Pakistan's Tactical Nuclear Weapons and India's Response
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 30 Oct , 2016

Thirdly, 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?

After islamization of Pakistan Army by the former president Zia-ul-Haq, absolute loyalty of some of these may be debatable. The chances of accidental detonation too would be far more when hundreds of such weapons are thrown out into the field.

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.

Further, given the omnipresence and omnipotence of jehadists and terrorists in Pakistan, there is greater possibility that these TNWs may be stolen by any of these groups increasing the burden on the State with respect to security of these assets. One of the main focuses of the recently concluded Nuclear Security Summit held in Washington was the concern about threat of nuclear warheads; particularly of small tactical variety fielded in the battle field, or fissile material falling into the hands of terrorists. Pakistan is reported to have delegated the authority to launch these weapons to lower level field commanders for timely decisions during the fog of war. After islamization of Pakistan Army by the former president Zia-ul-Haq, absolute loyalty of some of these may be debatable. The chances of accidental detonation too would be far more when hundreds of such weapons are thrown out into the field.

To summarize, will Pakistan benefit strategically from these tactical nuclear weapons as perceived by them or are they a liability? C. Chrisine Fair in a recent article of his opined that the tactical nuclear weapons confer only limited utility to Pakistan. He appropriately concluded that, ” Even if Pakistan fully inducts these weapons in its arsenal, it still has an army that can’t win a conventional war against India and nuclear weapons it cannot use. This leaves only an industrial farm of terrorists as the only efficacious tool at its disposal. And given the logic of the above scenario, India and the international community should consider seriously calling Pakistan’s bluff. The only logical Pakistani response to a limited offensive incursion is to accept the fait accompli and acquiesce”.

India perhaps may the only major country in the world which does not have a clearly defined national security Doctrine or strategy laying down the nations security interests…

Use of nuclear weapons is a very serious business fraught with very grave consequences. In terms of present day ground realities, no country in the world could even venture to think of using the nuclear weapons which are at best political tools for nuclear deterrence and a ‘threat in being’ against nuclear coercion.

Indian Response and Future Course

Many in international community are skeptical about the nature and timely delivery of India’s ‘Second Strike’ and as well about its operational management. The pointers towards credibility are not against India’s weaponization in terms of quality, quantity or the delivery means, nor are these related to any apprehensions about the components of its ‘Triad” . The issue concerns more about India’s nuclear command and control structure, the speediness of decision making and communications within, lack of projection of our nuclear capabilities and a firm and updated nuclear policy proclamation, all of which would convey to the adversary the certainty and efficacy of a ‘Second Strike’.

Since many years, the Services as well as members of the strategic community have been highlighting the serious voids in India’s national security structure and the need for defence reforms. Successive governments have paid lip service to these issues. To begin with, India perhaps may the only major country in the world which does not have a clearly defined national security Doctrine or strategy laying down the nations security interests and the way to achieve these duly integrating and leveraging the nation’s capabilities in terms of military, diplomatic, finance, commerce and industry.

The same can be said about nuclear doctrine and weapons development programme. The Manmohan Singh Government had created a specialized ‘Strategy Programme Staff’ (SPS) (on the same lines of Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division) to work on a perspective plan for India’s nuclear deterrent in accordance with a 10 year cycle. Presently there does not seem to be much traction towards nuclear strategy and the effective functioning of SPS is suspect. Institutions like SPS which are long term strategic nuclear planning and advisory bodies should be made more active as catalysts with a well defined mandate and empowerment, sans which we may lose control and direction in our nuclear strategy.

It is time that New Delhi take a holistic look at the whole gamut of ramifications and spell out clearly its nuclear doctrine.

The Indian Nuclear Doctrine and its operationalization was first articulated in a paper in 1998 and was later proclaimed by the government in 2003. Though a period of more than 13 years had passed since then, disconcertingly, the doctrine was neither revisited nor updated. The nuclear doctrines are not static but more dynamic requiring to be periodically reinforced with changing contours based on global developments and adversary’s capabilities and threats. This requirement is more pronounced and over due in Indian context after Pakistan had inducted tactical nuclear weapons into its inventory and expressed its proclivity to use them. A great deal of debate was generated about India’s NFU policy with inconclusive results. It is time that New Delhi take a holistic look at the whole gamut of ramifications and spell out clearly its nuclear doctrine.

Perhaps, the most glaring void in the chain of command & control is non-appointment of Chief of Defence Staff. Though many committees and studies pointed out the urgent need for early appointment of Chief of Defence Staff, this is yet to fructify. The Chief of Defence Staff as the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) and as the controlling authority of Strategic Forces Command is a vital interface between the defence forces and the Government, providing a single point of professional advice on matters military. In nuclear context, ha acts as the link between the three services and the Strategic Forces Command and also as the interface between defence forces and the Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) of the nation headed by the prime minister.

The present dispensation of having a skeleton nuclear cell under the National Security Advisor (NSA) who chairs the Executive Council of NCA is at best ad-hoc, too centralized in authority and cannot be a substitute for the professional institution of Chief of Defence Staff and the interface it provides between the defence forces operating on the ground and the NCA. The NCA and NSA by location, composition and infrastructure will not have real time information about the evolving situation in the battle field and will be constrained in timely decision making which is so critical in the nuclear context.

In the changing strategic and operational challenges of 21 Century battle field, it is but essential to integrate the three services into integrated theatre commands for optimization of capabilities, resources and manpower.

There is also the conjectural possibility that in the absence of Chief of Defence Staff, the Strategic Forces Command may completely bypass the military chain of command and operate directly under the NCA and Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). This, of course raises many more serious issues.

Other organizational issues related to national security architecture and defence reforms which need wider deliberation and determined action perhaps include :-

Vitalization and strengthening of national security institutions such as National Security Council (NSC) and National Security Advisory Board (NSAB). The NSC supposed to be the hub for deliberations and decision making relating to national security and meant to oversee the formulation of country’s nuclear strategy does not meet as often as desired. The term of NSAB tasked to undertake long term analysis and provide perspectives on issues of national security ended in January 2015 and was not reconstituted by the Government which is reportedly contemplating to close it, which perhaps is not desirable.

In the changing strategic and operational challenges of 21 Century battle field, it is but essential to integrate the three services into integrated theatre commands for optimization of capabilities, resources and manpower. Despite resistance from services, the need of the hour is integration up to the command level.

To be able to achieve effective deterrence, it is not just sufficient to have robust nuclear command & control set up, streamlined operational procedures and weapons capability for retaliation but must be perceived to be having all these and as well the will to use nuclear weapons if so required. These must be clearly signaled, projected and placed in national and international domain, without going into specifics, to be able to establish the credibility of our nuclear deterrence. The Government may consider making periodic statements about up gradations and accretions to our nuclear arsenal and streamlining of our structures including alternate command structure. Government officials, members of various policy formulation and advisory councils, members of our strategic community and research students should be encouraged to take part in discussions at home and abroad to project our nuclear deterrence without being warmongering.

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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 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.

  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 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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