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Monday, March 27, 2023

Can India defeat Pakistan in a conventional war?

Do we think that the Indian Army is capable of "slicing" Pakistan? It rather implies that the Pakistan Army can defeat an Indian armored onslaught without the use of Tactical Nuclear Weapons. And that's not all. In the future, as experience tells us, Pakistan's military strength will continue to rise in proportion to projected raisings in the Indian armed forces.

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Indian Government, in a presidential decree issued on 5 August 2019 revoked Articles 370 and 35A of India’s constitution that guaranteed special rights to the Muslim-majority state, including its right to its constitution and decision-making process for all matters except defence, foreign affairs, and communications.

In the follow up to the move, India sent thousands of additional troops to the region, imposing a curfew on parts of the besieged state, shutting down telecommunications, and arresting political leadership. Meanwhile, the PM of Pakistan, addressing a joint session of the parliament on 6 August, expressed fear that “India will now do ethnic cleansing of Kashmiris to change the demography of the Indian occupied Kashmir”.

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Understanding the actual matter

The Corps Commanders Conference of the Pakistan Army, held on the same day, declared that “Pakistan never recognized the sham Indian efforts to legalize its occupation of Jammu & Kashmir through article 370 or 35-A decades ago; efforts which have now been revoked by India itself.” The Army Chief affirmed that “Pakistan Army firmly stands by the Kashmiris in their just struggle to the very end”. He said, “We are prepared and shall go to any extent to fulfill our obligations in this regard”. Can we glean something concrete and tangible through the theatrics of the Indian and Pakistani parliaments, and the optics of the Corps Commander’s Conference held at GHQ?

What is India’s “Permanent Solution” to the Kashmiri Freedom Movement?

India, as it stands today, is epitomized by Modi. Deeply influenced by Israel, Modi does not want a permanent solution to the Kashmir dispute. Borrowing a leaf from Israel’s grand strategy of “mowing the grass” – targeting Kashmiri leadership to keep violence manageable, his policy is to make the Indian occupation army continue with, and rather intensify its reign of terror on the helpless Kashmiris. Simultaneously, the Indian government has also started changing the demography of Kashmir by creating new ground realities through settling Indian nationals in the occupied state.

This is what Israel has been doing in the occupied Palestinian territories for the last half a century. Fragmenting the Palestinian population and forcing them to live in ghettos surrounded by seas of Jewish settlements, Israel believes that there will be no Palestinian problem after about another half a century.

Unlike the Middle East, however, where Israel has been successful in isolating the Palestinians, Kashmiris have a permanent friend in the form of Pakistan. The interests of Pakistanis and Kashmiris are so intertwined that either of them will perish without the support of the other. So, India will keep targeting the helpless Kashmiris, but will not be able to wipe out the Kashmiri resistance. Even after the sham trifurcation of J&K through constitutional manipulation, both the Kashmiris and the Indian Army will keep bleeding in the Valley.

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Is there a military solution?

Please cut the crap on nuclear deterrence, the Kargil War and the recent Russian invasion of Ukraine rubbished this misconception. The fact is that a conventional war can be fought under a nuclear overhang.

However, for such a conventional war to be decisive, at least one of the adversaries should have the punch strong enough to knock down the other. India and Pakistan, both, lack the conventional punch to decisively defeat the other, and this applies more to the Indian rhetoric about “Slicing Pakistan” in a future war.

Comparison of India and Pakistan Military Strengths (2022)

The finalized Global Firepower ranking below utilizes over 50 individual factors to determine a given nation’s PowerIndex (‘PwrIndx’) score with categories ranging from military might and financials to logistical capability and geography.


A comparison of the critical forces required for a decision on the adversary is given below. You may consider this comparison with a pinch of salt, but, by and by, it holds:-


Except for the active army reserves, India nowhere enjoys a 3:1 superiority. Its superiority in critical forces is thus not enough for forcing a decision on the enemy. Indian superiority in armored divisions and RAPIDs has been matched by the combined combat power of Pakistan’s 2x armored divisions and 2x mechanized divisions. Pakistan Army also has more independent armored and mechanized brigades, Self-Propelled artillery, attack helicopters, and parachute forces. We also have to take into account Indian deployment against China.

Do we think that the Indian Army is capable of “slicing” Pakistan? It rather implies that the Pakistan Army can defeat an Indian armored onslaught without the use of Tactical Nuclear Weapons. And that’s not all. In the future, as experience tells us, Pakistan’s military strength will continue to rise in proportion to projected raisings in the Indian armed forces.

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Pakistan Army, if it holds its defensive lines along the international border and the LoC while maintaining strategic reserves comprising the nuclear deterrent, the armored, and the mechanized divisions, need not launch an offensive against the Indians. Let the Kashmiris cause attrition to the Indian occupation forces in the Valley. The Indians will think many times before attacking Pakistan. It will be a long-drawn-out struggle.


Saleem Akhtar Malik is a Pakistan Army veteran who writes on national and international affairs, defense, military history, and military technology. He Tweets at @saleemakhtar53. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.