ISLAMABAD: The participants of a seminar urged Pakistan to take immediate notice of Indian Armed Forces Joint Doctrine (IAFJD) 2017, which indicates that New Delhi sees both China and Pakistan as direct military threats and plans to explicitly conduct “surgical strikes” as a formal part of India’s retaliatory toolkit. This validates the existence of India’s ‘Cold Start’ military doctrine and clearly highlights a shift in the nuclear strategy by shifting from credible minimum deterrence (CMD) to credible deterrence (CD).
This was stated by the speakers at a panel discussion on “Indian Armed Forces Joint Doctrine 2017: A Critical Appraisal”, organised by the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) here on Wednesday.
The participants agreed that India’s hegemonic and dangerous designs for the region indicated that New Delhi sees both Beijing and Islamabad as direct military threats. It also offered a new picture of how India separated the control of its nuclear weapons between its military and the civilian authorities.
IPRI President Ambassador (r) Abdul Basit, said that despite the grave importance of reviewing the IAFJD, not much attention had been given to the subject in Pakistan. He said that due to the potential shifts in India’s nuclear strategy, the presentation of its nuclear strategy in the doctrine was alarming since it had opted to use the terms “credible deterrence” instead of “credible minimum deterrence”.
Senior Defence Analyst Air Commodore (r) Khalid Banuri highlighted that the Indian doctrine’s focus on determining and/or preventing conflict through a process of credible deterrence, coercive diplomacy and punitive destruction was alarming, and warned that while mentioning “minimum” in the credible deterrence formulation was a very problematic development, it was also unclear what precise changes were being envisioned by India.
He said that the document’s language was highly ambiguous, especially in the absence of an autonomous office of the Indian Joint Chief of Staff chairman. Banuri said that this doctrine should be viewed in the broader context of the wave of ultra-nationalism that was sweeping the globe and was being spearheaded by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in South Asia.
He cautioned that the doctrine went beyond the focus on traditional military imperatives since India wanted to use diplomatic isolation and economic sanctions backed by a projection of the military force, a strategy that India said was important for “maintaining peace through the show of force.”
“The fact that India’s future operational or C2 philosophy would ‘not rely upon precise control’, and may be able to ‘function despite uncertainty and disorder was also a cause for great concern since this may lead to hasty decisions based on limited information,” Banuri remarked.
Furthermore, he also cautioned that Pakistan should be wary of a changing mood in New Delhi vis-à-vis the issue of ‘no first use’ as statements made by key Indian politicians, strategists and academics like Vipin Narang give a clear idea that India would not allow Pakistan to go first, and may, in fact, opt for a full ‘comprehensive counterforce strike’ to completely disarm Pakistan of its nuclear weapons.
Quaid-i-Azam University DSS Department Assistant Professor Salma Malik discussed the issue of asymmetric military buildup in South Asia and the options available to Pakistan in this regard. She was of the view that this new Indian doctrine had received mixed reactions in India since many view it as an ambiguous document that left many questions unanswered and was full of incongruities.
She said that the document left no confusion regarding India’s malicious designs – a country which was the world’s largest importer of arms between 2012 and 2016, alongside the world’s 2nd largest military force.
Malik pointed out that in the last four years, India’s imports were far greater than those of both China and Pakistan. However, she also pointed out that India may soon change this role in the global arms industry by transforming itself into a leading weapon exporting nation as the country had shifted its focus towards indigenous defence production.
Pakistan’s political and military leaders need to be aware that this doctrine was not confined to physical conflict alone and comprised of factors in hybrid warfare, including supporting chaos through psychological and media warfare, cyber warfare, and economic warfare, she said. She cautioned that India was progressing from a soft military power to a smart power and was making these moves in leaps and bounds with the help of its growing economic might.
Malik was of the view that regardless of what India did, Pakistan needed to put all its efforts in strengthening its economy and governance mechanisms as without these prerequisites, it would face insurmountable challenges in the future.