by PakistanToday , (Last Updated 21 hours ago)
• Sea-based nuclear capabilities of India and Pakistan compared
By: Syed Daniyal Ali
The main motive of the deterrence is to create a threat to deter others from offending. It is considered an art to convince others not to do certain acts. The cold war introduced the concept of deterrence with nuclear weapons. After that, nuclear weapons and striking capabilities advancement were perceived as a great threat in the opposite camp. In response, counter-capabilities were adopted by the others. In the post-Cold War era, the game of nuclear deterrence can be seen in the Asia region. It can be observed in the context of the emergence of new nuclear states, India, Pakistan and China. These three nuclear states have matured and advanced in terms of nuclear weapons, and its delivery system and control and command establishment.
Since the creation of India and Pakistan, both states are engaged in three major wars.These armed conflicts continue to hold forth the risk of war. There are still unresolved conflicts, which include Kashmir, Siachen and the water disputes. In 1998 both states conducted nuclear tests, and after becoming nuclear states both raised many questions related to the security concerns in South Asia. Both states developed their nuclear thinking. In recent times, both states are focusing on their naval advancement. India started spending money on the sea-based missile capabilities; Pakistan followed the same trail for counter0capability. In the next decade, South Asia will emerge as a theatre of a sea-based nuclear-weapon deterrence.
India and Pakistan both have a strategic and central position in the Indian Ocean Region,especially their interest in the sea-based nuclear deterrence. Both states have national, economic and security concerns within the Indian Ocean Region. If the shores of both states are not protected, then there is no means of industrial development, political stability and no commercial growth.
Many questions arise about the logic of sea-based deterrence: The seapower concept is not a new one; the influence of seapower affects the wealth and strength of the states. Especially in war, issues related to the control of the sea, and the skilful use of the sea, cannot be neglected or ignored by any state. Some great strategist highlighted the importance of seapower; most famous and renowned, Mahan and Corbett wrote about the war strategies. In recent time, both strategists’ maritime theories are being implemented by all the states in different manners, as all are focusing on the control of lines of communication, and the primacy of politics in war, primarily focusing on their maritime advancements.
But the advancement of nuclear weapons has increased the importance of the sea-based nuclear deterrence. According to the assumption of realism, survival is the most critical factor of any state. The Indian Ocean Region is essential for India and Pakistan strategically, after showing its naval advancement provides the best opportunity to create sea-based deterrence.
Pakistan’s and India’s sea-based nuclear programmes might be at a nascent stage. Pakistan developed sea-based nuclear capability with diesel-electric submarine-launched cruise missile Babur and India has launched its first nuclear submarine, INS Arihant, which has changed the strategic position of the Indian Ocean.
Any aggressive action by India against Pakistan is surely going to elicit a matching response. Pakistan and India are both nuclear powers and military confrontation between them could have horrible consequences not only for this region but the entire world. In that event their own strategic, political and commercial interests would be jeopardized
As both states have availed the second-strike capabilities with sea-based nuclear programmes, that ensures that both will able to survive an initial nuclear strike and still be able to retaliate with a nuclear attack to inflict maximum damage. One view is that it will create stability in the South Asia region because the Pakistan rationale for developing naval nuclear capabilities is to attain second-strike capability against India, providing its strategic depth and creating nuclear deterrence. But the fact cannot be neglected that it is an entirely new technology for both states. Pakistan is buying six submarines equipped with the Babur from China for sea-based deterrence, but the deal still in progress. Whereas India’s Arihant also has a lot of operational issues: aside from the reactor fuel issue, secondly its range is not satisfactory. It is not able to attack the major cities of Pakistan like Islamabad and Lahore, and hardly it will able to target Karachi. Same is the case of the Chinese submarines for akistan, range issues still create a lot of limitations on them. They are also noisy like many Russian submarines, so Pakistan would have to adopt the bastion strategy. Conventional submarines are less noisy than nuclear submarines. Both states can be victims of C3 (Command, Control and Communication) issues. The possibility cannot be ignored that submarines might lose contact with their bases. Then will submarine officers be free to make their own decision on the use of nuclear weapons? Such issues will only lead towards enhancing the “fog of war”.