Stimson Poll: Vast Majority of Indians Believe Nuclear War Against Pakistan is Winnable

Vast majority of Indians, including those who oppose Prime Minister Narendra Modi, believe that nuclear war is "winnable", according to the results of a Stimson Center poll released recently. They want their country to build a bigger nuclear arsenal than China and Pakistan combined.  Responding to the clamor for more nukes,  Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in 2019 that Indian nuclear weapons were not kept as mere showpieces.  Strong belief about India's ability to win a nuclear war against Pakistan cuts across party lines with 91% of those who support Mr. Modi and 85% of those who don't.  Recently, a group of researchers at Rutgers University considered a hypothetical nuclear conflict between India and Pakistan as they believed such a conflict was the most likely. The group warned that an India-Pakistan nuclear exchange will be catastrophic for the region with tens of millions of immediate fatalities in the war zone, followed by hundreds of millions of starvation deaths around the globe. 

Indians Believe Nuclear War is Winnable. Source: Stimson Center

The poll also finds that the overwhelming majority of Indians are confident their military can defeat both China and Pakistan. They expect that the United States military would come to India's aid in the event of a war with China or Pakistan.  Stimson Center analysts believe that "Indian self-confidence may lead to mistaken popular views of Indian military prowess: India has considerable military capabilities against its most likely regional opponents. Yet Indian confidence that India would likely defeat China or Pakistan may exceed what a careful net assessment might warrant". 

Nuclear Arsenals of India, Pakistan and China. Source: The Economist

The nuclear arsenals of India, Pakistan and China are small but growing faster than those of other nuclear-armed countries, according to a report in The Economist magazine. The combined nuclear stockpiles of China (350 warheads), India (160) and Pakistan (165) now exceed British and French arsenals in Europe (around 500 in total). All three countries are now building their own nuclear “triads”: nukes deliverable from land, air and sea.  

The Stimson survey was conducted by phone with a random sample of 7000 Indians between April 13 and May 14, 2022. Below are its key findings as reported by Christopher Clary, Sameer Lalwani, Niloufer Siddiqui and Neelanjan Sircar:   

1. High levels of support for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who likely remains among the most popular national leaders in the world today; 

2. Extraordinary nationalist sentiment among Indians, at high levels compared to prior cross-national surveys using identical question wording; 

3. Troubling signs of intolerance toward India’s large Muslim minority, which helps provide context to recent controversies;  

4. Strong confidence in the Indian government’s ability to defend India against potential domestic and foreign threats;  

5. Expectations among a majority of Indian respondents that the U.S. military would support India in the event of a war with China or Pakistan; and 

6. Large majorities in favor of Indian numerical nuclear superiority against its adversaries. 


Riaz Haq said…
A new survey has found an extraordinarily high level of self-confidence among Indians about being Indians.

Similar national self-belief is called “American Exceptionalism” in the US, which appears to have been overtaken by this new “Indian Exceptionalism”, according to this survey.

The survey also found persisting distrust among Indians of the US. While a majority of Indians believe the US will come to India’s aid militarily in a conflict with China and Pakistan, a large minority of them do not — almost 4 out of 10 Indians think India will have to go it alone.

Further, the survey reaffirmed Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s return to peak popularity from the beating he received for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the protest by farmers.

And, finally, the survey said Indians want to amass more nuclear weapons than any and all adversary countries.

The survey was conducted in 12 languages in 28 Indian states and six of eight union territories over April-May by CVoter, a leading Indian polling agency, for The Stimson Center, a Washington D.C.-based think tank with a robust South Asia department.

The poll contacted 7,000 voters by phone.

A massive majority of Indians, 90 per cent, said they believed “India is a better country than most other countries”.

Americans, who are widely understood to be more nationalistic than others and routinely tout American Exceptionalism, clocked in at 70 per cent in response to the same question in a survey in 2014.

“While American exceptionalism is a well-understood domain of study, self-perceptions of Indian exceptionalism are relatively under-explored,” said the writers of the survey findings released by Stimson on Wednesday.

The CVoter survey finding seems consistent with an earlier finding, conducted by a different agency, which found 80 per cent of Indian respondents strongly or somewhat agreed with the statement that India is better than most other countries. It was a global survey, and Indians came in second, behind Japan. And that was at the time of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government. This rising self-belief and confidence among Indians as a people has been growing, largely unnoticed at home by Indians and abroad by the rest of the world.

This self-belief extended to Indians’ perception of their country’s military prowess in the CVoter survey, 90 per cent, of respondents were confident India would probably or definitely defeat Pakistan. A smaller but significant portion of them, 72 per cent, felt the same level of confidence vis-a-vis China, which, according to military experts around the world, is a superior military power than India.

Asked if the US would come to Indiaa�s help militarily in the latter’s conflicts with these two countries, 56 per cent of respondents said its would be “definitely” or “probably” for China and 59 per cent for China. The survey noted that “a remaining large minority skeptical of US aid in such scenarios”.

The US did indeed come to India’s aid in the two conflicts with China, 1962 and 2020. But, as the survey noted, US contribution remained publicly unacknowledged by the Indian government, then (Congress government led by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and BJP government now led by Prime Minister Modi). A former White House official felt compelled by the resounding lack of public expression of gratitude for US help in 2020 to put it on record at an annual security conference in New Delhi.

The survey also found that Modi’s popularity had rebounded from the mauling it received for his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the protest by farmers, with 71 per cent of respondents supporting him strongly or somewhat.

The Prime Minister’s rebounding popularity, and that of the ruling BJP, was found worrying by the writers of the CVoter-Stimson survey report.

Khan said…
Indians are right. Indian land mass and population both are 4x to 5x that of Pakistan. So technically to even the damage score, Pakistan needs 4x to 5x the Nukes to match the percentile damage to the country.
Woz said…
There’s been a fair few Indian posters who have said the same thing over the years. One unforgettable idiot stated that Pakistan’s bombs were puny 12kt devices which if all used couldn’t even damage half of Mumbai. When I showed him posts from one of the most respected nuclear physicists in the world that Pakistan’s arsenal was far stronger now, plutonium based and weapons in the several hundreds kilotons he argued the man didn’t know what he was talking about.
Special breed of idiot the Indian troll is, you won’t see it anywhere else.
Riaz Haq said…
What the Iranian scholar Albiruni said about Hindus, echoed centuries later by Vivekananda

In this excerpt from his book ‘Dharma’, Chaturvedi Badrinath examines the first ever dialogue between Islamic and Hindu thought.

Albiruni's observations on Hindus:

The Hindus believe that there is no country but theirs, no nation like theirs, no kings like theirs, no religion like theirs, no science like theirs. They are haughty, foolishly vain, self-conceited, and stolid. They are by nature niggardly in communicating that which they know, and they take the greatest possible care to withhold it from men of another caste among their own people, still much more, of course, from any foreigner. According to their belief, there is no other country on earth but theirs, no other race of man but theirs, and no created beings besides them have any knowledge or science whatsoever...

...all their fanaticism is directed against those who do not belong to them – against all foreigners. They call them mlechha, ie impure, and forbid any connection with them, be it by intermarriage or any other kind of relationship, or by sitting, eating, and drinking with them, because thereby, they think, they would be polluted.


