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Is ‘Full Spectrum Deterrence’ an effective nuclear policy for Pakistan?

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Dr. Zafar Jaspal |

India has been amassing colossal military hardware to materialise its war fighting concepts ‘Cold Start Doctrine’ and Pro-Active Military Operations Strategy’. Conversely, Pakistan is maturing its Full Spectrum Deterrence ability and capability to check both India and its partners’ hyper militarisation of South Asia. The action-reaction strategic responses only increase the investment in military sector and inculcate fear in the South Asia strategic environment without any tangible outcome.

Ironically, the Indian ruling elite is deliberately or inadvertently ignoring the dynamics of balance of terror, which has been sustaining strategic stability in South Asia since the overt nuclearisation of both India and Pakistan. The Indian strategic pundits perception that addition of sophisticated cum lethal conventional and nuclear weapons in India’s military arsenal will shift the balance of power in New Delhi’s favor is an erroneous conclusion. Neither increase in the Indian military arsenal nor Indian leadership’s superiority complex alters the strategic equilibrium between India and Pakistan.

On December 6, 2017, National Command Authority’s adviser retired Lt Gen Khalid Kidwai pointed out that ‘Full Spectrum Deterrence’ policy guides the development of nuclear capability, which brings every Indian target into Pakistan’s striking range.

The technologically advanced nations, particularly United States, United Kingdom and France, are also encouraging New Delhi to advance its armed forces. They are transferring technology and selling military hardware to India. In addition, these states have been facilitating India’s entry into ‘technology control cartels’ or ‘technology denial cartels’, i.e. Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Wassenaar Arrangement (WA), Australia Group and Nuclear Supplier Group. The membership of these cartels, certainly, revolutionises the Indian armed forces.

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India was admitted as the 42nd member of the multilateral export control regime WA on December 7, 2017. New Delhi’s entry into to WA assists Indian armed forces in acquiring critical dual-use military goods and technologies for their modernisation and up gradation. For example; the ‘intrusion software’ technologies that constitute essential part of the mass-surveillance systems.

Importantly, WA in December 2013 had amended its export control clauses to deny non-member states many new technologies, including ‘intrusion software’. Indeed, the WA membership permits India’s Defense Research and Development Organisation to import sophisticated material and technologies for restarting its stalled weapon manufacturing projects.

Previously, India was admitted as a full-member of the MTCR in June 2016. The MTCR is a west-dominated cartel of 34 countries, which controls trade in missile and space technology. The cartel was established in 1987. Since then, the members of the MTCR have been maintaining a firm control over trade in missile and rocket components. Consequently, it hinders India’s missile development programme.

The technologically advanced nations, particularly United States, United Kingdom and France, are also encouraging New Delhi to advance its armed forces.

India’s rampant military buildup with the unbridled assistance of technologically advanced nations is alarming for the South Asian strategic stability. Notably, India has been the largest arms importing country since 2007. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) fact sheet (February 2017), India was the leading arms importer in both 2007–11 and 2012–16.

As the largest importer of major arms in 2007-11, India accounted 9.7 percent, and in 2012–16, it was accounted for 13 percent of the global total. Hence, India’s imports were increased by 43 percent between 2007–11 and 2012–16. Whereas, in 2007-2011, Pakistan accounted 4.8 percent, and in 2012-16, it was accounted 3.2 percent of the global total. Consequently, Pakistan’s imports were decreased by 28 percent between 2007–11 and 2012–16.

Read more: Indian proxies are the greatest threat to Pakistan

The aforementioned facts marked that India’s military hardware imports are far greater than those of its regional strategic competitor Pakistan. Despite the accumulation of immense lethal weaponry, New Delhi is powerless to establish its hegemony in South Asia. It is because; Islamabad is neither ignorant of India’s gigantic military buildup nor oblivious to its economic restraints. Instead of entering in an arms race, Islamabad revamped its nuclear deterrence posture.

Pakistan’s National Command (NCA) announced ‘Full Spectrum Deterrence’ nuclear policy on September 5, 2013. What is meant by full-spectrum? On December 6, 2017, National Command Authority’s adviser retired Lt Gen Khalid Kidwai pointed out that ‘Full Spectrum Deterrence’ policy guides the development of nuclear capability, which brings every Indian target into Pakistan’s striking range.

India’s rampant military buildup with the unbridled assistance of technologically advanced nations is alarming for the South Asian strategic stability

Consequently, Pakistan is developing a “full spectrum of nuclear weapons in all three categories — strategic, operational and tactical, with full range coverage of the large Indian land mass and its outlying territories” including Nacobar and Andaman Islands. Importantly, India has been raising a command at these Islands, which immensely affect the strategic environment of the Indian Ocean.

Secondly, Pakistan is manufacturing “appropriate weapons yield coverage and the numbers to deter the adversary’s pronounced policy of massive retaliation.” Third, Islamabad is mastering in nuclear weaponry for having a “liberty of choosing from a full spectrum of targets, notwithstanding the Ballistic Missile Defence, to include counter-value, counter-force, and battlefield” targets.

Read more: India refuses to sign NPT in order to hang on to…

In reality, security analysts recognise the rationale of Islamabad’s ‘full spectrum deterrence’ posture. They acknowledge that its neighborhood is one of extreme difficulties, and staying immune from the anarchic developments in the Indian held Kashmir is problematic. Without the nuclear weapons capability, Islamabad cannot defend its eastern flank.

Pakistan is developing a “full spectrum of nuclear weapons in all three categories — strategic, operational and tactical, with full range coverage of the large Indian land mass and its outlying territories” including Nacobar and Andaman Islands.

Despite New Delhi’s bellicosity, Islamabad expressed its desire for bilateral conventional arms control arrangement and also offered nuclear restraint regime to it. The Indian ruling elite, however, is averse to arms control entailing to disarmament in the region. To conclude, New Delhi seems convinced that military buildup is in its advantage. It will shift balance of power in India’s favor and will compel Islamabad to participate in a devastating arms race with New Delhi for the sake of its military security. Pakistan’s full spectrum deterrence policy, however, prevent it from a costly arms race with its adversary. Thus, the Indian strategic enclave’s misleading optimism only obstructs the socio-economic prosperity of the poor Indians and may jeopardise the regional strategic stability. It does not dent Pakistani defensive fence due to its full spectrum deterrence policy.

Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He is also an advisor on Non-Proliferation to SASSI, London and a course coordinator at Foreign Services Academy for the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Email: jaspal_99@hotmail.com. This piece was first published in Pakistan Observer. It has been reprinted with permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.


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1 COMMENT

  1. Sir, despite errors in punctuation, spelling and structure, that I leave it to editor’s overlook. However, I’ll only ask one question, Is Full Spectrum Deterrence an effective Nuclear Policy for Pakistan? I mean I’ve clicked the article to know that; I am afraid, I couldn’t find…

    Thanks for giving it a try,

    Truly
    Syed

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