Listen Text

National Security, Deterrence and Regional Stability in South Asia

30 May – 01 June, 2016
Compiled by: Maimuna Ashraf


Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) organized a three day capacity building workshop/seminar on ―National Security, Deterrence and Regional Stability in South Asia‖ from 30th May to 1st June 2016 at the Islamabad Club. Each day seminar series was held in the morning sessions from 9:30 hours to 13:00 hours followed by a group discussion from 14:00 hours to 17:00 hours. The workshop/seminar was thoroughly attended by mid-career media personnels, diplomats, students, academic scholars and young civilian/military officers etc. The main aim of the conference was to analyze the current issues related to the National Security of Pakistan and decipher the global politics that is shaping the regional landscape of South Asia. The conference was also intended to re-evaluate the nuclear equation between Pakistan and India in the wake of contemporary debates related to deterrence, doctrinal postures, nuclear policies, escalation control, Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) membership and the rising strategic capabilities in the region.


The three day capacity building workshop/seminar started off with the recitation of the Holy Quran followed by a comprehensive introduction of the SVI, presented by 1 Ms. Sadia Kazmi — Senior Research Associate at the SVI. She gave a quick overview of the aims, objectives and functions of the SVI along with various academic and research activities that the Institute has been engaged with over the past three years. She mentioned that the SVI is an autonomous, multi-disciplinary and non-partisan institute that serves as a forum for debate, discussions and exchange of views. It has been holding regular In-houses, Seminars, Conferences and Workshops with the aim to promote strategic foresight on issues of national and international importance through independent research, analyses and studies.

In the inaugural session, the President/Executive Director of SVI, Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema, welcomed and thanked the honorable Chief Guest, Lt. Gen. (R) Asif Yasin Malik, distinguished chairs, speakers and worthy participants for gracing the occasion with their presence. Organizing regular workshops have always been a hallmark of SVI‘s activities for young professionals and students to provide them an opportunity to exchange views with experts on issues related to national security and strategic stability, said 2 Dr. Cheema. He added that nominated speakers for all three day are professionally advanced and competent in their respective fields, and are fully equipped with the complex and intricate internal/external international and national security dynamics. He was of the view that the seminar was timely organized when the national scene appears to be uncertain both at internal and external level, while both are totally integrated with each other and it is impossible to separate internal security with the external/global dynamics. He maintained that the two main components of national security, which incorporate almost all other factors, are national defense and foreign relations. The issue of national security is very topical as it has been an on-going concern for Pakistan for quite some time now.

He highlighted some issues which were expected to be deliberated in the course of three days discussion. First he pointed out, the issue of recent drone attack in Balochistan that killed Mullah Mansoor Akhtar. Pakistan‘s foreign office rightly protested and believed that it is not about killing of Mullah Mansoor alone but a continuous violation of Pakistan‘s sovereignty by the US‘ drone strikes in our territory. The matter of concern for Pakistan is that the US still maintains an ambiguous position regarding drone attacks and this further deteriorates relations between the two.
On Pakistan‘s nuclear program, he stated that Pakistan carries a robust, modern and equipped weapon‘s capability which is now sufficient for its deterrence and defense security vis-a-vis India. He also expressed his concern that India continues to acquire massive conventional weapons while expanding its capability with the assistance of great powers like the US and Russia. The strengthening strategic partnership between India and the US, especially, after their nuclear deal has made the former a recipient of large scale arms and critical amount of uranium. This unlimited flow of nuclear acquisition from the US for India‘s civilian reactors may allow the later to divert its own fissile material for weapons production. This dangerous development not only generates threat but equally compels Pakistan to have more fissile material and weapons. He cautioned that in the long run such arms race is neither in Pakistan‘s interest nor in India‘s interest.

In concluding remarks, he opined that Pakistan still faces multiple challenges at home which require a comprehensive response to address its political, strategic, socio-economic, energy, and security dimensions. ―Pakistan‘s contemporary security paradoxes need an efficient national security strategy for its management,‖ he underscored. The prevailing security pressures need an integrated approach in our national security through military, strategic, diplomatic, governance and economic inputs which will serve to minimize the existing challenging threats of our state.

Lt. Gen. (R) Asif Yasin Malik (Former Defense Secretary) thanked 3Dr. Cheema for inviting him as a chief guest to speak on a subject of utmost relevance to the current regional environment which has a direct impact on Pakistan‘s national security calculus. While recalling the history, he noted that every now and then, the strategic balance was disturbed by Indians thus Pakistan had no option but to restore the balance. On India‘s nuclear detonation in 1998, international community too played a partisan role by pressurizing Pakistan not to respond and stay under the Indian strategic dominance. Pakistan sustained the international pressure and wisely went nuclear. Pakistan, he recalled, was ‗a product of conflict‘ and has struggled to come out of that mode. ―Our capability has been reactive in nature in response to the Indian massive strategic competence and our development of short range missile capability does not mean that we do not have conventional response to Indian Cold Start doctrine. We are fully capable of responding any misperceived adventurism‖, he elaborated. He stated that by no means we will try to lower the nuclear threshold as being alleged by the West.
He alerted, the increasing gap in the conventional capability has left us with no choice but to develop comprehensive deterrence capability. The Indo-US nuclear deal and India‘s attempt to get into Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG) are alarming signs for Pakistan, he added. He further reflected that ―Modi‘s era‖ has brought new level of acrimony and volatility in its attitude towards Pakistan and that has been encouraged by the Indo-US long term strategic partnership.
While talking about Afghanistan, he said that the Taliban controls about 60 per cent of the territory, the government is still tackling with the internal strife while this disorder is badly affecting Pakistan‘s western border. Instability in Afghanistan has resulted in 2.5 million refugees‘ migration into Pakistan. He expressed his concern about India-Afghanistan-Iran‘s nexus which is posing a major threat to Pakistan‘s security. In view of the regional and global environment, he feared that Pakistan may fall into an abyss of isolation primarily because of its own mistakes and partly due to the hostile policies of other states.

