Authored by: Ahyousha Khan
Assisted by: Amir Nadeem
Edited by: S. Sadia Kazmi
STRATEGIC VISION INSTITUTE (SVI), ISLAMABAD
Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) commemorated its five year anniversary by organizing a one day national seminar on “Indian Force Posture Development” at Islamabad Marriott Hotel on 17th April, 2018. The event was attended by the bureaucrats, scholars, academicians, journalists, students and members of civil society
Mr. Ross Masood Husain (Chairperson, SVI) cordially welcomed the Chief Guest, Lt. Gen. (R) Mazhar Jamil (Advisor Development, NCA); speakers, distinguished guests and general audience for gracing the SVI seminar with their presence on the occasion of 5 year anniversary of the SVI.
Lt. Gen. Syed Muhammad Owais (former Secretary Defence Production) while presenting a brief overview of the SVI‟s achievements, stated that the institute has been working as a versatile, impartial and autonomous think-tank, contributing effectively in the field of research and analyses especially catering to the strategic and security issues of Pakistan.
Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema (President/Executive Director, SVI) thanked the Chairperson SVI and Lt. Gen. (R) Syed Muhammad Owais and extended a warm welcome to the distinguished Chief Guest, as well as to the worthy speakers. In his introductory remarks on “Indian Force Posture Development” he said that India‟s conventional and strategic capabilities are rising at a rapid pace. These developments are clearly not of defensive nature rather they are part of India‟s overall offensive disposition, which is damaging the peace and stability of the South Asian region. In view of India‟s force posture developments, Pakistan is also compelled to spend on military technologies to maintain military and strategic equilibrium with India. After his brief remarks, he invited the Chief Guest Lt. Gen (R) Mazhar Jamil to share his views on the topic.
Lt. Gen. (R) Mazhar Jamil began by congratulating the Strategic Vision Institute on its fifth anniversary. He acknowledged the efforts of the SVI and mentioned that it has been one of the most active think-tanks that have been providing timely analyses on the issues of strategic importance and contemporary relevance. He wished the SVI to flourish more with regards to its future pursuits/plans. He also commended Dr. Zafar Cheema for generating timely debate on “Indian Force Posture Development” as these conventional and nuclear developments by India are exacerbating regional instabilities. While making a few propositions with regards to imperatives of strategic stability, he mentioned that deterrence essentially remains under stress in the South Asian region. The region is strategically unstable owing to unresolved disputes that lie at the heart of animus between the two nuclear powers. Moreover, to navigate through South Asian strategic stability, one ought to use homemade compasses rather than the Cold War toolkits. He emphasized on the need to choose our own paradigm to first understand and then find ways to resolve strategic and deterrence instability issues.
He opined that strategic stability and deterrence stability are the two terms that are often used interchangeably though they are different from each other. During Cold War, the term strategic stability was seen strictly in military terms and defined as “a situation in which no party had an incentive to use nuclear weapons; save for vindication of its vital interests in extreme circumstances.” However, critical analyses of this definition indicates that subjective words like „vital interests‟ and „extreme circumstances‟ would vary differently for different states. Furthermore, this definition qualifies any situation as that of strategic stability as long as the nuclear weapons are not used by adversaries. However, due to the importance of strategic stability it deserves a deeper understanding, which addresses the realities of South Asia and envisions durable peace in the region. Thus, from the South Asian perspective, strategic stability is “a fruit of relationship between India and Pakistan that encompasses the political conditions, security circumstances, doctrines and force postures that mutually preserve peace, prevent crises and escalation, and resolve disputes to reduce the risk of a war – especially a nuclear exchange”. While explaining the concept in detail, Lt. Gen. (R) Mazhar Jamil said that strategic stability constitutes elements; which are conflict resolution, crises management, CBMs and strategic restraint. Hence strategic stability of our region lies in the resolution of disputes, which resultantly would reduce all types of military instrument development. Moreover, it means that among nuclear weapon states there is no space for war in any form. On top of all that, assessing strategic stability through this paradigm addresses the realities of our region. The root cause of all conflicts and crises between India and Pakistan has been the outstanding territorial disputes – most importantly the Kashmir issue. So, if we address these hurdles in the context of strategic stability and India eschews its aggressive policies and doctrines towards its neighbors, the issues of force posture developments would not significantly weigh in our security matrices. A military competition and arms buildup can deter the adversaries from war but it is not a panacea for resolving conflicts and achieving stability at the strategic level. In our reckoning, strategic stability is a condition of durable peace where political environment is conducive for conflict resolution and no party resorts to the use of force in furthering its policies or resolution of disputes on its own terms. He further said that due to the absence