‘Some otherwise serious Indian scholars as well as professional military leaders have recently succumbed to the saffron wave and hence have adjusted their otherwise sober nuclear learning with the prevailing strong winds of Hindutva, in tune with the political and social madness that has overtaken India.’ This was stated by the Chief Guest, Lt. General (R) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, Former DG SPD, while speaking at the book launch of, India’s Habituation with the Bomb, edited by Dr. Naeem Salik, on 23rd September 2019. General Kidwai went on to say that ‘the worst manifestation of this unlearning process is the popular mantra sweeping Indian thinking that Pakistan’s nuclear capability is a bluff and can be called; it should be noted that the trend is very dangerous and has the potential to sleep walk South Asia and the world into an Armageddon.’
In his speech, Lt. General Kidwai, commended Dr Naeem Salik, Senior fellow CISS, for his contribution to the academic discourse on Pakistan’s nuclear program, while congratulating the Center for its excellent initiative.
He said that ‘India’s recent conduct during the Pulwama crisis early this year and now in the Kashmir lock down represents a reckless, immature and irresponsible conduct of foreign policy.’ The book is part of Center for international Strategic Studies (CISS) book series and the third book which has been edited by Dr. Naeem Salik on nuclear learning – published by Oxford University Press – after Learning to Live with the Bomb, Pakistan: 1998-2016, published in 2017 and Nuclear Pakistan: Seeking Security and Stability, published in 2018.
He also stated that the Indian doctrinal thinking is ‘confused’, with a dichotomy in the declaratory and the operational doctrines as well as irresponsible statements by senior Indian politicians and officials muddling the declaratory part of its doctrine.
The reviewers of the book included Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi, Senior Defence Analyst, Air Cdr (R) Khalid Banuri, former DG ACDA and Ejaz Haider, a Lahore-based senior journalist.
Dr Hassan Askari Rizvi, while reviewing the book stated that it has several important ideas to explore for better understanding the politics of the bomb in South Asia. He endorsed Dr Salik’s view that the emphasis in India’s Nuclear Doctrine on “credible minimum deterrence” and “No-first-Use” (NFU) as presented first in August 1999 and then in January 2003 does not necessarily reflect the actual policy, as there is ‘a dichotomy between the declaratory doctrine and the actual operational doctrine.’
Ejaz Haider while reviewing the book said that the book is very well timed in the context of the recent debate on the erosion of Indian declaratory doctrine of no-first use (NFU). Ejaz opined that an NFU is insubstantial in military sense unless it can be verified and in case of opacity of Indian nuclear forces; it is impossible to verify that India’s nuclear forces are configured for an NFU nuclear policy. Ejaz also made reference to the Indian writers in the volume where they clearly pointed to a ‘change in the security culture of India that is directly traceable to the rise of Hindutva fascist ideology; which is a recipe for commitment traps and ideological miscalculation.’
Air Cdr (R) Khalid Banuri, former DG ACDA SPD, recommended the book stating that, ‘it is as easy read for those who want to understand nuclear politics between India and Pakistan.’ He commended the Indian writers’ effort in identifying the issues in the nuclear learning process in India. While commenting on India’s nuclear learning curve he opined that there is also lack of information on nuclear governance in India which points towards gaps in areas such as command and control and nuclear security like personal reliability program. Mr. Banuri also appreciated the chapter on India’s export controls, which according to him, provided, ‘perhaps the first detailed account on Indian strategic export controls and ably identifies the gaps in the area.’
Executive Director CISS, Ambassador (R) Ali Sarwar Naqvi, in his welcome address underlined the importance of the CISS Book Series stating that, “while most think-tanks in Islamabad hold conferences and other moots and bring out occasional research papers, they do not contribute to the intellectual discourse in a substantive manner by generating scholarly outputs.’ CISS has been trying to fill this gap by regularly publishing on strategic issues, as there is still a dearth of serious literature on the subject. ‘CISS book series is a significant project to produce quality literature on regional strategic and security issues’, he said.
The book launch was widely attended by local and foreign diplomats, policy makers and security experts, academicians and students.