Geopolitics

Pakistan's Tactical Nuclear Weapons and India's Response
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Pakistan's Tactical Nuclear Weapons and India's Response, 3.8 out of 5 based on 16 ratings
Issue Net Edition | Date : 30 Oct , 2016

Is Pakistan serious when it enunciated that it will use TNWs on its own soil in a deteriorating situation, when an Indian military action is more likely to penetrate through Pakistan’s defences (or has already breached the main defence line causing a major setback to the defence) which cannot be restored by conventional means ? Does it imply that Pakistan will nuke its own soil when Indian forces are in contact threatening the defences of its population centres such as Lahore or Sialkot? What about the casualties to the civil population of Pakistan? According to a calculation by one expert, Pakistan would have to use a 30-kiloton weapon on its own soil, as this is the minimum required to render ineffective fifty percent of an armored unit. Using Lahore as an example, a 30-kiloton weapon used on the outskirts of the city could kill over 52,000 persons. As Indian troops move closer to Lahore and as the population increases, such a weapon could kill nearly 3,80,000.

Consequent to possession of nuclear weapons and particularly on conclusion of six nuclear tests by Pakistan in May 1988; five based on Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) detonations using boosted fission technology and the sixth plutonium based devise using fusion technology, Pakistan’s seems to be exuberating based on her new found confidence, and her tone and tenor vis-à-vis India had seen a dramatic shift bordering jingoism. An alleged remark reported to have been made by President Zia-ul-Haq in 1987 to the then Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi that, “If your forces cross our borders by an inch, we are going to annihilate your cities” explains Pakistan’s misplaced arrogance and total lack of understanding of the nuances of nuclear realities.

India’s doctrine aims at deterring nuclear use by Pakistan based on assured second strike capability, while Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are intended to compensate for conventional forces asymmetry vis-a-vis India.

A recent doctrinal advancement by Pakistan is manufacture and fielding of tiny tactical nuclear warheads (TNWs) of low yield and light weight mated to a ballistic missile named “Nasr” with ranges up to about 60 KMs. With this, Pakistan is said to have covered the major part of nuclear spectrum spanning from short range to medium range ballistic missiles and airborne gravity devises. The induction of “Nasr” had generated a great degree of excitement in Pakistan’s polity and strategic circles. Dr. Shireen M. Mazari, a prominant scholar and strategist of Pakistan during a seminar at the Institute of Policy Studies of Pakistan had stated that introduction of “Naser” was a necessary move, and demonstrates that Pakistan has acquired the technology and capability to counter India’s ‘cold start’ and ‘second strike’ capability.

Basic Doctrinal Differences

Though the nuclear doctrines of both India and Pakistan emphasize a ‘Credible Minimum Deterrence’, there exists a few fundamental differences in the doctrines. Firstly, India’s doctrine aims at deterring nuclear use by Pakistan based on assured second strike capability, while Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are intended to compensate for conventional forces asymmetry vis-a-vis India. Secondly, India had declared ‘No First Use’ (NFU) as a policy; Pakistan is averse to it and feels that NFU in principle negates its deterrence advantage against India. Thirdly, India’s strategic perspective for its doctrine encompasses a wider canvas than South Asia due to its strategic needs, whereas Pakistan’s posture is ‘India specific’ with low thresh hold levels.

Pakistan gestured enough conveying its intention of crossing the nuclear Rubicon and using TNWs in the event of India’s numerically superior conventional forces overwhelm and threaten the latter. Its policy enunciates that in a deteriorating situation, when an Indian military action is more likely to penetrate through Pakistan’s defences (or has already breached the main defence line causing a major setback to the defence) which cannot be restored by conventional means, Pakistan would be left with no option except to use nuclear weapons to stabilize the situation, as part of its first strike.

According to Pakistani sources, the induction of TNWs in the battle field was necessitated to deter and neutralize India’s ‘Cold Start’ concept though Indian side denied that it has no such concept.

This policy referred to as ‘Option-Enhancing Policy’ entails a stage-by-stage level of advancement in which the nuclear threat is increased at each step to deter India. As part of graded enhancement, it enunciates use of TNWs by Pakistan on its own soil against Indian attacking forces. ‘Nasr’ is said to suitably fit into this scenario. The next stage is reported to be the use of TNWs against critical but purely military targets on Indian soil, probably in thinly populated areas in the desert or semi-desert, causing the least collateral damage.

According to Pakistani sources, the induction of TNWs in the battle field was necessitated to deter and neutralize India’s ‘Cold Start’ concept though Indian side denied that it has no such concept. Many in the international community including Pakistan are affirmative that such a concept does exist and traces its origin to Operation ‘Parakram’ launched by India following attacks on its parliament by Pakistan-backed militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad in Dec 2001. India undertook the largest military mobilization since 1971 war and was poised to take military action. Reportedly, due to some delays in mobilization and execution on Indian Part, Pakistan sensing trouble, brought international pressure. Ultimately India showed maturity and restraint and the crisis was diffused. Pakistan concluded that its nuclear arsenal had successfully deterred India from attacking.