of strategic stability, states rely on deterrence stability as a next best option. In South Asia, unfortunately, even deterrence stability is under stress because India is developing destabilizing doctrines and technologies that make war more imminent. Point to reckon here is that it is the strategic culture of a country that drives its developments, including its force posture and nuclear doctrine. The Indian strategic culture has been focused on an expansionist agenda that started with the Nehruvian defence policy, which to this day is the muse for its power maximization, including the force posture developments. Our neighbor fancies itself as a regional hegemon and the notion has become so ingrained in its revisionist thinking that all its developments – be it conventional or nuclear – are geared towards changing the status quo and find space for war. Lt. Gen (R) Mazhar Jamil shared Kautilya‟s thought on security policy with the audience, as the Indian security strategic culture has been deeply influenced by his thoughts. According to Kautilya “conflict and rivalry between states cannot be transformed into peace/friendship, except temporarily – rather they can only be managed by the threat of use of violence” and recent example of this mind-set is the Doval Doctrine. Conversely, Pakistan‟s strategic culture has always been characterized by restrained responses, pursuit of conflict resolution and closing the space for war. Pakistan‟s force posture, which stems from its strategic culture, is a compulsory response to what is happening in its neighborhood. Moreover, Pakistan‟s nuclear developments can well be explained under the action-reaction model. Pakistan developed nuclear weapons as a reaction to so-called peaceful nuclear explosion in 1974. Islamabad is pursuing security – not great power status or revision in the global system. In a stark contrast, our eastern neighbor made the nuclear weapons and found a security role for these only later. This situation continues to shape the strategic developments of our region. The destabilizing developments in our neighborhood force Pakistan to take corrective measures to maintain balance in the region. Even to this day, Pakistan‟s calls for peaceful resolution of disputes – such as Kashmir – go unheard. Instead, there is an aggressive pursuit of sub-conventional, limited conventional and hybrid war under nuclear overhang by India and doctrinal thinking, which seeks damage limitation through preemption, is dangerous and destabilizing for the region. As Indian pursuit of a ballistic missile defense system has the potential to induce a sense of invulnerability in its political and military leadership that could in turn prompt them to take reckless decisions in a nuclearized environment. Recently, the focus of India‟s nuclear developments has shifted towards operationalization of its sea-based deterrent to complete triad of forces in which submarine based second-strike capability has shaped the deterrence equilibrium, compelling Pakistan to utilize its options. The pre-determined development of triad by India and wide array of nuclear delivery systems for counter-value and counter-force targeting have been matched with equally large enterprise for building fissile material stocks. India is currently the third largest nuclear power after the US and Russia according to recent assessments that challenge the politically motivated estimates of the past. The prospects of a country having pre-emptive limited conventional and aggressive nuclear doctrine, while being in possession of a large fissile material production capacity, portend perpetual instability in the region. The Chief Guest urged scholars and distinguished guests to study these developments by India as they are hampering the stability of the region. On the other hand, in pursuit of its security and for a peaceful and stable region, Pakistan has always preferred conflict resolution and has never sought parity and is rather exercising extreme restraint in responding to provocative doctrinal and force posture developments in the Subcontinent by India. While the policy of restraint, pursuit of peaceful resolution of disputes, and minimalism is followed in Pakistan‟s force posture developments, it should be amply clear that Pakistan will ensure deterrence stability and any coercion or aggression will lead to unacceptable consequences upon the aggressor. Moreover, Islamabad shall continue to deter and deny New Delhi any space for war at any tier, like it did to counter Indian pre-emptive limited war doctrine – often referred to as the Cold Start Doctrine. Lt. Gen. Jamil said that although strategic restraint is more stabilizing than strategic competition, only an approach involving bilateral restraint could ensure lasting peace and stability in the Sub-continent. Thus, for the sake of lasting peace and stability, Pakistan continues to propose Strategic Restraint Regime with three interlocking elements of nuclear restraint, conventional arms balance, and conflict resolution. In his concluding remarks Lt. Gen. (R) Mazhar Jamil reiterated that in pursuit of strategic stability in the region, Pakistan has voluntarily committed itself to the ideals of non-proliferation and prevention of arms race in outer space. Moreover, Pakistan does what it can; now the non-proliferation regime should also do what it must to become equitable and rule based. He urged the young scholars to not only make an effort to understand Pakistan‟s strategic culture but also that of the adversary‟s for better comprehension of the force posture developments. He maintained that the presence of nuclear weapons makes wars incomprehensible, therefore, there is a need to shun belligerence and war-mongering and resolve the disputes peacefully.
Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema thanked the worthy Chief Guest and opened the house for Question and Answer session. Ms. Nida Shahid (graduate, QAU), enquired how the Indian force posture is viewed by Pakistan in the backdrop of Indian notion of “two and a half front war”. Lt. Gen. (R) Mazhar Jamil explained that “two and a half front war” was a term mentioned by the Indian Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat, which identifies the threat from Pakistan, China, and terrorism. However, India is using this notion merely to justify its massive force build-up and close analysis reveals that China is being used as a boggy mainly to develop weapons. In January I964, father of Indian Nuclear Programme, Homi J. Bhabha claimed that his country has a bomb in its basement before even China tested its nuclear weapon. Moreover, aside from historical facts, the present trend of relationship between China and India needs to be analyzed through their robust economic engagement worth more than $ 70billion. So, the ground realities do not match the false threat perception that India is creating. Regarding the issue of terrorism, Lt. Gen. (R) Mazhar Jamil said that India deserves credit on how it has managed to convert the indigenous Kashmir freedom movement into an act of terrorism in the eyes of international community. Even though, the Kashmir freedom movement is going on since 1947. Moreover, due to the strategic ties with the US, grave human rights violations by India in occupied Kashmir are also recognized as India‟s right to counter terrorism. So, it suits India to carve out a threat because it justifies its accumulation of new technologies.
Mr. Raza Khan (Special Correspondent, PTV World News) asked about the options available to Pakistan if India chooses to strike first, keeping in mind India‟s supersonic cruise missiles with range of 3,700 km. Lt. Gen (R) Mazhar Jamil responded, that Pakistan has a close eye on what is being developed on the other side in terms of force development, in terms of Doctrine and even in terms of state of readiness. There have been detailed deliberations and there is institutional mechanism in place which is fully capable of handling such situations.
Amb. (R) Hassan Javed (Director Chinese Studies Center, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, NUST, Islamabad) raised concern on strong portrayal of India‟s threat perception and enquired why has Pakistan not yet developed a narrative despite having strong justifications? Lt. Gen. (R) Mazhar Jamil responded that unfortunately international system is guided by interests rather than by justifications. Thus, narratives are also bought according to the geo-political alignments and interests.
Mr. Khalid Banuri (former DG, ACDA) chaired the second session and welcomed the distinguished speakers including Mr. Ubaid Ahmed (Research Associate, SVI), Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema (President/Executive Director, SVI), and Mr. Sameer Ali Khan (Independent Analyst). First speaker of the session, Mr. Ubaid Ahmed deliberated upon “India‟s Evolving Conventional Force Posture: Patterns of Development, Trends and Prospects”. He stated that India in an attempt to project itself as a global power and to proclaim its regional
military superiority is constantly evolving its force posture. While defining the concept of force posture, he asserted that it is a comparative term with two main dimensions that are; structural capabilities and policy-intent. Given the relative difficulty of assessing intentions, there is generally more inclination towards analysing capabilities. A contrary viewpoint is that capability structure of an adversary‟s armed forces and comparative force posture analyses are less applicable in its structural dimension as compared to its strategy i.e. policy-intent. Moreover, force posture is divided into two major components of capability development; one is force-structuring and second is force development. In force structuring, the type, size and structure of armed forces are considered while force development refers to the modernization of armed forces and acquisition of state of the art technologies.
Mr. Ubaid Ahmed explained the evolution of India‟s conventional force posture within the historical and current perspective. Historically, he divided India‟s military modernization and conventional force posture development into three stages: 1960s, 1980s and 1999 (post Kargil conflict). The speaker said that Indian strategic culture is primarily led by the British legacy. Nehruvian “forward defence” policy is reflective of the same mindset which essentially aims at counterbalancing the adversary and maintaining the power balance. However, India adopted this policy without having a sufficient power base, which led to its defeat against China in 1962. Consequently, India launched a significant military expansion program and doubled the force capability of its armed and air force. In 1980, India adopted the Soviet concept of multi-tiered offensive intended at engaging the front line defensive forces simultaneously through deep ground maneuvers and vertical penetration. However, the efficacy of the policy largely remained questionable due to the imbalances in organizational makeup of the armed forces. Another significant conventional military development in 1980s was Sundarji Doctrine that was aimed at employment of large scale mechanized forces supported by massive air power to achieve maximum degradation of enemy system of forces and absorbing significant territory. Development of Sundarji Doctrine prompted India to toy with the concept of preventive war. This culminated with the Brasstacks exercises in 1986-1987. Kargil conflict is the turning point in Indian war fighting posture and hence the subsequent shift was noticed in conventional doctrinal thinking of India. Mr. Ahmed quoted Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema‟s observation in his book titled “Indian Nuclear Deterrence: Its Evolution, Development and Implication for South Asian Security,” to explain the shift in Indian conventional thinking. Dr. Cheema writes “in view of the legacy of the Kargil conflict (1999) and its frustration over the stalemate of Operation Parakaram, India tried to explore strategic space for a limited war and military operations against Pakistan disguised under the Cold Start Doctrine (CSD)”. Statement by former Indian Defence Minister, George Fernandes while speaking at a conference organized by institute of Defence Studies and Analyses on 5th January 2000 was also used by the speaker to elaborate on the shift in India‟s mindset. In his statement, Fernandes stated that Pakistan‟s possession of nuclear weapons doesn‟t rule out the possibility of a limited conventional war. Thoughts and ideas of limited war below nuclear threshold gave birth to the Cold Start Doctrine. Currently, India‟s acquisition of sophisticated technologies like Rafael twin engine fighter jets, and acquisition of 5 regiments of S400 advanced Air Defense System has serious implications for the peace and strategic stability of South Asia. Moreover, the US support plays a pivotal role in India‟s adoption of offensive posture towards regional neighbors. Mr. Ubaid Ahmed concluded by saying that it is for the sake of regional peace and security that Pakistan is and has to rely on credible minimum deterrence.
