Irrationality, Doth Thy Name!

Here are some thoughts after reading Perkovich’s excellent paper on non-unitary model of nuclear deterrence

So if I get it right, essentially the world believes that: Pakistan is ‘irrational’ enough to pursue an inherently unstable nuclear doctrine whereby its deterrence has dual purpose:  (a) to establish mutual nuclear deterrence vis-à-vis India and (b) to deter India from engaging Pakistan in a prolonged conventional conflict or even to gain quick and cheap military victories. And therefore the ‘irrationality’ of Pakistan’s deterrence is enshrined in the fact that the strategy it has adopted ‘for credibility of its deterrence’ is based on ‘its sponsor of irregular forces to operate from its territory and perpetrate sub conventional violence inside Indian territory.’

Well, if I were as irrational as the strategy, I would believe that following pros would justify such a strategy:

Pros

a)     Since Pakistan is a weaker state pitted against India, (which is seven times larger than Pakistan; a stable economy developing at a rapid rate and far superior to Pakistan in conventional force strength), such a strategy allows Pakistan to engage India, keep it on its toes and remain relevant in its otherwise indifferent strategic calculus. Given that the past three wars fought between the two have been more damaging for Pakistan than for India, I being a clever military strategist, find this to be a useful way of bringing India to its knees without fighting them directly.

b)     This constant pressure and engagement diverts Indian focus and attention (from its economic development for example) to dealing with terrorism and developing strategies for fighting sub conventional warfare as opposed to conventional or nuclear war fighting strategies with Pakistan. I am a wisenheimer who believes that this lower level of war fighting is something my military is comfortable with, devoid of strategic nuances of nuclear weapons, since we believe Indians to be rational enough not to step on the escalatory ladder.

c)      This strategy works for my military because it not only infuriates India but also limits Indian response options below the nuclear threshold (it is of course assumed by Pakistani military planners that Indians firmly believe in the principle of proportionality of response and thus would not want to immediately escalate) and keeps Pakistan worry free to pursue engagement on Kashmir issue. (It seems that these irregular forces or ‘freedom fighters’ keep the issue of Kashmir alive by other means constantly reminding India that Kashmir is not quite the ‘atoot-ang’ as is claimed to be. It serves Pakistan’s political agenda too and provides politicians with gusto while making fiery speeches on ‘Kashmir baney ga Pakistan’).

d)     Pakistan’s constant denial of knowledge about presence of irregular forces operating from its territory or denial of Pakistan’s sponsor of such irregular forces to conduct acts of terrorism inside Indian territory, provides Pakistan strategic thinking space to sit back and study the limits of an otherwise ambiguous Indian doctrine and nuclear thresholds. (Yes, between you and me, Pakistani military is conducting some sort of long term strategic experiment on the caged Indian tiger and poke the tiger every 2-5 years to understand the limits of its otherwise ‘profound restraint’).

And since I am irrational, I do not believe that cons exist. They are merely a conspiracy therefore I do not pay any attention to the facts that:

a)     Retaliation from India might come in whatever shape, form and force when Pakistan least expects it if the ‘poking’ continues.  So far, the international community (USA to be precise) has brokered peace deals between the two and their crisis management strategies have been the only source of crisis stability in the region. Both India and Pakistan lack bilateral crisis stability mechanisms and are reliant on third party mediation.

b)     Deterrence can breakdown and escalation to the nuclear ladder might come rapidly spiraling out of control and USA might not be able to make peace between the two countries for any number of reasons. (It could be that India might act without U.S. knowledge or consent when the limit is crossed while Islamabad is awaiting a call from Washington to tone down the rhetoric and signaling).

c)      Issuing denials about knowledge of irregular forces operating independently from its territory can be seen as loss of sovereignty and might not leave any room for compassionate analysis. ‘Denial of loss of sovereignty’ is ostensibly a much bigger sin than acknowledging loss of sovereignty.

d)     Pakistan’s failure to control, capture and punish the perpetrators can be seen as an act of cognizance, which can warrant action from the international community to step in and prevent a collapse of deterrence in South Asia by preventing internal collapse of the state of Pakistan with or without Pakistan’s consent. With already rapid decline of Pakistan’s economy and internal law and order situation, this might become a popular course of action to stop Pakistan from failing on all fronts with ‘nukes on the loose’. Since the entire world is already sitting on the edge awaiting an opportunity to say ‘look, we told you so!’, such a coalition will require little momentum.