Lt. Gen. Malik suggested that Pakistan‘s way forward lies in a complete overhaul of the governance issues with a special emphasis on foreign and economic policies. ―People of Pakistan are known for their resilience against challenges but the country lacks a sincere leadership that should be dedicated to the national cause‖. Moreover, he maintained that people in a state are considered as the ‗pivot of security‘, and it is the human security which leads to the stability of a state. He suggested that the pathetic state of governance in Pakistan needs serious and immediate attention.

Speaking about the perceived encirclement of the country, he said that it‘s a foreign policy failure which is caused by the absence of a full time Foreign Minister coupled with dysfunctional Foreign office. In the end he concluded by rejecting the false notion about Pakistan‘s likely failure as a state, claiming that a sincere leadership at political front will surely fade out these kinds of myths once and for all.

The next session titled National Security Imperatives of South Asia‘ was chaired by Lt. Gen. (R) Asif Yasin Malik (Former Defence Secretary). He introduced the distinguished speakers of the session and steered the discussion. The group of experts in the session called upon the government for a proactive response to the emerging national security risks and threats in particular the non-traditional challenges.

Air Commodore (R) Ghulam Mujaddid (Registrar Air University) in his presentation on ‗The Contemporary Threat Perception and Strategic Options for Pakistan‘ said that as a state, Pakistan‘s national security could be recognized in four military take-overs, and the ascendancy of military influence in political, internal and foreign policy decision making. He maintained that Pakistan‘s security community needs to correct this ―Strategic Myopia‖.

He opined that even today in Pakistan, national security is equated with the traditional concept of military security and therefore it is only the military dimension that is considered when dealing with national security of the state. In our state, military-bureaucratic infrastructures and governmental ministries are in semi-permanent military mobilization, whereas the armed forces are in perpetual state of readiness. The underlying assumption here is that the preparation for war has to be perpetual and based on the dictum of ―if you want peace, be prepared for war.‖ Such a security-focused state, he observed, allocates more resources for defense at the cost of social welfare and human security.

17Mr. Mujaddid observed that the ―decisions on security issues remain ad-hoc and disconnected; formulated and implemented in separate silos, and hence policies are reactive instead of being consistent and coherent. He also counted that the crucial neighbourhood in shape of India, instability in Afghanistan, the US‘ strategy in Afghanistan coupled with Indo-US strategic partnership are the prominent threats to Pakistan‘s current national security.

Pakistan needs to correct this strategic myopia. A survivalist mindset about national security dominates the political discourse and continues to be the central pillar in Pakistan‘s strategic calculations,‖ he said. He further pointed out that the country lacks forums for national security formulation, recognizing that the establishment of a Cabinet Committee on National Security (CCNS) and the appointment of a National Security Adviser (NSA) are the positive steps taken in the right direction. Moreover, he suggested that the national security should base on the firm belief that Pakistan‘s economic revival and progress is the bedrock of security. Rebuilding the economy should have overriding priority. Since economic security rests on physical security, this requires the elimination of threats related to law and order. Other impediments in economic revival must also be removed, for instance, mobilizing domestic resources, addressing power shortages and dealing with the education emergency, which threatens to turn our demographic dividend into a disaster. He summed up his speech by saying that Pakistan can surmount almost all grave challenges if the government is committed to sincerely steer its internal coherence and regenerative capabilities.

Dr. Tughral Yamin, Assistant Dean, Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at NUST Islamabad, while speaking on the ―Growing Asymmetry in South Asia and its Implications for National Security of Pakistan‖, pointed out five reasons as to why Pakistan is facing the growing asymmetries. 1) India‘s growing defense budget and its international arms acquisition drive; 2) India‘s acceptance as a responsible nuclear state (civil nuclear deals, NSG Waiver, US‘ Support for India‘s entry into the NSG); 3) advent of the nuclear powered and nuclear missile equipped submarine; 4) development of the BMDs; 5) and lastly India‘s bid to encircle Pakistan through Afghanistan and Iran.

5Dr. Yamin prescribed three broad options for Pakistan in response to these asymmetries. First, let the situation stay as it is and let‘s accept India‘s hegemony. Second, indulge in a debilitating arms race (conventional as well as nuclear) to maintain a modicum of strategic balance. Third, get an edge by improving the economy, defeating terrorism, eradicating poverty and seek smart military solutions. He prescribed smart military solutions by suggesting that Pakistan should cover the conventional gap through training and indigenous defense production, improve net-centric capabilities, build a small but effective navy, and develop an assured second strike capability.

Lt. Gen. (Retd) Naeem Lodhi (Former Defence Secretary) talked at length about the ―Emerging Challenges of India-Iran-Afghanistan Nexus and Implications for CPEC‖. Gen. Lodhi opined that the India-Iran-Afghanistan bloc would affect Pakistani plans for regional economic integration, restoration of internal and external peace, besides affecting the CPEC‘s timelines. He opined that the existence of such a formidable bloc in the neighborhood has ominous and far reaching implications for Pakistan.

Mr. Lodhi advocated that the Indian threat is persistently hovering over Pakistan. India remains an adversary irrespective of the ups and downs experienced in the last 70 years. Some fundamental changes have emerged soon after Modi’s accession to power such as improvement of Indian economy, India‘s increasing political influence in the region and above all the understanding with the US to play a regional proxy. Put together, these developments are detrimental to Pakistan’s interests. Indo-US interests are fully synchronized against the disruption of the CPEC to undermine the overall progress of Pakistan. 18The only card we can use to entice India is the CPEC project. In order to bring harmony between India and Pakistan, we may offer them to join the corridor at Wagah and Khokrapar, only in exchange for giving relief to Kashmiris from military atrocities‖, said Mr. Lodhi.