Second speaker Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema deliberated upon “India‟s Joint Armed Forces Doctrine”. He said there is always a huge difference in India‟s declaratory policies and its actual policies. The language India uses in its doctrines has hardly anything to do with the reality. Moreover, India‟s Joint Armed Forces Doctrine is a military strategic doctrine which is dealing with armed forces use of conventional military power. It does not overlap with India‟s nuclear doctrine. The hierarchy and command and control of India‟s Joint Armed Forces Doctrine are different from the hierarchy and institutional control of the Indian nuclear doctrine. Generally the military doctrine is a set of principles that guide the armed forces in support of their national objectives. Moreover, it resonates with the judgment of professional military officers and to a lesser extent with the civilian leaders about what is quintessentially militarily achievable. Factors like national goals and policies, threat perception, size of military force, and technological threshold, collectively shape the military doctrines. The text of India‟s Joint Armed Forces Doctrine shows that India believes that doctrines are undergoing a constant evolution process and hence the Indian doctrines are a continuous work in progress. It is believed that the doctrines never become obsolete and have the ability to bring awareness and instill wisdom. But the fact to reckon here is that doctrines are not strategies rather they form the bedrock of any military strategy. Dr. Cheema said that according to India its „Joint‟ military doctrine provides foundations for greater integration and interdependence to achieve higher inter-operability and compatibility within the armed forces. Moreover, India‟s National Security Strategy (NSS) is to maintain an effective conventional and nuclear deterrent capability. NSS guides the national military objectives of India which focuses on prevention of war through strategic and conventional deterrence across the full spectrum of military conflict. In this doctrine India perceives its strategic environment as hostile and complex, primarily because although the conflict and war for territory is diminishing around the globe, in South Asian context it continues to remain significant for India because of its disputed borders. Furthermore, India‟s security environment is impacted by a number of global and regional issues and challenges which are manifested in geo-political re-balancing, increasing assertiveness by emerging powers, regional instabilities and spread of radicalism. Dr. Cheema opined that India‟s instruments of power in use of its military force are deterrence and coercive diplomacy. India considers the use of military force and war as a political mean rather than the military mean to achieve national aims and objectives. At tactical level the use of force by India is to destruct, disrupt and constraint its enemy. Use of force or military power at conventional and sub-conventional level is justified in this doctrine under the philosophy of pro-active defence. Dr. Cheema concluded his presentation by stating that command and control explained in India‟s institutional hierarchy for Indian Joint Military Force Doctrine and Nuclear Doctrine is different, although same individuals occupy the seats in both hierarchies.
Mr. Sameer Ali Khan as the third speaker shed light on the “Cold Start Doctrine”. In his speech he said that Indian force posture developments and associated conventional and strategic modernization are something that directly affect Pakistan and hence merit an in-depth discussion. He stressed on the need to analyze popular Indian Cold Start Doctrine because it has a role in shaping Pakistan‟s strategic development since 2004. He further stated that India‟s CSD is its departure from the earlier Sundarji doctrine which was more defensive in nature, stipulating seven deployed corps near Pakistani border for defence against any military incursion by Pakistan inside India. Previously, three strike corps were located in central India that would undertake offensive actions. Under the CSD, India has converted its three strike corps into eight Integrated Battle Groups or IBGs. These IBGs are to be deployed near Pakistan. “This has allowed India to hit and mobilize rather than mobilizing to hit” as was rightly stated by Gen. Kidwai. Mr. Khan said that the CSD was considered to be a solution for overcoming the mobilization dilemma of Indian Army. With development of CSD, India designed more offensive doctrine to inflict a quick and decisive conventional defeat to the Pakistani military while operating under the perceived Pakistani nuclear threshold, hence, introducing the concept of limited war-fighting in the region while reducing the decision making time for Pakistan.
Some macro stats such as India is the third largest defence spender in the world while Pakistan comes in the range of thirties, and India‟s defence budget is about 51 billion dollars, further highlights the fact that Indian conventional military is its strength. For Pakistan, CSD is a reality, even though the international community considers it a myth. To prove his point, Mr. Sameer Ali Khan shared satellite imagery of construction of five new cantonments and up-gradation of existing 34 Cantts in India. Until recently, Indian and Western officials and academics continued to deny the existence of such a doctrine. However, Indian Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat has recently acknowledged this doctrine. Mr. Khan said that this appears to be a pattern where India continues to deny its intentions and understates its capabilities till the time it has met the prerequisites. When Pakistan tested its nuclear weapon, a deterrent equation was established. However, shortly afterwards, India started mulling at the possibility of hot pursuits and limited conventional war. It indicates non-satisfaction with the deterrent relationship and manifests an attempt to find relevance for a larger entity i.e. Indian military. Speaker was of the view that India relies on CSD because of its belief based on the assumption that Pakistan will not respond with its nuclear weapons because of the threat of Indian massive retaliation. This situation is aptly summarized by Professor Shaun Gregory (Director of Pakistan Security Research Unit, Durham University, England) where he writes; “The nuclear weapons and standing armies of India and Pakistan do not pose threat to one another simply by virtue of their existence, but by virtue of the political, social and economic relationships which condition the meaning of the weapons the two possess.” Mr. Sameer Ali Khan concluded by saying that South Asian situation is not dangerous because of Pakistani or Indian possession of nuclear weapons or their sporting of standing armies, but the situation is only dangerous because of the outstanding disputes that drive these two to employ means which are not generally seen as acceptable between nuclear weapon states. The triggers of crises in South Asia are not going to be addressed by an army that mobilizes faster or a doctrine of preemption or massive retaliation. Durable peace in the region will instead be established once the outstanding disputes are resolved and when neither side contemplates the use of force to pursue its agendas.
Afterwards, the session chair opened the floor for Question and Answer discussion. Mr. Amir Khattak (Student, NDU) asked how India‟s force posture addresses the threat of “two and a half front war”, which it believes to have been fighting, as was proclaimed by the Indian Army Chief Gen. Bipin Rawat in 2017. Dr. Cheema replied that this is a tricky issue because one has to perceive threat from adversary‟s point of view. Most of Pakistani scholars believe that India has no threat from China. But, India is addressing threats emanating from China by developing nuclear weapons. So far, India lacks the credible conventional military capability which is relevant against China. Lastly, India‟s force posture is according to its hegemonic ambitions rather than threats emanating from two and a half front war.
Mr. Zeeshan Ahmed (Student, NDU) referred the question to Dr. Cheema on difference in India‟s declaratory doctrine and actual doctrine in the wake of importance of communication in maintaining nuclear deterrence. Dr. Cheema said that declaratory postures of Indian doctrines are always different from its actual postures. It further becomes more evident if statements from Indian scholars, bureaucrats and politicians are analyzed properly which substantiate India‟s departure from NFU and is reflective of contradictions in its doctrinal position. These statements play vital role in gauging the communication aspect of nuclear deterrence. Dr. Cheema said that these dubious positions assumed by India are not veiled from Pakistan.
Mr. Syed Muhammad Ali (Senior Research Fellow, CISS) asked how the nuclear deterrence plays out in an environment of hybrid warfare in which the military instrument of coercion and destruction may not be the preferred instrument of warfare. In response to this question, Mr. Sameer Ali Khan said that hybrid war is indeed upon Pakistan. States are using cyber and space capabilities to deny any leverage to adversaries and same can happen to Pakistan. However, through indigenization and reliance on multiple sources of technology Pakistan can prepare itself better for hybrid conflict.
Mr. Hassan Alam (Student, NUML) asked Dr. Cheema, whether the persuasion of water blockade policy by India against Pakistan is component of its recent doctrines. Dr. Cheema replied that blocking river water is part of India‟s grand strategy but not military strategy. This aspect has become more visible as national strategy during Modi‟s tenure in government. This indeed is quite alarming because access to water resources is the matter of survival for Pakistan.
Mr. Syed Saddam (Research Assistant, CISS) inquired Mr. Ubaid Ahmed if the Indian policy of forward defence still prevalent. Mr. Ubaid Ahmed responded by saying that after British Raj, India as an independent state developed the policy of Forward Defence during Nehruvian time period. However, currently India has developed the policy of pro-active defence and pre-emptive strikes, which is a step ahead from forward defence policy.
Ms. Saima Aman Sial (Senior Research Fellow, CISS) asked whether India‟s counter force posturing is validated in India‟s joint armed forces military doctrine. In response, Dr. Cheema said that analyzing force posturing in South Asian environment is difficult due to overlapping of conventional and military force posturing. He further explained by presenting a hypothetical situation in which if India launches an attack under CSD, it would not be regarded as counter force move rather as a massive conventional attack. He said that as Joint Armed Forces Doctrine is the conventional military doctrine, action taken by India under it, short of using nuclear weapon is not a counter force move. Thus, although same individuals are occupying seats in conventional and nuclear hierarchy of India‟s command and control structure, its conventional force posturing is different from its nuclear force posturing.
