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Objectives and Strategies

Verghese Koithara

By Air Commodore Tariq Mahmud Ashraf (Retd)
GK Publishers, New Delhi, 2014, pp. vii 381, $74.50


Both India and Pakistan started their nuclear weapons quest in earnest in the early 1970s, both reached weapon capability around 1990 and both became overt nuclear powers in May 1998. But the parallelism largely ends there. There are major differences in the objectives pursued and the strategies adopted by the two countries to develop their weapon capabilities and to exploit them. India had developed its capabilities partly to counter inimical countries posing nuclear threats to it and partly to resist the second-class connotation that the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was seeking to impose on it. Pakistan wanted nuclear weapons primarily to neutralize India’s superior conventional capabilities. Unlike India, Pakistan had also sought and secured clandestine help from foreign sources. These and resultant downstream differences in strategies, organizations and postures have led governments, opinion moulders and publics at large to view the other side’s nuclear programme with greater than warranted suspicion and anxiety. The two countries’ record of unremitting hostility dotted with open and clandestine wars has added to this. So has, in India’s case, the effective control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal by the Pakistan Army. These, in turn, have inhibited the kind of creative thinking needed to improve nuclear confidence building and political relations. Since it has been published only from India, the book being reviewed is aimed mainly at Indian readers. Authored by a retired Pakistan Air Force officer with good professional and writing credentials, it has covered the nuclear thinking of the two sides in an unbiased manner. The issues highlighted and the positions taken are generally logical and balanced. He points to the fact that while Pakistan has made known its nuclear command and control system in greater detail than India, it has not unlike India revealed its nuclear doctrine and suggests that it do. He has drawn attention to the fact that Pakistan’s National Command Authority (NCA) is dominated by the military although it is headed by the head of government.This is certainly true of the Development Control Committee (DCC) of the NCA whose members are all military. The Employment Control Committee (ECC) which is chaired by the Foreign Minister has a better balance between civilian and military members. But this is of little consequence because all its inputs come from the country’s powerful Strategic Plans Division (SPD) which also controls the nuclear forces. He points out that the SPD is ...

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