India’s Nuclear Threat or Political Suicide
In his interview to an Indian TV channel, leader of the fundamentalist BJP-led ruling party Dr. Subramaniam Swamy, a staunch promoter of Hindutva (Hindu nationalism) said on July 12, this year that India needed only two years to defeat Pakistan militarily, and it would not shy away from a nuclear war because ultimately there would be no Pakistan left. He elaborated, “May be 100 million will die; no problem…but we have to neutralize China.”
Swamy added that the only solution of Kashmir was war, as “there is no peaceful, democratic solution.” About the aftermath of the withdrawal of the US-led NATO forces from Afghanistan, he remarked, “Americans will hand over Afghanistan to Taliban and go…India should send at least 200,000 troops to Afghanistan…their [Taliban] appetite is Jihad and Kashmir is the obvious place…so we should be ready to go to war.” He further pointed out that Modi won the elections 2014 on the basis of Hindutva, and “those Muslims inside India who do not accept Hindu ancestry should be disenfranchised.”
However, it is wishful thinking of the BJP leader that India can destroy Pakistan through nuclear bombs. While both the neighbouring adversaries are nuclear powers, New Delhi should not ignore the principles of deterrence, popularly known as balance of terror.
After the World War 11, nuclear weapons were never used, and were only employed as a strategic threat. During the heightened days of the Cold War, many crises arose in Suez Canal, Korea, Cuba and Vietnam when the US and the former Soviet Union were willing to use atomic weapons, but they stopped because of the fear of nuclear war which could eliminate both the super powers. Therefore, the two rivals preferred to resolve their differences through diplomacy.
Similarly, many occasions came between Pakistan and India, during Kargil crisis of 1998, and Indian parliament’s attack by the militants in 2001, and particularly in 2008, in the post-Mumbai terror attacks when New Delhi started a blame game against Islamabad in wake of its highly provocative actions like mobilization of troops. Pakistan had also taken defensive steps to meet any prospective aggression or surgical strikes by New Delhi. But, India failed in implementing its aggressive plans, because Islamabad also possesses atomic weapons.
Political strategists agree that deterrence is a psychological concept which aims to affect an opponent’s perceptions. In nuclear deterrence, weapons are less usable, as their threat is enough in deterring an enemy who intends to use its armed might. In this context, a renowned scholar, Hotzendorf remarks that nuclear force best serves the interests of a state when it deters an attack.
In the present circumstances, BJP is badly mistaken, if it overestimates India’s power and underestimates Pakistan’s power. As Pakistan lacks conventional forces and weapons vis-à-vis India, so, in case of a prolonged conflict, Pakistan will have to use nuclear weapons and missiles which could destroy whole of India, resulting into Indian political suicide.
It is notable that under the Pak-China pretext, the then Indian Army Chief, Gen. Deepak Kapoor had vocally revealed on December 29, 2010 that the Indian army “is now revising its five-year old doctrine” and is preparing for a “possible two-front war with China and Pakistan.” On October 15, 2010, the ex-Indian Army Chief Gen. VK Singh, while explaining the same concept had openly blamed that Beijing and Islamabad posed a major threat to India’s security, while calling for a need to upgrade country’s defence.
In May 1998, when India detonated five nuclear tests, the then Defense Minister (BJP leader) George Fernandes had declared publicly that “China is India’s potential threat No. 1.” New Delhi which successfully tested missile, Agni-111in May 2007, has been extending its range to target all Chinese cities.
Notably, in 2010, during his visit to India, US President Obama announced the measures, America would take regarding removal of Indian space and defence companies from a restricted “entities list.” Owing to various agreements with US, India has been purchasing latest and sophisticated defence-related arms and equipments from America like Apache helicopters, the new F-35 fighter jets etc. Besides, New Delhi has also been buying arms from Germany, France, Russia, Italy and especially Israel.
