Modi Must Realise War Is Not A Cricket Match
Umer Farooq writes about the recent statement of Indian PM Narendra Modi where he threatened of a ten-day war against Pakistan. He argues that leaders on both sides of the borders fail to realise the dangerous implications of war-mongering.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s statement of ten days war against Pakistan is a glaring confirmation of the fact that India military’s plan of Cold Start Doctrine is a reality, although successive Indian governments have denied the existence of such a plan.
Indian Prime Minister in a speech to military personnel in Delhi said Indian forces were now capable of making Pakistan ‘bite the dust’ in less than 10 days. “Our armed forces will not take more than seven to 10 days to make Pakistan bite the dust,” Modi had declared.
This clearly indicates the Cold Start doctrine type of thinking on the part of political leadership of India, although Indian leadership has long denied that they harbor any such type of military adventurous plan on their desks.
Cold Start Doctrine was developed by Indian military planners in the wake of 2002 mobilization of Indian military, after terror attack on Indian parliament, that proved to be botched attempt to terrify Pakistan leadership or to punish its military for alleged backing the Islamists militants—the attempt was botched as the Indian strike corps took three weeks to mobilize and during this period two things happened, a) Pakistani military counter mobilized, making maneuver on the part of Indian military very difficult, b) International community launched an intense diplomatic effort to avert a conflict in South Asia and defuse the tensions in the region.
The Indian military planners moved in the wake of this frustrating experience to develop the capacity of its military—Land forces and Air force specially—to mobilize in a short period of 48 hours to launch a punitive action against Pakistani military. In the last mobilization, it took Indian Strike Corps—which are physically located in Central India, at a long distance from international border with Pakistan— three weeks to reach the international border. This capacity building exercise primarily involved building forward operating bases close to the international border, which India military have been doing during the past fifteen years.
As is implicitly indicated in the Indian Prime Minister Modi’s latest statement, the Indian military planners envisaged this type of war to be a limited war. This was also reflected in other statements coming out from India and analysis carried out by international military experts of India’s Cold Start Doctrine, “The goal of this limited war doctrine is to establish the capacity to launch a retaliatory conventional strike against Pakistan that would inflict significant harm on the Pakistan Army before the international community could intercede, and at the same time, pursue narrow enough aims to deny Islamabad a justification to escalate the clash to the nuclear level”. Walter Ladwig, British military expert wrote a decade ago.
The implicit meanings of Prime Minister Modi’s speech is that he is not only owning the Cold Start Doctrine with all its dangerous implications for regional security, he is also pushing the extremely dangerous concept of limited War with Pakistan, and that too in a highly nuclearized environment.
Some of the US experts have recently pointed out that BJP would prove to be a natural house for India’s military assertiveness. This has started to reflect in the statements and policies emanating from India.
The international experts are pointing out the indications in official Indian discourse that they are about to abandon their stance of ‘no first use’ of nuclear weapons. At a more complex level, the Indians have purchased or in negotiations to purchase latest intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities and precision strike aircraft that would make Pakistani strategic targets more vulnerable to Indian attacks.
“A particularly grave concern is that if India pursues its policy to achieve technical superiority in ISR and precision targeting, this will provide India the capability to effectively locate and effectively destroy strategically important targets in Pakistan” says Peter R. Lavoy, internationally recognized nuclear expert, in one of his recent writings on Pak-India nuclear equation.
In response to the Indian plans of Cold Start Doctrine, Pakistani military planners were quick to respond through development of major weapon system that could prove to be highly destructive of India’s advancing armor columns in a situation of war. In April 2011, Pakistan flight-tested short range, surface-to-surface multi-tube ballistic missile Nasr which has a range of 60 kilometers. Soon afterwards, another missile called Abdali — best suited for carrying small nuclear warheads swiftly to a short-range target and hitting that target accurately — was test launched.
Officials at the time of the launch said Abdali was part of a quick response system to strengthen the deterrence value of Pakistan’s bigger nuclear weapons. Experts, however, see the developments of these missiles as indicating a complete departure from the country’s nuclear policy, which originally saw nuclear weapons as weapons of last resort. “So (now) nuclear weapons are being seen by Pakistan as means for fighting a war with India,” is how Pervez Hoodbhoy, an Islamabad-based physicist and an internationally renowned activist against nuclear arms, interprets the introduction of Full Spectrum Deterrence.
The most dangerous aspect of these tit for tat military developments is that it has been taking place away from the public eyes or from the eyes of any representative institutions that can scrutinize the situation from the people’s perspective at the regional level.
Intelligence agencies on both sides keep an eye on military developments on other side of the border. They monitor and analyze the development of any new weapon system, raising of a new force or new doctrine and present recommendations to the policies makers about possible response to any development on the other side of the border. This means development of Cold Start Doctrine in India, and induction of short range nuclear capable missiles in Pakistan, acquisition of modern reconnaissance equipment could not have passed the eyes of military planners unnoticed. And in fact, they were responding to each other’s actions with more escalatory steps and thus draining resources on both sides and endangering the populations on both sides of the border with their adventurist thinking and planning.
Nobody said a word about these dangerous military developments in the region from people’s perspective—after all what interests of people of Pakistan would be served if a short range missile is as effective as claimed by our military? Similarly what interest of India people will be served if Indian military did inflicting a punishment on Pakistani military in a limited war, while paving the way for the destruction of Northern India in the process of War? The so-called peoples representative on both sides of the border have not a word to say on this aspect of the military developments in the region.
When Indian military planners developed Cold Start Doctrine in the wake of 2002 large-scale mobilization, there was a lot of discussion in India about the concept of limited war. This indicated that Indian military planners expected that Pakistani military will not escalate to a full-fledged war below a certain threshold—they will not lunch a counter attack on India and they would not unleash their nuclear weapons. This will allow Indian military to punish Pakistani military in two weeks time and withdraw to the safety of their own borders, this was the expectation of Indian military planners.
The problem at present is that we have a political leadership in Pakistan and India as rulers, which have no idea of what exactly war means and how it is fought. How it has a momentum of its own, which nobody (literally nobody) controls? Indian military planners have made fool out of their leadership by telling them that war will be finished in ten days, as if it amounts an invitation to highly disciplined dinner party, where invitees lay down their eating utensils before light goes off.
How can Indian military planners be sure that Pakistan will not carry out a first strike in case its military leaders start to perceive, during the war—as, apparently, Indian military plan envisages—that India is succeeding in destroying Pakistani military machine? Especially when Pakistani military planners words are in the field that set destruction of military machine as a condition for the use of nuclear weapons against Indian mainland.
Prime Minister Modi is a populist leader who has no ideological training—like 19th century Marxists or liberals—that war is a curse. There is no hint anywhere that he has any taste for reading history—so aversion to war that comes from ideological training or reading a lot of history, doesn’t seem to be Modi’s forte. He is simply a populist leader, who knows how to attract votes and this is exactly what he is doing by indulging in war mongering.
Now let’s examine the track record of Prime Minister Imran Khan: Just like Prime Minister Modi, he talks about India-Pakistan war as if he is talking about a cricket match. “We are ready for war” is his regular refrain when he talks about relations with India or India’s adventurist thinking. Just like Modi he is also devoid of any training in the anti war ideologies of 19th and 20th century. A little history that he is said to have read has made no difference to his mindset—war for him is still just like a cricket match. Unfortunate aspect of this situation is that there are no politically potent anti-War lobbies in either country that can draw the attention of masses in both the countries to the fact that immature political leaders are playing with their future and the future of their kids by indulging in warmongering that borders childish behavior.
Globalization means availability of modern weapon systems is a fact of life in this world, making it easy for both Pakistan and India to acquire lethal weapons with much ease. The advent of age of media in both India and Pakistan has made it easy for political and military establishments in India and Pakistan respectively to glorify their militaries to the extent of constructing a myth around them.
But everybody should realize that war is the destroyer of myths and political power structures that ensure living standard better than ordinary Indians and Pakistanis to the members of the establishments in both countries.
Umer Farooq is an Islamabad-based freelance journalist. He writes on security, foreign policy and domestic political issues.