Linking of Chabahar with Gwadar could also be effective economic bait. Iran must not be further alienated and its interests in the CPEC should also be materialized by Pakistan. Mr. Lodhi said Iran is fully poised for an active economic and political role in the world affairs. Iranians have clearly indicated their political leaning towards an emerging Russo-China bloc without compromising on their economic interests elsewhere in the world. Recent events clearly exhibit their cementing ties with India and Afghan government. However at the same time, the Iranian ambassador‘s interest in the CPEC and Chabahar, affords an opportunity for Pakistan to veer Iran away from Indo-Iran-Afghan nexus. He also recommended that we should review our concept of full spectrum deterrence‘, as it has failed to deter the fourth and fifth generation warfare, being inflicted upon Pakistan.

At the end, he summed up by saying that we need to break this encircling move with the help of friends, diplomatic maneuvers and by forging strong deterrence. He also advised that Iran could be the most amenable neighbour who could seriously pay heed to our concerns. ―Pakistan must use China‘s influence for fixing regional problems while keeping defence and strategic partnership in a formalized manner, instead of relying on unwritten understanding‖, concluded Mr. Lodhi.

The session was then followed by an interactive discussion in which the participants raised a number of high quality questions.

The first question was posed by Mr. Zaki Khalid — an independent geopolitical analyst — commented that Pakistan‘s Army has conventionally been dominating the national security and defense discourse while Navy has always been given less importance. With reference to the CPEC‘s ‗One Belt One Road‘ initiative where China is focused on maritime route, he asked Lt.

7Gen. (R) Naeem Lodhi, if Navy should also be promoted as number one force to safeguard its interest?‖ Lt. Gen. (R) Naeem Lodhi responded that the coordination between army and armed forces has always been excellent and so is with the Navy. He added that to safeguard the CPEC, more significant is the coordination between the institutions on provincial and federal level that are responsible to make important decisions, address the rising concerns and ensure the safety of physical infrastructure and its implementation and execution.

Prfessor Dr. Aftab Kazi, while commenting on the India-Afghanistan-Iran nexus, inquired about the speculations regarding Russia-Pakistan-China nexus. He further pointed out about the concerns regarding CPEC where Gwadar is being perceived as a naval station. Lt. Gen. (R) Naeem Lodhi in response to the question said, it will be too early to comment on effectiveness of Russia-Pakistan-China nexus which has yet to get formalized. However, he termed it a potential requirement in the aftermath of Pakistan‘s exclusion from the American camp. On conjectures regarding Gwadar being a naval base, he stated that it is a matter of concern and needs consideration by keeping in view its future implications. We must negotiate to secure our economic interests in Gwadar before China converts it into a naval base. He assured that few of the Chinese attempts to push their army components in Pakistan have been refused by Pakistan with a reassurance that the required military security will be provided by Pakistan. Consequently, it can be deduced that Pakistan understands the implications of Gwadar becoming a naval base although ultimately it may or may not happen. Moreover, Lt. Gen. (R) Yasin Malik, while commenting on Russia-Pakistan-China nexus stated that the aim should not be to annoy the US but to exploit and secure one‘s own interest in the international political environment.

8Mr. Atique Ur Rehman, faculty member at NUML Islamabad, reflected on the contemporary regional naval developments, and suggested that in view of Indian naval Cold Start Doctrine and the fact that Pakistan is part of the maritime ‗Silk Road‘ initiative of China, we need to put special emphasis on naval development as the world focus is being shifting towards maritime politics in the future.

Lt. Gen. (R) Asif Yasin agreed with the observations and also added that maritime domain falls under international law and as far as the possibility of India‘s conflict with China is concerned, Pakistan doesn‘t need not to worry about it because Indians will get the fitting response from China.

9Mr. Yasir Masood, Senior Research Associate and Editor from SVI, hinted at the deceptive role and dangerous policies of the US in South Asian regional landscape with inclination towards India that could drag the region into further chaos. He asked Mr. Malik what the policy practitioners‘ of Pakistan are up to and what could be the possible way out from these dominating conundrums to ensure Pakistan‘s security concerns? Mr. Malik replied that the policy practitioners‘, if there are any, are the ones who have landed the country in this mess. He further added that no state can be blamed including US for its double standards in the international politics, as every state has the right to pursue its own national interest. In the same way, Pakistan like any other state must seek its own national interest and must refrain from developing self-bashing policies.

10Mr. Usman, student at a New York college, highlighted different examples of extremist mindset in the Middle East and South Asia, and asked what are the right behavioral interventions that could be adopted to tackle with the extremist mindset in Pakistan? Air Cmdr. Ghulam Mujaddid said radicalization should not be confined to Pakistan alone as it is a human phenomenon. People from any part of the world can have extremist mindset as has been evident from many examples but unfortunately, there has been a sanctioning of the radicalized behaviour in Pakistan. There is a tendency to put a great value to one who acted radicalized in the name of religion. Promotion of core values to people is a must act now; as radicalization is the purview of the society thus society needs to take charge and guard its interest.

Lt. Gen. (R) Yasin Malik added to the argument and inquired why is it that Indian extremism and radicalization embedded in Modi‘s doctrine has never been highlighted, despite the Gujarat arson in 2002 when about 2000 women were ferociously raped and burnt alive under his authority as a Chief Minister? Does everyone else talk about Gau Mata (Mother Cow) business; the Muslims are being killed regularly even if they think of slaughtering a cow in India.