Prof. Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal (Professor, SPIR, QAU) chaired the session on “India‟s Nuclear Force Posture: Development and Future Trends”. Worthy speakers in this session included Dr. Zafar Khan (Assistant Professor, SS, NDU), Amb. Zamir Akram (former Permanent Representative of Pakistan in Geneva), and Dr. Rizwana Kareem Abbasi (Associate Professor, IR, NDU).
Dr. Zafar Khan as a first speaker talked about „India‟s Strategic Triad: Current Trends and Future Prospects‟. He highlighted the Indian nuclear capability structuring and its subsequent aggressive force posture through substantiating this central assertion with concrete evidences of Indian modernization of nuclear capability. He argued that India is mastering the technology of missile program in order to successfully complete its strategic triad. For this very purpose, India under the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) has successfully developed different variants of missiles (i.e. land, sea, and air based) with varying ranges and payload capabilities. He further substantiated his argument with the fact that the sea and land based missile variants include short, intermediate, and long ranges up to the ICBM level and that India is working rapidly to operationalize its missiles with capability to carry all types of warheads. He further proceeded with explication of the nature and features of the capabilities of different components involved in the modernization of Indian force posture development. In the first category he focused on the short range missile family which is predominantly used for counterforce targeting. These types of missile contributed substantially in capability enhancement which in turn multiplied India‟s prospects for crafting counterforce targeting posture. They are land and sea based missile variants. Most of these short range
missiles are nuclear capable that are able to carry nuclear warheads to the assigned targets such as surface to surface Prithvi-I (SS-150km) and Prithvi-II (SS-250km) and Prithvi-III (SS-350km) also known as Dhanush which is a sea-based missile. Furthermore, India has been considering replacing Prithvi-I (150km) with Prahaar (150km) Tactical Nuclear Weapon (TNW) which was first tested in July 2011. However, Prithvi missiles are still part of India‟s deterrent forces. Another addition is Shaurya (750km to 1900km) which is a canisterized surface to surface hypersonic nuclear capable missile, Prahaar (150-300km), and BrahMos B-1 and BrahMos B-II (290km) that are supersonic cruise missiles. The sea-based short range missile comprises of K-15 Sagarika (750km). He opined that although India has been trying to make all its short range missiles nuclear capable, yet Prahaar, Nirbhay, and Brahmos short range missile variants are ideal for carrying tactical nuclear warheads, whileDRDO plans to venture into miniaturization of its nuclear warheads. This would do the following: 1) increase India‟s confidence on its deterrent forces; 2) enhance India‟s prospects for counterforce targeting strategy aimed at waging a limited war against parts of Pakistan in an outbreak of military war between India and Pakistan; 3) these short range nuclear capable missiles could then be used as tactical nuclear weapons that in turn will bolster the Indian Cold Start Doctrine (CSD). In this continuum of Indian nuclear force posture development, he took into account another accelerated modernization of the intermediate range missile family which postures at counter-value targeting. India‟s DRDO has long been working on intermediate range missile family that could enhance India‟s deterrent force posture for counter-value targeting. He further contended that India continues to increase its ranges and expands the number of these missiles that in turn enhances its posture for counter-value targeting. Subsequently, he highlighted the connection between these aggressive Indian force posture developments and the arrival of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) to South Asia. These intermediate range ballistic missiles are both land and sea based variants such as the land based Agni series including Agni-II (2000-3000km), Agni-III (3500-5000km), and Agni-IV (3000-4000km). Taking into account such developments, he put spotlight on long ranges of power projection and the resultant mass destruction. He also enlisted Agni-V (5200km+) and Agni-VI (8000km+). Dr. Khan argued that the Inter-Continental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) capability has made India the sixth nuclear state to have developed the ICBM. These long range ballistic missiles with global outreach capability become prime candidate for MIRVing, carrying multiple warheads against multiple targets. After detailing the modernization in land-based
missiles in Indian capability, Dr. Khan shifted his focus towards the sea-based missiles where he enlisted the K-series including K-15 SLBM (750km), K-4 SLBM (3500km), and K-5 SLBM (expected 6000km). He argued that the K-5 SLBM is being developed with the increased range. There are three plausible reasons for India to increase the ranges of its SLBMs. One, it would like to prevent the preemption against its sea based deterrent forces owing to the vulnerability caused by the short ranges of these missiles. Two, the increased ranges could enable India to strike from deep sea and acquire an assured second strike capability. Three, with an increased range, India could utilize its multiple SLBMs for hitting multiple targets from the sea. He further argued that in addition to these developments India plans to build new nuclear powered submarines. In view of this, India would require more fissile materials and more warheads. Having developed its intermediate ranges of Agni and K-variants ballistic