Sunday, 29 September 2019

Extract from Ejaz Haidar's book review quoting my book chapter contribution:

One of the most important chapters is penned by Ali Ahmed, a former Indian infantry officer and an international diplomat. The chapter titled, “India’s Nuclear Doctrine: Stasis or Dynamism,” details the growing difference between India’s declaratory policy of no-first-use (NFU) and its operational policy.
After the May 1998 nuclear tests, India’s National Security Advisory Board came up with a draft nuclear doctrine in August 1999. Later, in January 2003, India put out an official nuclear doctrine, which was adopted by the Cabinet Committee of National Security. The official doctrine largely picked up the salient features of the draft doctrine but also made some changes to it. A key feature of it was NFU. However, as Ahmed shows, India has moved from apparent transparency to ambiguity and while the declaratory policy still iterates the idea of NFU, there’s enough evidence that the operational doctrine does not stick to the declaratory policy. In fact, India might well be thinking of pre-emptive strikes to degrade Pakistan’s capability and also command, control and communications nodes.
For its part, Pakistan never believed in India’s NFU declaration because such declarations have no real significance in operational terms. When the Berlin Wall came down and NATO had access to Warsaw Pact’s war plans, they were surprised to find that Warsaw Pact forces were operationally wedded to first use.
Evidence emerging from statements and writings by India’s former National Security Advisor, Shiv Shankar Menon, former Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and the current Indian defence minister, Rajnath Singh, prove Ahmed’s assertion.
Ahmed says: “India’s declaratory nuclear doctrine is implausible. Acknowledging the shift in owning up to an operational nuclear doctrine at variance with its declaratory doctrine is the need of the hour. Persisting with the declaratory doctrine does nothing to add to Indian security under peacetime conditions when deterrence is in play or in nuclear conflict when nuclear use is contemplated.”
But Ahmed also realises in the same chapter that: “The brakes are applied at the political level. India wishes to be in the big league.” India’s balancing partners, the US and Japan, do not wish to “see India proactive on the nuclear front, doctrinally….The stasis depicted by the declaratory doctrine is to serve as a fig leaf for closed-domain doctrinal innovation.”
Another problem relates to India’s declaration of “massive response,” which only caters to higher order nuclear attacks and does not take into account lower order attacks. However, as Ahmed mentions, Menon’s book notes that India contemplated resort to first strike levels of attack in case of Pakistan’s use of Tactical Nuclear Weapons and even when readying to do so in a preemptive mode.