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Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons A Bigger Threat To Pakistan Itself Than India: OpEd

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Pakistan is one of the few countries and the only Islamic nation in the world to possess nuclear weapons. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are designed to offset India’s huge superiority in conventional forces and deter the adversaries, writes the National Interest.

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Pakistan began developing nuclear weapons after its arch-rival India detonated its first nuclear bomb in 1974. A conservative estimate puts Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal around 150 to 180 bombs. In 1998 Pakistan in response to India’s second nuclear test detonated five devices in a single day and a sixth one two days later.

To tackle growing Indian threats of punitive cross border strikes, Pakistan focussed on developing tactical nuclear weapons. Tactical nuclear weapons or non-strategic nuclear weapons that have a low yield. These weapons unlike large nuclear weapons that are used for destroying large strategic or civilian targets in the enemy’s territory are used for destroying military targets on the battlefield.

Pakistan’s economy is tiny when compared against India and as such it does not have a defense budget to counter India’s vastly superior armed forces with the gulf widening every day. In an all-out ground war, India undoubtedly holds the edge.

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India had envisioned launching a counterattack with three Strike Corps of three divisions, all highly mechanized and each including at least one armored division in case of a Pakistani offensive. However, Pakistani Tactical Nuclear Weapons are meant to thwart India’s counterattack in case of a failed Pakistani offensive to halt the advancing Indian troops dead in their tracks.

The idea for having tactical nuclear weapons most probably had its origins in the 1999 Kargil War. After Pakistani forces occupied much of the Indian Territory, the Indian Army mounted an offensive to remove the Pakistani force and regain the lost ground.

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Although India was at a disadvantageous position it still managed to win the war and this loss made Pakistan aware of India’s conventional superiority and the need to have tactical nuclear weapons. Another reason Pakistan wanted to have tactical nuclear weapons was to thwart India’s cold start doctrine, as widely publicized by former Indian National Security Advisor – Ajit Doval

It became clear that according to a report by Bulletin of Atomic Scientist Pakistan has around 20 -30 transporter-erector-launcher vehicles meant to carry its NASR/HATF short-range tactical nuclear ballistic missiles. Each vehicle can carry two or more NASR missiles.

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These missiles are believed to have a range of 43 miles meaning they are more likely to be used for defensive rather than offensive purposes. This also indicates that the nuclear weapons would have a low yield as Pakistan would not want to have its own nuclear weapons with a huge yield detonated on its territory.

However, these weapons should worry Pakistanis more than anyone else. Even if Pakistan calls it tiny weapons to offset India’s conventional military might, these are nonetheless nuclear weapons and if used against India will not only invite an unimaginable response from New Delhi but also global condemnation and sanctions from across the world.

Analysts believe that Pakistan would have to use a minimum of 30 kiloton bomb to seriously hurt Indian troops. The wind direction is crucial at the time of detonation. The radioactive particles from a detonation can spread to thousands of miles. Any such detonation on the Pakistani soil and near to a city can kill millions of Pakistanis.

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Additionally, a big problem that has struck the Pakistani political and military establishment is regarding the control of such weapons. A political decision may take too much time rendering the use of tactical nuclear weapons futile.

However, the Pakistan Army to avoid such delay has tasked area commanders with the responsibility of using the tactical warheads which has presented another serious question. If an area commander uses these weapons then there may be no turning back as India then would be forced counter-nuke Pakistan. This has exacerbated the command and control challenges.

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One of the biggest threats to these Pakistani weapons is from the home and foreign-based insurgents. India and other global powers are especially worried about the nature of security accorded to such tactical weapons and their control system.

Some officials are worried that these weapons may be snatched while they are being transported. Another worry is that the terror groups may be able to plant one of their own sympathizers or they may turn an insider to sympathize with the terrorist cause who in turn may hand them secrets of nuclear technology.

