Pakistan’s Conventional Response to India and Re-Establishing Nuclear Deterrence

By Sajjad Shaukat

Very tension escalated rapidly between India and Pakistan when on February 27, this year, in response to the Indian so-called pre-emptive air strike near the town of Balakot, close to the border with Pakistan’s sector of Kashmir, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) shot down two Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets and launched aerial strikes at six targets in the Indian Occupied Kashmir (IOK).

Addressing a press conference on the same day, Director General of Pakistan Army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj-Gen. Asif Ghafoor said that Pakistan Air Force have conducted aerial strikes across the Line of Control (LoC) from Pakistani airspace and shot down two Indian aircraft. One of the two Indian air force pilots was taken into custody.

Regarding Indian surgical strike, Maj-Gen. Asif Ghafoor explained: “There are only mud-brick homes. There is no madrassas. There isn’t even a concrete house…Two of the dried mud structures were damaged in the explosions…No one has been killed, no one has been seriously hurt…Indian planes crossed into the Muzafarabad sector of Pakistani-side of Kashmir…Pakistan scrambled its warplanes and the Indian jets released their payload in haste near Balakot.”

Afterwards, journalists visited the targeted site of Balakot and Islamabad also released a video which exposed the false statements of New Delhi that IAF fighters targeted the camp of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) and killed 350 militants.

In the aftermath of the false flag terror attack at Pulwama, truth about India’s surgical strikes unmasked, when India top civil and military leaders failed in providing any evidence in this respect.

However, the myth of Indian surgical strike was further exposed, when DG of ISPR Maj-Gen. Asif Ghaffor, while referring to the statement of Indian India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj who admitted on April 18, 2019 that no Pakistani soldier or citizen died in the air strike carried out by IAF across the border in Balakot, stated on April 19, 2019: “After India finally admitted that their so-called air strike carried on February 26 in Balakot caused no deaths and casualties…Hopefully, so will be about other false Indian claims [such as] surgical strike of 2016, denial of shooting down of two Indian Air Force [IAF] jets by Pakistan Air Force and claims about F16…Better late than never.”

While Indian and Pakistani militaries stared at each other after 48 hours of a hot air show over the lofty mountains of disputed Kashmir, the world watched with breathlessness, as two nuclear armed neighbours slugged it out. The Cold War military strategy espoused by General Andre Beaufre and Lawrence Freedman as well as many who followed, had established that nuclear weapons were primarily for deterrence and there could be no nuclear strategy which may be applied in wartime; however they, probably, had not catered for a modern day Hitler like Indian Prime Miniser Narendra Modi, operating in post truth era.

Despite being predictable, the Indo-Pak military standoff has raised new questions and highlighted the efficacy of conventional military deterrence to forestall a nuclear Armageddon.

In this regard, first is the escalation ladder, despite previous thinking on Indian side that they could manage the escalation ladder on a more predictable and gradual slope, current events after February 26, 2019 which have clearly indicated that the slope was neither predictable nor gradual, it was almost vertical. Events on the emerging steep slope climbed so fast that in first 48 hours, India resorted to strategic posturing, and as stated by Pakistani leadership, India conveyed the intent of missile strikes.

Pakistan responded in the same coin and jumped the escalation ladder by many rungs to show intent of retaliating with more missiles. Doval-Modi circus pushed by some foreign powers and few jingoistic Generals in Indian military did not realize that they had brought South Asia on the brink of a nuclear Armageddon within 48 hours of the first skirmish.

How could Indian headhonchos in South Block and Raksha Mantralaya contemplate such a drastic move? This is a million dollar question.

While leaders of the Indian extremist party RSS and insane Indian Generals are boasting about calling Pakistan’s nuclear bluff and are trying to justify their reckless strategy, they may now sit down and think about how Pakistan’s conventional response and re-established nuclear deterrence within 48 hours.

Islamabad also displayed her ability to fulfill the intent of politico-military leadership—do remember Prime Minister Imran Khan’s words, “Pakistan will not think once, Pakistan will Retaliate…History tells us that wars are full of miscalculation. My question is that given the weapons [Nuclear] we have can we afford miscalculation.”

