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Pakistan Press (22 Feb 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Stephen Cohen’s the South Asia Papers: New Age Islam's Selection, 22 February 2017

New Age Islam Edit Bureau

22 February 2017

Stephen Cohen’s the South Asia Papers

By Dr Qaisar Rashid

It Is War, Stupid!

By Riaz Missen

Securing Pakistan?

By Farhan Bokhari

After Sehwan

By Mahir Ali

Trump’s Scary Vision

By S P Seth

Nuclear Versus Conventional Weapons

By Asma Khalid

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau



Stephen Cohen’s the South Asia Papers

By Dr Qaisar Rashid


India’s future is hopeful whereas Pakistan’s future is perilous. This is the central idea of Stephen Philip Cohen’s book, The South Asia Papers: a critical anthology of writings, published by Harper Collins Publishers India in 2016. In 1998, Cohen became the only first full-time South Asia specialist at a Washington think tank. This opinion piece intends to discuss Cohen’s certain ideas expressed in the book.

Despite having educational background in political science, Cohen declares himself a historian-turned-commentator: from studying the Raj’s military history and “Hindoostan” to commenting on South Asia. The switch was less because of his expertise on South Asia and more because of the dearth of political commentators on South Asian affairs. The book lays bare the way the switch shackles Cohen.

Cohen claims that his journey to South Asia was to find answers to two questions, as mentioned on pages 2 and 3: “How do states manage their armed forces, rather than being managed by them? ... (and) How did a poor state manage its international politics?” Here, Cohen addresses to Pakistan without mentioning its name. To extend this idea further, Cohen writes on page 305: “Pakistan inherited the Raj’s military-dominant side, while India inherited the civilian-dominant pattern.” Here, Cohen overlooks two points. First, it was India that instilled insecurity in Pakistan by denying Pakistan its due share after partition under the ruse that the financial share would be used against India after Pakistan got stronger militarily. In fact, the formula of division of assets was not contingent upon any such presumptive condition. Second, the bureaucracy Pakistan inherited was stronger than the military. It was a civil servant from the Audit and Accounts department, Malik Ghulam Muhammad, who, in the capacity of the third Governor General of Pakistan (October 1951-August 1955) sacked Pakistan’s second and third prime ministers, Khwaja Nazimuddin in April 1953 and Muhammad Ali Bogra in October 1954. The latter was sent home by dissolving Pakistan’s first Constituent Assembly (August 1947 — October 1954), when the Assembly curtailed the assembly dissolving powers of the Governor General. By doing the first intervention in the political affairs, Malik Muhammad heralded the possibilities for introducing a martial law through the doctrine of necessity, sacking elected assemblies and weakening the institution of the prime minister, under one subterfuge or the other.

Cohen thinks that after the end of the Cold War in 1991, multi-ethnicity offers a major challenge to the integrity of a state. Cohen writes on pages 151 and 152: “With separatist movements cropping up throughout the Middle East, Southern and Central Asia, and parts of Europe (in 1992), it is important to understand that ... the crisis of the multiethnic state, not the disappearance of communism, will be the most profound political event of our generation.” Here, Cohen overlooks the fact that multi-ethnicity was extant before the Cold War, even during the colonial era. Apparently, Cohen has tried to equate ethnicity with political distinctiveness, which is not the case. Even the former Soviet Union was not a multi-ethnic state that faltered; instead, whether a component state was ethnic or not, the Union was just multi-state in nature the disappearance of which made ethnic minorities wary of their survival and conscious of their identities. The co-habitation of ethnic minorities shoves them into taking refuge in Western-style democracy that also caters to their psychological need for the projection of their otherwise suppressed identities. The same is true for South Asian countries. In Pakistan, not only the idea of democracy but also the idea of federation keeps ethnic minorities mollified.

Cohen also claims to have been US trained in arms control and the logic of nuclear deterrence. Cohen writes on page 255: “(I)t has been argued that even the suspicion of (nuclear) escalation might lead to a nuclear strike, presumably by the weaker or more vulnerable of the two countries (in this case, Pakistan) since it would not want to risk having its small nuclear forces destroyed in an Indian preemptive attack.” Here, Cohen is oblivious of the fact that, in the 1990s, Pakistan remained infatuated with the idea of having strategic depth in Afghanistan. The obsession had two implications. First, strategic depth embodied second nuclear strike possibility, thereby meaning that Pakistan’s preference was not using first nuclear strike against India. Second, strategic depth ruled out the suspicion factor from nuclear escalation, thereby meaning that Pakistan toned down its nuclear initiative unilaterally. Now, Pakistan has achieved maritime strategic depth, though less feasible than its predecessor.

About Kashmir, Cohen writes on page 258: “Ironically, we can now [in 1995] see that Kashmir was less a Cold War problem than some in the region had thought.” Here, Cohen does not give any reference who told him that Kashmir was a Cold War problem. In fact, the Cold War papered over the problem of Kashmir and let it fester. On page 264, Cohen writes: “Nowhere in the Constitution of India does the term federal appear. But ...India already has a hierarchy of federalism, with some Union territories directly ruled from Delhi, and with some variation in the nature of the Indian states. Kashmir itself is the biggest variation; it has its own constitutional status in the form of Article 370.” Here, Cohen has failed to appreciate the paradox in India’s relations with Kashmir. That is, on the one hand, India offers its part of Kashmir a special status through Article 370, guaranteeing autonomy and self-rule while, on the other hand, India deals with its part of Kashmir as one of the “disturbed areas” to be handled by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) of 1990, empowering the Indian forces (both army and police) to shoot and kill anyone with impunity on mere suspicion.

Cohen writes on page 287: “2016: I would now say that formal alliance (of the US) with either [India or Pakistan] is unlikely, but that engagement or partnership on specific issues is happening despite each state [India or Pakistan] regarding the other as a prime threat.” Here, Cohen has shied away from stating the future role of India in South China Sea as a strategic partner of the US, besides the repercussions of that role once the US decides to minimize its presence in the sea. Though Pakistan may be helpful in the western flank of South Asia and India may be helpful in the eastern flank of South Asia, the strategic partnership of either India or Pakistan with the US is not without cost, both explicit and hidden.

In short, the book exposes ignorance of Cohen towards South Asian politics, especially related to Pakistan, besides flaws in his analysis.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/22-Feb-17/stephen-cohens-the-south-asia-papers


It Is War, Stupid!

By Riaz Missen


Terrorism of the kind Pakistan is confronting now a days is not that the job of few religious zealots who don’t approve the ways of life in the Pure Land. One may criticize and even hate what one does not understand and appreciate but trying to eliminate it altogether requires a lot of planning and resources that is beyond the reach of an individual or even Takfiri groups, which have found so much space in Pakistan due to Afghan Jihad.

That the terrorist attacks in Pakistan falls beyond the means of an individual or a group, for the reason that it requires an expert planning, intelligence and, above all, huge fiscal resources, one ultimately has to see the phenomenon of terrorism in strategic realm. So, authorities are true in the sense that there is some state, even a consortium, behind the saga of terrorism. However, one needs to be careful while accusing the neighbours for the whole mess in Pakistan.

There are profound reasons to believe that Afghan NDS and Indian RAW are behind the move to destabilize Pakistan. Weird of bad governance and misplaced development priorities, terrorist attacks on spiritual centres may urge people to question the rationale of the whole security apparatus and its capacity to protect life and liberty in Pakistan. And it is quite dangerous, for it puts a question mark on the integrity of the state.

One may not go into details of what happened at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar or many other shrines earlier but it is fact that leaving such places, which people visit to heal themselves from worries of life in a society marked with widening inequalities, unprotected may undermine the unity in diversity and create very anarchic situation as was witnessed right after bombing on Sehwan shrine.

One worrisome development following Qalandar shrine was that the provincial governments turned to jacking up security at religious sites shutting down them altogether. It is the same situation which resulted after Punjab government’s decision to strictly implement Amplifier Act in connection with NAP but only to penalize artistes, not the hate-mongering mullahs.

The Qalandar tragedy has revealed the fact that the government feeds thousands of Auqaf employees, many of whom even don’t believe in the sanctity of shrines and disapprove the whole culture associated with them, but spends too little on providing healthcare and safe food to the devotees. The large estates associated with shrines and huge sums of money contributed by the followers of Sufis are not meant to go into pockets of corrupt and swindlers but to be utilized in feeding and sheltering the devotees visiting these revered places.

Sindh government has not learn a lesson from the situation following attack on Balochistan’s Shah Noorani shrine last year whereby the injured had to be sent to hospitals in the radius of 40-50 kilometres raising death tolls to 88. Punjab, which abounds in spiritual places and centres, only maintains a single web-page to inform the public that the provincial government has an Auqaf department and has some functions to perform — no accounts, no spokesperson to deal with the media.

So, the whole saga of terrorism in Pakistan is a full-fledged war against the people of Pakistan. It is about pursuing strategic interests by means other than mobilizing militaries into our heartland. Just think about a consortium of terror, which benefits our confusion on religion and religiosity and picks recruits from among us. It is thinking about using our own guns to bleed us. It is scheming against our culture so delicately woven in norms and values inspired by teachings of Sufis and sages.

The ideological infrastructure put in place during the Cold War years, has ultimately pushed us into very odd position. We have sixth largest army in the word and very thriving media, but fear grips us to the extent that we have been almost locked inside our homes. Following every suicide attack, like that in Sehwan, the authorities are quick to send police into shrines and close down public parks. Mosques have already become the places to fear! If the enemy wants us to be panicked despite having sixth largest army in the world, equipped with ballistic missiles, it seems to be availing a good chance in our corrupt and deceitful ruling class.

If so many cleavages have been left open, who will not take advantage of our weaknesses? Why we are sticking to the legacies of the past? Why the socio-economic system put in place by our colonial masters is in place? Why we fail to screen and scan our institutions after the phase of Afghan jihad is over? Don’t we understand that the enemy, we are cursing and chasing, has taken refuge in our own hearts?

Corruption, mismanagement and suicide attacks are the same as far as consequences and repercussions are concerned. Take them all along if you want to fight back on behalf of people. And, thinking in terms of state, take care of system and throw away its rotten parts. These are not tanks, jets and long-range missiles that will make us secure and safe but good governance, accountability and devolution of power to the grassroots level. Don’t think more and fight back: it is war, stupid!

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/22-Feb-17/it-is-war-stupid


Securing Pakistan?

By Farhan Bokhari

22 February 2017

MEMBERS of Pakistan’s strategic community were jubilant earlier this year with the launch of the first ever submarine-based nuclear-capable ballistic missile followed by a long-range missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear bombs. The two events were characterised by some as nothing short of historic.

And yet, a spate of recent terrorist bombings, notably the carnage at the historic Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan Sharif in Sindh, have exposed an uncomfortable truth — that securing Pakistan internally has become a bigger challenge than the country’s external front.

The idea that Pakistan will be able to launch a ‘second nuclear strike’ following one by India in a future war, has cemented Pakistan’s ability to forestall such a devastating future exchange, goes the argument in support of the submarine-based missile. And yet, the recent tests and other similar events don’t have the capacity to forestall Pakistan’s downhill slide, amid a continuing crisis of governance, political disarray and a selective narrow economic uplift surrounded by weak prospects all around. In brief, Pakistan remains as insecure as it was before the missile tests in January.

Even the attainment of a nuclear ‘triad’ — the ability to launch nuclear weapons via air, land and sea — cannot overcome Pakistan’s deepening security challenges. Though the democratic framework is set to remain in place barring unexpected developments, there is plenty more at stake beyond the matter of who gets to rule Pakistan after the next elections in 2018.

Missile tests won’t forestall our downhill slide.

The Sehwan Sharif attack has been quickly followed by claims, with considerable justification of such attacks emanating from elements in Afghanistan. And yet, the major internal gaps in governing Pakistan cannot be detached from the way Pakistan’s ability to defend itself has systematically weakened over time.

