Biden’s Afghan Pullout Enables the Pakistani Nuclear Horn : Daniel 8

Biden’s Afghan Pullout Is a Victory for Pakistan. But at What Cost?

Pakistan’s military stayed allied to both the Americans and Taliban. But now the country may face intensified extremism at home as a result of a perceived Taliban victory.

April 15, 2021

Pakistani soldiers in South Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan, in 2009.Tyler Hicks/The New York Times

Near the peak of the American war in Afghanistan, a former chief of neighboring Pakistan’s military intelligence — an institution allied both to the U.S. military and to its Taliban adversaries — appeared on a talk show called “Joke Night” in 2014. He put a bold prediction on the record.

“When history is written,” declared Gen. Hamid Gul, who led the feared spy service known as the I.S.I. during the last stretch of the Cold War in the 1980s, “it will be stated that the I.S.I. defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan with the help of America.”

“Then there will be another sentence,” General Gul added after a brief pause, delivering his punchline to loud applause. “The I.S.I., with the help of America, defeated America.”

In President Biden’s decision to withdraw all American forces from Afghanistan by September, Pakistan’s powerful military establishment finally gets its wish after decades of bloody intrigue: the exit of a disruptive superpower from a backyard where the I.S.I. had established strong influence through a friendly Taliban regime before the U.S. invaded in 2001.

A return of the Taliban to some form of power would dial the clock back to a time when Pakistan’s military played gatekeeper to Afghanistan, perpetually working to block the influence of its archenemy, India.

But the Pakistani military’s sheltering of the Taliban insurgency over the past two decades — doggedly pursuing a narrowly defined geopolitical victory next door — risks another wave of disruption at home. Pakistan is a fragile, nuclear-armed state already reeling from a crashed economy, waves of social unrest, agitation by oppressed minorities and a percolating Islamic militancy of its own that it is struggling to contain.

If Afghanistan descends into chaos, Pakistanis are bound to feel the burden again just as they did after Afghanistan disintegrated in the 1990s following the Soviet withdrawal. Millions of Afghan refugees crossed the porous border to seek relative safety in Pakistan’s cities and towns.

Afghan men waiting for tokens to apply for a Pakistani visa in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, in October.Parwiz/Reuters

And more: A Taliban return to power, either through a civil war or through a peace deal that gives them a share of power, would embolden the extremist movements in Pakistan that share the same source of ideological mentorship in the thousands of religious seminaries spread across Pakistan. Those groups have shown no hesitation in antagonizing the country’s government.

While Pakistan’s military played a dangerous game of supporting militants abroad and containing extremists at home, the country’s Islamist movements found a rallying cause in the presence of an invading foreign force next door, openly fund-raising for and cheering on their Afghan classmates. New extremist groups kept shrinking the civil society space in Pakistan — often targeting intellectuals and professionals for abuse or attack — and even found sympathizers in the ranks of Pakistan’s security forces.

Pakistani generals have resorted to a mix of force and appeasement in tackling the country’s own growing militancy problem, said Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. But a strategy for countering the spread of extremism has been elusive.

“It scares me, it scares me,” Dr. Siddiqa said. “Once the Taliban come back, that should trouble the Pakistani government, or any government. It will be inspiring for all the other groups.”

Said Nazir, a retired brigadier and defense analyst in Islamabad, said Pakistan had “learned some lessons” from the blowback of past support to jihadist groups. The country would need to tread more cautiously in the endgame of the Afghan war.

“Victory will not be claimed by Pakistan, but tacitly the Taliban will owe it to Pakistan,” Mr. Nazir said. “Pakistan does fear the replay of past events and fears a bloody civil war and violence if hasty withdrawal and no political solution occur simultaneously.”

Seth Jones of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington said that although Pakistan’s military and intelligence establishment are “undoubtedly celebrating” the Biden announcement, greater control in Afghanistan is far from assured.

“It will be difficult, if not impossible, for Pakistan to control the Taliban and other militant groups in Afghanistan as the country spirals into a civil war,” he said. “Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other groups are already operating in Afghanistan. There is no way Pakistan can control this hodgepodge of groups, which have different interests, leaders, and goals.”

Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a deputy leader of the Taliban, arrives in Moscow for an Afghan peace conference in March.Pool photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko

From the moment of its birth as a country in 1947, Pakistan found itself surrounded by enemies. The new borders drawn up by British officials instantly mired Pakistan in a host of territorial disputes, including a serious one with Afghanistan, which still lays claim to what most of the world sees as Pakistan’s northwestern regions.