The earliest, indeed the very first, dialogue between a Muslim scientist and Hindu thought took place when Albiruni (971-1039) arrived in India in the second decade of the eleventh century in circumstances that were rather ironical. He came as a camp follower of Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni (967-1030). Whereas the chief purpose of Sultan Mahmud, the king of Ghazni, was to plunder the immense wealth in the form of gold and money at some of the more famous Hindu temples, the sole aim of Albiruni was to gain from the immense riches of Indian philosophies and the sciences.

That was probably also the time when Indian sciences had, on the whole, no longer anything of theoretical importance to add to their earlier great achievements. The most creative period of science in India was over by a century or two, perhaps. None of the sources Albiruni mentions in his Ta’rikh-ul-Hind was contemporary.
Riaz Haq said…
Christopher Clary
“sanctions have hit the Russian military industrial complex as key spare parts… can no longer be sourced... Russia will increasingly become dependent on China for outsourcing hardware manufacturing &in turn weapon supplies to India will be hit.”


India exercises strategic autonomy, worried at Russia’s ‘no limit’ China tilt
India News
Published on Aug 19, 2022 08:14 AM IST
National Security Advisor Ajit Doval made it clear to his Russian counterpart that India only takes decisions based on its national interests and questioned Russia’s “no limits” partnership with China as this directly impacted New Delhi’s security concerns.

National Security Advisor Ajit Doval had a heart-to-heart conversation with his Russian counterpart Nikolai Patrushev in Moscow this week with both sides discussing developments in Indo-Pacific, Ukraine and addressing each other’s concerns in the unfolding security scenario in Asia. Doval also met the newly appointed Russian Deputy Prime Minister in-charge of weapon industries Denis Manturov.

During his Moscow visit, NSA Doval dispelled any Russian notion that India had distanced itself from its strategic partner of the past and moved closer to the western camp. He made it clear to his interlocutors that India only takes decisions based on its self-interests and national security concerns and is not bound to any camp.

However, NSA Doval also conveyed that India was concerned about Russia leaning toward China, which had a long-standing boundary dispute with India and had recently flared up by PLA’s unilateral actions in the East Ladakh sector in May 2020. He said to date the boundary issue has been hanging fire with China still to restore April 2020 status quo ante in the East Ladakh sector.

The two sides discussed the Chinese power projection post House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's August 2 Taiwan visit with Russia expressing concern over the rapid militarization of the Indo-Pacific. With Russian energy exports from Vladivostok being impacted by the growing China-US tussle in the Indo-Pacific, Moscow is concerned about the military response by Japan, Taiwan and US over the Chinese missile firing around Taiwan post Pelosi’s visit.

While the two NSAs exchanged notes over the developments in the Ukraine war, it is quite evident that the western sanctions have hit the Russian military industrial complex as key spare parts from Europe can no longer be sourced due to American sanctions. In this context, Russia will increasingly become dependent on China for outsourcing hardware manufacturing and in turn weapon supplies to India will be hit. The Ukraine war is now into its sixth month with neither the Russian nor the Ukrainian forces being able to make a decisive move towards its objectives and the conflict bleeding both the economies.

At the NSA level dialogue, the two sides discussed cooperation in atomic energy, space, trade, and investment with both countries worried about the developments in Afghanistan. Despite the Taliban being in power for an year, Afghanistan continues to be restive with no space for minorities, women and children. The Central Asian Republics are seeing increasing economic penetration by Beijing much to the chagrin of Russia with countries bordering restive Xinjiang already in the Chinese debt trap through the enticing Belt Road Initiative (BRI).
Riaz Haq said…
India’s action to deliver pain in response to Pakistan’s terror should be calibrated. Because of the limitations on India’s ability to inflict a decisive blow on Pakistan through military means, examined in the next chapter, the actions available to India to punish/deter Pakistan’s terror activities fall in the tactical domain. Though lagging behind India in conventional military capability, Pakistan is in a position to respond in kind to such actions. Therefore, an indiscriminate tactical response to Pakistan’s provocations can result in a tit for tat spiral, without corresponding results in India’s favour. Hence, while calibrated action against Pakistani posts/infrastructure facilitating infiltration/terror may be desirable, the policy of heavy firing across the LoC/IB in the J&K sector, adopted by India from time to time has invariably resulted in a stalemate of tit for tat killings of security personnel/civilians on both sides, without putting an end to infiltration/terror from Pakistan.

Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (p. 290). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.


Ironically, it was a military dictator, Pervez Musharraf, who liberalised the media scene in 2002, allowing private radio and TV channels. Since then, privately owned channels have multiplied. Pakistan now has over 30 Urdu and regional languages news channels, besides entertainment and religious channels. The number of internet users in Pakistan was reported to be around 76 million at the beginning of 2020, an increase of about 17% over the previous year.1 Though around 35% of the total population, this is a significant number in absolute terms. Social media users in Pakistan stood at around 37 million at the beginning of 2020.2 All this has ensured that a large segment of the population is not dependent on the state for information, including about other countries. In this context, access of a large number of people to the internet and social media cannot be overemphasised. As mentioned in Chapter 13, my speech on the Indus Waters Treaty made in Karachi in April 2010 was largely blacked out by the print and electronic media because of a signal from the powers that be, but found its way into the local public discourse through the internet.
Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (pp. 336-337). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.
Riaz Haq said…
Use of trade as an instrument to punish Pakistan is both short-sighted and ineffective because of the relatively small volume of Pakistani exports to India. Further, as examined in Chapter 13, use of water as an instrument of coercion is a highly overrated option.

Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (p. 359). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.


Absence of dialogue and diplomacy between the two countries carries the risk of an unintended flare-up. With India increasingly convinced of its ability to coerce Pakistan militarily and Pakistan overestimating the leverage resulting from its growing China nexus and the downturn in India-China relations because of China’s aggressive behaviour in eastern Ladakh, an accidental escalation can occur. Restoration of ceasefire on the LoC/IB in the J&K sector in February 2021 was an important step towards shifting to a “management” mode from the free-fall phase of the relationship since 2016. As of this writing, the ceasefire was holding with a few exceptions. However, some additional steps such as upgradation of diplomatic representation to High Commissioners’ level and resumption of trade that would have contributed further to the shift towards a “management” mode, had not come about. The eight-track dialogue format used in every phase of structured dialogue since 1997 has outlived its utility. To begin with, Pakistan never bought wholeheartedly into India’s sagacious rationale that issues such as trade and people to people contacts should not be held hostage to solution of the more intractable political problems. Coming to the specific subjects, it is clear that demilitarisation of Siachen is not possible. without an understanding on the larger J&K issue and vastly improved trust between the two countries. A solution to Sir Creek requires a compromise by both sides, which is not possible until the relationship improves substantially. A roadmap for normalisation of trade, drawn up by the Commerce Secretaries in September 2012, already exists and can be used with suitable adaptation as and when the Pakistani establishment takes an enlightened view on the matter and overcomes the resistance of vested interests in sectors such as pharmaceuticals and automobiles. The revised visa agreement signed in September 2012 is available for implementation as a stepping stone to promotion of greater people to people contacts, but this too can happen only when the overall relationship looks up. As stated in Chapter 10, the Tulbul Navigation Project has become a non-issue.

Sabharwal, Sharat. India’s Pakistan Conundrum (pp. 353-354). Taylor and Francis. Kindle Edition.

Riaz Haq said…
India sacks 3 air force (#IAF) officers for firing #missile into #Pakistan. Earlier, #India blamed a “technical malfunction” during routine maintenance. Military experts have warned of the risk of accidents or miscalculations by #nuclear-armed neighbors.

