India has always relied on arms build-up instead of resolving Kashmir dispute: ACDA official


ISLAMABAD, April 9 (APP): India has always relied on nuclear arms build-up instead of resolving the longstanding dispute of Kashmir, a senior officer of Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs (ACDA) said while addressing a British think tank.
‘South Asian Strategic Stability: A Pakistani Perspective’ was the topic of a recent address at the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS), London where ACDA Director Brigadier Zahir Kazmi said, “The Indo-Pak Subcontinent’s nuclear powers have conflicting strategic paradigms.”
“India is distinctly revisionist and pursues global status and hegemony. Conversely, Pakistan pursues sovereign equality, undiminished security and peaceful coexistence.”
Bilateral restraint and responsibility, he said, must be exercised in nuclear, conventional and non-kinetic domains, and state-terrorism should be condemned. Continuing dialogue, despite terrorist attacks, would weaken the terrorist-resolve and strengthen those, who wanted to build sustainable regional peace, he added.
He said that the international community had a stake in stabilizing South Asia – that was of profiting from the unprecedented economic opportunities which the Asian Century was offering for all to seize, invest, capitalize and reap.
Strategic stability, he said, was the fruit of relationship between India and Pakistan that encompassed the political conditions, security circumstances, doctrines and force postures to mutually preserve peace, prevent crises escalation and resolve disputes to reduce the risk of war, especially a nuclear exchange.
“If peace and normalcy at the political and strategic plane remains elusive, stabilizing deterrence is the next logical option and its nadir. Impasse over resolution of the bilateral disputes is the mother of all problems in the Sub-continent,” he noted.
While recollecting historic facts, he said nuclear weapons had always played an unlimited and central role in Indian strategic thinking. Since the 1950s the country proliferated, made nuclear weapons for status and then created a security rationale for these.
Threat from China, he said, was used as a bogey and raison d’ˆtre for India’s first nuclear bomb that was “peacefully” tested in 1974.
He said in 1950s, Homi Bhaba, the founder of the Indian nuclear programme, had a politically backed plan for making nuclear weapons in nuclear energy’s garb. This was much before the war with China precipitated in 1962.
In stark contrast, he said, Islamabad’s nuclear thinking had
always been influenced by New Delhi’s doctrinal and force posture
choices. Islamabad had always endeavoured to maintain balance with proportionate and restrained responses to a dynamic threat.
These disparate paradigms and lack of Indian interest in resolving bilateral disputes, he said, impacted the pursuit of strategic stability in a unique fashion. Ironically, the diplomatic process in South Asia was sporadic and yielded little results. Islamabad faced increasing hubris, arrogance and reluctance to negotiate and resolve the disputes with its neighbor, he added.
He said that Pakistan spent 2.1 % of Asia’s total defence outlay, which paled in comparison to 13.9 % by India. At $51.5 billion, the Indian defence budget was $3.9 billion more than that of France, $7.8 billion less than Russia and $1.4 billion less than Britain.
“India’s declaratory nuclear doctrine is incredible and destabilizing.”
Indian ambassadors and scholars, he said, had recently vindicated Pakistan that India’s force posture developments and rhetoric don’t add up.
He said there were several hot takes on the policy of pre-emptive strike against Pakistan. Once a scholar of Indian origin claimed at a recent nuclear fest in Washington D.C. that the ‘No-First Use’ pledge was a pretense.
Indicating massive retaliation threat, he said huge naval nuclear build-up and unrelenting fissile material production were some of the inconsistencies with the notion of minimalism in the nuclear doctrine in the neighbourhood of Pakistan. Since 2013, there had been several signals that the doctrine was up for a change.
Since then, some aspects had been leaked for gauging the
international reactions.
Unlike nuclear doctrine, he said, Indian ‘limited war doctrine’ – alternatively called Cold Start and Proactive Defence Strategy – was credible. “The country espouses a pre-emptive limited conventional war and hopes that it shall not escalate to nuclear level. Cold Start Doctrine was denied for 14 years till it fully matured and their army chief recently owned it.”
Cold Start Doctrine, he said, was operationalised at a big cost of around $182 billion for the military hardware procurement, development of communication infrastructure.
He said India’s sub-conventional war or terrorism as a doctrine will create problems for Pakistan. Ajit Doval, Indian Security Adviser, has openly professed a defensive-offensive mode of terrorism against Pakistan to remain under the country’s nuclear threshold! He has also been explicit about targeting Balochistan. Likewise, Prime Minister Modi had claimed that he played a part in the break-up of Pakistan in 1971.
“Sub-conventional war’s latest manifestation came in 2016 once Commander Kulbhushan Yadav – a senior serving Indian intelligence naval officer – was arrested in Pakistan for abetting terrorism and fanning insurgency on his State’s orders.
“Use of state terrorism by a nuclear power to destabilize its neighbouring nuclear power is a sui generis case of the nuclear age,” he said.
The US declassified documents of 1960s, he said, provided dramatic evidence of over five decades of American ambivalence regarding their proliferation.
Top secret declassified documents revealed in 1961 that the US wanted to help India in making nuclear weapons. A State Department memo read, “It would be desirable if a friendly Asian power beat the Communist China to the punch by detonating a nuclear device first” – and India was the best candidate!
“Historically, Indian nuclear proliferation has remained a secondary American policy concern,” he said. Unsurprisingly, the last American administration went out of the way in winning India an exceptional waiver from the Nuclear Suppliers Group in 2008, relegating all international non-proliferation norms that have been weaved as an apartheid over seven decades of nuclear age. There was also utter disregard to the fact that such exceptionalism can feed into strategic instability.
Zahir Kazmi asked how long could the unfairness in non-proliferation
regime endure if it catered to the politico-economic interests of few and created an apartheid against others based on the so-called principles. Such exceptionalism had allowed a fast and dangerous nuclear programme fester in India, he added.
He said a nuclear city had secretly sprouted up in Challakere, Karnataka, for building HEU stocks beyond the requirement of fuelling nuclear submarines and for making thermonuclear weapons.
There were assessments that Indian unsafeguarded nuclear reactors had a capacity of 2600 MWt, which was 13 times larger than that of Pakistan, he said.
The trophy for sporting the largest, oldest and fastest growing unsafeguarded nuclear programme in the developing world belongs to New Delhi, which currently has a total capacity of producing between 356 and 493 plutonium-based nuclear weapons, he quoted from recent open source assessments.
The developments in Indian missile and ballistic missile defence programme, he said, were destabilising. Since 1998 Pakistan had conducted 85 flight tests compared to 220 by India, which made their testing ratio 2.5 times more.
Indian cyber capability, he said, was is potentially destabilising. “According to New Delhi’s National Cyber Security Policy of 2013, India shall have a force of half a million “cyber security professionals” by 2018! This force would be more than thrice the combined size of the entire British land, air and naval defence forces.”
Against this backdrop, he said, Pakistan saw itself cliff-hanging to maintain strategic stability in the Sub-continent.
“Pakistan’s sincere desire for peaceful resolution of all disputes, particularly that of Jammu and Kashmir, has been a wild goose chase. Pakistan has exercised unilateral strategic restraint and takes minimum essential measures to stabilize deterrence,” he said.
If India was a responsible and restrained power, it would not have played an active role in dismemberment of Pakistan in 1971. It was a country that has maintained an uncomfortable peace with all its neighbours, he added.
Conversely, he said, Pakistan tested nuclear deterrent 24 years after India and started its missile programme almost a decade after it.
He said Pakistan believed in maintaining strategic balance instead of gaining parity with India. “This is achieved by maintaining strategic capabilities at a level that is minimum for the credibility of deterrence. Minimalism in Pakistani nuclear behaviour is a function of self-restraint rather than resource constraint.”
“If nuclear weapons are only ‘political in nature’ and if there is a true commitment to nuclear disarmament, the focus of our collective efforts should be on dispute resolution and building peace rather than conflict management and building sinews of war,” he added.