It was at the peak of the Cold War in the 1970s, as the Soviet Union pushed to expand its influence in South and Central Asia, that Pakistani leaders found a formula of deploying Islamist proxies they have stuck to ever since. The United States armed and financed the training of the mujahedeen insurgency that would defeat the Soviet Army in Afghanistan and topple the government it propped up. Pakistan’s army, particularly its intelligence wing, would serve as the handler, host, and trainer.

Through the ensuing civil war in the 1990s, Pakistani generals helped a younger group of fundamentalist Afghan fighters known as the Taliban sweep the fighting factions and establish a government with control over more than 90 percent of Afghanistan.

But when the United States invaded in 2001 to chase Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda after their terrorist attacks on American soil, the Americans also turned their sights on Pakistan’s allies in Afghanistan, the ruling Taliban. Pakistan found itself in a difficult position. In the face of President George Bush’s “with us or against us” ultimatum, Pakistan’s military ruler, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, reluctantly went along.

The decision had an immediate blowback: Pakistan began facing attacks from the Pakistani Taliban for siding with the U.S. military campaign against their ideological brothers in Afghanistan. It took years of military operations that cost the lives of thousands of Pakistani forces, and displaced countless people in Pakistan’s northwest, to quell the group.

A Pakistani Army officer inside a school where Pakistani Taliban gunmen killed 145 people in Peshawar in 2014.Muhammed Muheisen/Associated Press

At the same time, Pakistan’s military kept working to help the Afghan Taliban regroup as an insurgency to keep the United States in check. Even as American officials relied on Pakistani help to conduct the war and intelligence operations, some were bitter about the double role played by the I.S.I. The killing of Bin Laden in Pakistan by U.S. forces in 2011 was one rare moment when those tensions played out in public.

But Pakistan’s generals were also successful in making themselves indispensable to the United States — offering a nuclear-armed ally in a region where China, Russia and Islamist militants all had interests. Effectively, it meant that the United States chose to turn a blind eye as its Pakistani allies helped the Taliban wear down American and allied forces in Afghanistan.

Afghan government officials, meanwhile, were becoming increasingly distraught that their American allies were not coming down harder on Pakistan.

On one trip to Afghanistan soon after being elected vice president in 2008, Mr. Biden was urged by President Hamid Karzai to pressure Pakistan into rooting out Taliban sanctuaries on its soil. Mr. Biden was reported to respond by saying that Pakistan was 50 times more important to the United States than Afghanistan was.

In recent years, as American officials sought a way to leave Afghanistan, they again had to turn to Pakistan — to pressure the Taliban to come to peace talks, and to lend help when the United States needed to move against Al Qaeda or the Islamic State affiliate in the region.

With the U.S. intention to leave publicly declared, Pakistan did away with any semblance of denial that the Taliban leadership was sheltering there. Taliban leaders flew from Pakistani cities to engage in peace talks in Qatar. When negotiations reached delicate moments that required consultations with field commanders, they flew back to Pakistan.

When the United States finally signed a withdrawal agreement with the Taliban in February last year, the mood in some circles in Pakistan was one of open celebration.

A supporter of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan party throws stones at the police during a protest in Lahore on Tuesday.Rahat Dar/EPA, via Shutterstock

Pakistan’s former defense minister, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, who had repeatedly visited the halls of power in Washington as a U.S. ally, tweeted a photo of U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo meeting Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban deputy at the talks in Qatar.

“You might have might on your side, but God is with us,” Mr. Asif said in the tweet, ending with a cry of victory. “Allah u Akbar!”

But there are signs that extremist groups within Pakistan have already felt emboldened by the Taliban’s perceived victory, giving a glimpse of the trouble likely to be in store for Pakistani officials.

The once-defeated Pakistani Taliban have increased their activities in tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. Ambushes against security forces have become more frequent.

Just how wide the problem of extremism might stretch has been on display in recent days on the streets of two of Pakistan’s main cities, Lahore and Karachi.

Supporters of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, a movement that sees itself as protecting Islam against blasphemy, thrashed uniformed members of Pakistani forces and took dozens hostage for hours. Videos emerged of Pakistani army officers trying to reason with the violent protesters. Officials said two policemen had been killed, and 300 wounded. The showdown continues, as the government moved to ban the group as a terrorist outfit.

“The state was not able to control the stick-wielding and stone-hurling members of the T.L.P. that paralyzed most parts of the country for two days,” said Afrasiab Khattak, a former chairman of Pakistan’s human rights commission. “How will they handle trained, guns-carrying Taliban militants?”

