A latest book, 'Never Give an Inch: Fighting for the America I Love l' by Mike Pompeo, an ex Secretary of State of USA, during Donald Trump's presidency, has caused a national defence and security storm of a great magnitude in India. He has talked of two issues. The first issue pertains to late Sushma Swaraj, former External Affairs Minister (EAM), during first tenure of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, from 2014- 2019. Mike Pompeo emphatically says that he did not pull on well with Sushma Swaraj. He also thinks that Sushma Swaraj did not have much say in the foreign policy of India. He further reveals that he had good relations with NSA, Ajit Doval. Mike Pompeo goes on to say that he had good working relations with current EAM, Dr. S Jaishankar. He finds him very cordial, knowledgable and very confident .
Second point he makes is about Balakot Surgical Strike by Indian Air Force on 26 Feb 2019. It was in response to Pakistan sponsored terror attack near Srinagar, where a bus carrying CRPF men, was attacked and 45 men were martyred. In response to Balakote surgical strike by India, stresses Mike Pompeo, that Pakistan had contemplated to carry out a nuclear strike. It is this revelation which has caused it to become a hot subject of debate in India. According to Pompeo, India too had geared up for a befitting nuclear response.
Defence analysts in India have revived the debate on likely nuclear conflagration in the region. What is under question is 'No First Use' nuclear policy of India! Suggestions are being made to shed this policy and adopt a 'pre- emptive' approach. Analysts are more worried about the likelihood of a 'two front' war with China and Pakistan in unison. They question if India can withstand and sustain in such a scenario. Finally, it is also feared that China, who is militarily more stronger than India, can repeat a la - 1962 disgrace on India. These are obvious apprehensions and speculations of defence and security planners of India.
The above apprehensions ought to be seen in a realistic assessment of the geo-strategic, geo-economical and geo-political environments. It is no doubt that 'Brute Force wars' have given way to 'Brain Force Wars', where technology plays a vital role. New concept of 'No Contact wars' have gained momentum. Missiles, Drones, Laser Guns, EMP Guns, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cyber Warfare, Robotics and Nano - Technology has added new dimensions to war - making.
Thus, in the 21st Century, the war - making, at a scale being apprehended by Indian critics, is simply a joke. They are unrealistic in their assessment of geo- strategic and geo-political facts. To imagine that China can engage India in an all out military confrontation is without taking into accounts Chinese aims and objectives vis - a- vis Indian capabilities. China can do so only at a risk — grave one too—to jeopardise Xi Jinping’s not only 'ONE CHINA' policy but also his global supremacy desire by 2049.
In fact, USA and West would be too happy to see two Asian Giants in a military confrontation. And China knows it. Besides, China also knows that India was NO MILITARY PUSHOVER like in 1962. In fact it was confused the Indian leadership of 1962, which did not use IAF. The outcome would have been different, if it was done. IAF then was far superior to PLAAF.
Coming to TWO FRONT WAR narrative of Indian thinkers — one has to take into account that it would no more be a regional conflict. It would definitely escalate into a global conflict, with many nations getting involved directly or indirectly. Pakistan in any case is no more in a position to sustain a conventional war economically, atleast not in the near future.
Do not forget the statement made by current Pakistani Prime Minister, Sh Shehbaz Sharief. He begged India to re-commence talks so as to normalise relations. His appeal was necessitated because of the dire economic crisis now Pakistan has got into! Having gone everywhere with a begging bowl but with no success, he had realised that economy can not be revived without normal relations with India. His priority is reviving economy and not rush to war. In fact, former Chief of Pakistan Army, Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had recommended improving relations with India. He was over ruled by then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan.
As regards likelihood of a nuclear threat from Pakistan —one feels it was being overstated. No doubts Pakistan has adequate nukes- both tactical and strategic. Also, she has been advocating 'Full Soectrum Deterrence' (FSD) to neutralise Indian conventional force supremacy. FSD seeks use of TNW (Tactical Nuclear Weapons) to checkmate India. Bottomline of employing FSD was against India gaining an upper hand in a conventional military confrontation. It is unlikely that it would indulge in a panic reaction after incidents like Balakot. An option is always considered but it remains in the meeting hall. Mike Pompeo might have knowledge of Pakistan military’s consideration of such an option. But it was not favoured. However, Pompeo is creating a sensation to sell his book in India. Such revelations are deliberately pushed so as to exploit great Indian market. Take it with a pinch of salt.
Any nation with a policy of 'FIRST USE' of nuclear strike has to first decide 'how much' would be needed to incapacitate your adversary totally? Pakistan would have to ensure that India did not still have a second strike capability — because Indian response would be merciless, aimed at totally wiping out Pakistan from earth’s map. Therefore a question arises if Pakistan can achieve 100% kill of Indian nuke capability?
This ALL OUT response of India is known to Pakistan’s Military. India might be 50% destroyed by Pak’s First Strike but India would then ensure Pakistan was 100% destroyed. Indian geography ensures at least 50% safety against Pak nuke strikes.
It was this known response of India that military planners of Pakistan had, in the past, thought about STRATEGIC DEPTH in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, it is NO more available. In fact, Afghanistan was no more friendly to Pakistan. The Taliban from Afghanistan attack across the Durand Line. One must know what Pakistan military thinks about the use of Nuclear weapons. Erstwhile Pakistan’s strongman General Pervez Musharaff had said that NUKES were only to be used as deterrent. General Bajwa laid emphasis on Geo- Economics. Present Chief cannot think otherwise because Military knows the consequences.
Also note that extensive use of nukes against India would be as destructive to Pakistan as India. Nuclear strikes would throw up so much smoke, debris and dust that whole region would be covered. In a 'War Game' carried out in USA, last year, an Indo - Pak Nuclear War would kill 270 million people instantly, in seconds and minutes. Worst will follow after this. Survivors would envy the dead.
Don’t forget about what happened after Balakote attack, then Pakistan Prime Minister, Imran Khan, had said in the Pakistan National Assembly! He had asked in anger: "DO YOU WANT ME TO ATTACK INDIA"? There are revelations made by PML ( N) that PM’s LEGS WERE SHAKING, when he had said so. (Tange Kaanp rahi thi).
It is not easy for any leader of any country to make such a decision. Why are USA and WEST not interfering in Ukraine? Russia has made clear its bottom line of nuke attack. Should USA directly intervene, it would be a nuclear war. Putin minces no words on this. Should Pakistan even think of it, India will respond with greater speed. Indian military satellites must be keeping a 24 hours watch on likely nukes silos of Pakistan.
(Col. Rajinder Kushwaha is an ex-NDA, commissioned into 3 Bihar. He is a battle-hardened veteran who served in ’71 War & has operated extensively in various insurgency environs across the country. He is a renowned author, and a highly respected defence & national security expert writing for several reputed publications such as ‘Defence and Security Alert’ (DSA), the ‘Indian Defence Review’ (IDR) among others. You can reach him on Twitter: @RajeeKushwaha, Email ID: [email protected])
(Views expressed are the authors own, and do not reflect the editorial policy of 'Mission Victory India')
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