Indian No-First-Use Dilemma – OpEd


The no-first-use policy of the India nuclear Doctrine is, to a certain extent uncertain as India’s Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar is contravening this ‘no first use policy’ bit by bit.

Parrikar very recently expressed personal doubts about India’s nuclear no-first-use policy rhetoric “why should I bind myself? I should say I am a responsible nuclear power and I will not use it irresponsibly.” The statement became a hot debate among the global nuclear cognoscenti especially in south Asia. Evidently when it comes to India Pakistan each and every bit of such intentional or unintentional rhetoric plays a major role in shaping the future relevant moves.

The No first use (NFU) actually refers to a pledge or a policy by a nuclear power not to use nuclear weapons as a means of warfare unless first attacked by an adversary using nuclear weapons. It clearly depicts the preemptive mindset of Indian conscientious nuclear weapons managers/ regulators.

It would be more pertinent to mention here that this is not the first time of Indian Defence Minister giving such a treacherous thought, rather it is a series followed by something new after a span of time. In May 2015 also Parrikar blurted in New Delhi that “we have to neutralise terrorists through terrorists only. Why can’t we do it? We should do it. You remove a thorn with the help of a thorn.” This was the time when Pakistan’s military and civilian leaders were united in raising their voice in a public against Indian covert operations in Balochistan.

The Defence Minister also opined about the rethink of Indian submarine building program that it should look for greater numbers than the existing plan of constructing 24 such vessels. This was in referring to the existing 30-year submarine building plan that envisages construction of 24 submarines, including both nuclear and conventional, he suggested India need a longer term plan till 2050 as the existing plan ends in 2030.

Similarly, India is heading day by day into the continuous modernization of its military built-up, aspiring to become the giant arms trader of South Asian region. It outdoes China as the world’s largest importer of weapons systems, indicating the country’s intent of modernizing its military abilities and demonstrating capabilities beyond south Asia. It is feared that the whole Asian security is fueling arms trade now as the region has accounted for 46 percent of global imports over the past five years.

As according to a report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), six of the world’s ten largest arms importers are in Asia and Oceania.
The above mentioned facts and these statements in point of fact, reflect a common sense approach to challenge a state that is certainly Pakistan, just to exercise and reiterate its colossal nuclear ambitions in South Asia. George Perkovich, a Vice President for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, observes that it is threatening to mount responses against Pakistan could augment deterrence of such acts and could add options for India to respond if deterrence fails and more terrorism occurs. Consequently, Parrikar’s observations and suggestions were far from crazy.

As India is considered in its media-age democracies, the defence minister or the ministry as a whole should not act so asinine. Such probabilities time in and time out, actually, provides an opportunity to believe on the security lapses along with a serious rethink about the dilemmas in the making of a sound national security policy of that country.

It needs to be explained in Parrikar’s next rhetoric that could there be any responsible use of nuclear weapons too? The spot on is, he is a responsible nuclear power and he will not use it irresponsibly, something irrational or just an attention-grabbing technique.

Beenish Altaf

Beenish Altaf works for the Strategic Vision Institute, Islamabad and be reached at [email protected]. Ms. Beenish Altaf holds masters degree in Defence and Diplomatic Studies from Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi, Pakistan.

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