11In the welcome remarks, President SVI, Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema presented an overview of the first Days‘ proceeding. His welcome remarks were followed by the keynote address by Lt-Gen Syed Mohammad Owais, Secretary Defense Production, in which he highlighted some commendable and significant observations on the subject under discussion.

He reiterated that Pakistan‘s nuclear weapons have been developed as a response to India‘s nuclear weapons and will continue to remain as such. Pakistan‘s nuclear deterrence is India specific and is not in an arms race with any state in the world. Pakistan‘s intentions are clearly manifested in its nuclear doctrine of Minimum Credible Deterrence. He further highlighted that the Indo-US long term strategic partnership is creating serious national security challenges for Pakistan. Its discriminatory and preferential treatments to India by offering a nuclear deal have greatly enhanced Indian capacity to develop more nuclear weapons and thus disturbing the fragile strategic stability. Indo-US alliance is affecting Pakistan`s security by widening its conventional and nuclear gap with India. In addition, this strategic cooperation is systematically enhancing nuclear and conventional asymmetry in the region in favour of India.

13Over a period of time, this ascendancy has given India a false sense of security and confidence to plan and execute its use of force against Pakistan. Indian military is seriously thinking of introducing offensive doctrines like a Cold Start or proactive operations, which is a very dangerous development and may trigger a war that necessarily may not remain limited.The defense production secretary believed that ―the US patronage had emboldened India to coerce Pakistan into compliance mode‖. Talking about India, he said, notwithstanding its claims of engaging Pakistan in a political dialogue for the resolution of outstanding issues, New Delhi mostly played intrigue diplomacy.

He believed that since the space for conventional war is shrinking; India may impose a war on Pakistan through other means. By other means, the former general meant economic and political coercion and cultural dominance. ―India would also try to draw Pakistan into an arms race, exploit its internal weaknesses and weaken its security‖. He also viewed the capture of Indian spy Kulbushan Yadev and other RAW activities in Pakistan as part of the Indian strategy to undermine Pakistan‘s security. In an apparent reference to Indian moves to encircle Pakistan, he said Delhi has been developing relationship with Islamabad`s traditional friends like Riyadh, Abu Dhabi and Tehran in an attempt to limit Pakistan‘s influence in these countries. Additionally, India is going all out to keep Afghans negatively inclined‘ towards Pakistan. He concluded by suggesting Pakistan‘s foreign ministry to neutralize the Indian moves through an effective diplomacy.

14The session entitled ―Contemporary Nuclear Debate: Policy and Doctrinal Postures‖ was chaired by Ambassador (R) Tariq Osman Hyder. He thanked Dr. Cheema for inviting him to chair the session and began with introducing distinguished speakers of the session by highlighting their professional expertise on national issues and nuclear studies.


Mr. Zamir Akram (Former Permanent Representative to CD/United Nations, Geneva) deliberated on the subject of ―Review of Contemporary Nuclear Debate and Options for Pakistan‖. The former envoy expressed his views on India‘s massive, conventional and strategic military buildup. He said, India is being encouraged and supported by the US and allies like Israel for the last three years, achieving a current stature as the largest buyer of weapons in the world. He presented an overview of India‘s off late development and progress of nuclear arsenals, under the aegis of the US‘ civilian nuclear cooperation agreements. Moreover, he mentioned that India has also been modernizing its triad of nuclear delivery systems including short, medium and long range missiles, Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBMs) and nuclear powered sub-marine, developing BMD system. Recently there have been reports about development of Hydrogen bomb as well.

Mr. Akram noted that Pakistan is a victim of strategic change, referring to the US‘ growing reliance on India for countering China‘s rise. The Indo-US strategic partnership is more than just about a civilian nuclear cooperation. He said, the level of cooperation has reached to an extent that the Indians for the first time in its history are about to allow their bases and military facilities to be used by the Americans. He recommended for Pakistan to strengthen its strategic partnership with China, develop partnership with Russia and maintain credible deterrence against India. Further, he added, Pakistan needs to continue developing capabilities for Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNWs) and delivery systems and long range missiles. Over the longer time, Pakistan should develop nuclear powered submarines and Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBMs) of its own, which is the best course for credible second strike capability. He also suggested that Pakistan must acquire Multiple Independently Reentry Vehicle (MIRV) missiles capability to counter Indian launched BMD. However, he cautioned that these measures will create problems with the US as it has already been demanding Pakistan to freeze the production of fissile material, TNWs, Nasr and long range missiles.
On Indian bid for the Nuclear Supplier Group (NSG membership), he implied that Pakistan should make intense efforts to block exclusive Indian membership into NSG and should kick start efforts for its own membership. Furthermore, China and other like-minded countries should be taken into confidence to ensure non-discriminatory approach and convey the negative fallout to the US for granting India the NSG membership. He also stressed on following an aggressive Pakistan‘s foreign policy for furthering national interest. He said the government would have to back up its words with actions, or else others would stop taking Pakistan seriously. Ambassador Akram added that even if Pakistan accepts the US‘ demands, the list would keep growing and the goalpost would keep on changing. ―Pakistan must ensure sustained economic growth to meet strategic challenges and eliminate reliance on the foreign assistance, reiterated Mr. Akram.

Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema as a speaker discussed ―Indian Nuclear and Strategic Doctrine‖. He said that the origins of Indian strategic and nuclear doctrine can be explored from the Indian conventional military, strategic posture and conventional deterrent policies. He reiterated that Pakistan has been facing criticism for making tactical nuclear weapons. Although, India was developing TNWs before Pakistan but they kept it under shelf because they were not yet useable against China. However, they reactivated after test of Nasr by Pakistan. Indian response to Pakistan‘s TNWs is a massive retaliation, which means that if Pakistan uses tactical nuclear weapons against India in the battle field, the latter would consider it a nuclear war and retaliate with massive nuclear strike against the former. He cautioned that the Indian naval and maritime doctrine visualizes the nuclearization of the Indian Ocean, development of nuclear powered submarine and emplacement of submarine launched ballistic missiles, which will give India more credible second strike capability and will complete India‘s strategic triad. Keeping in view these developments, the proposal to develop long range missiles is appropriate for Pakistan.
While concluding, he said that Indian belligerent military postures and aggressive foreign policy behaviour against its neighbours in pursuit of great power role undermines regional and strategic stability in the region. The realization of India‘s strategic objectives would seriously challenge Pakistan‘s national security objectives of maintaining adequate conventional defense and minimum credible/full spectrum deterrence.

16Dr. Adil Sultan (Director R & A, PDS Branch, SPD) expounded on ―Pakistan‘s Nuclear Posture and Quest for Assured Deterrence. He reiterated that to counter India‘s new war fighting doctrine, Pakistan introduced its TNW —‘Nasr’, with a strategic objective of preventing even a limited war with India. It has helped to enhance Pakistan‘s credibility of deterrence at the operational and tactical levels, which could possibly be described as a strategy of assured deterrence‘ — to cover full spectrum of threats, and is therefore labeled as Full Spectrum Deterrence (FSD) posture. On the other hand, Dr. Sultan added that India‘s development of Prahaar’, possibly as a tit for tat response, could be construed as a nuclear war fighting option to develop a proportionate response and avoid massive retaliation‘, contrary to its stated doctrine.

While deliberating on the concerns of TNWs falling in the hands of terrorists, Dr. Adil explained that more than 25000 troops are responsible for nuclear security and there are standard protocols for all NWs, including the TNW. Thus, there is no possibility of a non-state actor gaining access to NWs. He opined, Anti -Ballistic Missile (ABM) system may not work in India-Pakistan scenario and can give false sense of security to the Indian decision makers. Pakistan does not want to engage in a costly arms race, but will have to take measures to ensure the credibility of its deterrence posture, said Mr. Sultan. In the end, he said, Pakistan‘s nuclear posture is aimed at maintaining strategic stability in the region and to preclude the possibility of even a limited military conflict with India. India has an ambition to be recognized as a regional hegemon, if not a global power in the distant future, by introducing destabilizing military technologies and war fighting doctrines which is definitely a cause of concern for South Asian strategic stability.

19The session was then followed by an interactive debate and question-answers by the audience. Mr. Zaki Khalid mentioned that recently Mathura-based Strike 1 corps of the Indian Army conducted a major exercise Shatrujeet’ in the deserts of Rajasthan. The purpose of this exercise was to validate the rapid mobilization of integrated battle group in a limited control environment. They are creating a scenario in which TNWs would be attacked on India, referring to this scenario he asked what the significance of Pakistan‘s TNWs is now and does it devalue Pakistan‘s deterrence capability in any way? Dr. Adil Sultan said that this is not the first time India is conducting this kind of exercise, it was held last year as well. It doesn‘t necessarily mean that the doctrine they are practicing will also be implemented. If there is a space and possibility available for war, India would have done that long ago. Despite keeping on practicing such mock exercises, India can never devalue Pakistan‘s strategic capability.

Mr. Atique Ur Rehman asked Dr. Adil Sultan to comment on Pakistan‘s nuclear weapons which are India specific and inquired whether nuclear weapons serve as the main chunk of Pakistan‘s national security or not ? Dr. Sultan responded by saying that the nuclear weapons or military capabilities should be in line with the national objectives. If Pakistan‘s national objective is to prevent war against India and to survive in this region as a sovereign state, then Pakistan‘s elements of the national power should be focused against that specific threat. Nuclear weapons, no doubt, work as a bulwark for Pakistan‘s national security, but India‘s efforts to engage Pakistan in the conventional warfare, consistently compels Pakistan to fortify its national security structure by updating conventional war technology.

20Lt. Col. (R) Nasir Hafeez from the SVI asked how would Pakistan getting the NSG membership and joining of an export control mechanism will help Pakistan, because Pakistan as of now does not have the capacity to export technology to the world? Mr. Akram responded that the NSG is not about export alone, it is about civilian nuclear cooperation and as a member it will entitle Pakistan for civilian nuclear cooperation with the international community. The point of concern for us is related to the exclusive waiver, a country that is non-signatory to the NPT or a member of the Nuclear Weapon Free Zone (NWFZ) cannot be considered eligible for the membership of the NSG. The US is determined to make the case for India, claiming that India shares the like-mindedness with other members of NSG. Such an exclusive waiver is discriminatory and we should claim to be treated equally. If India gets the membership, it will be a huge setback for Pakistan because then India will have even greater excess to the civilian nuclear cooperation agreements. It will surely affect our cooperation with China and our future membership in NSG because decision there takes place on basis of consensus and India will always veto our membership.

21Mr. Usman referring to the Abbottabad incident — killing of Osama bin Laden — asked how could Pakistan improve its image internationally after such incidents regarding the safety of its nuclear arsenals, as it has tarnished Pakistan‘s reputation as a safe country for possessing nuclear weapons, when terrorists can so easily find refuge in Pakistan. Ambassador Zamir Akram agreed that Pakistan is facing a terrible image internationally because of, the Abbottabad incident. The irony is that to a great extent Pakistan itself is responsible for such an image abroad but at the same time not the only one responsible. Osama bin Laden was more of an American instrument of policy vis-a-vis Afghanistan and USSR than he was for Pakistan.