Since last year, the sorry saga of the Panama leaks and its focus on Nawaz Sharif’s three children, says much about a wider malaise. Though it’s impossible to predict the outcome of an ongoing legal battle in the Supreme Court, what’s happening outside in the political arena is very telling.

The PML-N has lost no opportunity to link their leader’s future over this saga to the future of democracy. In a country with a chequered political history torn between emerging civilian rule and military interventions, it’s all the more vital for the prime minister to quickly and decisively put this issue to rest.

And for mainstream Pakistanis, there is no equally convincing way than a public disclosure of the full documentary evidence surrounding the sources of the family’s wealth that led to the purchase of property on London’s very exclusive Park Lane.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s real-life challenges have continued to evolve as never before with little evidence in sight for a dramatic uplift of the country’s outlook. Though surrounded by an escalating security challenge for more than 15 years since the 9/11 attacks forced Pakistan to join the US-led war on terrorism, the political mainstream, notably the federal and provincial legislatures have yet to sign off on a comprehensive new national security policy. Once evolved, the next goal of selling it to the Pakistani public will pose what could rightly be described as the biggest political challenge in the nation’s history.

And while getting the public on board remains a major challenge, other equally daunting tasks are those of tackling Pakistan’s crisis of governance and gaps on the economic front.

In the aftermath of the Sehwan bombing, gaps in the security fabric such as reports of ineffective walk­through gates and far too few policemen on duty are alarming but not surprising. Over time, Pakistan has become a state which primarily caters to the well-endowed linked to the ruling structure. The crisis of governance hits those at the grass roots, be it in matters of dealing with the police or the municipal authorities or another branch of government. And while the finance minister has pronounced that Pakistan’s economy has emerged from the woods, nothing could be further from the truth.

Tweaking numbers of poverty-stricken Pakistanis or playing around with definitions of what is poverty or not, simply will not change the reality. During the current prime minister’s tenure, Pakistan’s large employers of labour — agriculture and industry — have suffered badly. While the former has suffered from an unprecedented fall in commodity prices, the latter has borne the brunt of sluggish exports and continuing challenges such as electricity shortages.

And for those who choose to celebrate matters like the rise of the stock market and growing car sales, mainstream Pakistan remains unimpressed. The succession of recent terror attacks leading to Sehwan Sharif has exposed a terrible truth — Pakistan is slipping internally even if it has been secured externally.

Source: dawn.com/news/1316220/securing-pakistan


After Sehwan

By Mahir Ali

22 February 2017

IT’S obviously a tale of stark contrasts, as any number of commentators have pointed out since the suicide bombing that claimed some 90 lives last Thursday at the shrine of a 12th-century saint at Sehwan in Sindh.

As a spiritual guide, the man known as Lal Shahbaz Qalandar represents the blurring of artificial boundaries — the boundaries of faith, caste and gender — and elevates the common humanity we all share. His shrine facilitates the celebration of life and love. That concept is beyond the comprehension of the obscurantist merchants of death. All forms of syncretism and secularism are to them an abomination that calls for indiscriminate bloodshed.

This is not the first Sufi shrine they have targeted, and it’s unlikely to be the last. Of course, as the recent spate of terrorist attacks across the country reminds us, they do not restrict themselves to sites whose theological inclusivity and pluralism they despise. Yet there’s cause to hope that they will be taken aback by the resilience demonstrated in Sehwan, by the caretakers of the shrine and visitors alike. The bells did not fall silent, the dhammal never stopped. Sheema Kermani’s performance represented a reaffirmation of hope. Not only will life go on, but it will go on in a way that is completely at odds with the severely restricted mindset of the violent fundamentalists.

Sadly, though, it cannot reasonably be claimed with any degree of certainty that the beat of the drum will ultimately triumph over the dissonance of the bomb.

The bells did not fall silent, the ‘Dhamal’ never stopped.

It will soon enough be 70 years since Pakistan came into existence, under the aegis of a founding father who clearly declared, on the eve of independence, that he did not envisage any barriers between faiths or any interference by the state in the personal beliefs of its citizens. But, as the Objectives Resolution adopted by an undemocratic assembly barely months after his demise illustrates, Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s secular ideals cut little ice with those who had used him in the preceding years as a conduit for their pseudo-religious fantasies.

This year also brings another landmark anniversary. By and large, Islamist fundamentalism remained on the periphery of Pakistani politics until 1977. Sure, much had gone wrong before then, but it was the advent of Gen Ziaul Haq’s military dictatorship that effectively sealed the nation’s fate.

Zia posited the armed forces he unfortunately commanded as the defenders of Pakistan’s ‘ideological frontiers’. That role has thenceforth not only remained intact but gone largely unchallenged. Zia thrived as a fiercely motivated American puppet during the Islamist ‘crusade’ against communism in Afghanistan, particularly during the Soviet occupation, while at the same time injecting obscurantism — alongside the Kalashnikov-and-heroin culture — into the Pakistani mainstream.

Given that so many of the terrorists who have helped to destroy Afghanistan in the past 40 years came from, or via, Pakistan, it seems a bit incongruous for the latter to be making demands on Afghanistan in the same context. Yes, it is inevitably a two-way traffic. But at least initially, it wasn’t Afghanistan that nurtured the Taliban and their various offshoots. It’s all very well to demand that Kabul hand over the purported terrorists listed by Pakistan, but let’s not forget how the latter responded when a previous Afghan government made similar demands.

In the immediate aftermath of the massacre at Sehwan it was reported that security forces had exceeded the appalling toll at the shrine in retaliatory actions. But who exactly did they kill, without the benefit of a trial? And who exactly are the hundreds of people who have apparently been picked up for interrogation across the country? Does their suspected Afghan nationality alone provide sufficient cause?

Zia’s ‘ideological frontiers’ mantra resounded when five social media activists, all of them sharing a liberal outlook and questioning the state’s priorities, disappeared last month. Four of them returned home a few weeks later, but even the two who were able to exit the country have spoken not a word about their experience. It doesn’t require much imagination to assume that they have been silenced by the deep state, whose priorities clearly remain convoluted.

When Donald Trump claimed at the end of last week that Sweden had been rocked by a terrorist attack, some people suspected that he had mistaken Sehwan for the European nation that has accommodated 200,000 refugees without experiencing anything of the kind. Apparently not: the relentless TV watcher had apparently just misread the context of a Fox News documentary. Terrorist attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Iraq are off his radar. After all, it’s just Muslims killing (mainly) other Muslims. It doesn’t matter to him, any more than it does to the perpetrators of mindless violence.

Much like the security wing of the Pak­is­tani state, the US ostensibly fights terrorism while at the same time nurturing it. Uprooting it puts their raison d’être at stake.

Source: dawn.com/news/1316219/after-sehwan


Trump’s Scary Vision

By S P Seth


If you are Donald Trump, the world appears upside down. It wasn’t always like that. From Trump’s perspective, it is all the fault of the past US presidents for allowing other countries to take advantage of the United States, bringing it to its present state where things are out of control and need to be fixed. And Trump is the strong man who will fix it.

As Trump put it recently, “The world is in trouble, but we’re gonna straighten it out, OK? That’s what I do — I fix things. We’re gonna straighten it out. Believe me.” And where would he start, with so much needing to be fixed? There is China, of course, there are Muslims, there is Islamic state and there are US’s so-called friends and allies who have got used to its protective security umbrella at virtually no cost.

In the Middle East, Iran is proving a thorn given a new lease of life under Obama’s nuclear deal. Imagine its audacity for testing a missile that is a violation of the terms of the nuclear deal, Trump would argue. In any case, the nuclear deal with Iran was a bad idea, because they are not going to abide by it.

And its proof, the argument would go, is the recent test of an Iranian missile as part of its continuing work on a delivery system for its nuclear weapons, which somehow the Iranians, despite the freeze under the nuclear deal, will continue to perfect. Indeed, Trump had promised that as President, he would undo this deal. And the first step, so opportune after the missile test, is to put Iran on notice.

As Michael Flynn, Trump’s national security adviser (now forced to resign under a Russian cloud)reportedly said, “As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice”, describing the missile launch as a violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolution.