Besides, this displayed capability through Pakistan Air Force’s (PAF) counter strike which has also established the new norms in South Asia, irrespective of the bravado and threat of use of force, Pakistan will not only retaliate to Indian aggression but also dominate the escalation ladder through full spectrum of deterrence.

In fact, jingoistic cabal gathered under the RSS ideology; what do you do with a narcissist Modi or likes of Major-Gen. GD Bakshi, when you have intentionally built a mob of millions nurtured through RSS warmongering. Current political leadership in India has put the absurd republic on a hate train with a one way ticket to a nuclear crevasse.

We also need to know that some countries are providing ill advice to warmongers in Indian establishment, as to why they pushed Modi and Indian military establishment into a military confrontation with Pakistan? Whatever the larger design, one thing is certain that these countries have no worry on possibility of things getting out of control. If the aim was to embarrass Pakistani military and create an environment of Indian hegemony in the region, they have badly failed and Indian leadership must realize that it was Indian military which got embarrassed. Now same countries are pointing figures at Indian inability to project herself as a counter weight to China and become the Sheriff in Indo-Pacific—main arguments being that Indian arsenal is obsolete, the military needs more fire power, may be to entice India into a weapon buying spree. Modi’s desperate remarks that “if Rafale was there, the outcome would have been different”, is a slap on the face of Indian military leadership-the 3rd largest military in the world.

It is noteworthy that the fear factor, being paddled by likes of Gen. GD Bakshi is about rise of Taliban in Afghanistan and how it will squeeze space for New Delhi in the region. India had invested billions of dollars in Afghanistan to create disproportionate space and launch her indirect maneuver against Pakistan on the premise of the so-called Doval doctrine. Indian anti- Pakistan policy makers feel that their maneuver has not only been checked, but will be rolled back completely, some like Gen. Bakshi also project that loss of strategic space in Afghanistan will start affecting the Occupied Kashmir and Kashmir freedom movement will become more emboldened.

Another important factor which has emerged out of these ongoing crises is the public pressure on leadership calling for immediate action. It appeared as if entire region has become a theatre of absurdity where emotionally charges public through social media gossip and anger started affecting decision making by politico-military leadership. Public sloganeering and barbershop gossip became a strong driver for a narcissist Modi to use such irresponsible rhetoric like “Ghuss ke maren gay”. Did the international community realize that Modi was behaving like a vagabond in these crises of gigantic proportions and this ignoramus and ninny heading the MAD (Modi-Amit-Doval) circus has become a serious threat to regional and international peace? Can this cabal of warmongering besots be entrusted with reins of the so called “biggest democracy in the world”, armed with Nukes?

Nevertheless, saner voices within India and international community must realize that when you condone misplaced swashbuckling and lunacy of a modern day Hitler and encourage RSS goons due to corporate interests, and when you look the other way on human rights abuse of 12 million innocent Kashmiris in the Indian Occupied Kashmir, this MAD circus will think it has gained legitimacy for anything.

It is mentionable that South Asia has become a spectacular hippodrome, where 1.75 billion people have become frenzied spectators for their own extinction. Surveys done by Indian media asked some absurd questions after February 26 ‘Tree Strike’ by Indian Air force, one option was “Dill mange More” and 70% Bhakts responded in favor of it. These hate train drivers like Gen. GD Bakshi and Arnab Goswami pampered by RSS political goons have brought South Asia closer to a nuclear winter.

For Pakistani public and especially those who keep on questioning the defence forces for getting so-called ‘disproportionate share of budget’, these crises have a basic lesson. Conventional deterrence and preparation for war is essential, as it is the only recipe to ward off the threat of a nuclear war in South Asia. If Indian military and Modi are crying like babies for more funds and Rafale aircrafts, despite the fact that current defence allocation stands at almost 60 billion dollars, as to why Pakistani military is criticized for a fair share of defence budget which is seven times lesser than Indian allocation.

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