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Regional Instability: ‘India’s Nuclear Build-Up Hurting South Asia’s Stability’

ISLAMABAD: Experts have warned that India’s conventional and nuclear build up is undermining South Asia’s strategic stability and could set off an arms race in the region.

These views were expressed at a round table discussion, ‘Growing Challenges to Strategic Stability in South Asia’, organised by Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS).

Strategic Plans Division Director Dr Adil Sultan said that India, besides upgrading its conventional capability in a big way, was also developing a complete inventory of nuclear arms ranging from tactical weapons to inter-continental ballistic missiles out of its ambitions to be reckoned as an “undisputed power” at least in the region.

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He further said that India was operationalising its nuclear triad, for which it tested the submarine launched ballistic missile, and developing anti-ballistic missile systems.

Dr Sultan expressed concern that “inconsistencies in India’s declaratory policies and evolving strategic thought” and the discord in “India’s security enclave” over nuclear drivers affect the regional strategic stability.

He cautioned that anti-ballistic missile systems could give Indian planners a false sense of security while planning any military adventurism against Pakistan.

Furthermore, he pointed out that India was also creating instability at the sub-conventional level by shifting Pakistani military’s focus from external threats to internal security challenges. This, he said, was happening because India’s ‘grand strategy’ was being led by its intelligence establishment.

Dr Riffat Hussain, professor at NUST, was of the view that any additional military capability acquired by India would hurt Pakistan.

He said even if India may not be interested in fighting a war with Pakistan at this stage, but if it maintains the current growth rate, it may sometime in future impose war on Pakistan.

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Dr Hussain maintained that Pakistan would have to work harder to counter India-US alliance.

Academic Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal believed that an arms race was already taking place in the region, which implies that there is no strategic stability.

He noted that provocative actions by states involved were against the spirit of having nuclear deterrence stability in the region.

Dr Jaspal pointed out that Pakistan and India have, however, achieved crisis stability over the past 15 years and there was no escalation despite the several crises which they encountered.

CISS Executive Director Sarwar Naqvi said Pakistan needed to closely watch India – US strategic partnership especially in the context of the upcoming agreement on the Logistic Support Agreement (LSA).

The prospects of conflict between the two nuclear armed rivals have only increased due to absence of an institutional dialogue process and deliberate escalation by India both by covert and overt instruments against Pakistan, he added.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 15th, 2016.

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