The nuclear doctrines of India and Pakistan have evolved over time in response to various factors, including their security concerns, strategic environment, and technological advancements.
India’s Nuclear Doctrine: India’s nuclear doctrine has undergone significant changes since its first nuclear test in 1974. India initially pursued a policy of nuclear ambiguity, neither openly declaring itself a nuclear-armed state nor articulating a specific nuclear doctrine. However, after conducting nuclear tests in 1998, India released a draft nuclear doctrine in 1999, which was further revised in subsequent years.
Key elements of India’s current nuclear doctrine include:
- No First Use (NFU): India maintains a NFU policy, stating that it will not be the first to use nuclear weapons in a conflict. However, it reserves the right to respond with nuclear weapons to a nuclear attack or a large-scale chemical or biological attack.
- Credible Minimum Deterrence: India’s doctrine emphasizes the maintenance of a credible minimum deterrence posture. This means possessing a sufficient and survivable nuclear arsenal to deter potential adversaries from initiating a nuclear attack.
- Non-Use against Non-Nuclear Weapon States: India declares that it will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states, except in the case of a biological or chemical attack.
Pakistan’s Nuclear Doctrine: Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine has also evolved in response to regional dynamics and its perceived security threats. After India’s nuclear tests in 1998, Pakistan conducted its own nuclear tests and subsequently developed its nuclear doctrine.
Key elements of Pakistan’s current nuclear doctrine include:
- Full Spectrum Deterrence: Pakistan’s doctrine revolves around the concept of “full spectrum deterrence.” It seeks to deter conventional and nuclear threats across the full range of military scenarios.
- First Use in Response to Conventional Aggression: Pakistan’s doctrine allows for the first use of nuclear weapons in response to an overwhelming conventional attack by India that threatens the territorial integrity of Pakistan or undermines its nuclear deterrent capabilities.
- Minimalist Nuclear Arsenal: Pakistan maintains a relatively smaller nuclear arsenal compared to India, focusing on mobility, survivability, and a mix of delivery systems to ensure deterrence.
The Implications for Deterrence Stability in South Asia: The nuclear doctrines of India and Pakistan have implications for deterrence stability in South Asia. The presence of nuclear weapons in the region has introduced a complex dynamic of deterrence, escalation risks, and stability.
- Mutual Deterrence: The possession of nuclear weapons by both India and Pakistan is intended to deter each other from initiating a nuclear conflict. The concept of mutual deterrence creates a strategic environment where both countries aim to prevent a nuclear war through the fear of catastrophic consequences.
- Risk of Miscalculation: Despite the deterrence framework, the risk of miscalculation, misperception, or accidental escalation remains a concern. The fog of war, limited communication channels, and the potential for escalation dynamics can heighten the risks of unintended nuclear conflict.
- Arms Race and Instability: The nuclear capabilities of India and Pakistan, coupled with their conventional arms competition, can contribute to an arms race, heightening regional tensions and potentially destabilizing the balance of power.
- Confidence-Building Measures: Both countries have engaged in confidence-building measures (CBMs) to reduce the risk of nuclear conflict. These include bilateral agreements, communication channels, and notification mechanisms to enhance transparency and manage crises.
In summary, the nuclear doctrines of India and Pakistan have evolved to address their security concerns. While the doctrines emphasize deterrence, the presence of nuclear weapons in the region introduces complexities and risks. Efforts to maintain stability in South Asia require sustained dialogue, confidence-building measures, and crisis management mechanisms to mitigate the risks of miscalculation and escalation.