Stresses need for building political trust than going on with arms race in the name of deterrence
India’s envoy to Pakistan has brushed aside Islamabad’s assertions that rapid increases in its atomic arsenal, including short-range tactical nuclear weapons, are serving as a deterrent to another war between the rival nations.
Indian envoy TCA Raghavan told Voice of America that increase in the nuclear arsenal is not a way of building confidence. “I believe the way forward is to address issues of political trust and ones regarding terrorism and extremism. Multiplying arms or forces available at one’s command does not really address those fundamental issues,” he said.
Raghavan also disagreed with suggestions that the nuclear negotiations between Iran and the United States set an example for India and Pakistan to work together to ease growing nuclear dangers in South Asia.
“I am not sure whether that is the right analogy because India and Pakistan have been discussing issues in a bilateral context for a long time and it is not as if these discussions have not been fruitful in their own way. Certainly, there is a requirement that these discussions continue, which they are.”
The Pakistani government announced earlier this month that it is negotiating a deal with China to buy eight submarines that could be equipped with nuclear weapons, VoA reported.
These recent developments have fuelled concerns about nuclear risks and Pakistan’s nuclear program that analysts believe is the world’s fastest growing arsenal.
Pakistani officials justify their expansion of nuclear weapons by citing India’s alleged so-called Cold Start doctrine, which they say is aimed at undertaking a quick punitive conventional military strike inside Pakistan in the event of another Mumbai-style terrorist attack. That strategy has the primary objective of preventing Pakistani military from using nuclear weapons.
Speaking recently in Washington at Carnegie Endowment Conference on Nuclear Security, senior Pakistani nuclear advisor and long-time custodian of the nation’s nuclear arsenal, Gen (r) Khalid Kidwai reiterated that by developing short-range “tactical nuclear weapons”, Islamabad has deterred the Indian designs.
“We could not ignore the effects being generated by the offensive doctrine. Therefore, in order to deter the unfolding of operations under the doctrine, Pakistan opted to develop a variety of short-ranged low-yield nuclear weapons. I strongly believe that by introducing the variety of tactical nuclear weapons in Pakistan’s inventory and in the strategic stability debate, we have blocked the avenues for serious military operations by the other side.”
Insisting Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program is “India-specific” while Kidwai also claimed that Pakistani Shaheen-3 missile was meant to counter India’s second-strike nuclear capability. The missile is believed to carry nuclear warheads to a range of 2,750 kilometres. New Delhi has indicated that use of any nuclear weapon by Pakistan will provoke “a massive retaliation”, he added.
Although diplomatic and trade channels are open between India and Pakistan, a wide-ranging dialogue on how to resolve issues such as terrorism and the long-running Kashmir territorial dispute remains suspended, VoA said.
Months of clashes along the Kashmir ceasefire line have subsided in recent weeks, but tensions continue to plague bilateral ties. Fears of another war in the region that could escalate into nuclear exchanges remain a source of concern for the international community.
In recent weeks, Pakistan test-fired a ballistic missile it claims can carry nuclear warheads to any part of India. Authorities also have revealed new battlefield “tactical” nuclear weapons, such as the Nasr ballistic missile with a range of 60 kilometres.
Pakistani authorities insist the nuclear weapons have deterred another war with India, helping to maintain regional peace.