ISLAMABAD: India has shifted the conflict to sub-conventional level by resorting to use of terrorism and proxies against Pakistan after realizing that conventional war is inconceivable due to its nuclear capabilities.
This was stated by Adviser National Command Authority Lt Gen (R) Khalid Kidwai while speaking at the 6th Workshop on ‘Defence, Deterrence and Stability in South Asia’, which was jointly organized by Islamabad-based Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) and International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London.
The workshop, which was participated by diplomats, academics and analysts of strategic issues, deliberated on regional issues, including Pakistan’s relations with the United States and India, security in Indian and Pacific Ocean regions, and shifts and trends in nuclear doctrine and deterrence.
“Because of mutually assured destruction there is unlikelihood of a hot war or a conventional war and therefore the conflict has shifted towards sub-conventional level. As of now, that could be seen in full play at our Western borders,” Gen Kidwai said recalling the public pronouncements by Indian leadership of using terrorism to destabilize Pakistan.
“An announced sub-conventional direction has been taken by India,” he underscored adding that the region was now entering “cold war era for regional supremacy creation of proxies.”
Kidwai credited the reduction in chances of convention war to Pakistan’s ‘robust nuclear capability’ and the policy of ‘Full Spectrum Deterrence’. “The era of conventional hot wars is behind us. India can generate as much heat as it likes on Line of Control, including phantom surgical strikes from time to time, which in any case would be strongly retaliated by Pakistan and that’s about it,” he said.
He also explained the salient features of Full Spectrum Deterrence policy, which envisaged possession of a full range of nuclear weapons that could reach every part of the Indian territory; having enough yield and numbers to deter rival from its policy of massive retaliation; and having liberty of picking targets including counter-value, counter-force and battlefield.
Speaking about Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities, he said the country was self-reliant in nuclear field. “There are no aggressive overtones to our capability; the over-arching policy is Full Spectrum Deterrence, but within the larger philosophy of Credible Minimum Deterrence. Pakistan will maintain peace and security in South Asia with adequate level of armaments at all tiers: strategic, operational and tactical,” he maintained.
The NCA adviser renewed the call for resolution of disputes in the region saying as long as that was not done, the region would remain in flux alternating between “strategic stability and instability”. Fragile peace in the meantime, he believed, would be maintained through defense and deterrence postures.
Emphasizing that Pakistan made the right choices while tackling the threats to its security, he said, “Pakistan will find itself on the right side of the history; the coming decades are likely to validate this.”
Team Leader IISS Desmond Bowen spoke about the difference in understanding of deterrence in the West and South Asia. He also underlined the risks associated with the nuclear capability.
CISS Executive Director Amb Sarwar Naqvi gave an overview of the regional trends. He observed that Pakistan was deeply skeptical of President Trump’s South Asia policy. Meanwhile, in relations with India, he noted, the stalemate was persisting.
Story first published: 6th December 2017