A round table discussion was organized by CISS with a team of Pakistani experts on May 12, 2016 titled “Growing Challenges to Strategic Stability in South Asia” in Islamabad. The objective was to hold a discussion on important developments regarding South Asia. The discussion also focused on escalation dynamics, role of external powers, nuclear and conventional balance and ballistic missile developments in the Pakistan – India context and regional security environment.
The well attended event featured participation by nuclear experts, academics, and government officials.
The Strategic Plans Division Director Dr Adil Sultan said that India besides upgrading its conventional capability in a big way was also developing a complete inventory of nuclear arms ranging from tactical weapons to inter-continental ballistic missiles out of its ambitions to be reckoned as an “undisputed power” at least in the region. He said that India is operationalising its nuclear triad, for which it tested the submarine launched ballistic missile and developing anti-ballistic missile system.
Dr Sultan said that “inconsistencies in India’s declaratory policies and evolving strategic thought” and the discord in “India’s security enclave” over nuclear drivers affect the regional strategic stability. He cautioned that the anti-ballistic missile system could give Indian planners a false sense of security while planning any military adventurism against Pakistan.
He pointed out that India is also creating instability at the sub-conventional level by shifting Pakistani military’s focus from external threat to internal security challenges. He He said that this is happening because India’s ‘grand strategy’ is being led by its intelligence establishment. A professor at NUST, Dr Riffat Hussain, was of the view that any additional military capability acquired by India would hurt Pakistan.
He said that even if India may not be interested in fighting a war with Pakistan at this stage but if it maintains the current growth rate, it might impose war on Pakistan in future. Dr Hussain maintained that Pakistan would have to work harder to counter India-US alliance. Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal of Quaid-e-Azam University believed that an arms race is already taking place in the region, which implies that there is no strategic stability.
He noted that provocative actions by states involved are against the spirit of having nuclear deterrence stability in the region.
Dr Jaspal pointed out that Pakistan and India have achieved crisis stability over the past 15 years and there is no escalation despite several crisis, which they encountered. CISS Executive Director Amb Sarwar Naqvi said Pakistan need to closely watch the India-US strategic partnership especially in the context of upcoming accord on the Logistic Support Agreement (LSA) and accordingly assess its policy options adding that the LSA is to be signed later this year between India and the US. He said the prospects of conflict between two nuclear armed rivals have only increased due to absence of an institutional dialogue process and deliberate escalation by India both by covert and overt instruments against Pakistan.
An interactive and stimulating question and answer session followed the session during which the participants asked a number of questions.
Executive Director CISS¬¬ Ambassador Ali Sarwar Naqvi, thanked speakers for their perceptive insighits and valuable analysis.