Once again there was a well planned terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir where an Indian Army camp was targeted resulting in the death of 8 soldiers. This was just days after another major attack in Arnia where three soldiers were killed. There were civilian lives lost as well. The attacks have been pinned on Lashkar e Toiba. These are just recent examples of the terror attacks sponsored by Pakistan.
Over the years Pakistan has used terror as an instrument of state policy to force India on the Kashmir issue. This has been under the threat of nuclear weapons. Nuclear deterrence was at work during Kargil war when the government led by AB Vajpayee ordered the army not to cross the LoC so as not to “escalate the conflict” euphemism for nuclear war wherein any wider conflict with Pakistan will result in Pakistan using nuclear weapons and that India should restrain itself. Even during Operation Parakram when Indian Army was mobilized after the Parliament Attack, India did not “cross the line” as the threat of nuclear war was assumed. Similar reason is applied for India not retaliating after the 26/11 attacks. There have been numerous such big and small attacks by proxies of Pakistan. Every time an attack occurs, there is talk of teaching Pakistan a lesson or increasing the cost for Pakistan or hot pursuit of terrorists inside Pakistan. But no such action has ever been seen because of Pakistan purported belligerent attitude and a threat of “escalated conflict”.
While Indian government “officially” shows “restraint” or tries to project the image of being a good boy internationally by not looking to start a fight or may be not wanting to start a conflict that aids to internationalize the Kashmir issue, the fact remains that the specter of nuclear war always preys on the minds of the country’s decision makers.
So how does India fight Pakistan which will continue with its terror attacks against India and is expected to intensify it once last of the US troops leave the region? For two decades now, the subcontinent has been termed as a “nuclear flash-point”. Pakistan has the fasted growing nuclear arsenal. Pakistani leaders from time to time keep issuing explicit or implicit threats to India for a nuclear war. But surprisingly never has India or for that matter Pakistan prepared itself for a nuclear showdown. Well one hopes that its because there is “confidence’ that there will never be a nuclear war between the two countries. Nuclear weapons are after all not weapons of war.
India has never prepared its people for a nuclear war. No civilian exercises as to how to react to and tackle a nuclear attack. Nor is the disaster management team equipped with means to act post a nuclear or any other attack by weapons of mass destruction. During the height of Cold War, the US conducted many such drills and everyone from a child to an elderly was aware of what to do during and after a nuclear attack. Is India prepared for a disastrous event of facing nuclear attack on four or five of its major cities where 70-80 million people reside?
Similarly, the Indian Army has to be ready to fight under the shadow of nuclear weapons. The army has inducted NBC defence equipment and says its ready to fight an NBC war but not much is known about the actual capability.
Preparing for any eventuality shows the enemy that if required you will take the fight to him no matter what the consequences. Pakistan over the years has fed on the fear psychosis that exists in India over being nuked where no political party in power regardless of its leanings has risked a major conflict with Pakistan.
We would do well in reading what the enemy is doing as well .Pakistan in the last few years has focused on tactical nuclear weapons and looking to build a large number of them. This can be for a variety of reasons apart from the oft cited reaction to India’s “Cold Start Doctrine”. Either it has no confidence in its strategic nuclear arsenal and its delivery systems (its missiles have failed routinely) or it feels it won’t be allowed to use by world powers either by diplomatic pressure or by mounting pre-emptive strikes or moves to seize and neutralize their nuclear weapons as its often been reported in the media or it itself is scared of an Indian retaliation. Indian nuclear doctrine calls for massive unacceptable devastation in response to any nuclear attack on India. The Pakistani Generals may present “irrationality” but are not so in reality. They control the country, its economy and have their own large business empires. They have too much to lose in a massive Indian retaliation including their own lives.
I have in the past said that Pakistan’s nuclear threat is a bluff. Here is the link to it https://sarvatravijay.wordpress.com/2013/10/06/calling-pakistans-nuclear-bluff/ . But to fight terrorism under the threat of nuclear weapons without fear of nuclear war, India will have to prepare for any eventuality and convey to the enemy the same by action that it is ready. Only then will any plan to impose costs, hot pursuit or if required direct action against the Pakistani state for its continued terror against India bear any fruit.
The old saying goes, “If you want peace, prepare for war”. In India’s case, it includes nuclear war.