’Nuclear Deterrence and Strategic Stability in South Asia’

Written by: Ms. Sidra Ishaq, PRCCSF Fellow, Lahore
The fast-growing technological advancement and the rising global rivalries are causing a severe setback to the preponderant global powers. Such turbulence in the balance of contemporary nuclear power has profoundly impacted the political dynamics of South Asia. These drastic changes at the international level have a cosmic effect in furthering instability and revolution. Therefore, the academic community, experts, and policymakers have a lot of skepticism about this transitional phase. The strategic development and deployment of diverse military technologies are the primary reasons for this paradigm shift. Both war and peace are the flip sides of the coin, the exponential growth of nuclear weapons and peace initiatives respectively, are the drivers of the switch.

However, the advocates of nuclear weapons, take the stance that South Asia countries, specifically Indian and Pakistani atomic abilities are adequate enough to diverge situations of conflict and confrontation. (Dhanda 2009) cites two events illustrating the ongoing low-intensity clash in Kashmir. The first event is the halted march across the Line of Control in 1992 and the difference between India’s forceful behaviour in 1965 and its restriction in Kashmir since 1989. A recent case of India’s BrahMos missile that landed in Pakistan was not just a malfunction, but a “deviation from SOPs”. It poses a serious question on the safety of Indian missiles and nukes. Even though India has declared a “No First Use” of a nuclear weapon, the country remains a threat to the neighbouring countries, as it possesses a wide range of nuclear capabilities. India’s shifting atomic approach and aggressive regulations have the capability to disturb the nearby peace and balance, however, India is not willing to pay any heed to the rise challenges of deterrence.

Supporters of nuclear-powered deterrence in South Asia contend that introducing nuclear armaments has barred the eruption of far-reaching conflicts between Pakistan and India. According to Malik (2003), these proponents encompass the “state-as-a-rational-actor” viewpoint. Contrary, opponents of nuclear deterrence in the region worry about the new danger presented by the intrusion of non-state actors and their agendas which remain prevalent and perceived as unreasonable in their philosophical positioning. South Asia political analysts cite five components as vital for nuclear deterrence in South Asia: nuclear-powered dangers demand a nuclear response, delivery mechanisms against high-cost opponent targets must be protected, and nuclear-powered weaponries must be indestructible for a first strike (O’Donnell, 2017). Other elements include the nuclear potential, the danger must be reliable, and nuclear artilleries must not substitute conventional defences.

Minimum deterrence logic has conventionally shaped India’s nuclear policy and position. O’Donnell (2017) underlines that this rationality encompasses expectations that possessing only a minor reactive nuclear power produces adequate deterrent effects against enemies. Consequently, the advancement of inadequate nuclear warfighting ideas and stands is needless for national security.

Contemporary Pakistan’s Nasr premeditated nuclear missile platform emergence has created pressures on Indian minimum restriction. O’Donnell (2017) contends that India should continuously follow the minimum deterrence that represents the most suitable idea for Indian nuclear strategy and effectively reinforces wider foreign and security policy goals. Overall, the effective working of nuclear deterrence relies on the rationality of state leadership (O’Donnell, 2017).

Over the last few decades, the lasting hostility in India-Pakistan bilateral merger can potentially transform the South Asian region into a nuclear situation which can have long-term disastrous consequences beyond the region.

TN Media News