ISLAMABAD: India has shifted the conflict to sub-conventional level by resorting to using of terrorism and proxies against Pakistan after realising that conventional war was inconceivable due to its nuclear capabilities.
This was stated by National Command Authority Adviser Lt General (retd) Khalid Kidwai while speaking at the 6th workshop on ‘Defence, Deterrence and Stability in South Asia’ jointly organised by Islamabad based Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) and International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) London here on Wednesday.
The workshop, which was attended by diplomats, academics and analysts of strategic issues, deliberated on regional issues including Pakistan’s relations with US and India, security in Indian and Pacific ocean regions, and shifts and trends in nuclear doctrine and deterrence.
“Because of mutually assured destruction (MAD), 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,” Kidwai said recalling the public pronouncements by Indian leadership of using terrorism to destabilise 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 and creation of proxies.”
Lt General (retd) Kidwai credited the reduction in chances of conventional 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 (LOC) 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 envisages possession of a full range of nuclear weapons that could reach every part of the Indian territories and have enough yield and numbers to deter rival from its policy of massive retaliation and having the liberty of picking targets including counter-value, counter-force and battlefield.
“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 an 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 is not done, the region would remain in flux alternating between strategic stability and instability. The fragile peace in the meantime, he believed, would be maintained through defence and deterrence postures.
Emphasising 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 and the coming decades are likely to validate this.”
IISS team leader 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.
“Security of Pakistan is a sovereign responsibility and so is the calculation of risk in these matters,” he said and questioned the existence of political will in South Asia for stability.
CISS Executive Director Sarwar Naqvi gave an overview of the regional trends. He observed that Pakistan was deeply sceptical of President Trump’s South Asia policy. Meanwhile, in relations with India, he noted, the stalemate was persistent.
Naqvi expressed his concerns about the rhetoric of nuclear politics and the introduction of technologically advanced and sophisticated nuclear weapons. He added that these developments and India’s inclusion in MTCR could disturb the strategic balance in the region and trigger an arms competition in the Indian Ocean region.