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OpinionsPakistan's nuclear bombs don't scare India of war

Pakistan’s nuclear bombs don’t scare India of war


AVM Manmohan Bahadur

The onus doesn't rest on New Delhi as Islamabad's bluff has been called by Indian Army's rationally planned surgical strikes.

The caption on the cover of the May 2013 issue of The Economist said, “Can Become A Great Power?”

Below that was a sketch of a cat viewing itself in a mirror – but the reflection it sees is of a tiger.

The meaning was starkly clear, that India is actually a cat but sees itself as a tiger – a brutal opinion, if there ever was any, on the perception of the strength of the largest democracy in the with the third largest standing Army and fourth largest Air Force, besides a fast growing .

Since then, the situation has changed manifold and now The Economist would think twice before coming to a similar conclusion, both through a military or an economic prism. Has India graduated from that 2013 cat? Let us evaluate.


With our vibrant press, and an equally energetic band of armchair strategists, the view that has been created is one of an indecisive leadership, a questionable potency of our armed forces and the overarching deterrent power of Pakistan's nuclear weapons, especially the latter's tactical nuclear weapons (TNW).

Islamabad's TNW has attained the status of a brahmastra, though that weapon was wielded by an Indian deity in ancient times.

It is certainly true that any large-scale military action by India after a terrorist strike would drive a reaction from Pakistan and the situation could well result into a war. But then, is India chary of picking up weapons?

No, not in the least, but there are actions available which are short of war (besides diplomatic and economic steps), and which the government has now started implementing.

The military options, in parallel, have been kept open and current, as the masterfully drafted document of the DGMO post the surgical strike across the LoC conveyed.

“We have struck terrorist camps (only),” but what was left unsaid was that India would not hesitate to strike again, if required. Implicit was also a warning to the Pakistan army that “your military forces must not help terrorists or we have the resolve to strike you”.

The Pakistani establishment has woven a narrative around the supposedly weak resolve of the Indian political leadership in implementing its nuclear doctrine of massive retaliation in response to a nuclear, chemical or biological strike anywhere against Indians.

Very few in India talk of India's doctrine but appear more comfortable with a sense of trepidation at Pakistan's so-called redlines if India goes kinetic.

This narrative has been hardened and made all pervasive through writings and lectures on the seminar circuits by Western scholars who also make a beeline to Indian television channels to tell Indians that a military option is a no-go (despite the gravity of provocation) as the conflict will escalate and well “you know Pakistan has nuclear weapons.”



It is surprising to see that their exertions, and those of many other nuclear experts, are not directed at Pakistan to desist it from creating conditions for war in the first place; instead, down the decades, India's “strategic restraint” following a terror strike from Pakistan has actually become the gold standard to be religiously followed by India, else it would fall from the high table of morality.

The Indian public must be disabused of this notion that the country's conventional military use option has been nullified by Pakistan's nukes.

This appears to be a planned attempt by Western nations also to prevent India from even thinking of an “offensive option” by influencing Indian public and decision-makers through self-deterrence.

It would be interesting to see whether their views change after Pakistan's bluff has been called by the Indian Army's rationally planned and limited surgical strikes.



The impression of “irrational” people occupying power in Pakistan helps self-deter India. In India-Pakistan war games played around the world, Pakistanis do not use nukes, since they know that while India would suffer, Pakistan would become dysfunctional.

So, the onus of taking the irrational decision of using nuclear weapon rests on shoulders of leadership of Pakistan.

And India considers the use of any nuclear weapon, small or big, strategic or battlefield, as crossing the Rubicon – that is, India's redline. Period.

What is the redline for a terrorist strike from across the border? Well, India has just laid down one through its surgical strikes across the LoC.

Hopefully, Pakistan has got the message “loud and clear,” as our first secretary at the UN, Eenam Gambhir, put it succinctly. Meanwhile, while keeping its guard up, India must continue its march towards economic uplift of its masses.

This would be the best way of conveying to the Pakistani people the route for their leadership to take too – and not the present one where hostility to India takes centre-stage.


(Courtesy of Mail Today.)


The Northlines is an independent source on the Web for news, facts and figures relating to Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh and its neighbourhood.

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