Brig. Rafi hinted at the the illuminating fears of another pool of possible sanctions from the US for curtailment of its nuclear program and asked what options does Pakistan have to counter such threats and continue its program as per the requirement despite the economic limitations? Ambassador Akram said the best course of action for Pakistan is to build its economic capabilities and to stop relying on other‘s assistances. Self-reliance is the only way to go about in the right direction Ambassador (R) Tariq Osman Hyder concluded the remarks of three eminent practitioners hailing from the strategic field in four significant points. Firstly, Pakistan should continue its strategic program in lieu of minimum credible deterrence. However, deterrence as a dynamic phenomenon varies qualitatively or quantitatively in response to the threat. Second, Pakistan needs to address the issue of terrorism more vehemently with effective counter-terrorism strategies that resultantly could improve Pakistan‘s image internationally. Third, we should maintain that Pakistan‘s deterrence is for its security instead of formally saying that it is aimed at India; rather it should be implied because the threat is nonetheless from India. Fourth, Pakistan needs to develop self-reliance. At the end, he thanked audience for the interactive session.


In welcome remarks, Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema presented an overview of the second day‘s proceeding. In the last day‘s session titled, ―Deterrence Equilibrium and Strategic Stability in South Asia‖, chaired by Mr. Ross Masood Husain (SVI Chairperson) introduced the speakers. Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema was acknowledged for organizing and conducting a timely and very successful seminar/workshop on a topic of great concern.

23Dr. Zafar Khan (Asst. Prof., Department of Strategic Studies, NDU) deliberated upon the topic ―Indian Nuclear Deterrence and Strategic Stability‖. He expounded that with all the major nuclear deterrent forces, India remains active in terms of development and deployment of the BMD system to protect New Delhi (where the nuclear leadership sits) and Mumbai (India‘s economic hub). Although, India makes sure to enhance the credibility of its BMD system, the drawback of this deployed system is that it remains expensive and India may not be able to protect all parts of India and many of its deterrent forces. Also, it is not clear whether or not India would be able to shoot and kill any incoming missiles through its advanced interceptors.

He opined that India embarks on major projects as part of its nuclear deterrence development; and would require great amount of fissile materials not only for making more warheads for its delivery system, but also for making various types of delivery systems. The growing Indo-US nuclear deal, the nuclear supplier group special waiver, and India keeping itself away from the non-proliferation regimes such as NPT, the proposed FMCT, and the CTBT, reflects that India significantly enjoys the benefits of prevailing changed strategic environment that in turn would fulfill India‘s desire to complete its planned nuclear deterrence force. He concluded by saying that all these changed doctrinal postures for nuclear deterrence would make India produce more fissile materials to acquire more warheads and sophisticated delivery systems. Being a non-NPT member and the kind of nuclear projects India tends to carry out, it might revert from its declared moratorium on nuclear weapons testing to test more nuclear tests including that of H-bomb. These strategic force modernizations and conventional developments reflect qualitative and quantitative developments of India‘s nuclear deterrence. India‘s option for a flexible response nuclear strategy in turn allows India to gradually shift away from minimum deterrence to limited deterrence, where India would opt for expensive, ambitious and sophisticated delivery systems to suffice its advanced conventional and nuclear deterrent forces within the broader ambit of limited nuclear options and flexible response nuclear strategy.

24Dr. Rizwana Karim Abbasi (Asst. Prof., Department of Strategic Studies, NDU) spoke on the subject, ―Pakistan Deterrence and Strategic Stability‖. She recounted that nuclear deterrence has prevented both conventional and a nuclear war up to this point. However, deterrence is unstable and peace remains fragile with high probability of war at the sub conventional level because of the two factors. One, the distinct strategic direction of the states in this region is making peace hard to achieve. Indian ruthless power projection behaviour (without considering regional priorities) is undermining regional strategic environment and destabilizing bilateral-deterrence. Two, Chinese rise, Indian geo-strategic location and great power‘s devolution of power to India to safeguard their strategic, commercial and economic interests has further strained the regional politics.

She highlighted that Pakistan as a new nuclear weapon state has improved nuclear capability; strategic modernization has evolved force postures and contingency plans along the lines of regional strategic transformation. From Minimum Credible deterrence (MCD) to Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD) and now Full Spectrum Deterrence (FSD) along with technological modernization is indeed visible. Despite external and regional pressures, financial constraints, technological hurdles, Pakistan has been consistently modernizing its nuclear deterrence force to stabilize regional-centric deterrence against Indian conventional and non-conventional moves thereby maintaining peace and avoiding war.

She concluded by suggesting that in the nuclear domain, Pakistan needs to establish training centers on nuclear escalation and nuclear use and non-use understanding to generate public awareness along with human rights debates that should become a centre of our future policies. Furthermore, on the bilateral relations between India and Pakistan, she made four precise observations. One, the two states need to build stable political relationship, while promoting trade and building cooperation into their less urgent areas. Two, both India and Pakistan should exercise maximum restraint, should resume dialogue and adopt arms reduction mechanism. Three, they should focus on devising diplomatic means for the settlement of the bilateral disputes especially Kashmir. Both these sates need to clearly and establish an understanding that neither use of total force is feasible nor the concept of total victory is achievable in the nuclear domain as is guided by deterrence theory. Four, they should become conscious as they cannot avoid risks of nuclear war until they revisit and rationalize their all-inclusive military plans, adopt budgetary constraints, and institute arms control mechanisms that reflect doctrinal clarity for the betterment of the people of both states. Each side should behave as mature nuclear weapon states and induce highly rational behaviour in their strategic actions.