A state has to be utterly foolish to pursue such a strategy with such horrific consequences. To assume that Pakistan is pursuing such a strategy by design is to assume that the state is completely devoid of any strategic logic and that its military planners are totally nuts and highly unreasonable. The enemy is neither ‘imaginary’ nor ‘hypothetical’. It is real. When the West talks of ‘deterrence stability’ and mechanisms to ensure it, it acknowledges this reality. Pakistan is acutely aware of this reality and much more. It knows that the international structure is an incentive based system where international relations progresses only based on mutual cooperation. To pursue any other strategy is suicidal given that the penalties for non-cooperation are costly. Pakistan has probably learned this lesson the hard way after having paid significant costs at each given crisis, but the fact that this learning has taken place needs to be acknowledged. What the world needs to learn is that Pakistan might be many things, good, bad and the ugly but ‘irrational’, it is not.

Posted in , Defence, Deterrence, Doctrine, Escalation Control, India, India-Pakistan Relations, Militancy, Nuclear, Nuclear Security, Nuclear Weapons, Pakistan, Security

Rabia Akhtar

Rabia Akhtar

Rabia Akhtar is Director, Centre for Security, Strategy and Policy Research, University of Lahore. She holds a PhD in Security Studies from Kansas State University. Her research focused on U.S. non-proliferation policy towards Pakistan and foreign policy analysis of executive-legislative interactions in U.S. foreign policy making and related issues in congressional oversight of U.S. foreign policy towards Pakistan from Ford to Clinton. She is a Fulbright Scholar (2010-2015). Her co-authored research monograph on “Nuclear Learning in South Asia” was published in Jan 2015 by the Regional Center of Strategic Studies (RCSS), Colombo, Sri Lanka.

Read more




10 thoughts on “Irrationality, Doth Thy Name!

  1. I think Rabia brings humor and insight to my essay. I would just clarify a couple of points. My paper focuses on the variable of unitariness in the “unitary rational actor model” of deterrence, not on the variable of rationality. Yet, many readers prefer to discuss whether or not Pakistan is rational, etc. As Rabia suggests, it could be rational — at one level — for Pakistani military/ISI leaders to cultivate “irregular” forces who will conduct subconventional attacks on India. It could also be rational to deny any state authority over such groups. However, real or perceived “non-unitariness” can create risks of instability and escalation that could exceed the rationally calculated benefits of such forces. I look forward to discussing Rabia’s insights on all of this further.
    A second issue: Rabia suggests that I am arguing that Pakistan sponsors “irregular forces to…perpetrate subconventional violence inside India” to enhance the “credibility of its deterrence.” That is not my argument. I do not see what Pakistan’s use of irregular forces (like LeT) is deterring India from doing. India would not be threatening any sort of territorial aggression against Pakistan if LeT and other groups had not been attacking India. It seems more accurate to say that Pakistan has used irregulars for offensive purposes — to keep the Kashmir cause alive, to tie down Indian forces, to take bits of territory occupied by India (Kargil ’99), to interrupt the peace process, etc.

  2. Rabs
    a) Loving this – and thinking out loud

    b) Just to bring in outsourcing escalation control (in a manner of speaking) – one of the reasons I’ve advocated closer India-US ties is to get the US to buy the argument that all sub-state actors in Pakistan whether directed against the eastern border or western are linked. Ergo outsourcing escalation, the US decides (or is convinced by some Indian genius) to start using covert methods and knocking out eastwards directed organisations within Pakistan? How do you see such a move affecting Pakistan’s strategy?

    c) I’ve always argued that with genuine RMA and prioritising the AF and Navy India can reduce its army to about 1/4th to 1/3 its current level and still be

    1) Perfectly safe against both P and PRC
    2) gain the ability to deliver very damaging conventional blows – not capture land – but definitely ensure that Indian land is not captured (this also has the advantage of putting our forces in line with our public statements)
    3) divert the savings to a much more effective, more professional and less human rights abusive internal security structure

    Do you think an Indian Army with less manpower than the Pak Army would ease Pakistan’s tensions?

    d) There seems to be an element of cyclic logic here – we need sub-conventional actors against India but they’re wrecking our internal security . We need sub-conventional actors to goad India – but such goading wrecks our external security as well. To protect our sub-conventional freedom of space we need more nukes which is wrecking our economy. We also need more forward deployed tac-nukes which are more vulnerable to rogue sub-conventional actors. To me that seems like a downward spiral to no control

    e) I think assuming rationality in the Indian decision making structure might be a fatal error. There is nothing proportional to massive retaliation, to the Sundarji doctrine or cold start which is why they’re all unusable and all humbug. The danger is of an equally ill-conceived ad-hoc strategy at a time of crisis. In fact the differences between the political and military leadership that I’ve been noticing would very probably result in just that. There’s a logic to Pakistan’s irrationality that makes its safe (er?). India on the other hand for systemic reasons if and when it chooses to act will probably act in perfectly reckless and/or unrehearsed fashion.

    f) I think the ICJ judgement on the Israeli separation barrier here has some relevance to your argument on the loss of sovereignty that could turn to your advantage. Basically the ICJ held that as the PA was not a state enjoying article 51 protections it had no article 51 obligations either. So a loss of sovereignty argument would remove responsibility for these attacks from the GoP or ArmyoP while India would remain deterred by the GoP’s nuclear posture.

    g) I’m curious as to what constitutes “enemy”. For us enemy is one who actively attacks us – threat, adversary or rival would be someone you have a competition or dispute with – several grades lower than enemy. For that reason Pakistan is our “enemy” because of its actions, China is a threat. So my question is (related to point c). What exactly are the determinants that Pakistan uses in defining “enemy” and “real”ity of that enmity.

  3. See what you’ve done, Rabia?! This is really an interesting discussion. I think Abhijit makes some very incisive observations and poses some really hard, intresting questions which should be pursued by analysts even if it’s hard to imagine policy-makers being this creative. Keep it going.

  4. George and Abhijit have given some insight and posed a few questions which not only Rabia but anyone else will struggle to answer. The irrational cannot become rational with clever argument. If the use of violence had brought rewards, Pakistan would have been a Super Power. To falsely believe Nuclear weapons are an Insurance policy against the use of non state actors is fallacious, just because India has not retaliated. Does not mean India will not retaliate, it will do so at a time and place of its choosing if the past policies are continued, however in a manner that can wrong foot the best of strategic planners.

    Pakistan is too feeble and weak today not merely due to multiple strategic blunders but banking on the misguided belief that a strong Military automatically translates to a strong nation — North Korea being an excellent example. To assume that misconduct will be condoned because the world will not let an nuclear armed State fail, is presumptuous.

  5. Let me begin by saying that I wanted the title to say ‘Irrationality, Doff Thy Name’ not ‘Doth’. Need to read Shakespeare more carefully and Perkovich as well :)

    George, thank you for your interest in my piece and your reply. Your essay is quite expansive and to have covered it in its entirety was simply impossible in this post so I chose parts of your essay on which I thought I could comment and offer insight. Yes, the core of your essay focuses on ‘unitariness’ as a variable affecting the credibility of deterrence and actually, I find this whole concept of ‘real and perceived disunity in the chain of command’ to be of great theoretical value. Lets say for example:

    If a terrorist attack takes place inside India and Pakistan is blamed for the attack then Pakistan has two choices

    a) accept that the attackers had the blessings of the GOP and prepare itself for retaliation from India and wrath of the international community (unwise move) OR
    b) deny that the GOP did not have any knowledge of the attackers or their alleged links with the ISID and offer to catch the perpetrators and launch internal review of the ISID.

    Hypothetically speaking, like I said in my essay, it makes rational sense for the GOP to go with plan b simply cos it provides face saving, buys it time to contemplate all possible strategies in case the Indians (or allies) choose to retaliate, and if it is a sadist, enjoy the Indian predicament. In your essay you talk of ‘linear connection between the instruments of violence and the state authorities that order them’ so that the receiving state is ‘clear’ that the signals received are by the signaling state through a chain of command.

    I ask you, how would the deterrence equation look like if there were a non-linear connection? You would say, it will make deterrence unstable (thus your core argument), but consider this:

    Non-Linear connection: State A threaten/deters State B where both states have nuclear weapons BUT State A uses C (call it irregular forces/sub-state actors whatever) to damage B engaging B in sub-conventional warfare without worrying about nuclear retaliation from State B directed at A. The mutually established nuclear deterrence remains operational under the non-linear settings. If State B threatens State A with nuclear retaliation, State A can deny any connections with State C and send a clear signal to State B that it would defend itself with all means available. What is State B to do then? In A’s mind, it might not be a case of ‘unitariness’ but the non-linear means to deter and damage B that provide credibility to its deterrence and if that is the case, then ‘rationality’ condition remains perfectly intact regardless of how reckless it might appear to an outside observer. If the connection with C is established, A can go all out as Schelling’s ‘madman’ banking on the ‘rationality of irrationality’, appearing willing to ‘bring down the house’. That too has its merits since it would deter B from taking a nut head on. Why can deterrence not derive its stability and credibility from non-linear connections?

    I ask you and my Indian colleagues, does India have a strategy to fight sub-conventional warfare whereby it can punish C without punishing A if A denies involvement with C or punish C and A in case the non-linear connection is established, without threatening nuclear retaliation?

    Abhijit, thank you for your comments on this post.

    Your point b assumes that Pakistan controls these sub-state actors and uses them as part of a well planned strategy to stage terrorist activities inside Indian territory and thus if the U.S. was to knock out eastward directed organizations within Pakistan, it would somehow affect its overall strategy! I would argue that it is quite a fantastic assumption both on Pakistan having such a strategy and secondly on sub-state actors being linked. I do not believe that Pakistan has any such strategy. Pakistan as a state is not suicidal. It is mature and responsible. Secondly, I do not believe that the U.S. has the covert means to sabotage covert sub-state actors within Pakistan, eastward or westward. How does this link with outsourcing escalation control? Do you mean India does not have the means or strategy to deal with Pakistan’s eastward directed sub-state actors and thus it would need to ‘outsource’ U.S. to do the job while maintaining a face with Pakistan?

    On your point c about Indian Army with less manpower easing Pakistan’s tensions (I call it security dilemma): I don’t think it would effect Pakistan’s strategic calculus vis-à-vis India. I say that cos for Pakistan, not just the capture of its territory is a nuclear redline that need not be crossed by any state, damaging conventional blows by Indian Air Force or quarantine by Indian Navy are also nuclear redlines and would amount to crossing of the nuclear threshold. So whether Indian Army is cut down to size by 1/4th or 1/3rd of its current level, it would not provide any strategic relief to Pakistan.

    I like your definition of the enemy, it is clear as a day and I am glad you differentiated between your small enemy (Pak) and big threat (China). Given this definition, I am amazed as to why does India not accept that its nuclear You and I both are students of International Relations and as disciples of this great discipline, we must never forget that this world is an anarchic jungle. There are no friends. India and Pakistan did not lose each other in ‘Kumbh ka mela’, there is no love lost; they parted and became two bitter states who with a passage of time, given all that they both have endured, refuse to trust each other. I am OK with states not trusting each other. Pakistan has a trust deficit with India and it also has a trust deficit with the U.S. and its OK. Pakistan needs to stand on its two feet and while it has established credible nuclear deterrence vis-à-vis India, it now needs to fight a fight which is internal. It needs to deal with sub-state actors that are bleeding Pakistan. It needs to regain economic strength ad move forward. There are no determinants of what constitutes the ‘enemy’. Just know that there are no friends.

  6. Great post, Rabia.
    Nuclear deterrence is inherently irrational, in my view. Threatening an adversary with a horrific punishment that would be returned in kind is pretty irrational, no? On top of this, national defense based on nuclear deterrence is inherently built on bluff. If you do so and so, I will cross the nuclear threshold. Which means that you will too, unless you are also bluffing. How is that rational? How much national security can be “bought” when it is predicated either on bluff or irrational action?
    MK

  7. I agree with MK that the premise of nuclear deterrence is solely based on bluff or consequential. The next step after nuclear weapons, if one wishes to keep enemies busy and threats subdued, is to create non-state actors, economic advancement and circumstantial initiatives by strengthening unconventional warfare strategies. Spying and intelligence gathering has to become offensive with the capability of not waiting for the conventional forces to thwart a threat and deal with it amicably itself. For instance the CIA.

  8. YOU SAID If a terrorist attack takes place inside India and Pakistan is blamed for the attack then Pakistan has two choices…..
    I SAY Why are we restricting this to just two choices? I would say
    a) accepted the attackers had the blessings of the GOP and challenge and impotent India to do its worst
    b) deny the attackers had the blessings of GOP but that they ahd every right to do what they were doing (railing against Indian oppression ala Kargil)
    c) deny blessings of the GOP and offer to catch the perpetrators and
    d) (the most commonly used one) – deny blessings of GOP, but refuse to capture or punish perpetrators, which in effect becomes a “we didn’t do this” wink-wink nudge-nudge “heck yeah we did” or at the very least is perceived as one internationally.
    YOU SAID Why can deterrence not derive its stability and credibility from non-linear connections?……
    I SAY I would say because as India has learnt to its great loss 1) non state/sub-state actors C is fundamentally uncontrollable and will reach a threshold where his/her actions derail the pas-de-deux between A and B. and 2) this belief in the rationality of irrationality can lead to some seriously dangerous miscalculations. In fact I would say that the greatest danger is that India sees Pakistan as a supremely rational actor – albeit sadistically taking pleasure in it being too smart by half. It is this mindset that has produced some of the most disconcerting theories I have heard from Indian generals
    YOU SAID I ask you and my Indian colleagues, does India have a strategy to fight sub-conventional warfare whereby it can punish C without punishing A if A denies involvement with C or punish C and A in case the non-linear connection is established, without threatening nuclear retaliation?
    I SAY Yes absolutely India does not current have any coherent thought – the problem has been threefold 1) India doesn’t understand technology and how it presents gradable options 2) the need for gradable options and 3) the “bloodlust” or visibility of retaliation
    YOU SAID Your point b assumes that Pakistan controls these sub-state actors and uses them as part of a well planned strategy to stage terrorist activities inside Indian territory
    I SAY Sorry – yes I do believe that – but not all – I should have qualified that as both SUB and NON state actors
    YOU SAID and thus if the U.S. was to knock out eastward directed organizations within Pakistan, it would somehow affect its overall strategy! I would argue that it is quite a fantastic assumption both on Pakistan having such a strategy and secondly on sub-state actors being linked.
    I SAY One of the things we’ve just begun to realise in India is that criminality forms deep networks and interconnectivity. This is why seemingly mundane problems like cattle smuggling into Bangladesh has been used as a piggyback to far far more unsavoury activities. This is not a rule set in stone, but such connectivity is mathematically and sociologically a high probability.
    Should the US strike eastwards directed organisation, yes I do believe it would change quite a few dynamics, including the US-Pakistan dynamic, which I avoided to keep the story focussed.
    YOU SAID I do not believe that Pakistan has any such strategy.
    I SAY We shall agree to disagree on this one?
    YOU SAID Pakistan as a state is not suicidal. It is mature and responsible.
    I SAY Thats what we thought of ourselves when we (sanjay Gandhi and giani zail singh) encouraged Bhindranwale in Punjab to split the Akalis, and thats what we thought when we trained the LTTE in Tamil Nadu. We should never underestimate the monumental stupidity of the nation state.
    YOU SAID Secondly, I do not believe that the U.S. has the covert means to sabotage covert sub-state actors within Pakistan, eastward or westward. How does this link with outsourcing escalation control?
    I SAY Because America then acts to prevent Indian retaliation – in a very focussed, stealthy manner, denying it in public, effectively aborting Indian escalation
    YOU SAID Do you mean India does not have the means or strategy to deal with Pakistan’s eastward directed sub-state actors and thus it would need to ‘outsource’ U.S. to do the job while maintaining a face with Pakistan?
    I SAY Correct! – except I would caveat “India does not have VIABLE means or strategy. Don’t you find it surprising that India comes up with brain dead disasters like cold start to replace the disaster that was the sundarji doctrine ….but then when cold start also fails , there is no ideation on replacement strategies.
    I would argue that Pakistan has well and truly castrated India – operationally and intellectually.
    YOU SAID On your point c about Indian Army with less manpower easing Pakistan’s tensions (I call it security dilemma): I don’t think it would effect Pakistan’s strategic calculus vis-à-vis India.
    I SAY Why? A security dilemma is the two insufficiencies – the insufficiency of reassurance and the insufficiency of deterrence. Right now India can’t deter Pakistani subconventional strikes and it cannot reassure against conventional retaliation correct?
    YOU SAID I say that cos for Pakistan, not just the capture of its territory is a nuclear redline that need not be crossed by any state, damaging conventional blows by Indian Air Force or quarantine by Indian Navy are also nuclear redlines and would amount to crossing of the nuclear threshold. So whether Indian Army is cut down to size by 1/4th or 1/3rd of its current level, it would not provide any strategic relief to Pakistan.
    I SAY Why? China has the numbers to wipe us out – but we’re not so paranoid about China (we’re quite paranoid – but not THAT paranoid). ..this goes back to my question what do you perceive as the immediacy of the threat? On one hand Pakistan refuses to act against eastwards sub/non-state actors, if it did – then the immediacy of the threat would simply not be there to begin with correct? Unless of course Pakistan still believes that India is hell bent on dismembering Pakistan in which case we have more of a problem of psychology than any real strategic threat.
    The way we deal with China is build localised superiority (nobody here seriously calls for matching China but equally nobody calls for using sub-state actors against china to get back what we believe to be huge tracts of Indian land illegally occupied by China) , but engage in robust economic reassurance. In fact the one thing the MoD and MEA are convinced of is that Chinese currency reserves and infrastructure capabilities will play a huge role in India’s 1 trillion dollar infrastructure programme…except in the northeast. This is why the BRICS bank is important for us since it enables us to use Chinese loans to build up in the North East.
    So basically what you’re saying is that Indian conventional reductions will be useless unless India accepts military inferiority vis-a-vis Pakistan and Indian economic reassurance is also useless? Which feeds into the next point
    YOU SAID I like your definition of the enemy, it is clear as a day and I am glad you differentiated between your small enemy (Pak) and big threat (China).
    I SAY Heres the issue – an enemy is basically irascible, a threat on the other hand can also –and must proactively be turned into an opportunity – economic deterrence I suppose.
    YOU SAID Given this definition, I am amazed as to why does India not accept that its nuclear You and I both are students of International Relations and as disciples of this great discipline, we must never forget that this world is an anarchic jungle. There are no friends.
    I SAY No delusions here – and not India either – hence my question – what exactly would make Pakistan less edgy about India? I don’t believe in nawaz-vajpayee jhappiya-pappiya diplomacy and no one is talking of friendship – I don’t believe In friends in IR. Because from what I see here there are no exit routes and no matter what India does within the bounds of what the International community would consider reasonable. The problem is that India seems to keep going back to the fact that it isn’t Indian conventional superiority or economic superiority or Kashmir, but basically something much much deeper.
    YOU SAID It needs to deal with sub-state actors that are bleeding Pakistan. It needs to regain economic strength ad move forward. There are no determinants of what constitutes the ‘enemy’. Just know that there are no friends.
    I SAY Agreed – So the question remains why isn’t it? We’re getting comfortable with Chinese investments and we’re comfortable with a “threat Pakistan” that focuses on economic growth because it builds dependencies and activates interest groups and constituencies in favour of moderation – be derogatory and call them “baniyas” if you like, and starts cracking down on weirdoes like Hafiz Sayeed purely out of self interest. But we just don’t understand a Pakistan that has a what can be best described as a deeply ambiguous attitude to Hafiz Sayeed types and allows its economy to sink. In India for example one of the reasons Modi has become popular is because India wants to get out of the economic rut it’s in… but just like there’s no ideation on how to deal with Pakistan (largely a sign to me of disinterest) there seems to be no new ideation within Pakistan on new regional or economic paradigms outside of India being the enemy. The problem is the worse the Pakistani economy gets and the worse the internal security situation gets, the higher our perception of a Pakistan ready to lash out with very little to lose.
    So heres my question list out 10 points that India can do that will reassure Pakistan – both military and economic. ..because so far all we’ve done is eliminate the not, but not come up with CAN DOs

