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Kashmir Nuclear Scare: Myth or Muscle Fatigue

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Tacstrat Analysis

Earlier this week, State Disaster Response Force officials in Indian occupied Kashmir distributed pamphlets warning citizens to make preparations for a possible nuclear attack. People were told to build bomb-proof basements and collect provisions to last them two weeks in confinement. This lengthy warning was published in the Greater Kashmir newspaper and described a possible war scene in detail. People were told to brace themselves for possible shock and to ‘expect initial disorientation as the blast wave may blow down and carry away many prominent and familiar features’. While Indian officials have called this ‘regular year-round civil defence preparedness’, and urged people not to connect it with anything else, one cannot help but speculate about the convenient timing of this ‘annual’ safety drill, which has in fact taken place for the first time.

The cross border skirmish earlier this year, has led to a staggering halt of negotiations and a perfunctory handshake on both sides that have been gritting their teeth since. The 70 year old lady’s flight into Pakistan had alarmed Indian officials who began setting up additional observation posts along the LoC. Pakistan fired across the border, and while cross border skirmishes barely make news any more, an Indian soldier with an ‘aggressive’ track record ordered a cross border attack. While the international media, as always, is wont to take an ‘unbiased’ approach to this series of attacks, several Indian newspapers have discussed the possibility and consequences of this bald provocation that led to the death of a Pakistani soldier. Two Indian soldiers were killed in a retaliatory skirmish that now appears to have escalated, as the streets of Srinagar are abuzz with rumours of a possible nuclear attack.

Indian soldiers, on many online forums, have said that even if their authorities have warned people to prepare themselves for a nuclear attack, this is purely for defensive purposes because of India’s ‘no first use’ nuclear doctrine, and Pakistan’s lack thereof.

This leads us to the question of nuclear doctrines espoused by both countries. Pakistan has stood behind its doctrine of ‘first use but last resort’, and has been severely criticised for it by western scholarship, which conveniently over looks Israel’s ‘Samson Option’. Last year President Zardari announced his inclination to sign a ‘no first use’ policy in line with India’s, while no action towards this end has been taken so far, a brief analysis of the India doctrine, which espouses the very reassuring ‘no first use’ policy, is in order.

The doctrine states that any threat of use of nuclear weapons against India shall invoke measures to counter the threat (clause 2.3a). The repeated assurance of ‘retaliation only’ does not care to expand on what constitutes these measures. Clause 2.5 states that “India will not resort to the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons against States which do not possess nuclear weapons, or are not aligned with nuclear weapon powers.” This clause further adds to the ambiguity ensconced in the doctrine that shrouds itself behind empty words and unspoken promises. The distinction between non-nuclear states and countries they are aligned with, in effect, places every single country on the Indian hit list. Since Germany and Japan, two non-nuclear states, are aligned with the US on many fronts (the doctrine doesn’t specify the type of alliance either), that makes them possible targets, especially if: “in the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons, India will retain the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons”. Thus, if Indian soldiers (they could be infiltrators or even part of a UN deputation) are attacked with nuclear weapons in any part of the world, the ‘no first use’ policy becomes null and void. Furthermore clause 2.3a, revised in 2003 states that, “however, in the event of a major attack against India, or Indian forces anywhere, by biological or chemical weapons, India will retain the option of retaliating with nuclear weapons.” Thus Blanco-ing out the ‘no first use’ for all intents and purposes.

Pakistan has justified its stance of adopting the ‘aggressive’ moral ground, by saying the ‘no first use’ policy on both sides would leave the concept of nuclear deterrence redundant and invite aggression from the Indian side. Pakistan has furthermore explained how the nuclear option will be employed once all others have been exhausted. This effectively places India and Pakistan on a level playing field.

The ‘threat’ of a Pakistani attack on Srinagar is by far the least plausible of all explanations our friends across the border have been proffering. Even less true is the statement that this is a routine safety drill. At best this can be described muscle flexing and a plea for attention in the post UN-observer mission stalemate. In terms of diplomatic progress, this might set the two countries back by two years of consistent peace talks and people-to-people contact. As the initial smokescreen of mistrust rises between the two countries, the audience can not help but wait for what will unfold next.

