ISSN 2330-717X

India – Pakistan: Deterrence To Compellence


India and Pakistan have mostly been in a state of war or war like situation. The relationship between both the states is that of deterrence. Both the states have communicated that they have the capability to cause unacceptable damage to each other. Both the states have enhanced nuclear and missile programs which add value to their defence system. India is conventionally superior to Pakistan whereas Pakistan considers the nuclear weapons an essential part of its defence system to overcome Indian conventional dominance in the region.


Earlier, this relationship was of mutual vulnerability and to avert war but now it has shifted towards the policy of pre-emption based on possible victory. The aggressive posture of India and absence of arms control agreement between the two has created the security dilemma in the region, which ultimately compels Pakistan to engage in arms race.

Besides that India has global ambitions and believes in nuclear dominance, it is busy in modernizing its military equipment technologically. Therefore it has signed worth $42 billion defence deals with the world powers which may exceed to $100 billion over the next decade. Besides that it also the capability, technology and resources to indigenously manufacture defence equipment. India has indigenously manufactured light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas and would be inducted in Indian Air Force by 2013.

Most recently, it has concluded a deal with United States to purchase C-17 military transport aircrafts and GE 404 engines along with the latest defence-related equipments.

France is assisting India in missile development and also in the up gradation of the Indian mirage fleet. Russia and India are also co-operating in the production and development of fifth generation fighter aircraft (FGFA), 250-300 stealth fighters, 82 Sukhoi-30MKI combat aircrafts and T-90 tanks. By 2011, Russia would be supplying 80 Mi-17V-5 transport helicopters.

Israel and India are further collaborating in development of medium-range surface-to-air missiles. India has already acquired 3 Phalcon airborne early warning radar systems (AWACS) and A-50 airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft from Israel. Moreover, India has allocated $11 billion for the construction of six new generation diesel electric submarines. These submarines would have air independent propulsion system (AIP) with stealth and land attack capabilities which will enhance its military capabilities in sea ultimately ensuring its second strike capability.


The Indian acquisition of Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system and its goal to accommodate Anti Satellite weapons as a part of its ballistic missile program to enhance the security in space as it perceives threat from China because China already has ASATs, further adds fuel to the burning fire. India wants to acquire ASAT related technology as fastly as possible because it senses that China’s lead is increasing at a faster pace.

This rapid technology inflow, and dual use technology access to India and ambition to have a comprehensive space program has regional implications. It destabilizes the region and states are compelled to take requisite steps to improve their defense systems in order to enhance their national security. This not only threatens Pakistan but also China to some extent. China also tested its Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system in 2010 which was successful and now China in near future will also be part of the elite club of BMD which includes United States, Russia, Israel and India.

As far as Pakistan is concerned, India wants to neutralize Pakistan’s deterrence by acquiring the latest technological defense equipment. Pakistan must not let India compel it to engage in the security dilemma as India is aware of the fact that Pakistan’s economy does not support such rapid technology advancement and would compel it to allocate its deficient budget to defend itself against Indian aggressiveness and hegemonic posture.

This shift of relationship from deterrence to compellance threatens the peace and security of the region. Deterrence stability is the only key to strategic stability of the region whereas compellance may lead to war. The states would engage in arms race spending less on socio-economic sector which would ultimately result in more poverty, literacy and frustration amongst the masses of both the states.

Pakistan must remain firm on its official policy, not to engage in arms race. Instead it must improve the quality of its nuclear arsenals as Pakistan’s nuclear and missile program is no less than the Indian program and must maintain its deterrent capability. It must spend a balanced amount on its military budget. It has already suffered a lot in the global war in terrorism. Thousands of innocent Pakistanis died in suicide attacks by terrorist inside Pakistani soil. Now is the time that Pakistan should enhance its trade with other states and formulate a strong foreign policy which would help Pakistan to progress and prosper as a developed state on the map of the world.

Rida Zeenat

Rida Zeenat is working as a Research Fellow at the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI). She holds M.Sc. degree in Defence and Diplomatic Studies from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Pakistan. Her M.Sc. dissertation was based on “Pakistan’s Nuclear Doctrine of Credible Minimum Deterrence”. She has also participated at various current affairs television programs.

4 thoughts on “India – Pakistan: Deterrence To Compellence

  • March 10, 2011 at 10:02 am

    India has no interest in Pakistan.
    Pakistan will self destruct in time.
    There is no getting away from the fact that other countries see India as a stable democracy and want to trade and and engage India.
    Unlike Pakistan which is an unstable military and civilian incompetent government.
    The more nuclear weapons Pakistan develops the more insecure it will be.
    India will just quietly develop and more and more technology advances and Pakistan will have to develop more nuclear weapons.
    Eventually bankrupting the already bankrupt country

    • March 14, 2011 at 2:30 pm

      Well said James!!!

  • Pingback: Anonymous

  • April 5, 2011 at 11:59 am

    Pretty good article.
    Its hard for Indians to undestand this from Pakistan’s perspective.
    actually threat from India to Pakistan s real as shown by India’s refusal to discuss Kashmir.
    Very simply if as per 47, all muslim majority districts had become Pakistan and all hindu and sikh majority disctricts had become Bharat (present day India) there would have been no problem.
    The problem is that while India is pretty happy with status quo, Pakistan has to struggle to get back the muslim majority parts of Jammu amd Kashmir state…..thus the continuing crisis…Indians need to understand they have something which belongs to someone else…If they realize this the sub continental friction would be pretty much contained.

    As for Pakistan defence budget, its not high enough for its needs. The 600,000 men army which can swell to a million en when reserves are included was always there to hold India at its borders. its not all all suficient given the western border crisis, since attack of the soviets in 1979 over afghanistan. remember the real onus lies upon the ex Soviets but now they are gone so who to blame….Pakistan needs ideally another 600,000 men to safeguard its western border with afganistan but we donot have the kind of money to finance this…thus the severe crisis on our western borders…the real problem is that we have very little forces there as prior to 79, the border used to protect irseld without an army…just a few posts wre enough… if the world really wants to help…they should help Pakista build a strong defensive army on the western border……the problem is no one is willing to do that and at the same time expecting Pakistan to fulfill commitments on war n terror. we are really a country that needs twice the size of its present armed forces size to pretty much handle the current security threats. i know indians and westerners would have a hard time understanding this but this is the real truth.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.