A Pakistani soldier on guard at the border with Afghanistan in North Waziristan in 2017.Caren Firouz/Reuters

Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

India-Pakistan crises likely to escalate: Revelation 8

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Pakistan counterpart Imran Khan.(Reuters)

India-Pakistan crises likely to intensify, China tensions still high: US intel

The US has followed the border conflict closely and condemned China’s aggression in strong terms. It has also expedited certain military supplies requisitioned by India.

The US has followed the border conflict closely and condemned China’s aggression in strong terms. It has also expedited certain military supplies requisitioned by India.

India-China border tensions “remain high” despite pullbacks of forces and although a war between India and Pakistan is “unlikely”, crises between them will become “more intense, risking an escalatory cycle”, the US intelligence community said on Tuesday in its annual assessment of threats around the world.

It added that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India was “more likely than in the past to respond with military force to perceived or real Pakistani provocations, and heightened tensions raise the risk of conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, with violent unrest in Kashmir or a militant attack in India being potential flashpoints”.

For the US, the intelligence community saw China as “a near-peer competitor, challenging the US in multiple arenas”; Russia as “pushing back against Washington where it can globally, employing techniques up to and including the use of force”; Iran was described as a “regional menace” with broader malign influence activities; and North Korea as a “disruptive player on the regional and world stages”.

The report — released by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence — said China was seeking to use “coordinated, whole-of-government tools to demonstrate its growing strength and compel regional neighbours to acquiesce to Beijing’s preferences”, including its claims over disputed territory and assertions of sovereignty over Taiwan. India-China border “tensions remain high, despite some force pullbacks this year”, the report said, adding: “China’s occupation since May 2020 of contested border areas is the most serious escalation in decades and led to the first lethal border clash between the two countries since 1975.”

As of mid-February, “after multiple rounds of talks, both sides were pulling back forces and equipment from some sites along the disputed border”, the report added on the India-China conflict.

The US has followed the border conflict closely and condemned China’s aggression in strong terms. It has also expedited certain military supplies requisitioned by India.

About others in India’s neighbourhood, the report said that the Myanmar military’s February seizure of power, detention of state counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi, and declaration of a one-year state of emergency “marked a break in that country’s democratic transition and ushered in new societal instability and widespread popular protests”.

For Afghanistan, which has become America’s longest war, the report said: “We assess that prospects for a peace deal will remain low during the next year. The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan Government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support”.

The Threat of the First Nuclear War: Revelation 8:1

Pak, India situation in Kashmir remains threat to international peace, security

Ambassador Akram speaks at US Army War College | Says terrorism in Pakistan being sponsored by India from ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan


April 12, 2021

NEW YORK – A top Pakistani diplomat has expressed the hope that the United Nations under the new Biden administration will revive its active engagement at the United Nations to enable the world community to effectively respond to global challenges such as the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, terrorism and promoting Sustainable Development goals (SDGs).

“Everyone at the UN is very happy that America is back, and the new U.S. administration has committed itself to participating actively in the UN, reviving multilateralism, and working with other member states to promote the goals and objectives of the UN Charter,” Munir Akram, Pakistan permanent representative to the UN, said in a virtual seminar organised by US Army War College.

Pakistan, he said, looked forward to cooperating with the United States at the UN on all key issues.

Based in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, the US Army War College educates and develops leaders for service at the strategic level while advancing knowledge in the global application of landpower.

Russia warns US to stay away from Black Sea

Ambassador Akram told the army officers participating in the seminar that the U.S. move, over the last four years, to disengage itself from the UN had contributed to the diminution in the importance of the world body. In his presentation, the Pakistani envoy explained the key features and functions of the United Nations and its affiliated organs in the maintenance of international peace and security, as well as Pakistan’s active role at the UN, especially in the peace-keeping operations.

Islamabad looks forward to cooperate with US at UN in meeting global challenges

The United Nations, he said, has always been an important body for Pakistan because its dispute with India over Jammu and Kashmir was referred to the Security Council in 1947.

The 15-member Council pronounced itself on the dispute, calling for a plebiscite, under the UN auspices, to enable the people of Jammu and Kashmir to determine their own future, and to decide whether they wish to join Pakistan or India, it was pointed out.

Govt to ensure uninterrupted power supply during Sehar, Iftar

United Nations Military Observer Group in India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP) has been stationed since 1948 to monitor the ceasefire between the two countries. Pakistan has contributed over 200,000 peacekeepers in over 46 UN peacekeeping missions, and promoted actively the role of the UN peacekeeping for the preservation of international peace and security.

At the present moment, Ambassador Akram said Pakistan has a stake in a number of current issues that are before the United Nations.

He said Kashmir became a focus of attention when India abrogated its autonomy in 2019 and divided the occupied region into two parts, prompting Pakistan to raise its voice against these illegal measures.

“The situation between India and Pakistan in Kashmir remains a threat to international peace and security,” the Pakistani envoy said. After a large number of ceasefire violations by India along the Line of Control in the disputed Kashmir region, he said guns have fallen silent and hoped that they would remain silent.

Met Dept issues heavy rainfall, thunderstorm alerts in Sindh

On Afghanistan, he said, Pakistan had facilitated an agreement between the United States and the Taliban for an orderly and responsible withdrawal from Afghanistan, and for negotiations between the Afghan parties to achieve a political settlement. On terrorism, he said, Pakistan had collaborated with the United States to destroy al Qaeda and related terrorist organizations, and suffered over 80,000 casualties in this ‘war on terrorism.’

Pakistan had succeeded after major military operations to clear its frontier territories of terrorist organizations. “However,’ he said, “We continue to face the problem of terrorism today, which is externally sponsored by our neighbour, India, from the ungoverned spaces in Afghanistan,” adding that this issue has been raised in the Security Council.

On disarmament, Pakistan has been a reluctant nuclear weapons state, as India went ahead with its nuclear explosions and “we were obliged to follow suit”. Pakistan, he said, has adhered to the principles of nuclear non-proliferation and sought mutual restraint regime with India to control arms race between the two countries. “We have, as yet, not found a reciprocal positive response from our neighbour.”

Ramadan moon sighted, Pak Muslims to observe first fast tomorrow

U.S. intelligence report warns of the first nuclear war between India and Pakistan: Revelation 8:1

U.S. intelligence report warns of large-scale war between India and Pakistan

Anando Bhakto

An Indian military trooper stands guard on the outskirts of Srinagar on March 25. Photo: TAUSEEF MUSTAFA/AFP

A report from the United States has claimed that nuclear-armed neighbours India and Pakistan might engage in a large-scale war unwittingly, even as they would like to avoid military hostility.

The Global Trends report, released April 7 in Washington, noted: “India and Pakistan may stumble into a large-scale war neither side wants, especially following a terrorist attack that the Indian government judges to be significant.” The report is compiled by the U.S. government’s National Intelligence Council once every four years.

A similar report released by the Obama administration in 2017 had warned of a pandemic and a vast economic disruption as its fallout.

The report looks at the trigger for the potential war between India and Pakistan. It said the ability of some militant outfits to conduct attacks, New Delhi’s resolve to retaliate against Islamabad after such an attack and Islamabad’s determination to defend itself “are likely to persist and may increase” in the next five years.

It warned: “Miscalculation by both governments could prompt a breakdown in the deterrence that has restricted conflict to levels each side judges it can manage.”

The U.S. intel report also noted that such a war could translate into long-term economic fallout. It noted that “a full-scale war could inflict damage that would have economic and political consequences for years”.

The report further underlined that the U.S. policy in Afghanistan is likely to impact the neighbouring countries, especially India and Pakistan. “U.S. actions in Afghanistan during the next year will have significant consequences across the region, particularly in Pakistan and India,” it said.

This would be “especially true” if a security vacuum emerges in Afghanistan that results in a civil war between the Taliban and its Afghan opponents, expanding freedom of manoeuvre for regional militant networks, or criminals and refugees flow out of the country, it adds.

The report concluded that developments in Afghanistan would fuel political tensions and conflict in western Pakistan and sharpen the India-Pakistan rivalry.

Pakistan Army discusses situation along border leading to the first nuclear war: Revelation 8

Pakistan Army discusses situation along border with India

By ET News

Pakistan Border. (File Photo: IANS)

The Pakistan Army’s top brass on Thursday discussed the situation along the border with India, including the Line of Control, after an agreement to restore the ceasefire agreement.

The 240th Corps Commanders’ Conference chaired by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa was held at GHQ, Rawalpindi and the participants undertook a comprehensive review of global, regional and domestic security environment.

The army said in a statement the forum expressed confidence in operational preparedness of the army displayed during recently-held formation exercises.

“Forum held a detailed discussion on the situation along the Eastern Border/LOC especially the environment post ceasefire understanding 2021 between the DGMOs,” it said.

In February, Pakistan and India agreed to strictly observe all agreements on ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) and address each other’s core issues and concerns which have the propensity to disturb peace and lead to violence.

An agreement was reached between the two countries after the Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of India and Pakistan held discussions over the established mechanism of hotline contact.

US Intel Report: ‘India, Pak May Stumble Into The First Nuclear War’: Revelation 8

US Intel Report: ‘India, Pak May Stumble Into Large-scale War’


MENAFN – Kashmir Observer) Wagah Border- File Pic

Srinagar: In a sensational disclosure, a United States intelligence report has warned about the possibility of an unintentional large-scale war between India and Pakistan though none of the two nuclear countries would want so.

‘India and Pakistan may stumble into a large-scale war neither side wants, especially following a terrorist attack that the Indian government judges to be significant,’ says the Global Trends report, which is produced every four years by the US government’s National Intelligence Council.

The report was released in Washington on Wednesday and takes a longer-term, strategic look, trying to peer 20 years ahead to examine how current changes could transform the world of the future.

A similar report was released by the Obama administration in 2017, highlighting the risk of a pandemic and the vast economic disruption it could cause — a prescient prediction in hindsight.

The ability of some militant outfits to conduct attacks, New Delhi’s resolve to retaliate against Islamabad after such an attack, and Islamabad’s determination to defend itself ‘are likely to persist and may increase’ in the next five years, the report says, adding ‘Miscalculation by both governments could prompt a breakdown in the deterrence that has restricted conflict to levels each side judges it can manage.’

The US intel report also warns policymakers in Washington that ‘a full-scale war could inflict damage that would have economic and political consequences for years.’

The report also underlines a list of uncertainties in south Asia vis-a-vis the US policy in Afghanistan and its impact on the neighbouring countries.

US actions in Afghanistan during the next year will have significant consequences across the region, particularly in Pakistan and India,’ reads the report.

This would be ‘especially true’ if a security vacuum emerges in Afghanistan that results in a civil war between the Taliban and its Afghan opponents, expanded freedom of manoeuvre for regional militant networks, or criminals and refugees flowing out of the country, it adds.

The report also hints that any outcome in Afghanistan would fuel political tensions and conflict in western Pakistan and sharpen the India-Pakistan rivalry by strengthening longstanding judgments about covert warfare in Islamabad and New Delhi.

‘An abrupt US exit probably would also amplify concerns that the United States will lose interest in South Asia generally,’ the report says.

The report also opines about the possible India, China conflict, if the armies of the two countries challenge each other on a critical part of the contested border.

The report puts the prospects for increased regional trade or energy cooperation in South Asia during the next five years as low, ‘due in part to the high probability of ongoing hostility between India and Pakistan”. Trade within South Asia is already the lowest of any region in the world.

The US intelligence community estimates that India and China may also slip into a conflict that neither government intends, ‘especially if military forces escalate a conflict quickly to challenge each other on a critical part of the contested border’.

In June 2020, a short military exchange resulted in the deaths of at least 20 Indian soldiers, exacerbated the strategic rivalry between Beijing and New Delhi and sharply affected international perceptions of both countries.

The report puts the prospects for increased regional trade or energy cooperation in South Asia during the next five years as low, ‘due in part to the high probability of ongoing hostility between India and Pakistan”. Trade within South Asia is already the lowest of any region in the world.

The report has also made assessment that Pakistan could face absolute water scarcity by 2025, given a combination of poor water conservation practices, rising temperatures, and decreased rainfall. Besides, it also points out that security threats have ‘undergirded popular support’ for nationalist leaders, and these threats are likely to continue or worsen in some cases. For example, ‘military tensions between India and Pakistan are at their most contentious in many years, strengthening leaders in both capitals.’

The US intelligence community has also pointed out that in 2019, India ‘led the world in Internet shutdowns by a wide margin’ — with several months-long crackdowns to suppress protests, including in Kashmir.

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How India is Countering the Pakistani Nuclear Horn

How Is India Countering The Growing Fleet Of French & Chinese Origin Submarines With The Pakistan Navy?

April 7, 2021

India is set to approve the indigenous construction of three nuclear-powered attack submarines to counter the Chinese PLA’s rapid expansion in the Indian Ocean.

This will be followed by the approval for another three such submarines at a later stage, The Times of India reported.

The daily reported that the Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) is finally considering approving the project “within few months” as the Navy pushes for the capability enhancement in the IOR.

The Indian Navy had last month expressed the urgent need for inducting six nuclear-powered submarines, which it said should take priority over a third heavy aircraft carrier.

With China having developed the capacity to produce 12,000-ton Renhai class destroyers in just five years, the Indian Navy is pushing for its own undersea assets in the IOR.

On the other hand, Pakistan is also massively growing its submarine fleet, and the upcoming induction of eight Chinese-designed Type-039B Yuan Class boats would give Pakistan Navy a decisive advantage at the sea.

Pakistan operates five French-designed Agosta-class submarines. The country is also upgrading many of its submarines with Turkish assistance.

The Indian submarine project involves the construction of six 6,000-ton nuclear-powered attack submarines (or SSNs), at the Vizag ship-building center. For now, the CCS will only be approving three indigenous SSNs, which are expected to be inducted by 2032.

The nuclear-powered submarines offer the advantage of stealth with their ability to remain submerged underwater for months, which means they can patrol the whole Indo-Pacific without having to come to the surface and be vulnerable to detection.

Unlike SSBNs which are armed with nuclear ballistic missiles, these underwater vehicles are not strategic assets and serve the role of attack submarines to hunt rival subs and ships. The presence of long-range cruise missiles onboard SSNs also gives them the ability to strike land targets.

India partially completed its nuclear triad in late 2018 when its first SSBN INS Arihant successfully conducted a deterrence patrol and was operationalized.

The country’s second SSBN is expected to be commissioned by the end of this year, giving a credible deterrence boost to the country.

China is also ramping up its submarine fleet and already has nearly a dozen SSNs in operation. The newly-inducted Type 095 attack submarine in the PLA Navy comes with a reduced acoustic signature enabling the submarine to go undetected underwater.

With just one SSN, INS Chakra, currently in operation, India will need to significantly push for more capabilities in the Indian ocean. The country signed a $3-billion deal with Russia in March 2019 to eventually replace the Akula-class submarine with a more advanced SSN.

The Indian Navy has been lobbying for more SSNs to be produced domestically to complement the existing naval capability in the IOR.

India will need major capability enhancement to match that of China’s which is considered the world’s largest navy, possessing over 350 warships, including 50 conventional and 10 nuclear submarines.

The Chinese Navy is expected to grow to a formidable force of 450 ships and 110 submarines by 2030. India will have to significantly ramp up its naval assets to compete with its rising adversary in the future.

Mission IMPOSSIBLE: Revisiting the No First Use of the nuclear weapon

Mission Possible: Revisiting the No First Use of the nuclear weapon

Can the objective of a world free of nuclear weapons be approached through the instrument of nuclear doctrines, and in particular through the easily comprehensible concept of No First Use of nuclear weapons? The question, debated since the early days of the nuclear age, is topical today because in the coming months the Pentagon is expected to draft a nuclear posture review and President Biden could suggest that his Secretary of Defense address this delicate issue.

As Vice President, Biden closely followed the implications of nuclear doctrines. In 2017 he was quoted as saying that, given the US non-nuclear capabilities and the nature of today’s threats, “it is hard to envision a plausible scenario in which the first use of nuclear weapons by the United States would be necessary or make sense” and that “deterring, and, if necessary, retaliating against a nuclear attack should be the sole purpose of the US nuclear arsenal”. The Biden presidential campaign website reiterated the same doctrine on “sole purpose”. The concept of “sole purpose” is similar – though not equivalent – to that of the NFU.

The concept of non-first use was widely debated under the Obama presidency and  eminent personalities including Senator Elizabeth Warren – who proposed a bill to Congress to endorse a no first use policy – and former Defense Secretary William Perry still strongly support its adoption. The Obama administration made notable progress in reducing the role of nuclear weapons in the US defense strategy, including the commitment in the 2010 nuclear posture review to refrain from using nuclear weapons if attacked with chemical, biological or conventional weapons. However, it did not in the end adopt the NFU concept. Since then, the 2018 nuclear posture review under the Trump administration reversed this commitment and stated that US could consider the use of nuclear weapons in “extreme circumstances” including “significant non-nuclear attacks” against the US, its allies and partners.

In 1995 the five NPT nuclear weapons states (China, France, Russia, the UK and the US) had already gone further than NFU by formally assuring non-nuclear countries that nuclear weapons would not be used against them at all. Of these five states, China, following its first nuclear test in 1964, declared that it would not be the first to use nuclear weapons against any state, including nuclear states. During the Cold War, when the Soviet Union believed it had conventional superiority in Europe, Moscow also proposed the adoption of the NFU concept. However, this position has subsequently been abandoned by the Russian Federation which now feels conventionally inferior to the West.