Considering that such weapons present multiple problems from their effective control to protection and to its possible use on Pakistani soil itself and that too without any conclusive evidence of it being a deterrent, the tactical nuclear weapons are more a nightmare than a strategic deterrent.

Originally Penned By: Kyle Mizokami, Edited By Nitin J Ticku.

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Ladakh Now, Kashmir Next: Why India-China War Is An Attractive Option For Many In India?

I now believe that a big event is needed for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, and the India-China war could be that big thing – J&K resident 

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As India-China border standoff continues in Ladakh, people living in the Kashmir Valley see war as an attractive option. Kashmiris living in Jammu and Kashmir are rejoicing at the prospect of a war between India and China and expect something positive from the border clashes.  

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Kashmiris have taken to social media to share computer-generated images sarcastically reminding India about its inability to halt Chinese aggression. The pictures shared in Kashmir are completely in contrast to the anti-China images being shared in other parts of India.

Images shared include Chinese President Xi Jinping wearing a traditional Kashmiri garb preparing a traditional wazwan meal while another image shows Xi’s face superimposed over a local bus driver who is calling out to commuters that the bus is headed to Ladakh – the place where Indian and Chinese troops clashed.

Apart from the trolling on social media platforms, Kashmiris are also discussing the possibility of Chinese military occupying the disputed region. “Ladakh Kheow Chenan (Ladakh has been taken over by China)” is the most discussed topic these days. During a demonstration on June 21 in Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir’s largest city, protesters mocked the police by chanting “Cheen aya Cheen aya (China is coming)” slogans.

According to experts at EurAsian Times, discontent and gloom amongst Kashmiris have been on the rise since the abrogation of Article 370. The scrapping of Article 370 took away the special status enjoyed by the Kashmir and divided the state into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Most importantly, the abrogation of Article 370 by PM Narendra Modi led Indian government quashed the possibility of an independent Kashmir, a dream envisaged by many Kashmiris.

Following the historic decision, Kashmiris living in the union territory have complained about increased military presence, detention of people on arbitrary grounds and, lack of internet services and lockdowns.

Speaking to Nikkei Asian Review, Waqas Ahmad from Srinagar said that abrogation of Article 370 was the last nail in the coffin and it broke the back of every Kashmiri and the fear of settlement of outsiders seems a reality to all Kashmiris.

So far, the Indian government has granted 25,000 domicile certificates to non-locals which allows them to get a residency certificate for education, employment and buying land.

For Kashmiris, China Brings Hope

While Chinese aggression has been condemned by Indians across the length and breadth of the country, Kashmiris have endorsed China’s aggressive move. For them, the introduction of China spells ‘hope’.

Younis Ali, a political science student in Pulwama, explains the logic behind supporting the Chinese. He says that Kashmiris have tried everything to forward their cause including peaceful protests and militancy, but neither has yielded any results.

”I now believe that a big event is needed for the resolution of the Kashmir issue, and the India-China war could be that big thing,” Ali says.

Specialists on Kashmir also agree with what locals say. Gowhar Geelani, an experienced journalist Kashmir, says that people are of the view that a new geopolitical situation could be to their advantage in terms of ending the political uncertainty in Kashmir. He also noted that Pakistan’s weak economy and military “has also led some to pin their hopes on a stronger China.”

Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, explains that Kashmiri joy stems from seeing their oppressor bogged down by an emboldened, aspiring superpower that is a bitter rival of New Delhi and a close friend of Islamabad.

Speaking about human rights violation in the region, Ashok Swain a professor at Uppsala University in Sweden, says that Kashmiris are excited about the Ladakh clash because of the perception that China has become a party to the Kashmir conflict, after experiencing hopelessness and despair with “the near silence of the international community over serious human rights violation.

According to a report on the human rights situation in Jammu and Kashmir that covers the first six months of this year, at least 229 killings in different instances of violence have taken place in the region.

The report cites “extrajudicial executions of at least 32 civilians in J&K, besides killings of 143 militants and 54 armed forces personnel.” It was put out by the Jammu Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society, a prominent human rights group.

Swain adds that with the introduction of China into the Kashmir conflict, India has lost the military and diplomatic advantage it enjoyed over Pakistan.  China’s open opposition Article 370 as well as the strength it showed in the border clash have revived the hope of Kashmiris of an open alliance between Pakistan and China on the Kashmir issue.

At present, New Delhi and Beijing are looking for a peaceful solution to the conflict in Ladakh. Today PM Narendra Modi flew to Leh, Ladakh to take stock of the situation, boost the morale of troops and send a covert message to Beijing.

China was quick to announce its displeasure over Modi’s surprise visit to Ladakh and warned Indian from taking any action that may escalate the situation.

New Delhi and Beijing have been at each other’s throats since the first week of June. Both countries have engaged in the rapid military infrastructure development, troop buildup, air patrols, weapon deployment and even fistfights, which ended with casualties on both sides.

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EurAsian Region

China On Its Side, Pakistan Going All Out To Woo Russia; Counter India-US Alliance

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Pakistan Foreign Minister SM Qureshi in conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov expressed Islamabad’s desire to have a long and multidimensional relationship with Moscow. Can the growing closeness between Pakistan and Russia change the political and diplomatic relationship between New Delhi and Moscow?

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The Russians are seeking the development of ties with Pakistan to limit the US influence in Asia,” wrote Farzad Bonesh, a researcher and analyst of international affairs. “But it should be noted that one of the most important goals of Russia’s foreign policy is to increase its international influence and advance its economic growth,” he added.

In recent years, the United States has had stronger ties with India than with Pakistan. With Washington’s strong stance against Islamabad’s inadequate response to the allegations of sheltering terrorists have led to weakened ties between the two nations.

“Pakistan is trying to use Russia to balance its foreign policies regarding India and the United States,” stated Bonesh. He further wrote that Pakistan is also trying to use its connections with Russia to gain advantages over the US by considering the regional and international confrontations and rivalries.

Russia and Pakistan plan to enhance their economic trade which was mere $800 million in 2018 but is expected to grow in the future. “So far, the two countries have been simplifying procedures and encouraging trade by establishing an intergovernmental commission on trade and economic cooperation,” observed Bonesh.

He further wrote that unlike the trade relations between Russia and India, which amount to $10 billion a year, the volume of trade is inconsistent with its real potential. “In fact, the current volume of trade between the two countries compared with the overall volume of Russia’s foreign trade is very small,” stated the author.

Till 2014, Russia had a policy of not supplying any weapons to Pakistan. According to the author, the continued cooperation between the US and India in a series of important agreements in the field of defence has resulted in Russia and Pakistan going forward with more defence cooperation and weapons trade.

Pakistan has shown support for Russia’s “intention to cooperate” with the Taliban. Bonesh believes that the security interests of Russia and Pakistan are also influenced by the security and political stability of Afghanistan.

“A significant number of ISIS forces moved to Syria from Russia’s Muslim republics and some of them have further moved from Syria into areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan”

The reason between the closeness between Russia and Pakistan can be due to “limiting the US’s influence”. However, the author believes that the cooperation and relations between Russia and Pakistan cannot create the conditions and basis for a strategic, lasting and interdependent alliance in the fields of security, politics and strategy, because, for Russia, India is still an important country in South Asia. Thus, Moscow is taking careful steps with Islamabad to continue having healthy relations with India.

He concluded with explaining Moscow’s concern that the expansion of its relations with Islamabad will force India to move closer to the United States. “India’s market is larger than Pakistan’s. The arms trade between India and Russia still has great potential, while the deals signed between Moscow and Islamabad so far have not been very important,” he concludes.

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Expert Reviews

Five Reasons Why India-Nepal Border Dispute, Bilateral Ties Went From Bad To Worse?

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India-Nepal border dispute has diplomatically isolated New Delhi in its own backyard. EurAsian Times gets you an analysis of why India-Nepal border dispute deteriorated and has jeopardized strong and healthy cultural, social, linguistic and economic ties between two nations.