The Indian air force has said it has sacked three officers for accidentally firing a missile into Pakistan in March.

“A court of inquiry, set up to establish the facts of the case, including fixing responsibility for the incident, found that deviation from the standard operating procedures by three officers led to the accidental firing of the missile,” the air force said.

At the time of the accidental firing, India blamed a “technical malfunction” during routine maintenance.

Military experts have warned of the risk of accidents or miscalculations by the nuclear-armed neighbours, which have fought three wars and engaged in numerous smaller armed clashes, usually over the disputed territory of Kashmir. The incident raised questions about safety mechanisms.

Pakistani officials said the missile was unarmed and crashed near the city of Mian Channu, about 310 miles (500km) from the capital, Islamabad.
Riaz Haq said…
India's March 9 "accidental firing" of Brahmos nuclear-capable supersonic cruise missile into Pakistan has raised serious questions about the safety of the Indian nuclear arsenal. Do the people in charge of India's nukes have basic competence to handle such weapons? Was this really an "unauthorized" or "accidental" firing? Why was there a long delay by New Delhi in acknowledging the incident? Could Pakistan be blamed if it assumed that extremist right-wing Hindu elements had taken control of the missile system in India and fired it deliberately into Pakistani territory? Has the Indian government risked the lives of 1.6 billion people of South Asia?
Riaz Haq said…
Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

The Nuclear Arsenal, an Overview

Pakistan developed nuclear weapons outside of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Pakistan’s nuclear program dates back to the 1970s and was spurred on by India’s first nuclear test in 1974. Pakistan is estimated to have a nuclear arsenal of about 165 nuclear warheads.

Delivery Systems

Short-Range Ballistic Missile (<1,000 or less km)

Hatf-1: Short-range, solid-fueled ballistic missile with a range of 70-100 km.
Abdali (Hatf-2): Flight-tested six times; entered service in 2005. Nuclear role ambiguous; 180-200 km range; single warhead.
Ghaznavi (Hatf-3): 290 km range.
Shaheen-1 (Hatf-4): 750 km range.
Shaheen-1A (Hatf-4): Under development, an improved variant of the Shaheen-1. First tested in 2012, may see deployment in 2017. Listed by Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris as having a 900 km range, but following its first test it was reported to be a medium-range missile.
Nasr (Hatf-9): Under development; 70 km range. Each NASR launcher, however, contains 4 missile tubes primarily for conventional payloads. With a range too short to attack targets within India, some analysts believe the Nasr is intended for battlefield use against Indian troops.
Medium-Range Ballistic Missile (1,000-3,000 km)

Shaheen-2 (Hatf-6): 1,500-2,000 km range.
Shaheen-3 (Hatf-10): Under development; underwent two successful tests in 2015. Another successful test took place in January 2021.The Pakistani government said the missile was capable of delivering a nuclear or conventional warhead for 2,750 km.
Ghauri-1 (Hatf-5): 1,250-1,500 km range.
Ghauri-2 (Hatf-5a): Medium-range liquid propellant missile under development with an expected range of at least 1,800 km.
Ababeel: Under development; 2,200km range; reportedly capable of carrying multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs).
Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM)

It is speculated, albeit loosely, that the Taimur missile, with a range of 7,000 km, is an ICBM under development.

Cruise Missiles

Babur (Hatf-7): ground-launched nuclear cruise missiles; 350 km range (Pakistani government claims 700 km). A Babur IA missile was tested in February 2021, with a claimed range of 450 km.
Babur-2: ground-launched cruise missile; 700 km range; deployment status unknown.
Babur-3: sea-based cruise missile; 450 km range; deployment status unknown.
Ra’ad (Hatf-8): nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missile; status unknown; yet to be deployed as of 2020.
Ra'ad-2: nuclear-capable air-launched cruise missile; range of greater than 350 km; revealed in March 2017 and tested in 2020.
Submarines, Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM), and Submarine-Launched Cruise Missiles (SLCM)

Pakistan does not currently possess SLBMs. Following the launch of India’s INS Arihant submarine in 2009, the Pakistan Navy announced its intention to build a nuclear submarine of its own, and in 2012 the Navy announced it would start construction. According to the Navy, the submarine is an ambitious project, will be designed and built indigenously, and will take between 5 and 8 years. It not yet clear if Pakistan is attempting to complete the nuclear triad.
According to Hans Kristensen, Robert Norris, and Julia Diamond, there are indications that Pakistan is developing a nuclear weapon for deployment on submarines. Pakistan’s announcement that it would stand up a Naval Strategic Force Command in 2012 also points to an interest in developing sea-based capabilities.
There was a confirmed test of the nuclear-capable Babur cruise missile from a mobile underwater platform in January 2017. It may be converted for use on submarines.
In April 2018, Pakistan announced that it had conducted a second successful flight test of its Babur-3 nuclear-capable submarine-launched cruise missile which has a range of 450 km.
Riaz Haq said…
Nuclear Weapons Programs, Policies, and Practices

Strategic Bombers

Pakistan’s available delivery vehicles include dual-use fighter aircraft, reportedly the U.S.-origin F-16A/B and French-origin Mirage 2000 fighter jets. The planes were not transferred for the purpose of delivering nuclear bombs, but Pakistan is believed to have modified them for that mission. Both were deployed in 1998.
F-16A/B: ~24 nuclear-capable F-16A/Bs; ~24 nuclear bombs; plane has a 1,600 km range.
Mirage III/V: ~12 nuclear-capable Mirage III/Vs; ~12 nuclear bombs or Ra’ad cruise missiles; plane has a 2,100 km range.
Fissile Material

Specific estimates of Pakistan's stockpiles of fissile material are difficult to determine, given uncertainty about Pakistan's uranium enrichment capacity.
In contravention of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) guidelines, the China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) has supplied Pakistan with 4 nuclear power reactors, the Chasnupp-1,-2,-3, and-4. The fourth reactor, the Chasnupp-4, went critical in March 2017. In addition, China has supplied Pakistan with Low Enriched Uranium (LEU) for use in these reactors.
Highly Enriched Uranium

As of the beginning of 2019, Pakistan is estimated to possess approximately 3.7 ± 0.4 tons of highly enriched uranium (HEU).

As of the end of 2016, Pakistan is estimated to possess 280 kg of weapons-grade plutonium.
By the end of 2015, Pakistan was operating four reactors that produce plutonium for weapons at Khushab. Khushab-I began operations in 1997/98, Khushab-II in 2009/10, Khushab-III in early 2013, and Kushab-IV in 2015.
Pakistan separates the plutonium from the spent reactor fuel at the Rawalpindi New Labs facility, which has two reprocessing plants. Another reprocessing facility may be being constructed at Chashma as of 2015.
Proliferation Record

The foundation of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program was aided by the theft of nuclear technology and know-how from the European company URENCO by scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan, who became a leading figure in Pakistan’s nuclear weapons establishment. Khan is also believed to have received a nuclear weapon design from China. Although U.S. intelligence was aware of Pakistan’s illicit program, the United States continued to provide military assistance and foreign aid to Islamabad up until 1990 when President George H. W. Bush decided that he could no longer certify that Pakistan did not possess a nuclear device. U.S. sanctions related to Pakistan’s nuclear program were dropped after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks when the United States decided to pursue closer relations with Pakistan as part of the U.S. declared “war on terror.”
Abdul Qadeer Khan had also developed a black market network of suppliers to procure technology and know-how for Pakistan’s secret nuclear weapons program and then transformed that network into a supply chain for other states. Iran, Libya, and North Korea were all clients and other states might have been as well. After the interception of one of his shipments to Libya in October 2003, Khan appeared on Pakistani television in February 2004 and confessed to running the network, which transferred items ranging from centrifuges to bomb designs.
The Pakistani government denied any complicity in or knowledge of the network and confined Khan to house arrest. Although reportedly serving as an intermediary to foreign governments, the Pakistani government has not made Khan available to direct interviews by other states. General concern exists that remnants of the network might still be functioning.
Pakistan instituted new export control laws following the public exposure of Khan’s network in 2004, including the establishment of the Strategic Export Control Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Pakistan's control list now includes dual-use materials in an effort to meet the regulatory standards of export control regimes.
Riaz Haq said…
3 cheers for INS Vikrant & 3 questions for India’s leadership on naval doctrine

by Shekhar Gupta

Key points:

1. Indian aircraft carrier is powered by American General Electric turbines

2. Russian MIG 29s require a lot of maintenance. These will be replaced with French Rafales or US F-18s in future.

3. Chinese aircraft carriers are totally indigenous (including engines, weapons, and aircraft) are much bigger

4. China has developed "aircraft carrier buster missiles" to deal with hostile nations' Navies.

5. Indian Navy hid its aircraft carriers from Pakistani submarines during 1965 and 1971 wars.

6. Indian-American analyst Ashley Tellis questions the utility of Indian aircraft carriers in the absence of India's geopolitical aims and its Naval Doctrine.


Ashley Tellis on submarines vs aircraft carriers


The Unusual Carrier Killer Capability Of The Chinese Navy’s Strategic Bomber - Naval News

China’s recent test of a hypersonic ‘Orbital Bombardment System’ has been characterized as a ‘Sputnik moment’. The world is only just waking up to Chinese advances in strategic weapons technologies. Among a raft of new weapons, which increasingly do not have direct equivalents in the West, are anti-ship ballistic missiles (ASBMs). One of these, an air-launched version, appears to include a hypersonic maneuvering missile.
Riaz Haq said…
As the world lurches through the growing pains of massive geopolitical change, the US’ relationship with India will increasingly take center stage. Washington likes to see itself as providing a geopolitical center of gravity that is inherently attractive to nations like India, especially against regional competitors such as China. As the US is about to discover, however, India and China have a shared ambition about who should dominate the Pacific in the coming century, and it doesn’t include the US. Op Ed by Scott Ritter

On Aug. 19, India’s minister of external affairs, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, gave a speech at a university in Thailand where he stated that relations between India and China were going through “an extremely difficult phase” and that an “Asian Century” seemed unlikely unless the two nations found a way to “join hands” and start working together.

For many observers, Jaishankar’s speech was taken as an opportunity for the US to drive a wedge between India and China, exploiting an ongoing border dispute along the Himalayan frontier to push India further into a pro-US orbit together with other Western-leaning regional powers. What these observers overlooked, however, was that the Indian minister was seeking the exact opposite from his speech, signaling that India was, in fact, interested in working with China to develop joint policies that would seek to replace US-led Western hegemony in the Pacific.

Struggle for Leadership

More than six decades ago, then-US Senator John F. Kennedy noted that there was a “struggle between India and China for the economic and political leadership of the East, for the respect of all Asia, for the opportunity to demonstrate whose way of life is the better.” The US, Kennedy argued, needed to focus on providing India the help it needed to win that struggle — even if India wasn’t asking for that help or, indeed, seeking to “win” any geopolitical contest with China.

Today, the relationships between the US, India and China have matured, with all three wrestling with complex, and often contradictory, policies that are simultaneously cooperative and confrontational. Notwithstanding this, the US continues to err on the side of helping India achieve a geopolitical “win” over China. One need only consider the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue, or “Quad,” conceived in 2007, but dormant until 2017, when it was resurrected under US leadership to bring together the US, Japan, Australia and India in an effort to create a regional counterweight to China’s growing influence.

There was a time when cooler heads cautioned against such an assertive US-led posture on a regional response to an expansive, and expanding, Chinese presence in the Indo-Pacific region. This line of thinking held that strong Indian relationships with Tokyo and Canberra should be allowed to naturally progress, independent of US regional ambitions.

These same “cool heads” argued that the US needed to be realistic in its expectations on relations between India and China, avoiding the pitfalls of Cold War-era “zero-sum game” calculations. The US should appreciate that India needed to implement a foreign policy that best met Indian needs. Moreover, they argued, a US-Indian relationship that was solely focused on China would not age well, given the transitory realities of a changing global geopolitical dynamic.

The Asian Century

The key to deciphering Jaishanker’s strategic intent in his Thailand comments lay in his use of the term “Asian Century.” This echoed the words of former Chinese reformist leader Deng Xiaoping, who, in a meeting with former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1988, declared that “in recent years people have been saying that the next century will be the century of Asia and the Pacific, as if that were sure to be the case. I disagree with this view.” Deng went on to explain that unless China and India focus their respective and collective energies on developing their economies, there could, in fact, be no “Asian Century.”

Riaz Haq said…
Can't imagine Universe without cows; all problems on Earth will be solved if cow slaughter is prevented: Gujarat Court

"In these circumstances the slaughter and transportation of cows is a matter of pain and sorrow. Science has proved that houses made of cow-dung are not affected by atomic radiation. Use of Gaumutra (cow urine) is a cure for many incurable diseases. Cow is the symbol of religion," the judge claimed.

While sentencing a man to life in prison for illegally transporting cattle, judge Samir Vyas said that unless cow slaughter is completely prohibited, "the saatvik climate change cannot have its effect."

A court in Tapi, Gujarat recently sentenced a youth to life imprisonment for illegally transporting cattle from Maharashtra, while noting that all of Earth's problems will be solved if cow slaughter is prevented.

In an order passed in November, Principal District Judge Samir Vinodchandra Vyas paid tribute to the importance of cows to the entire Universe.

"Cow is not only an animal but it is mother that is why it is given the name of mother. None is as grateful as a cow. A cow is the living planet of 68 crore holy places and 33 crore gods. The obligation of cow on the entire Universe defies description. The day when no drop of blood of cow drops on the earth all problems of earth will be solved and the well being of the earth will b established..."

The order, translated from Gujarati, goes on to lament the fact that all the talk surrounding cow protection has not been put into practice.

The judge was seized of a criminal case pertaining to one Mohammad Ameen, who was arrested on August 27, 2020 for illegally transporting over 16 cows and its progeny in a packed truck with no proper arrangements for the cattle to sit, eat or drink.

He was booked under relevant provisions of the Gujarat Animal Preservation (Amendment) Act, 2017, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, Gujarat Control of Animal Transport Order, 1975 and the Gujarat Essential Commodities and Animal Control Act, 2015 as well as the Central Motor Vehicles (Amendment) Act, 2015.

Besides several lesser punishments, the judge sentenced him to life in prison and a fine of ₹5 lakh.

In his order, the judge called for the need to consider not only the religious aspects of a cow, but also its economic, social, scientific and health benefits. Mechanised abattoirs, the judge said, have come up for slaughter of cows and and they are being slaughtered. Therefore, there is 'great hazard for their life.'

"Non-vegetarian people consume meat and cow meat is also being used for the purpose. Cow products are very useful for human life. These products mean milk, curd, ghee, cow-dung and gaumutra," the order stated.

Tridev (Brahmha, Vishnu, Mahesh) is not separate from cows as it is said that they have emerged from Adigau Surabhi, the judge has said, adding that even religion is born from cow as it is in the form of Vrushabh and son of a cow is also called Vrushabh.


While referring to various Shlokas, the court stated that 'if cows are kept unhappy then our wealth and property disappears'

"If we look at the present situation it would become clear that 75 per cent of the cow wealth has been lost or destroyed. Now only 25 per cent has remained. A time will come when people will forget to draw the picture of cows. A period of more than 70 years has elapsed since we got independence. Not only the cow slaughter has not stopped but it is reaching its climax," the judge opined.

"The problems that exist today are because of the increase of the irascibility and hot temper. The only reason for increase is the slaughter of cows. Till this is completely prohibited the saatvik climate change cannot have its effect," the court said.
Riaz Haq said…
#India, #Pakistan came close to a #nuclear war, claims ex US Sec of State Mike Pompeo. His Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj called, told him that Pakistan was preparing for a nuclear attack after #Balakot strike in February 2019 & India ready to retaliate

Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has claimed that he was “awakened” to speak to his then Indian counterpart Sushma Swaraj who told him that Pakistan was preparing for a nuclear attack after the Balakot surgical strike in February 2019 and India is preparing its own escalatory response.

In his latest book Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love that hit the stores on Tuesday, Mr. Pompeo says the incident took place when he was in Hanoi for the U.S.-North Korea Summit on February 27-28 and his team worked overnight with both New Delhi and Islamabad to avert this crisis.

Riaz Haq said…
Is There a Persistent Threat of Nuclear Crises Among China, India and Pakistan?

Southern Asia — India, Pakistan and China — is the only place on earth where three nuclear-armed states have recently engaged in violent confrontations along their contested borders. As a USIP senior study group report concluded last year, the problem of nuclear stability in Southern Asia is getting harder to manage because of geopolitical changes, such as rising India-China border tensions, as well as evolving military technologies, including growing nuclear arsenals and more capable delivery systems. Unfortunately, in the time since that senior study group completed its work, little has happened to revise its worrisome conclusion or to prevent the most likely triggering causes of a nuclearised crisis in Southern Asia. To the contrary, there are some good reasons to fear that the situation in Southern Asia has even deteriorated over the past year.

No one wants nuclear escalation — but it can still happen
To be clear, just because states invest in nuclear weapons and delivery systems does not mean that a crisis or war is imminent. Leaders in China, India and Pakistan have always viewed their nuclear arsenals primarily as tools of deterrence, less for practical warfighting than to convince adversaries of the extraordinary costs that a war would risk. Nor do any of the region’s leaders take their nuclear programs lightly; all feel tremendous incentives to keep their arsenals safe and secure and to build systems of command, control and communications intended to prevent accidents, unauthorised use or theft.

Nevertheless, because even a single nuclear detonation could be massively destructive, US policymakers have an obligation not to accept these sorts of logical assurances passively or uncritically. Accidents do happen. India’s misfire of a Brahmos missile test into Pakistan last year proved that point perfectly. No matter how well designed, nuclear systems are complicated and involve the potential for human or technical error. When something does go wrong, overreaction by opposing forces is less likely when they have a greater degree of confidence in, and knowledge of, the other side. Reliable and secure communications — in the form of hotlines — can help, but only to the point that they are actually used in a timely manner. Apparently, India failed to do so during the Brahmos incident.

Fear, hatred and other emotions can cloud human judgment, especially in the heat of a crisis when information is imperfect and communication difficult. Reflecting on his own experience of crisis management in Southern Asia, former secretary of state Mike Pompeo recently wrote that he does “not think the world properly knows just how close the India-Pakistan rivalry came to spilling over into a nuclear conflagration in February 2019.” The question — for Pompeo and current US policymakers — is what more they are doing now to prepare for the next crisis.
Riaz Haq said…
Is There a Persistent Threat of Nuclear Crises Among China, India and Pakistan?

The terrorism tinderboxA return to serious India-Pakistan crisis could be just one terrorist attack away. Not even when Pakistan suffered devastating floods last summer could leaders in Islamabad and New Delhi create sufficient political space to open basic commodity trade. Hostile rhetoric is high, and there is reason to anticipate it could get far worse over the coming year as national leaders on both sides prepare for elections. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has learned he can whip up domestic political support from tough talk and cross-border retaliation. In Pakistan, neither civilian nor army leaders can afford to look weak in the face of Indian attacks, especially when they face jingoistic (if transparently opportunistic) criticism from ousted prime minister Imran Khan.The prospect of anti-Indian terrorism is also growing. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan shows no greater commitment to eliminating terrorist safe havens than it did in the 1990s, and Pakistan’s will (and capacity) for keeping a lid on cross-border terrorism will be tested as it faces heightened security and economic pressures at home. In addition, India’s repression of its Muslim minority community, especially in Kashmir, is simultaneously a reaction to past anti-state militancy and nearly guaranteed to inspire new acts of violence.
No matter the specific cause or circumstances of anti-Indian militancy, Modi’s government is likely to attribute culpability to Pakistan. That, in turn, raises the potential for an emotionally charged crisis that could, under the wrong circumstances, spiral into another India-Pakistan war.
Nor can Pakistan afford only to worry about its border with India. Relations between Islamabad and Kabul have deteriorated drastically ever since the Taliban swept back into power. Rather than controlling Afghanistan through its favoured militant proxies, Pakistan is suffering a surge in violence on its own soil, most recently the devastating bombing of a police mosque in Peshawar claimed by the anti-state Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. Such violence, along with national political turmoil, environmental calamity and economic crisis, will raise concerns among some in the United States about threats to the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear enterprise. Sadly, that will probably lead Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division — the guardians of its nuclear arsenal — and other Pakistani military leaders to fear a phantom threat of American military intervention rather than to address actual causes of the Pakistani state’s fragility.
Events along the contested border between India and China hardly inspire confidence that New Delhi and Beijing have found a path back to normal relations after their bloody border skirmishes of 2020. To the contrary, the prospects of rapid military escalation have grown, principally because both sides have positioned greater numbers of more lethal forces close to the border. Before 2020, relatively small, unarmed Chinese and Indian patrols routinely risked coming into contact as they pressed territorial claims on the un-demarcated border. This was dangerous, but extremely unlikely to escalate rapidly into a serious military encounter. In early December 2022 hundreds of Chinese troops attacked an Indian camp in what could not possibly have been an unplanned operation. With tens of thousands of troops stationed not far away, conventional military escalation is far more plausible than it was just a few years ago.
Riaz Haq said…
Is There a Persistent Threat of Nuclear Crises Among China, India and Pakistan?

Against this backdrop of tensions, China’s growing nuclear, missile and surveillance capabilities will look more threatening to Indian nuclear defence planners. New Delhi may even come to fear that China is developing a first strike so devastating that it would effectively eliminate India’s retaliatory response and, as a consequence, diminish the threat of its nuclear deterrent. In response, India could seek to demonstrate that it has thermonuclear weapons capable of destroying Chinese cities in one blow as well as more nuclear submarines capable of evading China’s first strike

Not only would those Indian moves raise serious policy questions for the United States, but they would demonstrate the region’s “cascading security dilemma,” by which military capabilities intended to deter one adversary tend to inspire dangerous insecurities in another. When India arms itself to deter China, Pakistan perceives new threats from India and will likely pursue enhanced capabilities of its own. In a worst-case scenario, Southern Asia could be entering an accelerated nuclear arms race in which uneven waves of new investments in capabilities and delivery systems will alter perceptions of deterrence and stability in dangerously unpredictable ways.
Riaz Haq said…
The Budding Arms Race Among China, India, and Pakistan
By Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.
May 26, 2023

Security experts are only beginning to sort through the implications of China’s nuclear breakout. They would do well to consider Ashley Tellis’s new book, Striking Asymmetries, which assesses the implications of Beijing’s actions from the vantage point of the rivalries between South Asia’s three nuclear powers: China, India, and Pakistan. In a work that should be required reading for senior political and military leaders, Tellis presents a compelling case why this tripolar nuclear system, which has for decades remained remarkably stable, may be on the verge of becoming far more dangerous.

Tellis draws upon decades of experience in South Asian security affairs, unique access to senior policymakers and military leaders in the three rivals’ defense establishments, and a remarkable ability to make seemingly abstract technical concepts readily understood by those with even a passing interest in the subject matter. The result is the most comprehensive, informed, and accessible assessment to date of this nuclear rivalry—and one that cannot be ignored.

China and Pakistan have a long and close relationship, in part built around their mutual view of India as a rival. India finds itself sandwiched between these two often hostile powers. Yet despite a history of wars and persistent low-grade conflict between India and its two rivals, a general war has been averted since India and Pakistan became nuclear powers a quarter century ago. Moreover, the three countries have not found themselves caught up in a nuclear arms race. Until recently, they viewed their nuclear weapons primarily as political instruments, not as tools for actual warfighting. All three adopted a “minimum deterrent” nuclear posture, maintaining the lowest number of nuclear weapons necessary to inflict unacceptable damage to their adversaries’ key cities even after suffering a nuclear attack.

In keeping with this strategy, the three Asian rivals avoided maintaining a significant portion of their arsenals on high alert. Instead, they stored their weapons in caves, in deep underground facilities, or in other concealed locations. Rejecting American and Russian notions that “retaliation delayed is retaliation denied,” the three countries, especially China and India, forswore the need for a swift response to a nuclear attack. To be sure, they would respond eventually—in days, weeks, or even months—but they did not accept the imperative of immediacy. As a result, these countries have avoided making heavy investments in early warning systems while retaining centralized control over their arsenals.

But the prospects for sustaining this era of minimum deterrence appear increasingly shaky. The tripolar rivalry has not been locked in amber: Tellis describes strongly held beliefs among top security officials in China, India, and Pakistan that their nuclear postures are inadequate. Led by China and Pakistan, with India following in their wake, the three rivals are now on a course that will result in a dramatic expansion of their nuclear arsenals, even if Russia and the United States pursue substantial cuts to theirs.

At the core of Tellis’s assessment are the differences—“asymmetries”— driving the tripolar rivalry. One fundamental difference is that China and Pakistan are revisionist powers seeking to alter the existing order, while India remains content with the status quo. China possesses the most formidable nuclear arsenal of the three, followed by Pakistan, with India trailing.

Riaz Haq said…
The Budding Arms Race Among China, India, and Pakistan
By Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.
May 26, 2023

There is also an asymmetry in the three powers’ strategic focus. Pakistani security officials are obsessed with India, while India’s focus is overwhelmingly on China. China’s sights, however, have shifted beyond regional to global rivalries, principally with the United States. It is this competition with Washington that is driving Beijing’s nuclear breakout. For China, India’s deterrent is rapidly assuming a peripheral role, similar to that played by China in American nuclear planning during the Cold War.

Beijing’s support for Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, which includes providing Islamabad with blueprints for a bomb and fissile material, has further complicated India’s position. Pakistan’s leaders are looking to abandon minimum deterrence in favor of “full-spectrum deterrence,” where their nuclear forces cover multiple contingencies in the event of war with India. There are three central factors spurring Pakistani officials to adopt this more aggressive posture. First, Islamabad is aware that its conventional forces are weaker than India’s and believes it has no alternative but to employ, if need be, its nuclear forces to offset this asymmetry. Second, given that India is far larger than Pakistan, Islamabad believes it must be able to inflict greater destruction on India in a retaliatory strike than India will inflict on it. This requires Pakistan to maintain a larger nuclear arsenal to target India’s population and economic hubs in the event of war. Third, Pakistan also hopes that its nuclear forces prevent India from undertaking large-scale military action against it in response to Islamabad’s ongoing support for militant groups in the disputed region of Kashmir.

Tellis shows that accomplishing full-spectrum deterrence will require Pakistan to expand its arsenal substantially. For instance, he notes that stopping a major advance of Indian conventional forces into Pakistani territory would require scores of so-called tactical nuclear weapons, weapons that Islamabad currently lacks.

Although Tellis argues that Beijing’s and Islamabad’s nuclear provocations do not automatically portend growing instability in the region, the evidence he presents suggests otherwise. He finds that Beijing’s growing arsenal will not necessarily place India’s security at greater risk—but describes a set of highly plausible Chinese actions that, in combination with a superpower-sized arsenal, risk undermining India’s confidence in its own nuclear deterrent.

To begin with, Beijing is seeking the capability to launch nuclear reprisals far more quickly than ever before. This requires China to maintain a portion of its force on heightened alert, which may not have posed a threat to India when China possessed a few hundred weapons. But if Beijing placed a significant percentage of its expanded arsenal of 1,000 or more warheads on high alert, the strategic ground would shift considerably. India would now face a neighbor capable of launching a large-scale attack with little or no warning.

India’s ability to withstand a nuclear strike and retain the capacity to inflict catastrophic destruction in response is closely tied to the security of its underground nuclear storage sites. China currently lacks the ability to destroy them—even assuming it knows their locations. That could change, however, once China’s arsenal has more than 1,000 warheads, especially if China improves the accuracy of its weapons. Such a development, combined with Beijing’s adoption of increased alert levels for its nuclear forces, would set alarm bells ringing in New Delhi; Indian officials could conclude that China has the capacity to disarm India’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

Riaz Haq said…
The Budding Arms Race Among China, India, and Pakistan
By Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.
May 26, 2023

India’s ability to withstand a nuclear strike and retain the capacity to inflict catastrophic destruction in response is closely tied to the security of its underground nuclear storage sites. China currently lacks the ability to destroy them—even assuming it knows their locations. That could change, however, once China’s arsenal has more than 1,000 warheads, especially if China improves the accuracy of its weapons. Such a development, combined with Beijing’s adoption of increased alert levels for its nuclear forces, would set alarm bells ringing in New Delhi; Indian officials could conclude that China has the capacity to disarm India’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

China may also enhance its air and missile defenses, making matters even more precarious for India. These defenses would minimize the threat posed by any “broken-back” Indian nuclear retaliation—in other words, an attack that uses whatever weapons survive a disarming Chinese strike. But New Delhi would surely know that employing the remnants of its arsenal to retaliate against China would leave it vulnerable to Pakistani nuclear blackmail. Put simply, India would risk being left with no credible nuclear deterrent to resist coercion by Islamabad.

Tellis is correct to note that China’s development of these capabilities is not assured. Yet during Beijing’s decades-old conventional military buildup, it has sought to match every significant U.S. capability, including stealth fighters, military satellite constellations, aircraft carriers, and cyberweaponry. Tellis recognizes that even if China creates such a set of capabilities, it must still know the location of India’s storage sites in order to target them—and have high confidence that its intelligence is accurate and comprehensive. This uncertainty could restrain Beijing. But at the same time, New Delhi may not feel comfortable simply trusting that its nuclear sites have not yet been unearthed by Chinese intelligence or presuming that Chinese leaders are wary of taking big risks.

How might India respond to China’s and Pakistan’s nuclear provocations? Tellis points out that India is not without options—but that each path has its pitfalls.

First, he shows that if India wanted to, it could easily match China weapon for weapon. Yet he believes New Delhi would prefer to maintain its minimum deterrent strategy, emphasizing its ability to inflict severe damage on its adversaries’ cities. This stems in no small part from the expense India would incur by following Beijing in its quest to match America’s nuclear arsenal. Still, Tellis acknowledges that India’s arsenal will have to expand its nuclear holdings to possess the warheads needed to inflict unacceptable damage on both China and Pakistan. And as India increases its arsenal, Pakistan is sure to do the same—completing the regional chain reaction triggered by China’s nuclear expansion.

Tellis rejects the “more of the same” option of expanding India’s underground storage facilities, showing persuasively that it would prove costlier to accomplish than it would for China to simply expand the number of weapons needed to destroy them. Rather, he argues, India’s solution is to be found in stealth and mobility. This could be achieved by creating a nuclear ballistic missile submarine force and by shifting more of India’s arsenal to mobile road and rail missile launchers.
Riaz Haq said…
The Budding Arms Race Among China, India, and Pakistan
By Andrew F. Krepinevich, Jr.
May 26, 2023

As for China’s air and missile defenses, Tellis points out that India might address the problem by deploying penetration aid decoys on its missiles. These decoys are designed to present themselves as actual warheads to missile defense radars, thereby inducing the defender to expend precious interceptor missiles engaging false targets. This would offset, if only partially, New Delhi’s need to expand its nuclear arsenal.

The United States could provide India with a reliable thermonuclear weapon design.
Yet even if India were to pursue these actions, it would still face significant challenges. The threat of a Chinese preemptive strike may compel India to develop an effective early warning system to enable it to reduce its arsenal’s vulnerability by sending its weapons out to sea and flushing its land-based missiles from their silos. New Delhi would also have to establish a new command-and-control system to direct the actions of its nuclear submarines. Yet while India is in the process of constructing nuclear-powered ballistic submarines, it still has a long way to go in building a significant force and overcoming the technological hurdles necessary to create a credible seaborne nuclear deterrent. Tellis notes that among these challenges, New Delhi is experiencing problems with its naval nuclear reactor designs.

Then there are India’s nuclear weapons. New Delhi has only conducted a handful of nuclear tests—not enough to validate its thermonuclear designs to offer high confidence that these weapons will perform as designed. Its most reliable weapon has a yield of 12 kilotons, whereas China’s weapons have yields as much as 100 times greater. Addressing these shortfalls may require India to resume testing—and risk incurring sanctions from the United States and other nations.

Tellis hints at a tantalizing solution to India’s problems. The United States could provide India with a reliable thermonuclear weapon design. The trilateral security pact among Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States that is known as AUKUS, which will assist Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines, could be expanded to include India. Might the Americans also share their nuclear reactor designs with New Delhi? But for this to happen, India, which has kept the United States at arm’s length practically since its birth, would have to finally and firmly close ranks with the leading Indo-Pacific democracies and formally forsake the nonaligned strategic autonomy it has long enshrined at the heart of its foreign policy.
Riaz Haq said…
Nuclear Doctrine?

By Sitara Noor

A comment from a senior figure about “zero-range” weapons could signal a dramatic—and dangerous—shift in Islamabad’s nuclear strategy.

As Pakistan celebrated the 25th anniversary of its first nuclear tests last month, it also appeared to share more details than usual about its current nuclear posture.

Speaking at a seminar hosted by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad on May 24, retired Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai provided new details of Pakistan’s otherwise ambiguous nuclear doctrine. What Kidwai says matters because he is currently an advisor to the country’s National Command Authority (NCA), which controls research and development and all other policy matters concerning nuclear weapons. He’s also the former director-general of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), which is responsible for formulating nuclear policy and strategy as well as the security of nuclear assets.

During his address, he reiterated some of the long-standing positions of Pakistan’s nuclear policy, such as the strength of its nuclear triad based on land, air, and sea-based capabilities to deter India—especially the Indian military’s so-called Cold Start doctrine, which envisages a limited war through quick mobilization of unified battle groups to conduct operations inside Pakistani territory without crossing Islamabad’s nuclear threshold. He also discussed what’s known as full-spectrum deterrence—a policy aimed at responding to a range of threats from India. But he went further.

Kidwai expanded the scope of this doctrine by explaining what he called vertical and horizontal dimensions. In his words, full-spectrum deterrence “comprises horizontally of a robust tri-services inventory of a variety of nuclear weapons … [that] is held on land with the Army Strategic Force Command, the ASFC; at sea with the Naval Strategic Force Command, the NSFC; and in the air with the Air Force Strategic Command, the AFSC.”

Most striking was his statement that “vertically the spectrum encapsulates adequate range coverage from 0 meters to 2,750 kilometers [about 1,700 miles] as well as nuclear weapons destructive yields at three tiers—strategic, operational, and tactical.”

Reducing the minimum range to 0 meters is unprecedented and, if implemented, points to a major shift in Islamabad’s nuclear policy thinking.

Talk of zero-range weapons suggests that Pakistan is either going to develop artillery shells as the United States, Soviet Union, and United Kingdom did during the Cold War—raising questions of whether it is going to be an M28/M29 Davy Crockett-style recoilless rifle system, the smallest weapon in the U.S. nuclear arsenal, developed during the 1950s as a front-line weapon with yields as low as a fraction of a kiloton—or it could be a hint that Pakistan could possibly lay nuclear land mines across the India-Pakistan border to deter Indian advances. Observers, especially in India, are left wondering whether this statement is based on some existing scientific research and design testing and necessary doctrinal thought process. Kidwai’s statement does not provide any such details, and in the spirit of ambiguity that Pakistan seems to have benefited from, there is unlikely to be a follow-up soon to clear the air.

Indeed, Pakistan has always kept its nuclear policy vague and deliberately ambiguous; nonetheless, its missile ranges are the only aspect that has always been announced publicly through an official press release after every missile test.

Riaz Haq said…

Nuclear Doctrine?

By Sitara Noor

Prior to Kidwai’s statement, the officially announced lowest range in Pakistan’s nuclear inventory was the Nasr, or Hatf-9 ballistic missile, with a range of 60 kilometers (about 37 miles). The solid-fueled tactical ballistic missile was projected to be a response to India’s Cold Start doctrine. When it first test-fired the Nasr missile in 2011, Pakistan received huge flak from both Indian and Western scholars for its potential security risks and command and control challenges. The purported risks of employing Nasr ranged from the lowering of nuclear threshold to the possibility of an accidental or unauthorized launch if command and control of this short-range missile was delegated to local commanders in the battlefield.

