In India and Pakistan’s Strategic affairs, the key challenge to Deterrence Stability is India’s inexorable strategic aims. That negates the fragile stable situation and thus motivated Pakistan to modernize its Strategic Doctrine into the Full Spectrum Deterrence (Credible Minimum Deterrence) and successfully counter Indian threats from all the domains. India’s move from No-First Use to War-fighting strategy (Indian Armed Forces Joint Doctrine-2017 and Indian Land Warfare Doctrine-2018) is a signal to accomplish its strategic ambitions for regional domination that resultantly destabilizes the strategic environment of South Asia. So, there is a need to evaluate which are the key factors that are undermining the ‘Credibility of Deterrence’ and that can deter India from taking hostile action against Pakistan.
The ‘Credibility of Deterrence’ is a noteworthy component as Thomas Schelling, a leading advocate of nuclear deterrence, maintains that the maneuvering of ‘Credibility’ can influence another state’s behaviour not to take any hostile political, and military action. David Robertson, in the Dictionary of Modern Defence and Strategy, described that “Deterrence works with the capability, credibility and will”. Thus the Credibility of Deterrence is the crux of deterrence stability that works effectively with the ‘Capability and ‘Political Will’.
It is virtually observed in the recent Pulwama Crises (2019) when Pakistan’s decision-makers ‘Political Will’ along with Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) conventional capability enabled Pakistan to respond with a calculated approach against India military misadventure. Pakistan’s military and civil establishments have so far proved that India cannot influence Pakistan with its assertive and offensive policies; and that Pakistan has the will-power to deter Indian aggressive and its so-called surgical strikes. But the important point is that the threat of escalation remains eminent in Pulwama crises.
The key reason behind such India military adventure is the ‘Political Will of India influenced by RSS philosophy that is contradictory with the obligation of deterrence stability. Therefore, a significant question arises that how the Credibility of deterrence can work in future affairs? It is hard to assess the Credibility of ‘political will’ rather than technical capability; the technical capability of a state can be analyzed however the political will can change with the leadership’s thought process. The political-will is reliant on the nature and a behavior of individuals and systems and in India’s case, Pakistan is dealing with the Ideology of Right-wing Extremism practiced by behind the Indian different political parties (BJP, Congress) India Foreign and Defence establishment. The fuel adds to fire when India gets discriminatory support of the US that gives them the political privilege to compel Pakistan.
The statements of India high-officials expressed their ‘Will’ in 2019 Pulwama Crises. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Pakistan nuclear arsenal bluff and cleared that our weapons are not for Diwali and then talked about “Qatal Ki Rat”. He further stressed that “Pakistan used to threaten us; it used to say we have a nuclear bomb and we will press the button. I want to say we have double the nuclear capacity. I say (to Pakistan), do whatever you can.” Without realizing the consequences of nuclear war how can be a rational political leader can deliver such speeches. Hence, all these kinds of crude signals emanating from India are a threat to the Credibility of deterrence. Indian Home Minister in the Indian Parliament after the revocation of the Article 370 and 35A in Indian occupied Kashmir has said that the Pakistani part of Jammu and Kashmir is Indian Territory, and we will take it back even if we must sacrifice our lives. Such statements make political and diplomatic environment tensed under the nuclear umbrella and no room vacant for any crises prevention or management.
Along with that the Credibility of deterrence also depends on the fact of how much public opinion supports or opposes the use of nuclear weapons, how they respond in peace and wartime with regards to the employment of atomic weapons. It will influence the strategic thinking of the civil-military leadership. The more the public opinion not in favour of using nuclear weapons, the higher will be the Credibility of nuclear deterrence. But unfortunately, in India Pakistan crises, Indian public media messages, especially in the form of public statements, has remained very unpolished and immature. The trends on twitter and News Channels so-called “raged breaking news” issued without any understanding of the policy impact the stability of the entire region. Such patterns and trajectories on which Indian leadership is moving is a grave threat to regional security.
Theoretically, the reason behind their irrationality can be i) – the lack of information on which they make irrational judgments, ii) – states fail to communicate threats effectively, iii) – any information gap which leads towards irrational behavior. Unfortunately, irrationality in India originates from their strategic culture. India is in the delusion that she is a regional power state and can influence their dominancy. The way Indian strategic thought is leading the region and altering the dynamics of the Credibility of deterrence is irreversible. The unstable strategic environment of South Asia under the enlightened leadership of India must sense the catastrophe of nuclear war beyond hegemonic ambitions.
- Adeela Ahmed, Research Associate, Pakistan Institute Conflict and Security Studies, Islamabad, Mphil Defence and Strategic Studies, Quaid e Azam University Islamabad.