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Chief of Army(COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa witnessed the training launch of the short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Nasr on Wednesday. The ISPR gave out details of this SRBM through tweets by its DG, Major General Asif Ghafoor. The two-star general quoted the COAS and tweeted “Nasr puts cold water on ‘cold start’. COAS witnessed training launch of ‘SSM Nasr’ with enhanced range and maneuverability.”

Nasr is a short range battlefield missile with a range of 70 kilometers. It has the ability to carry and deliver conventional and nuclear warheads. With flight maneuverability, precision, and quick deployment, the missile will act as an effective deterrent against a full spectrum of threats. “The weapon system will augment credible deterrence against prevailing threat spectrum more effectively including anti-missile defenses,” the ISPR said.

Pakistan has adopted Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD) as its nuclear posture vis-a-vis India. However, developments on the eastern front at the conventional and strategic levels compelled Pakistan to bolster its deterrent on the full spectrum.

Read more: Dangerous implications of India’s cold start doctrine

Pakistan has adopted Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD) as its nuclear posture vis-a-vis India. However, developments on the eastern front at the conventional and strategic levels compelled Pakistan to bolster its deterrent on the full spectrum. The strategic fraternity in Pakistan mulled on the idea of developing Tactical Nuclear Weapons(TNWs) to fill the deterrent gap.

Pakistan considers battlefield nuclear weapons as a counter to India’s highly touted Cold Start Doctrine (CSD).

Bajwa was reported to have said that war must be avoided at all costs and that the Army’s strategic capabilities were a “guarantee of peace” against a “highly militarized and increasingly belligerent neighbor.Pakistan will go to any length to ensure regional peace and stability,” Gen Bajwa said. “We wholeheartedly support all government efforts at peace through dialogue. Our capability is only meant to ensure [peace]; no one thinks war remains an option,” he said.While congratulating scientists and engineers, he appreciated the operational preparedness of Army Strategic Force.He also expressed his confidence in “effective command, control,safety and security of all strategic assets and measures being taken to augment these.”

Read more: Can India actually win a war against Pakistan?

Improvements in Pakistan’s deterrence capabilities are coming at a time when tensions between India and Pakistan are high with increased chances of military confrontation. Pakistan considers battlefield nuclear weapons as a counter to India’s highly touted Cold Start Doctrine (CSD).

Proactive War Strategy 

Two factors compelled the Indian military to shift away from the Sundarji Doctrine towards a proactive doctrine of limited war: one was the overt nuclearization of India and Pakistan and the other was the abysmally slow mobilization during Operation Parakram. Much to the chagrin, the slow mobilization in the operation launched after the Delhi attacks allowed not only Pakistan to counter-mobilize but also invoke international pressure. The feeling was that Pakistan was not taught a lesson and went “scot free.”

With briskness lying at its heart, Cold Start called for a reorganization of the old Holding and Strike Corps. The former would create shallow bridgeheads into Pakistani territory. It would be followed by Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) attacking along various axes to further ingress inside Pakistan.

The idea was to militarily respond to Pakistan due to its alleged involvement in a major terrorist attack in India. The aim was to punish Pakistan before international pressure could avert an armed confrontation.

Read more: India’s Fury on Kulbhushan’s Death Sentence: What are India’s real options?

With briskness lying at its heart, Cold Start called for a reorganization of the old Holding and Strike Corps. The former would create shallow bridgeheads into Pakistani territory. It would be followed by Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) attacking along various axes to further ingress inside Pakistan. Thereafter, in conjunction with air succor, the 3-strike corps would concentrate firepower. In order to avoid a nuclear retaliation, forces will bite and hold territory up to 25 kilometers inside Pakistan.

There are tactical and operational challenges in carrying out Cold Start which has dissuaded the Indian Army to operationalize this doctrine. A thorough assessment of exercises that were conducted to test the concept revealed that synergy was not achieved. This was the reason why the military leadership in India discarded it long ago. However, the resolve and the desire to invoke the doctrine was reiterated in the Army Day address by the Indian Army Chief, General Rawat in January this year.

Read more:Situation on the LoC: Indian Army flexing its muscles

The doctrine has escalatory tendencies with nuclear undertones. Hypothetically, if India manages to achieve this objective, it is logical to assume that Pakistan has to take punitive retaliatory action to wrest back control. India would have the encouragement to press on but if they are unable to breakthrough they would direct more firepower which would cause escalatory pressure. Pakistan may invoke their tactical nuclear weapons and shift the burden of escalation on India as Indian inroads would not be deemed of as limited.

It is quite reasonable to assume that if Cold Start is launched, the conflict will not remain limited and the region could be in for an all-out war

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