Center for International Strategic Studies, Islamabad (CISS) organized a seminar on India’s Strategic Posture and Implications for Stability in South Asia”, in collaboration with the University of Sargodha (UOS) in Noon Business School Hall on 17, December 2019.
This seminar was arranged as a part of CISS-Outreach Program aimed at engaging with students and faculty of Universities other than those located in Islamabad. CISS’s outreach program focusses on strategic and nuclear issues.
In his introductory remarks, Executive Director CISS, Amb Ali Sarwar Naqvi, gave an overview of India’s strategic posture and its implications for stability in South Asia. He said that “the strategic culture of South Asia is characterized by the presence of nuclear powers. India is expanding its influence in the region and beyond by raising its military and diplomatic profile. Only in the last decade, India’s military budget has increased by over fifty percent. Pakistan is trying to cope up with the security dilemma, created by India’s increasing military power, in order to maintain strategic equilibrium in South Asia. However, the strategic picture in the region remains worrisome as the region experiences intense security competition. From Brasstracks to Cold Start Doctrine (CSD), limited strikes to surgical strikes, the Indian strategic ambition has been manifest in many shapes and forms. He stated that there has to be a realization that nuclear war will have no winners and have grave environmental consequences; emphasizing the fact that Nuclear Weapons are weapons of deterrence and not use”.
Former Strategic Plans Division official, Air Cdr. (R) Khalid Banuri, speaking on ‘Evolving South Asian Strategic Environment and Challenges to Strategic Stability’, in his presentation while talking about the evolving South Asian Strategic Environment, stated that the recent abrogation of Article 370, 35 A and the failed Balakot strikes brings to light the imminent need to assess the evolving strategic environment. He put forth that the rise of ultra-nationalism is a grave challenge to global and regional stability. Regionally, India’s rising extremism reflected in Hindutva is a dangerous trend and needs to be countered with Pakistan’s aggressive diplomacy sustained over a long period of time. He stated that Pakistan exercised its right of self defence in light of the Article 52 of the United Nations Charter, after the failed Balakot strikes, falsifying the Indian calculation that Pakistan would exercise restraint and not respond. The response was proportionate and calculated and also demonstrated the capability and will to respond conventionally to aggression against it.” Pakistan needs to stand prepared against this sustained aggressive posturing by India, in the backdrop of CBM fatigue. HE categorically stated that “although Pakistan doesn’t want war but it should stand ready to fight one, if pushed in the direction.”
Dr. Mansoor highlighted the status of the balance of the conventional forces and force modernization underway in India and Pakistan. He underscored the importance for Pakistan to invest in maintaining a credible conventional deterrence posture that supplements its strategic forces as part of full spectrum deterrence.
Dr. Adil Sultan, Director Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies (CASS), in his comments on ‘Indian Strategic Posture and its Impact on South Asian Security’, stated that India’s nuclear program is prestige driven unlike the popular perception of security as a primary driver. He talked about the shifting Indian nuclear posture which is raising questions about India’s declared no-first use policy. The recent technological development and weapon inductions point to a rising interest in Indian strategic enclave in moving towards strategic first use against Pakistan. While referring to the recent failed Balakot strikes, he said, that Pakistan’s response manifested that it has adequate conventional responses while busting the popular myth that Pakistan is a trigger-happy country which when attacked conventionally would respond with nuclear weapons. He also pointed to the challenge of the rise of Hindutva, i.e the mingling of radical nationalism and extremist religious ideology. An ominous implication of this dangerous trend, according to him, is that Indian leadership is now bound in a ‘commitment trap’, i.e., in any impending incident in India, because of the increasing domestic challenges in India, it would try to use Pakistan as a scapegoat to divert attention from domestic issues; with the leadership trying to establish their credentials by publicizing that they can punish Pakistan.
Senior Research Fellow at CISS Dr. Mansoor Ahmed, who spoke on ‘India-Pakistan Conventional Force Equations: Challenges to Pakistan’s Security and Future Dynamics’, said: “
The seminar was marked by a lively question and answer session and enthusiastic participation of the students and faculty of Sargodha University who asked a number of questions on India’s nuclear policy and strategic developments and their implications for the stability in the South Asian region. It was reinforced in the gathering that informed debates on strategic crisis stability and escalation control in South Asia needs to be undertaken in the educated circles in the country.