missiles, India tends to strengthen its counter-value targeting option against most parts of Pakistan. While explaining the reason behind India‟s developments, he drew some plausible conjectures. One, India may intend to take over some cities of the adversary as hostage for bargaining purposes in order to prevent or deter. Second, India may intend to MIRV some of its intermediate missiles since it has already taken initiatives for MIRVing deterrent force projects. Third, India could also plan to hit most of its adversary‟s military and nuclear installations by its intermediate missiles, both from land and sea. Subsequently, he put some spotlight on the potential effects of Indian nuclear force posture on China. He said, with increased ranges, India could also cover most parts of China from land and sea which is a worrisome Indian force posture development. But, one must not forget the limitations attached with intermediate range missiles. With these India may not be able to hit all parts of its strategic rival; China, for which India tends to develop long range ballistic missiles. However, the distinction between counter-force and counter-value targeting can get blurred in the real dynamics of nuclear warfare. As a conclusion, he highlighted some potentially dire consequences resulting from these developments: 1) increasing security dilemma, 2) consistent arms race, 3) risk of accidental nuclear war, 4) violation of the minimum deterrent forces structure earlier conceptualized in South Asia, and 5) the immediate effects of innovative technology on Indian deterrent force posture, which collectively offer some outstanding challenges for South Asian deterrence stability.
Dr. Zafar Khan ended his talk with a note of caution to the Pakistani policy makers that Pakistan needs to have a reappraisal of its deterrence force structure accordingly for creating a balance and restoring deterrence stability in South Asia within its essentials of minimum deterrence.
Second speaker of the session, Amb. (R) Zamir Akram spoke about the “Security Architecture and Deterrence Stability in South Asia‟”. He began by offering congratulations to the President/Executive Director Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema upon the successful and productive completion of the five years of the institute. Regarding his topic he stressed upon two important factors that need to be evaluated in the contemporary security architecture of South Asia. First, the geostrategic location of Pakistan, and second, the historical path dependency which has constrained the policy/security options for Pakistan. He subsequently charted out the geo-strategic intricacies of the geographical location of Pakistan which he recognized as presenting the country with a dilemma. He argued that on one hand the geographical location puts Pakistan in a historically conflict-ridden yet strategically important place where the challenge is to maintain peace with a geographically contiguous adversary. On the other hand such a peculiar geostrategic location is also an opportunity to capitalize on. This play of opportunity and challenge requires careful policy work. He also focused upon the security and policy option constraints which historical path dependency has imposed on Pakistan in its respective regional environment. He further stated that in such a situation a two-front simultaneous engagement with India on the eastern front and Afghanistan on the western front has been a nightmarish challenge for the security and policy makers of Pakistan since its inception. In order to evade that scenario, Pakistan has been pushed into different military alliances with major players since the very beginning. However, such alliances have proven their futility during the war of 1971. He further added that in this context, a perpetual environment of insecurity exists for Pakistan owing to a perpetual state of asymmetry in the intent and capability of Indo-Pak relations. India‟s conventional capability has been far superior to Pakistan‟s since the beginning, which corresponds to its greater size, population and economy. The central objective of Indian foreign policy has always revolved around the intent to become a major power in the international system. While discussing the theoretical underpinnings of the concept of deterrence he argued that deterrence is a dynamic concept. It means that it perpetually remains in flux owing to the change in respective conventional and non-conventional capabilities of the states. Despite having asymmetries in their conventional capabilities, Pakistan and India have successful nuclear deterrence in place since 1984. This nuclear deterrence has successfully worked to deter many crises regressing into an all out war. By this effect, since 1984 there hasn‟t been an all out war between India and Pakistan. However, in the contemporary context, with regards to the transformative world-order, the Cold War situation is being replicated in South Asian region wherein India‟s confidence is massively boosted by the US to gear-up for the regional hegemony. In such a transformative situation, the nuclear deterrence having the predominant character of perpetual dynamic is in imbalance in the South Asian region. Therefore, the situation is rapidly approaching to the acute degree of imbalance in Indo-Pak nuclear deterrence as a result of latest technological advancements especially in the areas of cyber security and artificial intelligence. In view of this backdrop, India is refusing to come to the negotiating table and initiate a dialogue with Pakistan virtually at all levels, be it bilateral, trilateral or quadrilateral. Therefore, the policy makers need to carefully prepare a comprehensive response to this increasingly imbalanced equation of power in Indo-Pak relations.
