New Delhi, September 27: India and Pakistan have been involved in a bitter squabble over the past few weeks. Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s boast that his country has short-range nuclear weapons to counter the ‘Cold Start doctrine’ adopted by the Indian Army only reinforced the notion that India’s western neighbour is not a responsible nuclear weapons. (ALSO READ: Indian Army Plans to Arm Pinaka Rockets With Nuclear Weapons to Counter Pakistan PM’s Threat) Also Read - Over 300 Twitter Handles Generated From Pakistan to Disrupt Farmers' Tractor Rally, Claims Delhi Police
His statement that “as far as tactical nuclear weapons (are concerned), we do not have any fielded tactical nuclear weapons. We have developed short-range nuclear weapons as a counter to the Cold Start doctrine that India has developed. Again, those are in the same command-and-control authority that controls the other strategic weapons” clearly demonstrates that Pakistani Army plans to use tactical nukes on its own soil to stop any Indian Army thrust that threatens to decimate its forces or its territorial integrity. Also Read - Pakistan Approves Russian COVID-19 Vaccine Sputnik V For Emergency Use
Like other Pakistani leaders and Generals before him, Abbasi’s statement does sound alarmist. While the Indian political and defence establishment have always been careful in their comments but at the same time they have been working to ensure that Pakistan’s threat is taken seriously. Also Read - Ladakh Standoff: India-China Hold 9th Round of Talks of Military Talks | What to Expect
According to former Army officer Brigadier Pillalmarri Subramanyam the nuclear doctrines of both India and Pakistan emphasize “Credible Minimum Deterrence” but while India has “no-first use policy” policy, Pakistan aims to use its nuclear weapons to compensate for conventional forces asymmetry vis-a-vis India.
Brigadier Subramanyam also adds that any nuclear misadventure by Pakistan will not only lead to massive retribution “from India but from the whole world community which could spell a death blow to Pakistan for violating the nuclear taboo. This would be nothing short of hara-kiri by Pakistan”.
India has a stated policy of “no-first use” adopted in 1998 after its second nuclear tests, Pokhran-II. The policy was promulgated on January 4, 2003 when the government asserted that nuclear weapons are solely for deterrence and that India will pursue a policy of “retaliation only”. But the retaliation by India in the event of a nuclear attack will be “massive” and “inflict unacceptable damage”.
Indian superiority in conventional weapons ensures that any Pakistani misadventure will result in annihilation of its forces along the theatres of conflict. Moreover, if the western neighbour dares to nuke Indian forces, the retaliation will ensure would wreak havoc on its urban centres.
While there can be an argument against using atomic weapons against civilian targets even if Pakistan goes for a nuclear strike against Indian forces, New Delhi, in recent times has shown the world that it will not shy away from taking a very tough line just like the surgical strike against Pakistan-based terrorist launch pads in September 2016.
Even a strike against Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal will result in massive casualties there along with ensuring that it is left with no capability to launch another attack on India.
Pakistan is estimated to have 120-130 nuclear warheads while India has 110-120 in its arsenal. Even though India is seen as being behind Pakistan in the nuclear race, the numbers are enough to wipe out the country from the map.