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
By Farhan Bokhari
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
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
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.
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
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
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!
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
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
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
Missile tests won’t forestall our downhill
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.
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
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’
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.