Monday, December 22, 2008

Pakistan rejects nuke use against India

Press TV reports:

Islamabad says should war break out with New Delhi, the option of using nuclear weapons would not even be on the table in Pakistan.

Pakistani Defense Minister Chaudhary Ahmed Mukhtar said on Monday that Islamabad wants peace with India but would defend itself if New Delhi thrusts war.

"The Indians would never want war because if war breaks out, then God forbid the situation might develop into a nuclear war," Mukhtar claimed.

The minister was reacting in response to Indian threats to wage war if the soil of neighboring Pakistan is used for promoting terrorism in India.

On Sunday, Indian Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi said New Delhi is capable of giving a "befitting reply" to those using Pakistani soil to promote terrorism in her country.

The November terror attacks in the Indian commercial capital of Mumbai raised speculations that the two nuclear nations are headed toward a military conflict.

India holds Pakistan-based militants responsible for the attacks -- as a result of which at least 170 people were killed and 200 others were injured.

Islamabad vehemently denies any involvement in the attacks.

The White House has sided with India and accuses Pakistan of providing a safe haven for Taliban, al-Qaeda and other terror groups.

Washington on Monday summoned Pakistan's National Security Adviser Mahmud Ali Durrani to demand that the country to do more to "tackle the menace of terror".

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had earlier criticized Islamabad for not doing enough.

"It's not enough to say the terrorists involved in Mumbai terror attacks are non-state actors. If they're operating from Pakistan, then they have to be dealt with", Rice warned.
Commentary: to my knowledge, neither Pakistan nor India have an official doctrine on the use of nuclear weapons (although I did not check that for a long while already). Whatever may be the case, if this report is correct and if Pakistan indeed officially declares that in case of war with India the use of nukes will not even be considered an option then this is an extremely positive development.

Pakistan being the smaller and clearly weaker of the two, it would be the one potentially most likely to resort to nukes to even the disbalance with India and that, in turn, might push India towards a form of preemption. Pakistan having much less depth than India would be at much greater risk of an disarming counterforce strike and thus would face a potential "use them or loose them" risk and that, in turn, could make India concerned of a Pakistani first strike, etc. etc. etc. You see the point: nuclear forces have, by their very nature, a great capability to force both sides into a cycle of preemption which can result in truly disastrous consquences.

The case of the USA vs the Soviet Union in the past, or Russia today, should absolutely *not* serve as a model in a case like Pakistan and India. The reality is that Russia and the USA are the only two countries on the planet with complex and sophisticated nuclear triads (land, air, sea -based nuclear forces) which assures such a degree of redundancy that neither country could ever be successfully disarmed by a counterforce nuclear strike. Thus, the US-Russian nuclear balance is highly and uniquely stable. No other country on the planet comes even close to the USA and Russia in terms of nuclear capabilites and these are the only two countries which can rest with the knowledge that their nuclear forces are practically undestructible. The fact that both countries have formidable conventional forces also serves to contribute to the nuclear stability betwen the two..

The case of Pakistan and India is the exact opposite. Their nuclear forces are really basic, mininal, with very modest capabilities and with no redundancy built into them. While neither Pakistan nor India can count on being capable of disaming the other one, neither of the two really can count on surviving a disarming counterforce first strike. In terms of nuclear stabilty this is about as bad as it gets.

If indeed Pakistan has adopted an official policy of non first use of nuclear weapons the Pakistani government should be commended for greatly improving the stability of the entire region. Hopefully, India will also adopt a similar "no first use" stance.

The Saker