Particularly, America which signed a deal of civil energy technology with India in 2008, desires to make India a major power to counterbalance China in Asia. In case of Pakistan, Balochistan’s geo-strategic location with deep Gwadar seaport, connecting rest of the world with Central Asia has further annoyed the US and India, because Beijing has already invested billion of dollars to develop this seaport. It is because of multiple strategic designs that the US and India seeks to dismember both Pakistan and Iran. Notably, by rejecting US growing pressure, on March 11, 2013, Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari inaugurated the gas pipeline project with Iran. Pakistan also handed over the control of Gwader seaport to China.
During the trip of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to Islamabad, Pakistan and China signed several agreements on May 22, 2013 to strengthen and diversify cooperation in various fields including completion of the Gwader seaport. Premier Li Keqiang supported Pakistan’s proposal of China-Pakistan economic corridor to improve connectivity between Pakistan and China, saying that both sides decided on a long term programme—a strategic idea, assuring that Beijing was also ready to upgrade Karrakuram Highway and to sign Sino-Pak civilian nuclear deal.
It is mentionable that after the NATO forces quit Afghanistan in December, 2014, the puppet regime of Kabul will fall like a house of cards due to stiff resistance of the Afghan Taliban who will reemerge. India which has supported the Northern Alliance seeks to further strengthened its grip there to get strategic depth against Islamabad, will not be able to maintain its network and development projects due to successful guerrilla warfare of the Taliban. New Delhi which has shifted Afghan war to Pakistan, with the backing of Washington, will have to face the different war, as the Islamic militants are well-organized, having connections with one another from Somalia to Iraq and from Uzbekistan to Afghanistan or elsewhere. These non-state actors could reach India, especially the Indian-occupied Kashmir.
It is noteworthy that currently, more than half of India’s budget is allocated for armed forces, and defence purchases, leaving even less to lift millions of its citizens from abject poverty. Hence, various justices have further intensified regional and ethnic disparities in India.
It is worth-mentioning that the one of the important causes of the disintegration of the former Soviet Union was that its greater defence expenditure exceeded to the maximum, resulting into economic crises inside the country. In this regard, about a prolonged war in Afghanistan, the former President Gorbachev had declared it as the “bleeding wound.” However, militarization of the Soviet Union failed in controlling the movements of liberation, launched by various ethnic nationalities. On the other hand, while learning no lesson from India’s previous close friend, Indian new Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the BJP is acting upon the similar policies.
Nevertheless, under the mask of democracy and secularism, Indian subsequent regimes dominated by politicians from the Hindi heartland—Hindutva, use brutal force ruthlessly against any move to free Assam, Kashmir, Khalistan, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tamil Nadu and Tripura where wars of liberation continue in one or the other form. In the recent years, Maoist intensified their struggle, attacking official installments. In this context, Indian media admitted that Maoists have now entered the cities, expanding their activities against the Indian union. While, even under the rule of Congress which claims to be secular party, Indian extremist parties like BJP, RSS, VHP, Shev Sina and Bajrang Dal have missed no opportunity to communalize national politics of India. They also intensified anti-Christian and anti-Muslim bloodshed.
After serving the BJP for 30 years, Jaswant Singh was expelled from the party for praising Mohammad Ali Jinnah and echoing the pain of the Indian Muslims in his book, “Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence.” While pointing out the BJP’s attitude towards the minorities, Singh wrote: “Every Muslim that lives in India is a loyal Indian…look into the eyes of Indian Muslims and see the pain.” He warned in his book, if such a policy continued, “India could have third partition.”
Past and present history of Balkan gives ample evidence that insurgency and movement of separatism in one country have drastic impact on other neighbouring states. Similarly, civil war and unrest either in Somalia or Sudan have affected all the states of Darfur region, while violent uprising in Egypt, Syria etc. has radicalized a number of the Middle East countries. Indian state terrorism in the Indian-held Kashmir in wake of Israeli continued atrocities on the Palestinians in Gaza will further radicalize Asia.
Nonetheless, irresponsible and unrealistic approach of the BJP-led government in the modern era of peaceful settlement of disputes and economic development could culminate into political suicide of the India union.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations