Monday 15th of April 2024

The New Cold War of South Asia
Prof. Nisar Ul Haq
Region : Asia, South Asia/IndiaPakistan,
Issue : Arms & Trade, Missile Defense, Security,
South Asia is becoming the new Belgium of the world where tussle for supremacy between the states are rapidly growing. The race is catalysed by the western involvements resulting in mammoth arms build-up. Countries like India, Pakistan, Israel, North Korea, UAE, and Iran are increasing their attempt to increase their arsenals. However major focus shall be kept on Indo-Pak weapon development which is the key ground of concern for the globe. This is a time when Pakistan and India focus on acquiring fissile material and building weapons. This drives Pakistan’s plutonium mills and India’s commercial nuclear power deal with the United States.
According to the Arms Control Association, India likely possesses around 100 nuclear weapons, mostly of a low yield fission variety. However, reports indicate that India has elevated its production of fissile material, in addition with its nuclear submarine program. This could give India the ability to produce more and larger weapons in a relatively short time frame. It is certainly within India’s means to tremendously heighten the size of its armaments, and plans to construct four ballistic missile submarines (each carrying twelve missiles) almost certainly indicates an intention to expand.
Pakistan on the other hand is pressing ahead with expanding its nuclear energy and nuclear weapons programs, despite worries from international observers over their safety. Foreign analysts who study Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program find much to worry about.
Peter Lavoy recently retired as the US Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs. During a conference in Islamabad organised by the Centre of Pakistan and Gulf Studies, he detailed the weapons technology many outside analysts believe Pakistan is developing.
Twenty-first has witnessed a new strategic arms race between India and Pakistan. Pakistan has been a western favourite from a very long time and has received massive support in its armaments. Indi’s latest move could also be viewed as a reaction to Pakistan’s announcement-first made in 2000-that it retains the right to launch a nuclear strike first in the event of an overwhelming Indian conventional military attack.
Indian military strategists responded by unveiling in 2004 the so-called ‘Cold Start’ doctrine , under which the conventional forces would, in the event of a conflict, seize a pocket of Pakistani territory, supposedly large enough to leverage in any subsequent negotiations, but not so large as a trigger a Pakistani nuclear response.
‘Cold Start’s sub-nuclear option recognises the nuclear threshold explicitly. The concept behind it is to fight below this threshold, if possible. But ‘Cold Start’ has a nuclear element as well. Should Pakistan fire nuclear weapons at this Indian force, India can heighten with nuclear strikes of its own.
Escalation as a strategy has come into being not because anyone wanted it too, but from the mutual interaction of both sides having nuclear weapons. While escalation strategies have always existed in South Asia, they are now front and centre. This marks a fundamental change from the conventional attrition strategies of previous wars.
Despite subsequent Indian declaration that it lacks the resources to turn that doctrine into reality, Pakistan has since made it a centrepiece of its defence planning. Last year, it tested a short-range nuclear capable ballistic missile meant for use against Indian forces if they occupy any Pakistani territory. Thus, Pakistan has adopted the tactical position that it would be prepared to detonate a nuclear weapon on its own territory to halt any conventional Indian military advance.
( Prof. Nisar-ul-Haq is a professor at JMI, university)
Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of FORE INDIA.
(this article already published in edited book " Emerging India in the New World Order)

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