In absence of a coherent and strong commitment with peace, the restive Indo-Pak sub-continent continues to be slipping dangerously towards a disastrous path. Last week, the Pakistani Army Strategic Forces Command conducted a successful flight test of the Nasr close-range ballistic missile. A nuclear-capable system, the Nasr (Hatf-IX) is designed to deliver low-yield nuclear weapons to a range of up to 70 km. It could not be a mere coincidence that the destructive missile was launched successfully closely on the heels of Indian army chief Gen Bipin Rawat’s announcement on reviving the idea of integrated battle groups (IBG). It is aimed at launching quick, conventional and brief assault on Pakistan to avoid prolonged war which could involve nuclear arms. The IBGs is a part of Indian Army’s Cold Start docrine conceived after its failed operation Parakaram. The Operation Parakram was launched in 2001-02 after militant attack on Indian parliament. Indian army was moved to western borders in full war gear but stopped short of war due to the threat of use of nuclear weapons by Pakistan.
That forced Indian army to think on alternative methods of war which resulted in Cold Start doctrine. Though Indian army officially denies any such strategy but it provided Pakistan with a reason to build short range, nuclear-capable missiles, like Nasr, to target Indian formations undertaking conventional strikes. Gen Rawat was recently heard of reviving the idea. “The Cold Start doctrine exists for conventional military operations. Whether we have to conduct conventional operations for such strikes is a decision well thought through, involving the government and the Cabinet Committee on Security,” General Bipin Rawat, said in an interview on January 6. But Pakistan, being a weak opposition in conventional war, would not hesitate in going for nuclear run directly. Launching of Nasre missile is a part of Pakistan’s strategy to counter India’s superiority in conventional war.
“The Nasr augmented Full Spectrum Deterrence posture remaining within the precincts of policy of Credible Minimum Deterrence, against prevailing and evolving threat spectrum more effectively including enemy’s ballistic missile defense and other Air Defence Systems,” the Pakistani Army statement noted. The Nasr has been in development since the 2001 in Pakistan and is estimated to carry a nuclear payload in the sub-kiloton range. As Gen Rawat is reported to have said that IBGs will be war-gamed and physically tested by May, Pakistan’s Nasre answer does not bode well for the regional peace.
It will bring both the countries in for a full-scale nuclear war, the ramifications of which are no difficult to imagine. It is very sad to note that both India and Pakistan have of late been talking only in terms of confrontation and hostility, knowing fully that it could have disastrous effects not only for the region but also for the whole world. Yet talking in terms of war depicts either extreme kind of arrogance or imprudence. This is a complete recipe for self-destruction for both India and Pakistan. Both the countries are nuclear powers. Any sort of armed confrontation could not be expected to remain limited.
It is imperative for the leadership on both sides to rise above petty domestic political considerations and think of the betterment of the people as a whole. It is an undeniable fact that India and Pakistan are plagued with some serious problems, and Kashmir being the chief among them. The problem is as old as post 47-India and Pakistan. Both the countries have fought three wars. Had the war been a solution the issue should have been resolved since. It needs a sincere, consistent and comprehensive dialogue to resolve the issue. Instead of barking on war, both the countries need to concentrate on resolving the issues through peaceful means and negotiations.