For their part, France and the United Kingdom have always been reluctant to adopt the NFU concept, although the sole purpose of their arsenals, given their limited capacity, can realistically only be that of deterrence. The UK has now said in its 2021 integrated defence review that it may in future review its commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear state if the future threat of WMD or emerging technologies “with a comparable impact” “makes this necessary”.

Among the four de facto nuclear countries whose nuclear status is not recognized by the NPT (India, Israel, Pakistan and North Korea), India has already joined China in adopting the NFU. In principle, at least, this would prevent a future conflict between these two Asian rivals from escalating into a nuclear war. Pakistan on the contrary feels unable to renounce the possibility of being the first to use nuclear weapons, given its conventional military inferiority vis a vis India.

The above precedents show that a wider adoption of the NFU concept by nuclear weapons states is not a mission impossible: some nuclear weapon countries are already on board. Supporters of NFU in the US believe that a no-first-use doctrine could be adopted unilaterally.

If the US were to include this doctrinal change in a fresh nuclear policy review, it would send a strong signal to other nuclear states that such a move is both possible and desirable. Carlo Trezza

It would help give new life to the upcoming NPT Review Conference, as a constructive step towards implementing the promises that all states including the five nuclear states have made under the NPT to negotiate in good faith on measures for nuclear disarmament. So far the recent lack of progress on nuclear disarmament has led many countries to question the credibility of the NPT and has given more momentum to the Treaty for the Prevention of all Nuclear Weapons.

This mission is worth pursuing: if all nuclear weapons states agreed not to be the first to use nuclear weapons, then in principle no nuclear war could break out.

The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the European Leadership Network or any of its members. The ELN’s aim is to encourage debates that will help develop Europe’s capacity to address the pressing foreign, defence, and security policy challenges of our time.

The World can’t afford war, both powered by nuclear weapons: Revelation 8

India and Pakistan can’t afford war, both powered by nuclear weapons: Qureshi

6 Apr 2021

Shah Mahmood Qureshi the foreign minister of Pakistan has said that India and Pakistan cannot afford to engage in an all-out war, as both countries are powered by nuclear weapons.

Commenting about India-Pakistan relations, Qureshi said that it is Pakistan’s firm belief that “all issues could be resolved through dialogue”, adding that it is India’s responsibility to create a conducive environment.

“Pakistan has a clear stance on trade with India. It’s now India’s turn to make the environment conducive for dialogue,” he was quoted as saying by IANS.

Saying that Pakistan had “serious concerns” about the in situation Jammu and Kashmir, Qureshi said, “The people of Kashmir and different political parties had already rejected the Indian government’s decision of 5 August, 2019.”

Qureshi’s statement comes at a time when the Imran Khan-led government in Pakistan took a U-turn on its decision to open trade with India, summary of which was later rejected in the cabinet meeting, which reiterated that there can be no trade with India until it reverses its decision of 5 August 2019, which changed the special status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated it into two Union Territories, by abrogating Articles 370 and 35A.

While the Pakistan government maintains that its position on Kashmir cannot change, opposition benches have raised serious questions on the government’s intentions and competency in taking major decisions related to the country’s foreign policy.

The Flashpoint for the first nuclear war: Revelation 8

South Asia as nuclear flashpoint

Arun Joshi Srinagar, April 6, 2021, 3:16 AM UPDATED: April 6, 2021, 11:39 AM

The SIPRI report, if analysed critically, makes it imperative for India and Pakistan to correct their image to de-escalate the situation.

The world has not taken off its eyes of India and Pakistan and their hostilities leading to a possible nuclear clash. This is a worrying scenario as the two neighbouring countries  united by geography  could  have played a big role in stabilising the situation in the region are profiled in a drastically  opposite frame. More worrying is that the land border between the two countries, and the Kashmir issue, are seen as the major contributing factors for the nuclear trigger in the region. After going through the report, there is only one conclusion that India and Pakistan have no option but to work in lockstep not only to dispel this unpalatable impression but also change the landscape from that of hostility to happiness.

Some of the observations made by Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in its April 2021 report,” South Asia’s Nuclear Challenges, Interlocking views from India, Pakistan, China, Russia and the United States “based on interviews of 119 experts drawn from political, regional and military lines are worrying. It has a special importance in the given situation and time in the region. It has narrowed the definition of the nuclear weapons and their impact in South Asia to tensions between India and Pakistan. That means that despite 1998 and Kargil conflict of 1999 behind us for decades now, the world is still looking at the tensions between the two countries. This is a sad commentary on the relationship between two neighbouring countries.