Iran denies it is in breach of the resolution and, until the Trump administration took over, it had reportedly test-fired ballistic missiles since the 2015 nuclear deal without any serious reaction. The US is now putting some selective sanctions on Iran to show its serious intent.

It is part of Trump’s commitment, of sorts, to Israel to, more or less, bring back the US’ tough regime of sanctions and possibly some military retaliation. It is not only the ballistic missiles/nuclear question that needs sorting out, it is also Iran’s disruptive and destructive activities in Iraq, Yemen, in Bahrain, in Syria with Hezbollah acting as its proxy and so on — the argument would go.

It is imperative for the US to demonstrate its military strength to re-establish its primacy — to make America strong and great again. In this Iran could be made an example. Some such scenario is outlined in a recent book, The Big Stick: The Limits of Soft Power and the Necessity of Military Force, by Eliot A. Cohen, reviewed in the New York Review of Books. He is all for restoring America’s big power credibility, like Reagan did in some ways, by invading the tiny state of Grenada in 1983. And the recovery of American credibility today, “will probably occur only when the United States actually does something to someone — wiping out a flotilla of Iranian gunboats”, for example. And he wants this done soon before Iran has nuclear weapons, which he takes for granted despite the fact that under the nuclear deal Iran’s nuclear program is shut down for at least fifteen years.

In his view, “The heart of Iran’s emerging military power lies in its nuclear program” — no ifs and buts about it despite the 2015 nuclear deal which has frozen Iran’s nuclear program over many years. And: “Once Iran does have nuclear weapons... a nuclear armed Iran will, eventually, pose a direct threat” to the US. In other words, Cohen is not advocating this course necessarily for Israel’s security but to remove a potential security threat to the United States.

But Iran is no Grenada. Therefore, the US would need to use massive force to disable Iran, with all sorts of unpredictable results that might get out of control. One that comes to mind immediately is how Russia will react to it, considering that Trump wants the US to become chums with Putin’s Russia. In Syria, for instance, Iran and Hezbollah are an important part of Russian-led operations to save Bashar al-Assad regime from IS and other terror groups. And for Trump IS is a major threat, which Russia is spearheading to combat and defeat. And if Iran/Hezbollah are disabled/destroyed and Iraq is regarded as Iran’s proxy in the region, it would prove a welcome boon to IS and its ideology.

But the US needs to show its power now and then to prove its credibility, as propounded in, what has come to be called, Ledeen Doctrine, named after Michael Ledeen, who is the co-author with Michael T. Flynn of a recent book: The Field of Fight: How We Can Win the Global War Against Radical Islam and Its Allies. The so-called Ledeen Doctrine propounds that, “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” But Iran is not a small crappy little country and throwing it against the wall might not be all that easy, leading to a chain of events not knowing where it will all end.

But in this new world of cowboys and Indians, the new frontiers to subdue are not just Iran but much of the world. I examined in my last article how things are heating up in South China Sea, and even poor Mexico is a target. And the European Union is not sacrosanct as Trump would like more cases of Brexit-like defection in its ranks. He is unhappy with Germany as they don’t buy enough American cars and keep expanding their exports to the United States.

At the same time, he is unhappy with Merkel’s Germany for letting in Syrian refugees, thus setting a terrible example and creating more potential for terrorist attacks. In any case, he doesn’t feel comfortable with multilateral institutions, be it EU or United Nations as they are less likely to submit to US dictates. And NATO, in his view during the election campaign, is already obsolete, and they don’t even pay their dues by spending more on defense.

All in all, it is a very dangerous world out there with Donald Trump as America’s President. This is best summed in the words of America’s celebrated novelist, Philip Roth. In an email exchange with a reporter of the New Yorker, Roth wrote, “... what is most terrifying is that he makes any and everything possible, including, of course the nuclear catastrophe.”

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/22-Feb-17/trumps-scary-vision


Nuclear Versus Conventional Weapons

By Asma Khalid


The principle purpose of the nuclear weapon is to deter the adversary to ensure the national security. International scholars has identified that states contribute in the nuclearisation process for various reasons ranging from status-quo to security threats, deterrence, offensive strategies and enhancing the state’s standing in international arena.

