The Indian Government or the Prime Minister hardly make any strong declaratory responses on India’s national security threats least of all on nuclear weapons strikes against India. India’s nuclear strikes threats basically arise from Pakistan and China with the former being more vociferous in saber-rattling. It seems that the Government left it to the Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshall Naik to warn potential aggressors that India’s nuclear responses to strikes against India would be hard hitting. He was responding to media queries on Pakistan’s growing nuclear weapons arsenal and tactical nuclear weapons.
|A cornered Pakistan Army both within and without could be tempted for a military misadventure against India to divert both domestic and external attention.
It has always been Pakistan which ever since the acquisition of nuclear weapons been flexing its muscles and raising the ante of a potential nuclear overhang over an Indian retaliatory conventional military response against Pakistan Army’s surrogates terrorist attacks like Mumbai 26/11 and the latest Mumbai terrorist bombings.
Pakistan Army under General Musharraf had launched the Kargil War against India in 1999 emboldened by the belief that an India with a characteristically timid political leadership irrespective of political dispensations would be incapable of hard military responses against Pakistan. India may not have enlarged hostilities against Pakistan beyond Kargil but the Indian Armed Forces left the Indian political leadership in no doubt that without hard responses Pakistan Army’s unprovoked aggression could not be undone.
The Indian Armed Forces called off Pakistan Army’s nuclear bluff and it became apparent that limited warfare could be conducted successfully even with a nuclear overhang hovering on the horizon.
The Indian Air Force Chief’s warning that India would retaliate with hard nuclear responses against any nuclear strikes against it was a timely one keeping the present domestic political dynamics within Pakistan. Currently the image of the Pakistan Army has taken a severe beating in the wake of the targeted liquidation by US Special Forces of Osama bin Laden deep within a Pakistan Army garrison cantonment and the Taliban attacks at the Mehran Air Base in Karachi.
Pointed in my writings earlier was the caution that a cornered Pakistan Army both within and without could be tempted for a military misadventure against India to divert both domestic and external attention.
If international media reports are correct that the Pakistan Army’s nuclear weapons arsenal has outstripped that of India in terms of nuclear weapons holdings and also that Pakistan Army have now commenced production of tactical nuclear weapons to blunt deep penetration strikes by the Indian Army’s conventional superiority. Thus, Pakistan Army could be tempted to raise the nuclear threshold in South Asia.
When it comes to national security and defense matters the Indian Government should not shirk from declaratory policies in terms of ‘red lines’ that its adversaries, cannot cross and that it would not shirk from hard hitting responses, Regrettably, the Indian political leadership is seriously deficit in this regard.
The Air Force Chief’s warning was timely, relevant and contextually well timed. Regrettably again for India, media reports the next day indicated that the Defense Minister had a meeting with the Indian Air Force Chief and expressed the Governments’ unhappiness with his statements. Is Pakistan appeasement more important than cautioning India’s adversaries against military misadventures against India?