It is  particularly so, when seen against the backdrop of the February 24-25, 2021,  reaffirmation of the November 2003 ceasefire between the two nations. As a result, a hope appeared on the horizon. The pursuit of turning hope into real-time peace could have made the world to change its view about these two nations, but Islamabad has pressed the pause button on resumption of trade with India.

It has overruled the decision of its own Economic Coordination Committee to start import of sugar, cotton and cotton yarn from India. It has used the euphemism of stalling the process of resumption of bilateral ties by claiming that it has deferred the decision on import from India till Delhi reverses its decision of August 5, 2019 of doing away with the special status of Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcation of the erstwhile state into two union territories.

Agreed that Pakistan has always insisted on discussing Kashmir with India, but  this is not the way. It has stunned the people on both sides of border. It is wrong messaging to the world. In short, Pakistan has portrayed itself having as having unanticipated reserves to overturn its own decisions.

Dawn newspaper in its editorial on Saturday ( April 3), 2021), noted, “The episode raises several questions, and cannot be shrugged off by ministers. It has created embarrassment. It points to a faulty system and also creates the impression that the key job of decision-making is conducted in a juvenile manner.” There was yet another significant point made in the editorial, “the reversal of the decision on imports from India is a bizarre development – one that falls squarely under the unfortunate category of the left hand not knowing what the right is doing. It not only betrays a lack of coordination within the government, it also points to poor decision-making on a serious matter that requires a sensible and level headed approach.”

This is how Pakistan dealt with the matter of trade with India, it sends shivers down the spine as to what it could do when it comes to the use of nuclear option. The SIPRI report authored by two highly respected scholars  Lora Saalman and Petr Topychkanov gains extra relevance in these times.

Of particular importance is the view of the experts from India and Pakistan on the issue. “On India and Pakistan, while experts from both countries focused on how the other has engaged in lowering the nuclear threshold, there was a mutual interest in how Chinese-US competition emerging technologies may have cascade effects that shape South Asia’s deterrence landscape,” after having observed this, the report said that the experts from both the countries expressed “concerns over how such technologies as hypersonic weapons, artificial intelligence ( AI) and autonomy may change the deterrence landscape, particularly in terms of surveillance, command and control and even shorter reaction times.”

These point out to the pitfalls of two alliances – US-India, Pakistan-China in the region. The report more than once highlights that how the mutual distrust could invite unpalatable scenarios – of course, I am using soft words to avoid the alarming terms to deliberately avert raising of temperatures in the current situation in which Delhi and Islamabad are locked today. I hope that the things move forward in the direction of peace and progress.

The report has referred to Kargil conflict of  the summer of 1999 when the two countries fought a mini-war in the trans-Himalayas in Ladakh, that time part of Jammu and Kashmir state – now Kargil is part of Ladakh union territory but it cannot be separated from the overall security spectrum of India and Pakistan in the region. That time the possibility of the use of the nuclear weapons had arisen. The US diplomacy and wise counselling by China advising India and Pakistan to maintain the sanctity of the Line of Control had worked to de-escalate the situation. India had regained all the heights before war was over. India had written a new script in mountain warfare that came handy in 2020 standoff with China in eastern Ladakh .

While the report has made a reference to Kargil in the context of possibilities of nuclear clash, it has not mentioned all other details about the conflict that drew the global attention. It, however has made mention of the other terror assaults on India – the December  2001 attack on the Indian Parliament, 26/11 Mumbai attacks and also that of Uri and Pulwama terror attacks in September 2016 and February 2019. The researchers have left the whole thing to the experts, some of whom cited “the longstanding dispute over Kashmir as the central issue and most likely impetus for nuclear escalation .”

Since the  research was done in 2020, the report has not reflected  upon the developments of early part of 2021 between India and Pakistan. But, even before that, there always was a fear that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of groups like Al-Qaeda.

Former US President Barack Obama in his book A Promised Land noted that how Pakistan was helping Al-Qaeda, the global terror network being run by Osama bin Laden, who was eliminated in Pakistan’s garrison town Abbottabad by American elite Marines.

The SPRI report, if analysed critically, makes it imperative for India and Pakistan to correct their image to de-escalate the situation. Few experts have based their comments on scenarios and they have not reflected pleasantly about India and Pakistan. Delhi and Islamabad must work together to dispel this perception. It is good for both.