India’s Mythical Beliefs……

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By Brig Asif Haroon Raja

Indians believe a lot in myth making. They derive pleasure in pretending what they are not. Governed by the yearning desire to be called a big power, they have been making strenuous efforts to fulfill their dream. After achieving a so-called military victory in former East Pakistan in 1971 with the help of former Soviet Union and Mukti Bahini, the Indians started imagining that India had become mini-super power of South Asia. To put a stamp on self-perceived status, it conducted nuclear test in 1974 but got dismayed when it found Pakistan not getting over awed.

While India never reconciled to Pakistan’s existence and vied to re-absorb it within Indian union, Pakistan’s defiance and refusal to accept India as a regional policeman further antagonized Indian leaders. In sheer disgust India judged Pakistan as the main stumbling block in its drive towards attaining its ambitions. Armed freedom struggle by few thousand Kashmiris in occupied Kashmir against 750,000 Indian troops became a cause of degradation and embarrassment for India.

Once India came close to USA after 1990, it kept on playing upon US-western sensitivities concerning Islamic fundamentalism, cross border terrorism and Islamic bomb so as to keep Pakistan in their bad books. Nuclear tests by Pakistan threw cold water on its sinister designs. After suffering humiliation in the battle of Kargil in 1999, Indian leaders burnt with impotent rage and yearned to teach Pakistan a lesson. After 9/11 their joys knew no bounds since the new rules framed by USA to tackle terrorism suited them the most. They found the farce of terrorism a perfect stranglehold to entrap Pakistan and macerate it.

However, its first attempt to browbeat Pakistan into submission through 2002 military standoff backfired. It had cost Indian exchequer over $2 billion and nearly 800 fatalities without any side firing a single shot. Indian military kept posturing belligerently from January till October 2002 but seeing equally aggressive response of the other side, it couldn’t pick up courage to cross the border. The thought of nuclear exchange was too scary despite the fact that it enjoyed 5:1 conventional superiority and also had three times more nukes in stock. Ultimately Indian forces had to sheepishly withdraw thereby giving Pakistan, ten times smaller in size and resources moral and psychological ascendancy over India. It was too frustrating for Indian leaders claiming to be strongest military power of South Asia and an economic power house to have been humbled by a peripheral state.

The fiasco made Indian military realize that given Pakistan’s nuclear capability and will to fight, conventional war was ruled out as a viable option. Earlier on, it could not browbeat Pakistan in 1986-87 through its Exercise Brass-tacks or its 1990 offensive deployment in Kashmir. In all the previous wars and offensive military standoffs, 19-20 days taken to mobilize the combat troops from peacetime stations to forward deployment areas had allowed Pakistan sufficient reaction time to assemble and move forward its troops to meet the challenge. Hence another way out had to be found.

Taking a leaf out of their Guru Kautilya’s book, the Indian planners reread his guidelines which had been successfully employed after the inconclusive 1965 Indo-Pak war to subvert former East Pakistan. Indo-US-Israeli think tank got together in late 2002 and scratched their heads how to ensnare Pakistan. A way had to be found out how to floor Pakistan without letting it brandish its nukes in defence.

It was decided that India will lure Pakistan into a web of friendship, weaken it from within through cultural invasion from the east and covert operations from Afghan soil. Intelligence agencies of USA, Israel, UK, Germany and Afghanistan were to assist RAW. India was to apply the military instrument only after making Pakistan morally, politically, economically and militarily sufficiently weak and extracting its nuclear teeth.

It was in the context of Pakistan’s nuclear capability and Pakistan’s nuclear doctrine envisaging first strike option in any future Indo-Pak war whenever its threshold was threatened which perplexed the planners. All agreed to defame and demonize Pakistan’s nuclear program through an orchestrated propaganda war and to work out number of contingency plans how to disable or steal the nukes.

During the course of heated discussions, some wise guy came up with a bright idea that if Pakistan’s nuclear response rested on the basis of its core areas getting threatened or overrun, why not to tailor the offensive in a manner that invading forces remain well away from the core areas and to confine the war to battle of frontiers thereby giving no justification to Pakistan to exercise its nuclear option.

Scanning the map of Pakistan, it was pointed out by Indian planners that there were several tactical objectives of politico-economic significance strung along the border. In their reckoning there were 8-15 such objectives available. To offset the problem of prolonged mobilization time and to retain vital element of surprise, someone suggested pre-positioning brigade size mechanized battle groups backed by dedicated artillery and air support close to the border. They brainstormed that Pakistan lacking in strategic depth could ill afford to lose any space and as such would respond with full force to retake the lost objectives. It was perceived that tactical and operational reserves of Pak Army in all likelihood would get consumed and its strategic reserves would get poised towards most threatened penetration. With bulk of Pak Army getting embroiled in battle of frontiers and up to three corps stuck up in war on terror, it would allow Indian Army to launch its main maneuver if required towards deeper objectives.

That is how Cold Start doctrine was conceived; work on the new doctrine commenced in real earnest and the first draft was ready in 2004. It envisaged cutting down mobilization period from 19 days to 72 hours by pre-positioning 8-15 self-sufficient battle groups of two armored regiments and one mechanized infantry regiment or vice versa close to the border and each group assigned shallow objectives of tactical importance. By end 2008 it was polished up and was ready for use. Point of nuclear overhang as mentioned by Gen Kapoor figured out since the doctrine envisaged giving control of tactical nuclear weapons to the operational commander in the field so as to be able to clear any opposition putting up stubborn resistance.

With the passage of time as the misfortunes of Pakistan’s multiplied because of covert operations jointly launched by six intelligence agencies from Afghanistan, it pleased India immensely and it animatedly imagined that Pakistan’s fragmentation was round the corner. Indian leaders got so euphoric and megalomaniac that they began imagining India to be next to USA in the world ranking. Already living in the world of fantasy and strongly believing in myths and notions, they started humming tunes of ‘India shining’ and ‘India an economic powerhouse’.

India was well set to put Cold Start doctrine into practice by end 2008/beginning 2009 since in its view the situation had become ripe to strike the internally enfeebled foe militarily. By then, covert war by anti-Pakistan intelligence agencies had done extensive damage. Over 100,000 troops had got irretrievably involved in fighting the militants in the northwest and Pak Army’s image had sunk low. Mumbai attacks were stage-managed to put Pakistan in the dock and to give an excuse to Indian strike formations to move forward. Forceful response by Pak armed forces, speedy pullout of formations from northwest to eastern border to restore defensive balance, enthusiastic support given by the nation to the forces and above all Pakistani Taliban’s announcement that they would fight the aggressors shoulder to shoulder with the Army and that they would send its suicide bombers into India deflated the jingoism of Indian military under Kapoor. Like in 2002, its second standoff also ended in humiliating withdrawal.

The plot makers held an emergent meeting and it was decided to further intensify propaganda war to build up a perception that Pakistan had become the most dangerous place on earth and its nukes were unsafe and posed a threat to world safety. It was also decided to step up acts of terror in all major cities of Pakistan through their agents and paid terrorists, and to force Pakistan to launch military operation against militant’s strongest positions in Bajaur, Swat and in South Waziristan. Pakistan specific Af-Pak policy was framed to convert Pak-Afghan border into a single battleground. While India was to mount relentless pressure on Pakistan by blaming that it was involved in Mumbai attacks, the US-NATO from the other end was to adopt an aggressive posture by insisting that it intended to operate inside FATA. Drone attacks against suspected targets in Waziristan were also to be accelerated. It was hoped that multiple actions would create conducive conditions for Indian military to launch the limited war by close of 2009.

Gen Kapoor living in the world of fantasy kept the temperature high by threatening to launch a limited attack under nuclear overhang. Without being provoked, he got so worked up that he made the whole world giggle when he boasted that his Army could bulldoze its way through the combined armies of China and Pakistan. One wonders, what’s stopping him from bailing out US-NATO in great distress by making minced meat of dreaded Taliban. His battle groups deployed in isolation along the border got tired of idling and started doubting the wisdom of impractical and mythical Cold Start doctrine which didn’t make any sense. They dread the call for a sudden plunge into the mouths of hungry sharks lying in waiting.

Pakistan Army on the other hand took the threat of limited war in a nuclear scenario dispassionately and prepared a wholesome response to nip the evil in the bud whenever it tried to sprout up. Glaring flaws in the new scheme provided grist for humor in uniform. When Indian Army could not deliver, feeling upset the RAW launched series of terrorist group attacks in Lahore and Rawalpindi to give vent to its frustration.

Ominous schemes worked out by Pakistan’s adversaries got a severe blow as a consequence to Pak Army gaining a decisive edge over militants after achieving outstanding successes in Bajaur, Swat and South Waziristan in quick succession. This development coupled with the security situation in Afghanistan getting out of control of occupation forces at the dawn of 2010 changed the whole complexion and put the schemers on the back foot. It compelled the US to start leaning on Pakistan rather than on India.

Pakistan Army instead of getting weakened has become more robust, professional and is well led and has maintained its defensive and offensive balance. Its mettle in war on terror and UN missions has been widely acclaimed by the world. Gen Kayani proved his mental calibre at the largely attended meeting of NATO at Brussels. It was for the first time that a non-NATO officer had this privilege to address the august gathering and he deeply impressed them. For full one year he has been resisting the pressure of USA to mount an operation in North Waziristan which is laudable.

The ISI is looked at with awe and envy. Single-handed it has successfully battled with world’s six most advanced intelligence agencies and has frustrated their designs. In the recently held Cambrian Patrol exercise organized by British Army in Wales in October, which is considered to be the world’s toughest exercise and in which teams from all over the world including India took part, the team of 35 FF in which I had served stood first and won the gold medal. Three cheers to the winners who have made us all proud.

With the induction of AWACs, JF-17 jet fighters, new batch of F-16 CD model jets, the PAF is feeling much more confident. With balanced ratio of hard hitting submarines and surface warships and improved early warning means and naval air arm, the navy too is in high spirits. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence is intact and its wide arrays of guided missiles including cruise missiles are much superior to Indian missiles. Gen Shamim Wyne is an excellent choice to head Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee who surely will further refurbish inter-services coordination and cooperation as well as the nuclear set up. Pakistan armed forces imbued with high pitched zeal do not believe in myths but have complete faith in Almighty Allah. They are focused on India and are well poised to take on the Indian challenge.

Nuclear Standoff; Who Is The Loser?

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By Kourosh Ziabari

It’s more than 8 years that the world’s newspapers are filled with miscellaneous news, reports and commentaries concerning Iran’s nuclear program. Controversy over Iran’s nuclear program has spanned through two administrations in Iran: ex-President Mohammad Khatami’s government and the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration. The term “Iran nuclear program” returns more than 6 million results in Google web search. Thousands of scholars, journalists, politicians and political pundits have made their own statement regarding this debatable subject.

Terminologically, Iran’s nuclear program calls to mind the words holocaust, Israel, Zionism, Axis of Evil, George W. Bush, stretched hands and uranium enrichment. The world is watching the uninteresting continuation of confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program and the opportunist journalists find this tedious charade the best subject to entertain their readers and enrich their portfolio.

Iran says that it needs enriched uranium to meet its energy demands and produce electricity. The United States and its European allies claim that Iran wants to produce nuclear weapons in order to launch a military strike against Israel. Israel, over the past 5 years, has been incessantly threatening Iran with a preemptive attack, warning that it would not allow Iran to achieve nuclear technology.

The United Nations Security Council, under the pressure of United States and its stalwart allies, has imposed 4 rounds of backbreaking financial sanctions against Iran to dissuade it from developing “nuclear weapons”. Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected the claims that they’re moving towards developing nuclear weapons and called the sanctions ineffective, valueless.

These scenarios have been taking place over the past 8 years repeatedly and there was not a single magnanimous politician to put an end to the exhausting war of words between Iran and the West categorically.