Dr. Rizwana Kareem Abbasi as the third speaker of the session talked about “Future of Strategic Calculus in and around South Asia”. She started her presentation with a note of complement to the Executive Director/President Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema on the five years productive history of the SVI. In connection to her topic, she mentioned two-predominant trends in the Asian politics i.e. the region is increasingly globalizing and simultaneously there is an emerging response to this globalization from different entities in the region. Such a situation puts the region in a transitory phase which has serious implications for various regional aspects including the security architecture of the region. Therefore, the region is in a state of flux. Regional and extra-regional states are developing their strategic responses according to this situation. US has adopted the policy of „Pivot to Asia‟, which attempts to perform the rebalancing act in the region in order to sustain the power equilibrium in favor of the US and its allies. The central challenge to this strategy is the accelerated rise of China which is perceived a central threat to this equilibrium. In order to translate this policy of Pivot to Asia into strategy, the US has massively modernized its conventional and non-conventional capabilities and deployed them on choking points of Chinese trade routes effectively encircling it. Massive diplomatic efforts are made by the US in order to rejuvenate the traditional alliances in the region. It has also effectively exploited the fissures among the regional states such as territorial disputes and security threat from North Korea. China responds to the US „Pivot to Asia‟ policy, with modernization of its conventional and non-conventional capabilities. China has evolved a multi-pronged strategy to contain the regional players treating them as the US proxies such as India and Japan, in order to resist the US hegemonic ambitions. India‟s role in this situation is greatly boosted by the US. It perceives India as its key ally in order to sustain the power equilibrium in the region. In recent years the US assisted India in various sectors ranging from civilian pacts to military technology. Additionally, the US also vouched for India on different exclusive organizations for the memberships such as the permanent seats in the UNSC and NSG. Such unprecedented enhanced degree of partnership between the US and India has some extraordinary regional security repercussions. Pakistan feels threatened because of the increasing emerging imbalance in the conventional and nonconventional deterrence equation in Indo-Pak capabilities. She ended her presentation with a note of caution for the policy makers that Pakistan should respond to this situation with modernization of its capabilities along with resilient pursuit of CPEC. Afterwards, Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, opened the house for Question and Answer session.
Mr. Attiq ur Rehman (Assistant Professor, NUML) asked how India‟s strategic relationship with other countries should be viewed in connection to the importance of strategic calculus in South Asia and what should be the appropriate response from Pakistani strategic community with regards to partnership between India and the US. Dr. Rizwana Kareem Abbasi replied that the states‟ actions are guided by their national interests and the US has struck this deal because of its belief that both countries share broader strategic interests in Asia-Pacific region. Moreover, Pakistan has been quite vocal about the damaging effects of strategic deal between India and the US on strategic calculus of South Asia.
Ms. Sonia Naz (Student, COMSATS University) asked about the possible options available to Pakistan in response to India‟s continuous arms buildup. Dr. Zafar Khan explained that maintaining balance is the only option available to Pakistan. So far Pakistan has taken the decisions rationally which not only maintained deterrence but avoided arms race in the region.
Mr. Syed Muhammad Ali (Senior Research Fellow, CISS) asked how the future of South Asian strategic calculus would be affected if India tried to hamper Chinese interest in CPEC. Dr. Abbasi explained that the volume of bilateral trade between China and India is nearly $ 100billion a year, which reduces the chances of direct war between both countries. Moreover, as CPEC is eventually aiming to be a multilateral project rather than staying a bilateral project, it should be in the interest of India to join the project. However, in the present political situation it seems impossible for India to become a member of the CPEC. Dr. Abbasi was of the view that India would not dare to hamper Chinese interest directly but would rather use proxies against CPEC. Mr. Syed Saddam (Research Assistant, CISS) asked how necessary it is to use short range nuclear missiles for the counter force targets. Dr. Zafar Khan explained that the short range nuclear weapons are most likely to be used for counter force targets while the long range missiles are more suitable for the counter value targets. However, the long range weapons are also used in counter force targeting. Thus, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to the types of nuclear weapons to be used against certain type of target.
Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal concluded the session with his brief yet valuable remarks and stated that the Indian force posture must be analyzed in the back drop of shifts in the Indian Nuclear Doctrine. He explained to the audience that there are three schools of thought in India regarding shifting nuclear doctrine. First school of thought believes in “no first use”. Second believes in change in policy of massive retaliation as it lacks credibility against TNWs. Third school of thought believes in NFU at diplomatic level but at the same time wants to develop pre-emptive strike capability. These shifts in Indian Nuclear Doctrine cannot be ignored because India believes that it has a role to play in South Asia, Indian Ocean and beyond. Hence, India‟s force posture is changing according to its ambitions. He asserted that in the wake of upcoming elections in India, its leadership will use Pakistan as a scapegoat to gain political support.
Moreover, techniques like surgical strikes might also come into play to gather support from the masses in the upcoming elections in India.
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