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Nepal and India have garnered a reputation for being “world’s closest neighbours” and are one of the few Asian nations that share open borders. It is no coincidence that while thousands of Nepal’s Gurkha soldiers serve in the Indian Army, the small nation’s army chief is an honorary general of the Indian Army.

Nowadays, both India and Nepal are embroiled in a bitter border dispute. As EurAsian Times had previously reported, the spat with Nepal picked pace in May when India inaugurated an 80 kilometres long road originating from Ghatiabgarh and terminating at Lipulekh Pass, a disputed region claimed both by India and Nepal.

Post the inauguration, hundreds of youths in different cities of Nepal began demonstrating against the alleged encroachment by India. The Nepal Ministry of Foreign Affairs also objected and a few weeks later Nepal came up with the new map officially including the disputed territories of Lipulekh, Limpiyadhura, Kalapani as Nepali territories.

Birat Anupam, a senior reporter at Nepal’s National News Agency puts forward five factors causing long-lived resentment from Nepalis towards the Indian state establishments.

1.    Blockades on Nepal by India

The senior reporter believes that the blockades that India had imposed in Nepal in 1975, 1989 and 2015 have caused mass-infuriation towards the Indian state. 

He writes that “Land-locked Nepal is sometimes called “India-locked” because it borders India to the east, west, and south,” while maintaining that New Delhi had taken advantage of its geographical position.

 

2.    Nepal’s Border issues with India

The border between India and Nepal, about 1800 kilometres long stands wide open with no deployment of Nepali or Indian troops. The senior reporter writes that India’s has strong border guards deployed to protect adjacent Indian borders who have been accused of encroaching into Nepali lands.

“There are countless instances where Nepali migrant workers returning from India are extorted by Indian border guards. These incidents also serve to foster anger against India in Nepal,” he writes.

 

3.    India has claimed Buddha’s birthplace

It is globally known that Lord Buddha was born in Lumbini which forms an important part of Nepal not only due to its cultural and spiritual value but also due to its touristic significance.

However, India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, during his address at the 74th session of United Nations General Assembly had rather said that India “ has given the world … Buddha’s message of peace”.

“This was widely criticized on social media platforms in Nepal, increasing anti-India sentiment among Nepalis,” writes Anupam. He also mentions that “some Indian films, books, and public figures say Buddha was born in India, generating strong public protests in Nepal.”

 

4.    India’s Big-Brother Behaviour towards Nepal

Nepal takes pride in being one of the oldest sovereign countries of South Asia even when other South Asian giants like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh were colonised, Nepal was free of the British clutches.

“However, many figures in Indian politics and media habitually call Nepal India’s “young brother.” Nepalis do not endorse the framing of India as Nepal’s “big” or “elder brother,” often used by veteran Indian politicians, intellectuals, and journalists,” emphasises the expert.

He criticises India’s narrative of being the big-brother due to the larger size and quotes Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli who stated that “Any country can be big or small in size or population … but nationality cannot be smaller or greater. All countries should get equal opportunity to exercise their sovereignty.”

5.    Unequal Diplomatic Agreements

India and Nepal share numerous diplomatic relations that includes several treaties and agreements. However, the reporter believes that the general masses of Nepal see these relations more largely beneficial to India than Nepal.

“For instances, the Gandaki, Koshi and Mahakali water agreements with India are heavily disliked by the majority of Nepalis. These agreements, they say, have given India the upper hand over the use and control of Nepal’s precious water resources,” writes the senior reporter.

Apart from the water agreements, the 1950 Peace and Friendship Treaty is highly unpopular in Nepal. Anupam says “there are strong civilian and independent intellectual voices calling to revise this treaty, which is seen as a formal diplomatic document putting Nepal under the Indian security umbrella,”

Originally Penned By Birat Anupam for Diplomat. Edited by: Vipasha Kaushal

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