There are only two possibilities which can terminate Iran’s nuclear deadlock. The first solution is that Iran has to withdraw from its nuclear accomplishments and submit to the calls of Western politicians by giving up its uranium enrichment program. The other solution would be the West’s abandonment of its uncompromising stance by accepting a new nuclear power in the Middle East.

Both of the solutions, however, seem to be impractical and unattainable as none of the parties involved in Iran’s nuclear standoff have so far shown any sign of flexibility and reasonability. The West staunchly insists that Israel should remain the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and the employment of nuclear energy by the other countries, even for peaceful purposes, violates the policy of a Middle East with an unrivaled nuclear Israel. Iran, on the other hand, insists that it would never accede to halt its uranium enrichment program in lieu of receiving a certain amount of uranium enriched by a third country to be consequently transferred to Iran to be used in the nuclear reactors in Bushehr and Natanz.

Both sides of the game continue to stick to their stubbornness and adamancy. None of them retreat from their stances which have been indicated a number of times that are baseless and unfounded. The game which they’ve started has no winner. It’s a “lose-lose” competition. Amidst their erosive and probably unending clashes, the Iranian people seem to be the only loser. They’re the ones who should tolerate the intolerable consequences of financial sanctions. They’re the ones who will be deprived of the barest rudiments of their daily life as a result of the financial sanctions which are purportedly imposed on the government of Iran.

The Iranian people are the only loser of power game between Iran and the West. They’re competing to surmount each other in a nonstop match which is designed to show the most powerful competitor.

Once the turn comes to boasting of respecting the human rights and freedom, the Western leaders chant that they want the well-being, liberty and safety of the Iranian people. Once it’s time to keep silent and watch, they interfere disturbingly and affect the political destiny of a nation. I’m referring to Iran’s June 2009 presidential elections in which the Western politicians blatantly took the side of the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi and made an opposition figure out of him, laying the groundwork for his being demonized domestically; however, once it’s time for them to take action and prevent the Iranian nation from being affected by the grave consequences of a meaningless power game, they vote in favor of a fourth round of financial sanctions against Iran unilaterally and prove that their claims are drastically futile and unrealistic.

Let America set the example before it pushes the others, lets have denuclearized world, America dump your weapons and so do the other powers on this planet earth. Or at least denuclearize Israel that would also go a long way in boosting the American image of neutrality and peace loving country with a just stand.

The only losers of this power game are the ordinary Iranian people. There’s no doubt about that.

Kourosh Ziabari is Iranian media correspondent, freelance journalist and the author of Book 7+1. He is a contributing writer for websites and magazines in the Netherlands, Canada, Italy, Hong Kong, Bulgaria, South Korea, Belgium, Germany, the U.K. and the U.S. . Currently, he works for the Foreign Policy Journal as a media correspondent. He is a member of Tlaxcala Translators Network for Linguistic Diversity and World Student Community for Sustainable Development. Kourosh Ziabari is an Iranian freelance journalist and media correspondent. He has interviewed political commentator and linguist Noam Chomsky, member of New Zealand parliament Keith Locke, Australian politician Ian Cohen, member of German Parliament Ruprecht Polenz, former Mexican President Vicente Fox, former U.S. National Security Council advisor Peter D. Feaver, Nobel Prize laureate in Physics Wolfgang Ketterle, Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry Kurt Wüthrich, Nobel Prize laureate in biology Robin Warren, famous German political prisoner Ernst Zündel, Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff, American author Stephen Kinzer, syndicated journalist Eric Margolis, former assistant of the U.S. Department of the Treasury Paul Craig Roberts, American-Palestinian journalist Ramzy Baroud and the former President of the American Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Sid Ganis

Pakistan’s nuclear self-belief

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Abu Rasikh Waseem

Exactly 12 years ago, May 28 was pronounced as “Pakistan’s finest hour” by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif when Pakistan detonated five nuclear devices in the Ras-Koh mountain range in Chaghai, in response to the Indian nuclear tests of May 11 and 13, 1998. This was, however, not the first time that India crossed the nuclear threshold. Earlier on May 18, 1974, India used illegally diverted plutonium from the ‘peaceful’ CIRUS reactor to conduct Pokhran-I nuclear weapon test.

Soon after the Indian nuclear tests in May 1998, many in Indian political leadership carried doubts about Pakistan’s nuclear capability. Home Minister L.K. Advani and many other BJP leaders started hurling threats, reminding Pakistan to conform to the new strategic realities in the region. Pakistan, however, did not panic into a reflex action and waited for international community’s response to the Indian nuclear tests.

As witnessed in 1974, international community’s reaction to the 1998 Indian nuclear tests was equally ambivalent. While the US slapped mandatory sanctions against India, EU, France and Russia refused to follow suit. In the absence of achieving security assurances from the US, Pakistan conducted the last nuclear test on May 30, 1998 and thus, restored the disturbing strategic balance of power in the region. Since then and despite many crises, nuclear deterrence has effectively prevailed in the region.

Above notwithstanding, this May 28, 2010 brought together a unique coincidence. At one side the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference was being concluded where the world powers were struggling to defend this discriminatory instrument of global non-proliferation regime. And on the other side was Pakistan standing tall, consolidating itself as a responsible and an established nuclear power.

Two recent events symbolises Pakistan’s this nuclear self-belief in the milieu of so-called ’emerging nuclear order’. Firstly, it is Pakistan’s resolute and principled stance on the issue of Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT).

The proposed FMCT aims to ban the future production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. Pakistan with a modest level of fissile stocks considers that such a ban would put it in a position of strategic disadvantage vis-à-vis India, and thus, undermine the credibility of its nuclear deterrent. Pakistan, therefore, propagates an FMT (minus the cut-off) that besides banning the future production, must also take into account the pre-existing fissile stocks.

Pakistan’s resolve was manifest in January 13 National Command Authority (NCA) statement that noted: “Pakistan’s position (on FMCT) will be determined by its national security interests and the objectives of the strategic stability in South Asia, and that Pakistan will not support any approach or measure that is prejudicial to its legitimate security concerns.”

The NCA further noted (the destabilising effects of Indo-US nuclear deal and): “The India-specific exemption made by the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and subsequent nuclear fuel supply agreements with several countries, would enable India to produce substantial quantities of fissile material for nuclear weapons by freeing up its domestic resources.” It is estimated that these nuclear deals would enhance India’s nuclear weapons production capability from seven to 40-50 nuclear weapons per year.

Second is Pakistan’s rightful recognition at the Nuclear Security Summit (NSS) hosted by the US from April 12 to 13, 2010, at Washington DC. Through its proactive involvement in the negotiating process of the Joint Communiqué and the Work Plan, issued at the culmination of the NSS, Pakistan ensured that its interests were safeguarded and it did not undertake any commitment which was not consistent with its international obligations or national laws.

Pakistan silenced all such evil voices that created a specific linkage between Pakistan’s nuclear weapons and their falling into the hands of terrorists. Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, who was one of the lead speakers at the Summit, underscored that the nuclear terrorism was a global concern and all states must be in a state of constant preparedness for effective and timely response to the threat. He also said that Pakistan has put in place a multi-pronged robust nuclear security regime to ensure that its nuclear assets remain secure from insider as well as outsider threats. Complementing his views, President Barack Obama expressed confidence in Pakistan’s security around its nuclear weapons and admitted that no nation, including the US, was exempt from taking better steps to ensure security of its nuclear weapons.

Pakistan also amply utilised the event to put forward its legitimate energy needs for power generation. In a national statement, issued at the Nuclear Security Summit, it was contested that with more than 35 years of experience in operating nuclear power plants, Pakistan fully qualified for participation in civil nuclear cooperation at the international level.
As a country with advance fuel cycle capability and strong nuclear safety and security culture, Pakistan also offered its nuclear fuel cycle services under IAEA safeguards and showed its readiness to share competence in the areas of nuclear security, particularly prevention, detection and response to illicit trafficking.

Pakistan’s nuclear self-belief should be comforting and assuring to the nation that Pakistan would earn its rightful place in this era of nuclear renaissance and it will not submit to international pressures, what so ever, to compromise the viability of its nuclear deterrent.