Pakistan contends that with a view to seize Pak territory in a surprise thrust before international pressure could be brought to bear, India has conceived the concept of ‘Cold Start’. This concept is said to aim at transforming India’s strategic posture from being defensive to offensive involving development of eight division-sized “integrated battle groups” that combine infantry, artillery, and armour closely integrated with support from air force and navy. These groups should be prepared to be quickly mobilized and launched into Pakistani territory on short notice along several axes of advance with a view to seize limited Pakistani territory before reaction by the international community.

Maleeha Lodhi Pakistan’s ambassador to United Nations explains that the basis of Pakistan’s fascination with tactical nuclear weapons is “to counterbalance India’s move to bring conventional military offensives to a tactical level.’’

Pakistan perceives that such of the above actions by India in a ‘Cold Start’ scenario will negate its grandiose plans of using terrorism and various terrorist groups sheltered in Pakistan against India in Kashmir or elsewhere fortified by the threat of nuclear engagement to deter any Indian moves. Apropos, Pakistan concluded to neutralize the Indian advantages of ‘Cold Start’ and conventional forces superiority by developing and deploying TNWs, and more importantly by conveying its readiness for first use. Perhaps, Pakistan is the only country in the world which has developed and fielded TNWs in the battle field. Maleeha Lodhi Pakistan’s ambassador to United Nations explains that the basis of Pakistan’s fascination with tactical nuclear weapons is “to counterbalance India’s move to bring conventional military offensives to a tactical level.’’

Basic Flaws in Pakistan’s Doctrine

The assumptions contingent on which the doctrine is structured seems to be have been misplaced. Firstly, there is no certainty that these TNWs would function as desired and cause unacceptable degree of damages to be of deterrent value. Many in scientific community doubt the functioning of TNWs. The consequences of any failure in these respects would be catastrophic for Pakistan.

Secondly, the assumption that the use of TNWs against Indian forces; be it on Pakistan soil or in thinly populated desert or semi-desert areas of India will localize the nuclear conflict zone and not attract disproportionately massive/ punitive retaliation is totally flawed. In terms of crossing the nuclear threshhold, one does not make any distinction between tactical nuclear weapons or mega-ton bombs, and Pakistan can be rest assured that the retribution will be swift, severe and devastating threatening its very existence. The retribution will be not only from India but from the whole world community which could spell a death blow to Pakistan for violating the nuclear taboo. This would be nothing short of hara-kiri by Pakistan.

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Pakistan's Tactical Nuclear Weapons and India's Response, 3.8 out of 5 based on 16 ratings
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 Pillalmarri Subramanyam

Brig Pillalmarri Subramanyam, former Army Officer and served in DBO, Ladakh Area.

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18 thoughts on “Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons and India’s Response

  1. Thank you for the article. This subject should be debated in our country.

    I think the threat from our enemy regarding nuclear arsenal should be taken seriously.

    We should have crystal clear plan regarding retaliation against Massive Nuclear attack as well as with TNW from our enemy . Also TNW may fall in the hands of terrorist.

    Regarding second strike doctrine the following points may be addressed appropriately:

    (1) Capability of Submarine based nuclear weapon delivery system, so that in case our land based facilities are targeted we can retaliate through sea.

    (2) Capability to sustain nuclear strike on our land based facilities so that we can retaliate.

    (3) Swift delivery system so that we can retaliate without any delay.

    Hope our Govt. have already addressed the above issues.

    Jai Hind.

  2. Pakistan having TNW,s is myth this country could not produce the casing for its nuclear bombs which the Chinese finally gave them and you think they have the technology to produce TNW,s do you know how complicated this technology is and Pakistan does not make any ballistic missiles they have off the shelf Chinese and North korean missiles.The short range missile Nasr is a piece of junk.

  3. We are only focusing Tactical Nuclear Weapons of pakistan but we also think on possibility of Nuclear Weapon will be use by pakistan on India. Pakistan successfully convert world’s attention from his nw to tnw.

  4. The cowards produced nukes but they dont have balls to use…why read here
    Pakistan faced defeat in 1965, 1971 and in 1999 war. Pakistan broken in 1971 and now high time for India to do same. They have developed nuclear weapons in cover of Soviet War when USA and Saudi were showering them dollars. Now Pakistan dual policy in war on terror by supporting Haqqani network, tabbing back fool USA. Thank God USA eventually came to know that Pakistan was an enemy in war on terror. Saudi was pushed in Yemen war by USA in event of low oil prices. Baluch freedom fighters and pro USA Taliban ( Pakistani bad Talibans) will destroy Pakistan if, if India gives a good and a tough time at LOC and Afghanistan at western borders continues supporting TTP and terrorizing Pakistan.