Since beginning, the role of nuclear weapon has not much evolved since its origin. Such as during the Cold-War era nuclear capability was used to deter and maintain the balance of power among two symmetric adversaries and nuclear doctrine of the states was perusing state-centric policy.

Whereas in 21st century, the role of the nuclear weapon has slightly evolved as now states go after acquiring the nuclear arsenals to overcome the conventional superiority of the adversary through nuclear deterrence. Another significant shift has seen that nuclear capability is acquired to deal with regional security concerns. Thus, since its inception factor of deterrence has remained the constant, it means that its role in military planning will not change.

Nuclear weapon plays pivotal role in national security as it is the significant component of integrated defence policy that is comprised of conventional forces and diplomacy including the nuclear capability. Nuclear armed states aims to decrease proliferation of nuclear weapons under the Non-proliferation treaty. But the steady hike has been observed in the nuclear spending of these states. The hike in nuclear spending reflects two dominating facts. First, nuclear capability has stabilizing effects among states relations by making the conflict unacceptably catastrophic. Secondly, states negate the conventional military superiority through the deterrence. Rising nuclear budget proves that these both factors are operational in South Asia.

Rising defence budget reflects that states are facing security dilemma. South Asia is significant for unparalleled nuclear build up between two nuclear rivals: India and Pakistan.

Regional security dimensions revolve around the triangular relations between China, India and Pakistan. Pakistan’s military doctrine is India-centric, whereas India claims that it’s military doctrine is China specific but technically and practically most of its strategic developments are made against Pakistan.

Security dilemma and adversarial bilateral relations have resulted in conventional and nuclear arms race. Conventional military imbalance is one of the significant factors that Pakistan is forced to respond the arms buildup triggered by India.

Defence budget is considered as most important element of national security in South Asia. In 2017-18 defence budget, India has allocated US$ 53.5 billion to modernise and expand its armed forces. The latest defence budget aims to achieve the objectives of “make in India” strategy to design, make, develop and produce military arms to achieve self-reliance and reduced dependence on imports, the heart of this initiative is Aero India. India’s Finance Minister Arun Jaitley in his federal budget speech in 2015 stated: “we have been over dependent on imports, with its attendant unwelcome spin offs, we are thus pursuing the ‘Make in India policy’ to achieve greater self-sufficiency in the area of defence equipment.”

India has become biggest arms importer of the world, as it is trying to build its armed forces to counter Pakistan and deal with the rising military power of China. Generally, compared to previous budgets, the military expenditure and spending of India has doubled means 100 % increase in last 10 years, since 2006 as Indian military spending was $19.23 billion in 2006 to US$ 53.5 billion in 2017.Yet,in 2017-18 budget government announced 10% hike to spend on modernization of its forces.

Since 2004, India has increased its defence budget around 16.5 percent. Indian war-prone military strategies and its modernization drive have not only widened conventional asymmetry, but have compelled Pakistan to enhance its defensive strength. There is possibility that a constant focus on modernizing and enhancing armed forces, might give India enough courage to wage a limited conflict against Pakistan.

Although, Pakistan has always rejected a conventional or nuclear arms race with India, but it cannot compromise over its minimum credible and sufficient conventional and nuclear deterrence. It reflects that against India’s growing conventional superiority, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons capability ensures its deterrence and status quo in region.

Though, Pakistan tries to fill the defence production gap through maintaining its credible nuclear deterrence. Additionally, many factors have compelled Pakistan to increase its dependence on nuclear weapon. Significantly, Economic and technological constrains to achieve conventional parity has played central role to shape Pakistan’s perspective nuclear policy.

Despite India’s military modernization drive, it may not be able to perform an offensive strike, and it is very difficult for Indian policy makers to gain a strategic surprise over Pakistan due to its nuclear deterrence. Therefore, India’s increasing defence spending has been viewed as a factor of instability in regional nuclear/conventional equations and could force Pakistan to review its nuclear calculus.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/22-Feb-17/nuclear-versus-conventional-weapons


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