New Delhi: Pakistan’s TNW is a direct response to India’s Cold Start Doctrine since this military doctrine of India left very little window for the Pakistan to use of any of its strategic nuclear weapon.
Cold Start Doctrine was evolved due to the shortcomings of the Sundarji Doctrine came in light when Operation Parakaram was launched in the aftermath of the Parliament attack by ISI backed terrorist groups in December 2001. Indian strike corps took 3 weeks to reach the borders and this provided enough time for Pakistan to counter mobilize its forces, also that much of time had given a window of opportunity to US to intervene and persuade Government of India not to launch any strike on its western borders. Besides, Sundarji Doctrine was basically formulated for the defensive military action under which, 7 defensive corps were deployed near Pakistani border to hold any direct attack from Pakistan and the offensive build up was based in central India. This doctrine had little capability to tackle any indirect aggression and go offensive, if needed.
Lesson learnt from the Operation Parakram convinced Indian defence establishment to devise a better doctrine to counter both direct and indirect aggression and also provide a capability to go offensive with Pakistan in the hour of need while making sure not to provide a window of opportunity to Pakistan to use its Strategic nuclear weapons.
This new ‘Cold Start Doctrine’ is based on the element of surprise under which Indian forces must go offensive within 48 hours after the issuance of orders from the government. Launching strong punches through air and land both, along the borders of Punjab and Rajasthan and swiftly attaining limited objectives that would not leave a reason plausible enough for Pakistan to go nuclear.
Countering India’s Cold start strategy with conventional forces for Pakistan was never an option on table. Against India’s limited offensive strike Pakistan needed something to match the India’s firepower and the answer to that question they found in the Nuclear weapon of non-strategic classification i.e. Tactical Nuclear Weapon that could turn the battlefield into ash and force its enemy to think twice before implementing cold start strategy. In the year 2011, Pakistan successfully tested short range ballistic missile ‘Nasr’ specially designed to carry low yield nuclear warhead for battlefield deployment, the range is 60 KMs. Two months later, India test fired successfully its own tactical ballistic missile ‘Prahaar’ having range of 150 KMs and can carry both Conventional and Nuclear warheads.
Both ‘Nasr’ and ‘Prahaar’ are solid fuelled hence both can be launched within 2-5 minutes, unlike liquid fuelled missiles.
Existence of such battlefield delivery systems for tactical nuclear weapons undermines the use of Cold Start strategy since now it has a high likelihood that the war will be escalated to full nuclear confrontation. It leaves both the countries in the same position Cold war rivals found themselves in 1960s until end of Cold War.
India’s Cold Start doctrine is now not as effective as it had been when first envisioned. Current defence forces modernization and buildup are focused toward China not Pakistan. Well, it will definitely add advantage over Pakistani defence establishment. This addition of more teeth and claws are to deter China from fancying any misadventure at Eastern borders of India and Indian Ocean Region.
Current strategy of NDA government is to go hard on Pakistan and making sure its diplomatic isolation at the International forums definitely has its own merit. Dramatic rise in the India’s defence budget is giving Pakistani generals already sleepless nights and on top of that reduction in the cash flow from US added further strain to its already strained finances.
However, in the absence of effective military doctrine, Pakistan will continue to engage India into unconventional warfare like the Kashmir insurgency of 1990s and harboring non-state actors to prick India every now and then. Hence, time is demanding India to must find a new effective military doctrine to counter Pakistan without engaging into any possible nuclear confrontation.