The upper limit of 2,750 kilometers refers to the land-based surface-to-surface medium-range ballistic missile Shaheen-3, which was first test-fired in 2015 with the stated aim to reach the Indian islands of Andaman and Nicobar, thereby denying New Delhi the strategic bases for a potential second-strike capability. The upper limit was carefully restricted to 2,750 kilometers to signal that Pakistan’s nuclear missile program is only India-specific and does not pose a threat to any other country in the region and beyond.

Apart from Kidwai’s latest statement, there is no other information available to determine whether the zero-range announcement refers to a technical milestone in Pakistan’s nuclear development or serves as a rhetorical escalation. As an advisor, Kidwai has an important yet limited role in official policymaking, and there is a possibility that this assertion is a reflection of his personal opinion and not a statement of an official position. However, in the absence of any official statement, his declaration will largely be viewed as a new element of Pakistan’s nuclear policy.

The bigger question is what strategic objective Pakistan wishes to achieve by going below the already controversial 60-kilometer range to zero-range weapons. As full-spectrum deterrence is aimed at plugging the perceived gaps in Pakistan’s deterrence posture, the apparent announcement of a zero-range policy within the scope of full-spectrum deterrence seems to have developed partly in response to a growing perception in New Delhi that India’s 2019 airstrikes on Balakot in mainland Pakistan—instigated by an alleged Pakistan-sponsored suicide attack on Indian forces in Pulwama, a small town in Indian-held Kashmir—have called Pakistan’s nuclear bluff.

It is important to recall that in order to defend Nasr’s development and its role in nuclear planning, Pakistani officials have often contended that use of any nuclear weapons on the battlefield would have strategic consequences. While this position might have allayed Western concerns regarding Pakistan’s attempt to lower the nuclear threshold, it may also have inadvertently made the use of Nasr less than credible in the eyes of Indian policymakers.
Riaz Haq said…
Hindu extremists in control of India's nuclear arsenal: NCA adviser

Gen (retd) Kidwai says ‘toxic mix of poisonous ideology’ posing a serious threat to strategic stability in South Asia

Adviser to the National Command Authority (NCA), Lt Gen (retd) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, has warned that threats to the region’s strategic stability have grown because of Hindu fundamentalists’ control of Indian nuclear arsenal.

He was speaking at the 8th Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS) and The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) workshop on ‘Strategic Stability in South Asia’ on Monday.

“The custodial control of India’s large triad of the nuclear arsenal have now fallen firmly in the hands of an extremist fundamentalist leadership,” he said, adding that the “toxic mix of poisonous ideology and custody of nuclear weapons” was a new phenomenon that was posing a serious threat to strategic stability in South Asia.

Indian National Command Authority is responsible for command, control and operational decisions pertaining to the country’s nuclear arsenal. Its political council is currently led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while the executive council is headed by National Security Adviser Ajit Doval. Moreover, few ministers having RSS background are also members of NCA – these include Home Minister Amit Shah and Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

PM Modi, it may be recalled, has maintained an aggressive nuclear stance. In his public rallies he talked about usability of nukes. Under Modi’s watch, his ministers and retired senior officials have signalled changes in the nuclear doctrine, which they later denied. His ministers have also made provocative and irresponsible statements on various occasions.

General Kidwai warned that the threat posed by extremists’ control of Indian nuclear weapons had “assumed a real life character and momentum of its own”. The situation, he noted affects not only the region, but also beyond.

He said the February 2019 air strike in Balakot and the March 2022 missile incidents were examples of extremists committing aggression against the nuclear-armed neighbour, while being oblivious of the consequences.

Rejecting Indian assertion that the BrahMos Missile that crashed in Pakistan on March 9 had been accidentally fired, General Kidwai, who has overseen several tests, said it was not an accident as the launch could not have taken place without political clearance at the highest level and detailed operational and technical planning spanning over weeks.

Pakistan on both occasions displayed restraint and maturity in diffusing the tensions, thereby preventing South Asia from spiralling into potential catastrophes, he maintained.

Referring to the so-called AUKUS submarine deal under which US and UK would proliferate nuclear technology to Australia to build nuclear attack submarines, he warned against making a similar arrangement with India.

Also read: India admits to ‘accidentally’ firing missile into Pakistan

“I have no hesitation in stating that minimum Pakistani counter measures would be put in place if a reckless imbalance is induced in South Asia, it is not a warning, it's a contingency foreseen,” General Kidwai said while recalling that exceptionalism had been repeatedly employed in South Asia in the past in disregard of Pakistani concerns.

History, he asserted, also tells that Pakistan did not let the international exceptionalism stand in its way to address the imbalances created in the past.

Other experts, who spoke at the workshop, discussed the political and technological drivers of strategic stability in the context of South Asia.

They also deliberated upon the impact of Indian and Pakistani strategic cultures, Hindu Rashtra, big-power competition, emerging technologies, trends in export control arrangements, and the military developments under the growing framework of the Quad Axis.
Riaz Haq said…
Why the US is selling India so many weapons
Prime Minister Modi visits the White House, and arms deals follow.

By Jonathan Guyer

Both countries are eyeing China’s growing military and technological prowess, and the US is particularly concerned about the perceived threat of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan.

But Grossman, who previously spent a decade working on China policy at the Pentagon, says that the US goal of bolstering India’s defense is less about creating a partner who would actively participate in any US-China confrontation and actually more about India providing safe harbor on the continent. “What the United States is really looking for is access to India, in the case of a conflict against China,” he told me. “But the hope is that over time, as we continue our security cooperation, India will kind of bend a little bit, to be more flexible and maybe allow us access at certain times to certain places that can help us conduct operations.”

The US Navy established ship repair agreements with India that would enable the US to service its boats in Indian shipyards, with more agreements forthcoming, according to the White House. Grossman also emphasized that, in 2020, US Navy aircraft refueled on India’s base in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. “They’re letting us do that in peacetime; why wouldn’t they let us do that when the stakes are much higher?” he said.

But even beyond the democratic issues, there are limits to how close this partnership could get in the near term. India remains non-aligned: It hasn’t taken a side in the Ukraine war, nor signed on to the sanctions against Russia. While India is a member of the “Quad,” an informal partnership with the US, Japan, and Australia, it is not a treaty ally of the United States. Grossman said that many in the Defense Department would like to see the US move toward a formal alliance with India.

That would be messy, notably because Pakistan is India’s prime rival and Pakistan is a close partner of the United States. Both countries have nuclear weapons, so if the US were to establish a treaty with India, the dynamics of a potential India-Pakistan conflict would be staggeringly complex for the US and dangerous for the world.

Nevertheless, the US military partnership with India has become a pillar of the Biden administration’s policy toward Asia. Interestingly, the US goes out of its way to not say it has anything to do with China, although analysts uniformly agree that it’s all about China. “The strategic environment that we’re facing in the Indo-Pacific challenges to peace and stability, I think those have animated a sense of Indian purpose more generally,” a senior US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told reporters.

The defense sector, unsurprisingly, is thrilled. Just ask the Asia Group, a consulting firm that advises clients like General Electric, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon and was founded by Kurt Campbell, who’s now the Biden White House’s point person on Asia policy.

Campbell’s former firm says the time is now to invest in India. “Companies that postpone entry or expansion in India might miss opportunities to maximize their long-term returns,” Gopal Nadadur, an Asia Group executive based in India, wrote recently. “Defense and aerospace companies like Airbus, Boeing, Dassault, General Electric, General Atomics, Raytheon Technologies and Pratt & Whitney have boosted their engineering and manufacturing operations in India.”

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