  5. (Conclusion…)

    There is only one way to deal with Islamic Pakistan. overwhelming premptive strikes that de fang this terrorist nation followed by massive reprisals whenever they get out of hand. India needs to treat its terrorist ghettos within India and Pakistan the way Israel treats the West Bank and the Gaza strip. To do so, India needs to become a Nation. To do this it must get rid of reservations and corruption and straighten out its Constitution to become both secular (stop persecuting the People of Dharma) and democratic (enforce equality under law and rule of law). This may never happen because India is just as suicidal as Pakistan. But in a different way. Both Pakistan and India were born on the wrong side of the British Blanket. If Pakistan has a Moslem step mother which thinks it is a Sunni Arab, India has a Dalit Step Mother that thinks that it is a Moslem. This leaves a residual Bangla Desh in a state of confusion. India’s Constitution is anti-National and suicidal because it was plagiarized from the British “Divide to rule” and “Keep the People of Dharma subservient” Government of India Act (1935) and Totalitarian Principles such as “Four legs good, two legs bad” and “All animals are equal but some are more equal than others” borrowed from George Orwell’s Animal Farm.

  6. In an apparent response to India’s latest military exercises that show cased the use of air borne infantry to occupy and reform deep inside Pakistan is very short order, Pakistan has hinted at the use of Tactical Nukes within its own territory. Will it?

    Why not? Islam has a tradition of pulling the toggle on its vest, confident that the World will submit to to its will or Allah will provide with any number of babies to rape in Jannath.

    Terrorism (aka Sunni Islam to the cognoscenti) has had the Islamic bomb put together with Saudi funds and US help, and miniaturized with Chinese assistance, for some time now. The only question is when Islam will use it and for what purpose, under what provocations, and the risk levels of reprisal or retribution Islam considers to be acceptable, (always allowing that, as a Nation of suicide bombers,committed to pursuing the annihilation of civilization through Armageddon as commanded in the Quran and the Hadiths, the thresholds may not be very prohibitive). However, the Punjabi Army of Pakistan has been brilliant in the art of deception (Taqiya, Tawriya, Kitman and Muruna) that Mahomet prescribed as part of his campaign manuals known collectively as the Quran and the Hadiths. So, the most likely deployment and use, as in the case of 9/11 will be though proxies. And, as has been the case with 9/11, it is quite likely that the US-NATO-Sunni Axis will offer up an alternate, like Iraq, for public crucifixion by way of retribution. This will allow the Nuclear Pakistan component to continue to remain in Islamic play. Unless its hand is forced.
    (Continued….)

  7. Battle field nukes this something which the Americans have pumped the idea into the heads of Pakistan, they have said that if Russia was to attack Europe the only way NATO would stop them is by using Nukes. Pakistanis are not going to lose between 15 to 20 million people in one nuke strike, I would call there bluff! But India must protect the Indian Army?

  8. What if the TNWs are very crude , unreliable suitcase sized which just needs buttoning up to make it operational.

    What if Pak meant biological or chemical packages again in two parts just needing to set them up
    These could already be in India. As war starts , I doubt a suicide bomber would care if he is going to blow himself up to pieces with such at strategically tactical place in india.

    2) Lets say the above is far fetched.

    A TN missile was to hit its target at hazira , and Jamnagar reliance oil field.

    The enemy also envisages strength that the mayhem it would create would be aided by its stooges telling India to stall the war.
    Pak would imnediately proclaim a ceasefire and its foreign office would boast of sending assistance toistance

    The world opinion against Pak that we hope is what Pak is banking on…Thru cluefull manouveres it would use the same to thwart Indias response thru bought over parliamentarians and arundhatis who fantasize about Nobel Peace Prizes.
    The media too would go all out showcasing the fall out of the 1st attack on India and ofcourse our civil administration as it is would not be able to cope up with the situation. The MoD/ IAS will then instruct the armed forces to help civil administration in disaster managemenn pulling out the armed forces from their prime duty in war.

    Sadly in the recent past No General has shown General-Manship and instead of passing war strategy unto the poli bureau areas have succumbed to passing un military strategy from the polit bureau nexus down the line and ranks of the forces…thru yes sir three bags full sir and ” political decission” excuse to not stand firm.

  9. Pakistan may strike first nukes on India but after that whole of Pakistan will be made desert stone country,it ought know.If it strikes on few cities the Indian missiles will check them on borders but soon after that hundreds of nukes destroy whole of Pakistan within minutes.Pakistan ought know that it cannot go free by nuking India.No country will come to its rescue at that time.It hoped that China may comes to rescue but first strike by China will change world country against Pakistan .

  10. Pakistan is a blackmailer country,it has blackmailed US for support in Afghanistan but betrayed US although US gave them huge support.it cheated India several times after signing peace accords.It is mastermind of 9/11 and all other attacks on world peace.It is a terrorist country which out to be killed.

    • Pakistan Mastermind of 9/11 LOL Not A Single Pakistani Was Involved in 9/11 But Given Your RSS Indoctrination I Won’t Be Surprised If Pakistan Is Held Responsible For The Heat Wave in Orrissa

      It Was India That Started The Poliocy Of Using Terrorists When It Supported Groups Like Mukti Bahini and Tamil Tigers

      India Is The One That Has Backtracked On It’s Promises From Plebiscite in Kashmir to Mou On Cricket You Have No Right to Accuse Pakistan Of Anything

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