25The last topic was presented by Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal (an Associate Professor form School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad) on ―Deterrence, Equilibrium, Escalation Control and Strategic Stability in South Asia‖. He conceptually introduced deterrence as a strategy of combining two competing goals countering an enemy and avoiding war. An enemy will not strike if it knows that the defender can defeat the attack or can inflict an unacceptable damage in retaliation. So by examining both, one can say that deterrence in reality is neither synonymous to strategy nor is it a conflict resolution. Thus it is a technique to preserve the status quo. Whereas, status quo is based on either, balance of power in a strategic realm or on balance of terror.

Balance of power is an old concept in international relations but the concept of balance of terror was coined in 1960s or more specifically it is seen in the Cuban missile crisis literature. Balance of terror is a transparent balance or transparence capability which is denied on either side or an advantage to escalate a conflict. But the problem, he identified, within the east-west relationship was when the deterrence was stabilized they used the term as deterrence equilibrium with reference to balance of terror. At that time the situation was entirely different, there were different powers competing with different interests without having any historical baggage but the situation of south Asia is entirely different. India and Pakistan in South Asia share common borders, have had four wars and above all there is the on-going arms race between them. Consequently, both states are investing immensely in their military sector.

He quoted Bernard Brodie who inspects that ―today we make a strategy to fight a war but actually we are making the strategy to avoid a war‖. In the South Asian context, we make a strategy to avoid a total war but at the same time a strategy is in process to fight a limited war owing to the concept of conventional war in Pakistan and a limited war from Indian perspective. While talking about the escalation and escalation control, he identified six important points. India‘s doctrinal transformation, offensive defense to defensive defense, cold start doctrine, India‘s flirting with limited war options in a nuclearized region, BMD missile system and Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) developing missiles capable of carrying multiple warheads. Vertical proliferation is going on both sides, in the form of tactical nuclear weapons, cruise missiles, BMDs, sea based missiles, and purchase of sophisticated weapons from other nations.

He concluded by highlighting the challenges to our strategic stability despite the impression of deterrence equilibrium. Strategic stability can be guaranteed, if an arms control arrangement is sought and simultaneously mechanism of conflict sustainability is maintained. He highlighted four points for South Asian strategic stability environment, 1) India-Pakistan‘s military doctrines are in transition; 2) the conventional and nuclear weapon modernization alarms about the possibility of strategic instability is in the region; 3) arms race contains inherent potential to destabilize the deterrence equilibrium and 4) the nuclear optimist assessment about the nuclear weapon impressive contribution in constructing strategic stability is severely under stress in South Asia.

Security dilemma not only sustains the arms race between the belligerent neighbours but also germinate the destabilizing miscalculation and misperception, which prompts war. The Indian and Pakistani military build-up has been creating an enormous spiral of offensive defensive arms race, entailing a strategic environment which is greatly complex, volatile and unpredictable.
The session was followed by the subsequent high quality questions regarding the issues which were answered comprehensively by the concerned speakers.

26Mr. Yasir from the SVI directed his question to Dr. Rizwana wherein he asked that efforts to promote peace in the region, especially the composite dialogue process between India and Pakistan, for last several years has turned out into a fiasco. In the current situation, how is it possible, particularly when at the international level India is using double standards? On one side branding Pakistan as a terrorist state while on the other, investing huge sums in its nuclear program that can create further instability and terror in the region? He asked what could be the starting and salient points which can deliver a breakthrough in the India-Pakistan peace process. Dr Rizwana Abbasi admitted it‘s a very timely, important and a tricky question to answer considering the recurrent impasse in the India-Pakistan peace process over the years. She elaborated that when we look at India’s rising status and aspiration as a regional hegemon, any particular actor has to set its priorities in a way that it has to be done on the maximization of its gain and gains of immediate neighbours. A peaceful and accommodative strategic posture rather than a belligerent one can deliver such dividends. Terrorism has been an issue in the region for long. India has been able to exploit and expose Pakistan globally by highlighting on its problem of terrorism. She suggested it is in India‘s interest as an aspiring rising power to settle its disputes within Pakistan in a collective setting and mechanism. Pakistan has adopted a very consistent approach and worked very hard in countering terrorism. However, the international community has a role to play as well to bring this so-called war on terror to an end. It is a reality that it is a complex phenomenon and there are many spoilers.

Mr. Atique Ur Rehman asked, in order to survive and to maintain regional equilibrium, we have to adopt an appropriate strategy in which Pakistan has to merge nuclear capabilities with convention capabilities. That means in response to Indian Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) we have introduced tactical nuclear weapons — a full spectrum deterrence. In future, if we focus on development of tactical nuclear weapons what difficulties Pakistan can face from Indian side in this regard? Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal replied that the conventional asymmetry between India and Pakistan was very rightly pointed out in the question. Generally, it is questioned that even though the conventional asymmetry but if it is big enough to compel Pakistan to use tactical nuclear weapons. Looking closely one would find out that the issue of conventional asymmetry is not as big as it looks. So the question arises should the conventional asymmetry alarm Pakistan or not? Given India’s other engagements and interests, it cannot break our 1.5 ratio difference, which means it is manageable even at the conventional level. But, there is another perspective, when we look at the full spectrum deterrence, sometime the terms used in Strategic Plans Division (SPD) is qualitative arrangement. However, it is both qualitative and quantitative.

27Mr. Zaki Khalid posed a question to Dr, Jaspal about Pakistan‘s full spectrum deterrence capability that does not cater to 4th and 5th generation threats, hence this can be assumed that India has the capacity to cripple Pakistan‘s position through information warfare means and cyber-attacks. He asked if Pakistan actually possesses the full spectrum deterrence. Replying to this question Dr. Jaspal shared his own take on 4th generation warfare. He explained that it is very easy to hit asymmetrical groups using anti-satellite weapons, for instance with the help of keyboard warfare, which is everywhere.

The nations have become so careful of it that they are not allowing a computer operate outside their strategic layer. So, there are many mechanisms. It is easier to say but difficult to define especially when nations are involved in developments of weapons which are guarantor of their survival. If one could recall, the term (cyber warfare) was first used first when the inspectors of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) were visiting an Iranian nuclear facility and there was some blast. But since Pakistan is not allowing IAEA to visit its nuclear facilities so it should be confident of being immune to such potential threats to its key strategic assets and facilities. On the other hand, if we look at South Asian strategic environment, we cannot live in isolation, it is closely linked to international developments and global strategic environment. Even in the SCO it has nothing to do with defence arrangements. It has only to do with terrorism and extremism. It has nothing to do with hard-powers of the state. Of course, China asks for restrain on arms controls and China desires Pakistan should have good and stable relations with India.

28Dr. Aftab Kazi asked Dr. Jaspal how he sees the possibility of Indian airstrikes on some specific targets in Russian cities under the changing strategic environment. Dr. Jaspal replied that it is a hypothetical question and rmended him of year 2001 when he was working on missile developments in South Asia, keeping India’s Agni-V missile as his main case study. That research helped him in finding out that India has the capability to strike Russia through its missiles. Now what will be the response of Russians to that? Indian military’s modernization in the last decade enabled them to strike Russia; however, India‘s focus is Pakistan and China and not Russia. India‘s other ongoing areas of interests are the signing of Chabahar port agreement between India-Iran-Afghanistan and Modi‘s tour itinerary which starts with his 4 June visit to Kabul, then Qatar and after a brief stopover in Geneva and then to the US. An interesting fact which is worth pointing out is that even today India is more inclined towards Russia rather than the US. The continuous Indian refusal to the US to accept the liability clause in India-US nuclear deal and tracking system is indicative of India’s autonomous approach and the American weariness of Indian resilience in this matter. Before 2016 Nuclear Summit in Washington, there were news reports showing that the US think-tanks graded the safety and security standards of Indian nuclear facilities very low. At the same time, we also have to see Russian future designs and policies. In the recent past, Russia has added 50 inter-continental ballistic missiles in its arsenal. And right after the inclusion of these missile system, Russia’s tough message to Romania shows their focus. Certainly the modernization of Indian military and enhanced capabilities of its weapons system which provides them with the capability to strike Russia does not alarm the latter, just as the up-gradation and modernization of Pakistani military and weapons would not alarm China. This is purely a hypothetical assumption.

Mr. Usman asked, what exactly is this concept of Indian emerging as a major regional power? What is the economic rationale that can catapult Indian to this status? From the debate by the panel discussants, it has been established that India takes an aggressive stance in its designs as a regional power. So, how do they portray themselves in front of their media and public? What is the rationale behind this: how do they gain from being a regional power in future? And, if there is no advantage in adopting this stance of becoming a regional power then why India does not adopt strategies adopted by Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and other economies in the region? Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal said, India as a regional power is an established fact. Pakistan is also a regional power but the debateable question is whether India is a greater power, because Indians cannot establish their hegemony through military means only in the region neither on the Pakistani side nor on the Chinese side. Great power is the one which is able to establish its hegemony in all areas. This is why India is a regional power but not a great power. The US and Indian partnership is meant to keep an eye on China. However, beyond this understanding between the US and India on China, the American policymaking circles are not ready to accept India’s offensive CSD. At another level, if we look at India even as a regional power, Pakistan is successfully balancing it. If we look at Indian military deployments and weapon purchases, almost 9 Indian military corps are deployed against Pakistan except their eastern command. So, in a way India has been entangled in strategic environment of South Asia where it is struggling to emerge as a great power. But economically, politically and culturally, India is a regional power. In soft power‘s domain, it is one of the strongest exponents through Bollywood movies, its music, food and diplomacy. Dr. Zafar Khan added there are other parameters which make India a regional power if not a great power. China is a rising regional power but US is still maintaining its sole superpower position. The Indian partnership with the US resulting in acquiring aircraft carrier and other weapon system is one way of power projection in the region.

Mr. Hassan Raza, student of IR, pointed out that it is yet not clear if Air Defence System of Pakistan will work or not? Is it giving a sense of false security and what will be the impact of that on the current strategic stability, and the balance of terror? Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal said, it is very important to consider whether it is workable or not. This false sense of security is important; it can be a cause of war between states. It is the false sense of security that can trigger a conflict despite a functional balance of power or a balance of terror based on equilibrium. So, false sense of security is a dilemma. However, if the crisis emerges despite investing in particular sectors then what will the leadership do? And this is exactly the challenge for the Indians because they are investing in conventional capabilities as well as in its Air Force. In the name of cold start, Indians justify a huge increase in the defence budget every year against Pakistan. If we look at the growth of Indian economy in the last two years, it was declining but still their defence spending increased. So, they have sold this idea to punish Pakistan. Now, if they sell the idea of acquiring ABM system to check Pakistan’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons. In the event of a crisis, this false sense of security will transform rational actor-model into irrational-actor-model resulting in a major catastrophe. This is why any new system added in the military arsenal has the potential to trigger a conflict.
After all the presentations by the learned speakers and interactive question/answer sessions, Dr. Cheema concluded the seminar/workshop by profoundly thanking the entire august audience present in the house and said that their presence has made this conference a successful endeavour. He then paid special thanks to the chief guest and expressed his appreciation to all the honourable speakers who presented their papers and enlightened the audience with their expertise on the subject. He also extended his gratitude to researchers and secretarial staff of the SVI for their untiring hard work that made the whole event a successful one. The seminar/workshop formally ended with the certificate distribution ceremony. All the registered participants were awarded certificate for successfully attending the three days capacity building workshop.


Press Coverage

Follow The Links Below:

Day 1:

Foreign Press



Day 2:

Day 3:

Author of this article: