons against these salves of muslims kings> lol lol

  6. *Note: PANGOLIN: An enemy of India who believes in inequality under law, exceptions to the rule of law and persecution of some for the benefit of others. At present, the sole purpose of the Indian Republic, Constitutional or otherwise, is to pamper and provide for certain constitutionally preferred sections of society who the British found useful to hold and exploit India at the cost of those who the British hated and persecuted. The Pangolin is a creature that is unique to India and feeds on ants that are known in nature to be industrious and hard working if not quite as fruitful as bees who flee to better climes. (PANGOLIN is an acronym for the Periyar-Ambedkar-Nehru-Gandhi-Other (alien) Religions-Communist Consensus that usurped the British Mantle and has worn it with elan to loot, plunder, and rape India since 1921 and re write History and laws to their exclusive benefit since 1947)

  7. In India’s slums, the chaps who pick fights with each other offer their arms behind their shoulders for their friends to pull them back from actually fighting. This is the sort of pusillanimous proclivity to which India’s Politician-Bureaucrat-Police-Judge-Journalist-Crony Kleptocracy has been raised. Whereas Pakistan has been raised to Islam, and Ghazwa e Hind. India’s sheer size and residual genes of People of Dharma that have not been made entirely subservient to PANGOLIN*ism will stave off the inevitable capitultalion of India to Pakistan, China or both predicated by India’s founding fathers, their Constitution, and the effluvium that has flowed from these obscenities for nearly seven decades.

    The difficulty is that India has no conception of military matters or martial culture beyond the Mahabharatha and the Ramayana now that the King’s Commissioned Officers have all faded away after delivering the 1971 military victory for the Neta Babus to squander. Our Generals and Admirals rise over thirty years to reach the level of a Devyani Gobra Gadi with some seven years of distinguished diplomatic service in a Bombay Adarsh apartment. We are a Nation of Durgo Poojos and Ganesh Chathurthis. So, the main thing, is six months of preparation for Republic Day and six months of recuperation from it. There is a longer life cycle for Fleet Reviews, like the Kumbh Mela. Yes, we do fight when it is pushed on us within our own borders and offer up soldiers who are “paid to die”. They are better off than our farmers who are not paid to die. Jai Jawan Jai Kissan. Otherwise, where would we find recruits? But we never carry a fight to the enemy. You see, India has no enemies. As within, so without. Those who steal and slaughter our cows, rape our women and denigrate our Spiritual leaders are our best friends and privileged citizens within India. Why not outside India as well? This is Gandhism in action. Truly, in India, Khilafat Gandhi has fathered the depravity of his dreams.

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