  9. Abhijit, I have no love lost for the likes of Hafiz Saeed and Mullah Whatevers. They are more lethal in their existence to Pakistan than India and the sooner the GOP understands that the better it will be for all of us in the region. Between India and Pakistan, we have a common history, a common culture and a common language (only the scripts differ). If we cannot find positives in these commonalities then it is truly a shame for us as nationals of these two great nations. Whenever I meet an Indian outside India we cannot help but wonder how amazingly friendly we become! I have never had trouble trusting any Indian friend of mine and I have never had to judge their motives. Not even as a passing thought. Why do you think that is? I think our strength lies in people to people contact. I think our strength lies in forging economic ties across the border so that we develop stakes in each other’s economic prosperity to the point where bombing Indian or Pakistani cities becomes unthinkable due to economic and not only political costs. I think we need to re-write history books and get rid of hate-India/hindu politics. I think both India and Pakistan can live with each other’s nuclear weapons without pointing them at each other. They don’t have to be ‘friends’ but they can co-exist. Its a matter of leadership and will on both sides of the border. Pakistan unfortunately has never had a leader who could break bad and I mean really ‘break bad’. I say how about we start with issuing ‘country’ visas to Indians visiting Pakistan and Pakistanis visiting India instead of ‘city visas’? How is that about starting with a little trust. The problem before us as citizens of these two countries is: how can people-to-people contacts be translated into GOI-GOP contacts? You say what can India do militarily to ease Pakistan’s fears! With ‘Prahaar’ now out in the open, I don’t think there is much India can do to assuage Pakistani fears but on another note, how about reducing military presence in J&K and letting state’s police do their job for starters?

    In a recent talk at Belfer Center, Perkovich points out the complexity that encircles the strategic relations in this region. India and Pakistan do not exist in isolation from China, U.S. and Russia. I would add Iran, Saudi Arabia and Israel in the mix too. If today the Kashmir issue is solved, do you think Pakistan will roll back and disarm? If today China signs an agreement with India of non-use of nuclear weapons on Indian territory and vice versa, do you think both countries can change their strategic calculus to exclude the other? Easier said then done, I guess. But again, that does not mean that an effort need not be made. I believe that even if it takes Pakistan three to four years to develop the infrastructure before it could buy electricity from India, it should make that investment regardless of which party will take credit of for its culmination! But you know what! Politicians do not think long term. They do not plan for twenty years down the road. They think of now, they think of three to five years in power and they think of their pockets.

    I have congratulated all my Indian friends on India’s successful launch of the first Mars probe and I hope that it becomes the first Asian landing on the red planet. I am so happy for your progress. I am so happy for your achievements and it makes me sad to see where we are. How do you think it makes me feel when I see my country being bled to death by the Mullah’s in the name of Jihad, killing my people in their attempt to take over my country. Do you think bombing Indian cities is my priority when my country is bleeding? NO. It isn’t.

    MK, you are absolutely right. Nuclear deterrence is blackmail. Its threat of ‘I will die but I will take you down with me while I am at it’ (for my Indian friends it goes like this: Hum tou dobain gay sanam, tum ko bhi lay dobain gay”). National security cannot solely rely on this madness of MAD. This is why I believe that now that Pakistan has established nuclear deterrence, only by stepping away from crying MAD and going NUTS can it strengthen its credibility.

  10. Hey Rabs

    I know well that you and I think religious fundos (in India as well) will be the death of us. The issue is why doesn’t’t the government of Pakistan come to that conclusion despite horrific losses? I’m not going to quote the Indian media since they are biased, but it seems even the west is now convinced that Pakistan remains ambiguous on this score and crackdowns have been selective. I see GoP put out ads highlighting their losses to terrorism, I hear generals increasing say that their focus is shifting, but I don’t see this translating into concrete action. In fact I’m quite confident that the election of Narendra Modi IF and WHEN it happens will produce a significant cross border attack. That said I find this “shift” in Pakistani priorities ambiguous, as in my interactions they seem to suggest they are now taking the “west” (not the western border) as a serious threat, but here again the solution due to asymmetry seems to be subconventional.

    I don’t envy Pakistan – as I see it you face a huge dilemma – one that I’ve covered in my next write-up here http://savoices.wpengine.com/the-pitfalls-of-peace/…. Pakistan loses America if it supports terror, but since terror is its only option to break or rattle India, if it gives up on terror it becomes less relevant to China. Which is exactly why I see the Pakistan Army being caught up – with each path leading to significant negatives. These are deep identity issues and when identity and ideology get involved, common sense goes down the flush.

    That said I’m all for the following non-military steps

    1) Visa liberalisation – 5 year multiple entry visas on biometric passports
    2) Economic integration

    While I agree with you that politicians think 3-5 years down the line bureaucrats do not – they have tenure and are insured against being sacked for their own incompetence. As Sir Arnold tells Sir Humphrey Appleby in yes prime minister “If once they accepted the principle that senior Civil Servants could be removed for incompetence, that would be the thin end of the wedge. We could lose dozens of our chaps. Hundreds, perhaps”. But what this has meant is that China is now our largest trade partner and issues that would have resulted in exchanges of gunfire till 1987, are no longer dealt with by force. This is no mean task and a huge achievement in itself.
    But as we’ve seen in our relations with China – these can get you up-to a plateau but no further because hard questions have to be discussed – but getting to the plateau itself can be a deeply de-escalating exercise as we see with India-China ties…. to the point when jokers in IDSA produce papers claiming that China will attack India in 2012, they lose all academic credibility and are bundled out. That said creating a web of dialogues is exactly what India seeks to do since it creates interests, and hence a path dependency that can’t be derailed on security concerns alone. The problem in my view is that in Pakistan, the army runs the foreign and defence policy so remains unaffected by path dependencies created in other fields of government.

    As you know every army needs TBMs – so how about we dump Prahaar and go in for ATACAMS which given US transfer policies can’t be meddled with and will not be given with a nuclear warhead and will be subject to end user verification? (obviously we’ll price gouge the Americans and demand a hefty “peace” subsidy ;-)

    As for Kashmir I don’t see how an internal deployment, especially in an area where decisive military blows are hardest to inflict given the terrain will ease Pakistani anxiety over an Indian attack? Again are we discussing assuaging Pakistanis military fears or are we talking territorial disputes? Because this seems like shifting goalposts – when we talk military it suddenly becomes a human rights question, when we talk human rights it suddenly becomes a military question.

    That said most of us here have been arguing for a very long time that we need internal security forces to be properly trained and the army cannot and must not be deployed for internal security missions. An army has to be based on the rapidity of its assault whereas in internal security situations such a mindset is deeply counterproductive. The issue has always been a chicken and egg one – if we reduce the military presence, violence gets out of hand, but the military presence feeds the violence. That said I’m yet to hear how an Indian deployment in Kashmir constitutes a body blow to Pakistani security.

    But again I will stress the need – we have 2 separate issues to deal with here 1) Kashmir and 2) Pakistani insecurity vis-à-vis India, and conflating the two will sabotage both. We can disagree on Kashmir and still reduce Pakistani anxiety, and we can solve Kashmir without any change in the military situation (which is fine by us but i suspect not with Pakistan, which will continue to feel threatened)

    Next why does Pakistan see a threat from Israel, Iran and KSA? I can tell you India sees none – except that we don’t like the Saudis and what they do with their money. That said – no one in India expects Pakistan to disarm – we do not expect Pakistan to give up a single battalion or a single squadron, or to stop targeting missiles at India. We just expect for militants to not be used against India… I.e for immediate provocations to end.

    As for China – as you can see with the Demchuk incident earlier this year, we solved issues without a single shot being fired. Competition we can live with, terrorism we cannot. We can live with Chinese troops on the heights so long as they don’t shell our convoys below. That was the big difference between Kargil and Demchuk.

    Nobody is asking Pakistan to change its strategic calculus. In fact in India we still talk of sea denial vis-à-vis the US, and that is the reason we are going in for Brahmos and Hypersonic-Brahmos as CVN killers. But having that capability does not translate into hostility. The issue is we don’t go around sending commandos to attack Diego Garcia or the Great hall of the People every 5 years or so.

    So I come back to this – Pakistan justifies using subconventional actors as being the only way it can shake up the effective stalemate that has plagued ties. The question is does Pakistan was to keep using these to rattle the Kashmir issue, or do you want to leverage them against cast iron CBMs and elimination of a whole categories of weapons that Pakistan finds threatening and that tangibly keep Pakistan safe?

    This is why we need to get out of the cyclic logic that India needs to be attacked sub-conventionally to get off its high horse, As for getting India off its high horse I don’t see a way to do that – because we haven’t succeeded with the Chinese… Xi Jinpings solution has been border management – not border resolution, leaving resolution to a time when trust is built up sufficiently. I don’t think agreeing to not change the status quo immediately in any way affects the philosophy of Pakistan, but evidently Rawalpindi sees it otherwise.

    So to wrap up – Why do you see us as the “ENEMY” and to quote you why is “the enemy ……..real”? If it is because of the military threat then as you have said any amount of Indian reduction wont assuage Pakistan. If it is because of a territorial dispute, then India seems to manage its dispute with China just fine.. we don’t send terrorist there, they don’t send terrorists here, we haven’t had shooting on the border since 1987. If its Kashmir, then essentially this is not an issue of military strength, but one of identity and the rational of enmity has nothing to do with either a clear and present danger from India but rather an ideological threat

    PS- You’ll note I’ve avoided dwelling on our cultural similarities – because some Pakistanis get livid and see this as being tantamount to denying them their cultural uniqueness. Personally I never raise that point because I don’t believe in it – being a south Indian I’m far more comfortable in Melbourne than I have ever been in any part of North India – Delhi included.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *