You are on page 1of 26

Map of India and Pakistan 1950

The Tenuous Military Balance of India and Pakistan

Rachel Farell GOVT 451 Dr. Karber 7 December 2012



Relations between India and Pakistan remain prominent on the world stage for their notoriety. Deep tensions have brewed since the origins of their independence in 1947 and continue to occupy a prominent position in world affairs and in the minds of nervous military strategists. Their short history is plagued with wars, violence, and incursions; despite profound new geopolitical realities 65 years after their bitter beginnings, the contentious relationship between India and Pakistan remains unabated. With the current arms race, lapse in diplomatic progress, improving nuclear capabilities of both countries, and shifting regional paradigm with the imminent drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan, military conflict in some form between the two states can arguably be viewed only on a spectrum that ranges from highly conceivable to inevitable. At the core of the bitter rivalry is the contested northern territory of Kashmir. A tenuous ceasefire currently in effect between the two states gives limited reassurance to a global audience that fears potential for the worst: nuclear Armageddon in the region. Deterrence has heretofore avoided any worst-case scenario possibilitiesnuclear weapons remain unused and carefully securedbut the threat of their use between two states with such deep-seated enmity necessitates a careful tread. Of the two, India is clearly the more dominant power. Its military, economy, social infrastructure, and global eminence far exceed those of Pakistan. And yet the nuclear trump card serves to balance the calculation. But it also exponentially raises the stakes should a conflict erupt on a large enough scale to necessitate their use. While it appears that India would emerge superior in an armed conflict, the regional and global implications the engagement would inflict would be colossaland the gains India could potentially extract would pale relative to the costs. This paper seeks to explore the tenuous military balance between India and Pakistan and briefly simulate how and why armed conflict might be reignited between them. This will be done through a quantitative and qualitative measurement of the military

capabilities of both powers, the doctrines and ideologies driving them, and a glimpse at future prospects between India and Pakistan. II. Historical Background

Partition and Seeds of Tension: Kashmir Despite strong cultural, linguistic, and historical ties, tension and violence have plagued the India-Pakistan relationship since their inception as two independent nations in 1947. While many distinct conflicts have arisen in the 65 years since their independences, one issue has been at the core of the hostility from the beginning and continues to drive current tensions today: the question of Kashmir. During the British partition plan of 1947, the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan were established largely on religious lines. Rulers of the 680 princely states that composed the British Empire in India were offered the choice of which state to ultimately join and pledge allegiance to; by and large, the Hindu-majority states coalesced to form India, and the Muslim-majority states absorbed into larger Pakistan. Kashmir was a large princely state at the northernmost tips of India and Pakistan. In 1947, the state was composed of a majority-Muslim population but was ruled by a Hindu maharaja, Hari Singh. The maharaja was faced with the dilemma of choosing between his personal alliances and the wishes of the population. Due to this, the king decided to remain temporarily neutral and requested that India and Pakistan recognize the state as such. He formulated an interim standstill agreement, which Pakistan signed and accepted and India did not.1 However, in October 1947, Kashmir was invaded by a contingent of tribal Pakistanis who were enraged by rumors of violent attacks against Muslims in the state. As a defensive measure, the maharaja requested Indian military reinforcement. This move led to the signing of the Instrument of Accession document shortly thereafter, which conceded key state functions to India. The state was split, with India claiming the southern two-thirds of Kashmir (Jammu and Kashmir) and Pakistan seizing the northern third (Azad Kashmir). It is still hotly contested whether the Instrument of Accession was

Kashmir Profile, British Broadcasting Corporation, 3 November 2012. <>

signed and legalized before the entry of Indian troops into Kashmir. 2 China claimed the eastern portion of Kashmir in the 1950s, amid bitter contestation by India and Pakistan.
Image 1: Map of Kashmir, 1947 and 2007

Both states claim the territory of Kashmir in its entirety. Diplomatic attempts have failed to resolve the issue. Pakistan continues to demand a referendum to negotiate the final status of Kashmir, but Indias stance is that Kashmir has substantiated their accession by continuing to vote in Indian elections. Both have claimed that Kashmir is an integral part of their states. Prior Wars Following wars in 1947 and 1965 over Kashmir, India and Pakistan clashed again in 1971. The 1971 war led to the creation and independence of Bangladesh and culminated in the Simla Agreement in 1972, which officially established the Line of Control (LOC) as the de facto border between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir and set guidelines for future relations between India and Pakistan. Insurgencies broke out in 1989 and continued in the 90s, leading up to the 1999 Kargil incident between India and Pakistani soldiers and militants who infiltrated the LOC border into Jammu and Kashmir. After India fully militarized along the border and began an offensive to retake the territory, Pakistan was internationally pressured to retreat. This was the first conflict after both powers obtained nuclear weapons in 1998 that had the potential to escalate to dangerous levels; restraint

Ibid 1.

was demonstrated on both sides.3 A military standoff at the LOC was initiated in 2001 following terrorist attacks on the Indian parliament in Delhi attributed to Pakistan. Both states massed troops along the LOC in an offensive posture until the conflict was abated through international pressure and mediation. Troop drawdown was successfully completed in 2002, but it served to scare to the international community due to its potential to escalate quickly. The most recent large-scale conflict occurred in 2008 with the terrorist attacks in Mumbai. 4 While tensions have visibly cooled over the past several years, the events of the last decade served to deepen the divide and mistrust between India and Pakistan. The contentious issues that drove the two states to war in the past still remain. There is a distinct possibility that conflict will once again enter in to the India-Pakistan relationshipand with nuclear weapons on the table, the stakes have never been higher.
Table 1: Timeline of Major Events between India and Pakistan

Year 1947

Event India and Pakistan gain independence; was breaks out over Kashmir; territory divided between India and Pakistan

1965 1971 1972

Brief but bloody war over Kashmir fought to a standstill War breaks out over East Pakistan; Bangladesh gains independence Simla Agreement signed, Line of Control established as the recognized border between Indian and Pakistani Kashmir

1984 1989

Indian Army gains control of Siachen Glacier Muslim insurgencies break out in Jammu and Kashmir and continues through the 90s; India attempts to quell it

1998 1999 2001

Both countries successfully test nuclear weapons Unofficial Kargil war erupts; Pakistan loses; relations severed Terrorist attack on Indian parliament in Delhi; leads to military standoff with massive troop buildup at the Line of Control

2008 2010

Terrorist attacks on Mumbai further strain India-Pakistan relations Protests in Jammu and Kashmir erupt against the Indian army

Peter R. Lavoy, Asymmetric warfare in South Asia: the causes and consequences of the Kargil Conflict , Cambridge University Press, 2009. 4 Angel Rabasa, The lessons of Mumbai, RAND, 2009.


Current Status: Tense Deterrence

After decades of research and development, India and Pakistan each successfully detonated nuclear weapons in 1998. It can be argued that nuclear weapons have provided a provided a stable form of deterrence. Despite several uncomfortably tense moments within the last decade and a half, India and Pakistan have exercised restraint (albeit under extreme pressure from the international community to do so) and have refrained from using any type of nuclear weapons capability against the other. This situation has resulted in what RANDs Ashley Tellis describes as ugly stability. Her study concludes that neither Pakistan nor India has been able to decisively defeat the other in conventional military engagement, and both have rejected the usage of nuclear weapons to claim decisive victory.5 Thus, stability has held due to lack of better alternatives, but tensions remain high due to the mutual discontent of both parties. The Mumbai terrorist attacks were devastating to India and Pakistans gradual diplomatic gestures in the wake of the 2001-02 conflict. Although Pakistan invoked plausible deniability, India claimed it had evidence of Pakistans implication in the planning and implementation of the large-scale attacks. While India did not retaliate with force, relational progress that was being made on other fronts was stalled. Bilateral dialogue resumed, however, in 2011. A report by the United States Institute of Peace in 2011 stated that, while there is reason for optimism in the progression of talks, Terrorism and the Kashmir issue remain the most toxic points of divergence which could derail progress as in past bilateral talks. 6 The 67th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in October 2012 highlighted this tension, with Indian and Pakistani representatives trading barbs about the status of Jammu Kashmir and exercising

Ashley J. Tellis, Stability in South Asia, RAND, 1997. <> 6 Megan Neville, Optimism and Obstacles in India-Pakistan Peace Talks, United States Institute of Peace, 15 July 2011. <>

their rights reply to fuel a heated debate. 7 Despite tangible progress in the softening of the India-Pakistan bilateral relationship, tensions remain ripe. IV. Military Balance

Doctrine and Ideology India and Pakist ans military doctrines and ideologies have vastly shifted over the past twenty years. While both countries continue to strategically view conflict in terms of potential war with the other, lessons from history and new geopolitical realities have prompted the progressive reevaluation of military planning. The fact that both countries have obtained nuclear weapons has dramatically altered notions of what a military conflict between the two could potentially entail and both states are coldly cognizant of the higher stakes. INDIA Indias rising regional and global status has profoundly impacted the way it approaches its military and foreign policies. Whereas many past calculations were regioncentric, India now looks to maintain its economic, military, and political prestige on an international level. However, Indias chronic tensions with Pakistan remain the focal point of its foreign policy; at this juncture, its sudden rise as an economic powerhouse on the global scene also means that is has much more at stake in a potential future military confrontation with Pakistan. In 2004, India (under Bharatiya Janata Party leadership, which favors a strong national defense policy) declassified its Pakistan-specific military doctrine.8 The new doctrine, developed by the Indian Army in response to its inhibited mobilization due to its large size, is referred to as Cold Start. Its offensive nature is a radical departure from its previous defensive posture toward Pakistan. The aim of Cold Start is to launch a swift, punitive offensive against Pakistan powerful enough to inflict severe damage on Pakistans offensive and defensive capabilities, yet restrained enough to avoid crossing

India, Pak Clash At UNGA Over Kashmir, Kashmir Observer, 3 October 2012. <> 8 Firdaus Ahmed, The Day After 'Cold Start, Military Articles, No. 2424, Institute of Peace & Conflict Studies, 23 November 2007. <>

redlines that would trigger nuclear retaliation. According to retired Pakistani Navy Commander Muhammad Azam Khan, Central to Cold Start of a synergetic effort aimed at the destruction of Pakistans military potential without much collateral damage. 9 The doctrine envisions launching a limited multi-front attack of small Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) into various regions of Pakistan in an unpredictable fashion. The doctrine required a shift in the composition of the Indian Army; rather than three offensive strike corps, the it necessitates its division into eight battle groups that are outfitted with mechanized infantry, armor, and artillery in order to allow for rapid mobilization within a 72-hour tome period.10 The strength of the doctrine lies in its ability to control the element of surprise and its ability to speed its militarys Observation, Orientation, Decision, Action (OODA) loop. Cold Start is not intended to culminate in the invasion of Pakistan, but rather overwhelm its ability to cognitively react in any organized way and extract modest territorial gains that could be leveraged in subsequent negotiations. 11 The quick and short-term penetrations of the IBGs into Pakistan aim to establish the initiative and set the tempo for the remainder of the military engagement; essentially, it would attack first and mobilize later.12 It seeks to impose a higher military and political price on Pakistan without giving it cause for commencing a nuclear exchange.13 Operationally, India would aim for a mutually-assured, three-pronged approach incorporating its air force, naval, and ground force capabilities under Cold Start. While the doctrine emphasizes the criticality of ground force operations, the air force would be effectively used in strategic bombing to cripple critical infrastructure facilities in advance

Indias Cold Start Strategy: Limited Strikes against Targets vs. Hot War Leading to Nuclear Armageddon, 6 January 2010. <> 10 David Slungaard, Revisiting Cold Start Weighing Strategic Shifts in South Asia, Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1 February 2012. <> 11 Walter C. Ladwig III. "A Cold Start for Hot Wars? The Indian Army's New Limited War Doctrine." International Security 32, no. 3 (Winter 2007/08): 158-190 12 Arif Jamal, Pakistans Ongoing Azm-e-Nau-3 Military Exercises Define Strategic Priorities, The Jamestown Foundation, Terrorism Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 18, 7 May 2010. 13 Vasantha R. Raghavan, Limited War and Nuclear Escalation in South Asia, The Nonprolieration Review, Fall/Winter 2001.

of ground operations. It would subsequently provide ground support during the IBG campaigns. The navy would also provide support for the ground offensives. Cold Start, however, has not been publicly adopted by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or other Indian government officials post-BJP leadership. There is much internal and external debate surrounding its merit and feasibility. Some speculate that it is merely a deterrent factor and was not developed as a serious guiding doctrine. A well-known Wikileaks cable about Cold Start calls the doctrine a mixture of myth and reality and predicts that its implementation would be met with mixed results due to logistical glitches, unforeseen elements of Pakistani geography or infrastructure, and delayed reinforcement.14 Although the credibility of the source is questionable, it provides an eloquent summary of the doubts that cloud the Indian strategic debate on Cold Start. Additionally, Cold Start cannot guarantee that Pakistan will not choose to launch a nuclear retaliationdespite being well-calculated and relatively restrained, it is still a gamble. Despite doubts as to the doctrines validity, India has conducted multiple military exercises to test and apparently institutionalize Cold Start, including Divya Astra (2004), Vijra Shakti (2005), Desert Strike (2005), Sang-i-Shakti (2006), Shatrunash (2007), Ashwamedh (2007), and Hind Shakti (2009). These exercises largely occurred along the border with Pakistan and effectively demonstrated the strategic elements of Cold Start.15 India envisions limited conflict both in duration and weapons useof conventional nature. Its challenge is to be militarily proactive without forcing Pakistan into a position where it feels a nuclear response is its only viable response. In the meantime, Indias logical strategy appears to be to enhance its weapons capabilities and challenge Pakistans economic ability to compete in a costly arms race. India maintains a no first-use policy for nuclear weapons and is among three countries to do so (the other two being North Korea and Russia). However, it also claims to adhere


WikiLeaks: US on Indian Army's Cold Start Doctrine, Wikileaks, uploaded 2 December 2012. <> 15 Ibid 12.

to credible minimum deterrence, which holds to the strong threat of unleashing devastating second strike capabilities, and yet continues to quantitatively and qualitatively improve its nuclear weapons program.16 India has threatened to respond with a massive nuclear retaliation if it victim to a nuclear attack, adhering to a defensive realism ideology. PAKISTAN As India has continued to grow in stature and might, Pakistan has battled internal and external hardship. Economically, Pakistan is hopelessly constrained by geography and geopolitics. 17 Its unfortunate geographic location provides a lack of natural irrigation and natural resources, and its struggle with internal instability and chaos along its northern border with Afghanistan have perpetually inhibited its emergence as a reliable contributor on the global stage. Pakistans distraction by international pressure to eradicate terrorist cells and networks within its borders has swallowed much of its initiative. As a state that is being left behind by its southern rival, Pakistan has its own set of strategic objectives. While Pakistans military doctrine is inevitably India-centric, Pakistan cannot compete on Indias level in a conventional sense. Indias military technology and capabilities have largely surpassed Pakistans quantitatively and qualitatively. Thus, Pakistans military planning must be shaped around Indias actions while seeking to maximize its conventional and asymmetric capabilities. As Pakistani Army Chief of Staff General Ashfaq Kayani said to Pakistani media in 2010, We plan [according to] adversaries capabilities, not intentions.18 Pakistan has not publicly issued its military doctrine, but an overview can be extrapolated from historical trends and recent facts on the ground. Pakistan has been influenced by military rule since its inception; although it currently hosts a civilian government, its attitude toward war can appropriately be described as realist due to this

Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, Tactical Nuclear Weapon: Deterrence Stability between India and Pakistan , Center for Contemporary Conflict, January 2012. <> 17 Peter Zeihan, Three Points of View: The US, Pakistan, and India, Stratfor Intelligence, 28 April 2012. <> 18 Cyril Almeida, Kayani spells out threat posed by Indian doctrine, Dawn Archives. <>

heavy influence and trends of prior military leaders and strong personalities within the military itself. According to retired Lieutenant General Pakistans focus in recent years has been to balance India militarily; while Pakistan aspires to achieve parity with India as a regional power, its conventional military capabilities render this goal difficult to achieve.19 Thus, Pakistan has resorted to two main sources for achieving a level of military balance: deterrence through nuclear weapons, and proxy wars through extremist organizations and the cooption of tribal factions. Pakistans acquirement of nuclear weapons alongside Indias has mutually raised the costs of military conflict. Although Pakistan also claims to follow the policy of credible minimum deterrence, it has continued to increase its nuclear stockpiles and capabilities just as India has. However, Pakistan does not adhere to a no first -use policy. This may contribute to its deterrence capability by indicating that it has less inhibition on the use of nuclear weapons than India does, warning India that haphazard or ambivalent aggression can be extremely costly. Pakistan has also clearly indicated that it will breach the nuclear taboo if it comes under what it deems to be an existential attack. Pakistan has also heartily adopted the doctrine of asymmetric warfare. Shahzad Chaudhry, the former commander of the Pakistani Air Force Strategic Command, stated, Pakistan is in no position to catch up with India [on conventional weaponry] and were very clear about it.20 Aggression by Pakistan via proxy groups toward India has raged (particularly in Kashmir) for decades and has arguably been an effective tool for Pakistan. As a less overt form of warfare that has the potential of impunity if direct links of responsibility cannot be traced, proxy warfare has allowed Pakistan to balance India unconventionally in a way that India cannot control. Pakistans strong ties to tribal groups in both Pakistan and Afghanistan have given it leverage in conducting these proxy wars. 21


Mujib Mashal, The Kashmir-Afghanisan puzzle, Al Jazeera, 18 August 2011. <> 20 Rachel Oswald, Pakistan-India Arms Race Destabilizing Strategic Balance, Experts Say, Global Security Newswire, 20 July 2011. < 21 Ibid 17.

Asymmetric war is something India has little time or patience for. Additionally, countering asymmetric war with conventional capabilities is likely much more costly. While Pakistan realizes its inability to meet Indias capabilities in conventional forces, it appears to cling loosely to the doctrine of Offensive Defense, which was developed by General Mirza Aslam Beg in the 80s. Despite its being very old, the doctrine appears to be one Pakistan may employ to counter Cold Start. According to retired Pakistani Air Marshall Ayaz Khan, the doctrine centers on responding to an Indian land offensive by using air and ground forces to attack and hold enemy territory. 22 Although it was not originally conceived as a response to Cold Start, it could turn the tables on an Indian offensive by striking Indian territory while simultaneously responding to the Indian advance on Pakistani soil. Pakistan has been vocally disturbed by Cold Start. General Kayani remarked in 2010, Cold Start would permit the Indian Army to attack before mobilizing, increasing the possibility of a sudden spiral escalation. 23 As a response to Cold Start, Pakistan launched the military exercise Azm-e-Nau 3 in April 2010. This entailed simulating a Cold Start-like attack with up to 50,000 troops along the border of eastern Pakistan. 24 Pakistani antitank battalions used dispersal tactics to regain lost territory; the focus was a ground campaign with close air support.25 The navy played an observer role, although it can be speculated that the navy would be assigned an active role under real combat operations, especially if the Indian navy is active. The concept of strategic depth in Afghanistan is also a strategy that Pa kistan has pursued in the past and may still contemplate in a future conflict with India. Former Chief of Staff of the Pakistani Army, General Mirza Aslam Beg, formulated the strategy during the Soviet war in Afghanistan as a means to ensure a friendly regime.26 With the

Ayaz Khan, India-Pakistan Military Balance, Haqs Musings Blog, 15 January 2009. <> 23 Kayani Spells Out Threat Posed by Indian Doctrine, Daily Dawn , 4 February 2010, . 24 Pakistans Ongoing Azm-e-Nau-3 Military Exercises Define Strategic Priorities, Intelligence Quarterly , 6 July 2010, 25 Ibid 12. 26 Ibid 12.

imminent drawdown of US forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan could once again look to this strategy as a means counter Indias regional hegemony. Capabilities India and Pakistan both exhibit impressive military capability. Indias rising glo bal eminence calls for a stronger military front, and Pakistans history of strong military leadership and weaker geopolitical situation necessitate one. India and Pakistan currently engage in an arms race, although Indias robust economy and capabilities to indigenously produce its own technology have rendered its conventional military position dominant. Both countries have become large consumers of foreign military technology. India imports the majority of its military goods from the US, France, Russia, and Israel. 27 Pakistan partners with China in military trade and development. 28 Below is a brief quantitative and qualitative analysis of the military capabilities of India and Pakistan. AIR FORCE India has recently focused on improving the sophistication of its air force, with cutting-edge technology and increased capability. India boasts sixty air bases, of which one is located in Tajikistan.29 A growing number of Indian aircraft is being developed indigenously, including the HAL Tejas, a light-weight multi-role fighter, and the HAL Dhruv, a multi-role helicopter. Other strike and air defense fighters include the Russian Sukhoi Su 30 Mk-1 multi-role fighter bomber, Mikoyan 4th generation Mig-29s, Mig-21s, and Mig-27s, and French SEPECAT Jaguars and 4th generation multi-role Dassault Mirage-2000s. The IAF has recently acquired the French twin-engine Dassault Rafale delta-wing fighter jet as its anchor strike aircraft. The IAF also employs transport aircraft, such as the Antonov An-32, attack helicopters, such as the Soviet Mil Mi-35 Hind-E, and reconnaissance aircraft. Its array of


India world's largest arms importer according to new SIPRI data on international arms transfers , Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, 14 March 2011. <> 28 Richard F. Grimmett, U.S. Arms Sales to Pakistan, Congressional Research Service, 24 August 2009. <> 29 Sudha Ramachandran, India air base grounded in Tajikistan, Asia Times, 1 December 2010. <>

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) includes multiple Israeli models. India also utilizes airborne warning and control (AEW&C) systems, such as the Beriev A-50 Phalcon.

Air Power (as of 2011) Total aircraft Helicopters Air Bases Serviceable Airports UAV Capability

India 2,462 848 60 352 Yes

Pakistan 1,414 535 9 148 Limited

Pakistan maintains 9 airbases and an increasingly capable air force. It has limited resources to produce indigenous craft (although some capacity does exist) and relies heavily on China and the US for its reliable air technology. The most prominent fighter aircraft include the Chinese JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter, which Pakistan has begun to produce domestically, and the US F-16 Fighter Falcon. Others include the French Dassault Mirage III and V, and the Chinese F-7MG aircraft. Transport aircraft include the Lockheed Martin C-130 and Airbus A310. It employs the Il-78 aerial refueling tanker and the Swedish 4 Saab 2000 Erieye AWE&C system. It also has limited UAV capabilities. ARMY Indias Cold Start doctrine revolves around the employment of its capable ground forces. Its ground forces boast 30 infantry regiments and 63 armored regiments. India also employs four Rapid Action Divisions, which would likely spearhead strategic ground offensives in Cold Start implementation. While the number of divisions within the Indian Army is unknown, Global Security estimates it to be 37 (four of which are Rapid Action Divisions).30


The army is structured into six commands: Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western, Central, and South Western.31

Personnel Army Navy Air Force Active Forces Reserve Forces Total personnel

India 980,000 55,000 110,000 1,325,000 1,747,000 3,047,000

Pakistan 520,000 22,000 45,000 617,000 515,500 921,000

Pakistan also has very capable ground forces and maintains 18 infantry regiments and 25 divisions along with additional independent formations. 32 Ground forces would be central to Pakistans counterstrategy to Indias Cold Start. NAVY The capabilities of the Indian navy far outclass those of the Pakistani navy. The United States Department of State asserts that The Indian Navy is by far the most capable navy in the region. 33 The navy is outfitted with an aircraft carrier, the nucleararmed S-2 Arihant ballistic missile submarine, mine sweepers, stealth ships, frigates, marine aircraft, and armed warships. The navy guards Indias Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs) and allows for the safe passage of oil, of which 90% is transported by sea.34 However, the navy is also adequately prepared to engage in offensive posture or assume a support role for ground operations. Indias main naval bases are located in Mumbai, Visakhapatnam, Goa, and the Andaman Islands.

31 32

Ibid 22. Pakistan Army Order of Battle Divisions,, 7 September 2011. <> 33 Background Note: India, Bureau of South and Central Asian Affairs, US Department of State, 17 April 2012. <> 34 Ibid 33.

Naval Power (as of 2011) Total Navy Ships Major Ports and Terminals Aircraft Carriers Destroyers Submarines Frigates Patrol Craft Marine Warfare Craft Amphibious Assault Craft

India 175 7 1 8 15 12 31 8 20

Pakistan 11 2 0 1 5 11 15 4 1

Pakistans navy is less impressive than Indias, but still possess a threat to India in a potential future conflict. With its only naval port located in Karachi, Pakistans navy is comprised of mine warfare boats, patrol boats, Chinese frigates, destroyers, and French diesel submarines. WEAPONS AND TECHNOLOGY India has certainly won the arms race in terms of conventional weapons. It has achieved credible second-strike capability and an anti-ballistic missile defense system. Its armory is aging but decent, and much of it is of Russian origin. Many tanks have been updated with new technology, such as the Ajeyas addition of Israeli Elbit thermal imaging systems. India has an impressive collection of ballistic and cruise missiles. The indigenouslydeveloped nuclear-equipped Agni-3 is an operational IRBM, but the Agni-6 MIRVed ICBM is currently under development. India also successfully retested the supersonic cruise missile Brahmos in 2012. India also employs the 9K35 Strela-10 surface-to-air missile (SAM) program and nuclear-capable long-range bombers such as the Russian Tupolev Tu-22 and Tupolev Tu-142.

Weapons Data (as of 2011) Logistical Vehicles Anti-Aircraft Weapons Anti-Tank Weapons Mortars Rocket Artillery (MLRSs) Self-Propelled Guns Towed Artillery Armored Personnel Carriers (APCs) and Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) Tanks Total Land Weapons

India 70,000 15,508 51,799 5,000 292 100 10,000

Pakistan 11,500 2,500 3,400 3,200 200 595 1,806



5,000 75,191

2,640 16,461

Pakistan also employs sophisticated conventional technology, although its acquirements are below Indias. Pakistans ballistic and cruise missile program includes the new Babur cruise missile, the nuclear-capable Hatf 9 BRB surface-to-surface missile with shoot-and-scoot capabilities, and the recently tested Shaheen-1A intermediate range missile. It also employs FIM 92 Stinger SAMs and has a capable armory, including Russian T-82 and T-90 tanks.

NUCLEAR WEAPONS While India dominates Pakistan in the realm of conventional weapons, the nuclear realm is where Pakistan gains parity. However, the nuclear weapons programs of India and Pakistan are difficult to measure due to the secrecy surrounding Pakistans program. According to George Perkovich, director of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International peace, Those who really know whats going on in Pakistans nuclear complex arent talking about it, and those who are talking, including myself, dont really know whats going on in Pakistans nuclear complex. 35 According to the Arms Control Association, India has up to 100 nuclear weapons and Pakistan has anywhere between 90 to 110.36 Both countries appear to be improving the quantitative and qualitative aspects of their nuclear arsenals. According to a report in


George Perkovich, Remarks at event Nuclear Security in Pakistan: Issues and Implications, sponsored by the Hudson Institute, 8 March 2011. < _pakistani_nuclear_exchange> 36 Nuclear Weapons: Who Has What at a Glance, Arms Control Association, updated November 2012. <>

Global Security Newswire, Indiais pursuing a nuclear triad that would enable it to wield nuclear weapons by air, land, and sea. 37 Pakistan will likely follow suit. Many forms of Indian and Pakistani technology have been nuclearized. While deterrence of strategic nuclear weapons seems to hold, the question of the future will be whether tactical nuclear weapons can more easily breach the nuclear taboo than strategic nukes. Cold Start may invite Pakistan to use tactical nuclear weapons to dislodge Indian IBGs.38 Regardless, nuclear weapons for the present serve as a form of deterrence and not an aggressive tool.


Conflict Conception and Operations

37 38

Ibid 20. Muhammad Azam Khan, Indias Cold Start is Too Hot, US Naval Institute, Proceedings Magazine, March 2011. <>

The most likely scenario for a future conflict between India and Pakistan would take place after the US troop drawdown in Afghanistan. Many radicalized militants currently reside in Khyber Paktunkhwa in northern Pakistan or in Afghanistan to disrupt US and NATO efforts to stabilize the country. According to Nitin Pai, a fellow at the Indian Takshashila Institute, To the extent that the US withdrawal from Afghanistan frees up militants to fight elsewhere, there is a risk that some of them will find their way to Kashmir.39 Pai fears that the US withdrawal will precipitate trickling down of thousands of armed, violent, radicalized men to the Kashmir region once again. Because Pakistan has a history of supporting rebel or militant groups to stir up trouble in Kashmir, India worries that Pakistan may revert to old ways when it is politically convenient to do so. The drawdown of US troops in Afghanistan may also prompt political shifts in both India and Pakistan. Government leadership in Pakistan is likely to swing back to military rule once Pakistani citizens become disillusioned with civilian rule. Military hardliners may resume power. In India, a similar trend may take place as Indian citizens recognize the increased vulnerability of India to terrorist attacks or militant incursions into Kashmir following a decreased US presence in the region to occupy militants. The BJP party, more centered on defense and military action, may take power in India once again. Political leadership more willing to take an offensive posture at the spark of conflict may induce military engagement where more conservative leadership would not. Conflict could be sparked by incursions of militants along the LOC and culminating in a terrorist attack by Pakistani-backed militants in Kashmir. 40 With a BJP-led government
39 40

Ibid 19. Christopher Clary, What Might an India-Pakistan War Look Like?, MIT Center for International Studies. <>

in power and the ghosts of Mumbai 2008 lurking in the background, India will have little choice but to launch a punitive offensive against Pakistan. As a growing power in the region, it cannot afford to allow Pakistan plausible deniability in initiating proxy wars against it. As is central to the Cold Start doctrine, India must tread carefully to avoid crossing nuclear redlines. Even if strategic nuclear weapons are not used, tactical nuclear weapons may be. The mutual concern of Pakistan is that Indias nuclear retaliation policy could be triggered by the use of tactical nuclear weapons even on a small scale. Assuming that India adheres to Cold Start, IBGs would be mobilized and active within a 72-hour time period. The most logical positions for attacks would be Rajasthan and Punjab. India would launch small IBGs of armored infantry followed by close air support. Depending on the severity of the terrorist attack, India may first employ strategic bombing to cripple Pakistani critical infrastructure before launching its Cold Start IBG attacks. The Indian navy may provide aircraft support, but its main function will be to protect the Indian SLOCs and assume an offensive posture aimed at Karachi in an attempt to deter strong Pakistani retaliation. India may choose to follow up its initial Cold Start limited penetration attacks into Pakistan with a two-front strategy in the Himalayas, knocking a blow to Pakistan and gaining the initiative before moving a slower tempo conflict with limited territorial scope.41 While it is not in Indias interests to prolong the conflict and thus give Pakistan the opportunity to regroup and launch asymmetric attacks, this particular approach simultaneously has the potential to drag Pakistan into a contest of economic wills a test of which country can outlast the other in terms of economic and military resources. While this approach may be long and drawn-out, India would obviously emerge the victor. A slower-paced war would also give the international community a chance to broker a ceasefire and pressure both sides to engage in diplomacy.


Ali Ahmed, Ongoing Revision of Indian Army Doctrine, Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses, 6 January 2012. <>

In such a case, Pakistan would have two options. If it were prepared for an Indian offensive, Pakistan would likely retaliate conventionally. If it was not prepared and it felt that it faced an existential threat, it may employ nuclear weapons, even if it meant launching a tactical nuclear missile at Indian IBGs within its own territory. Assuming the first, Pakistan would attempt to use its armored tanks and infantry to drive the IBGs out of Pakistan, only resorting to nuclear retaliation if absolutely necessary. Pakistan has indicated that possible nuclear redlines would include Indian seizure of substa ntial Pakistani territory or Indian destruction of substantial portions of the Pakistan Army or Air Force in conflict.42 India must be careful to take Pakistan at its word. Pakistan may attempt to launch its own simultaneous offensive inside India in keeping with Offensive Defense, but that would depend on its level of preparation to counter Cold Start, as well as its ability to gauge where the IBG penetrations will occur. While such a conflict would likely incorporate the navy, air force, and army synergistically, the army and air force would play the largest roles. Because of the shortterm nature of Cold Start, the limited scope of time involved in the ground campaigns would limit the necessary use of the navy. Naval campaigns arguably require more time than ground or air campaigns; thus, it is unlikely that the navy would play a huge role in offensive stretches. Indias navy will assume an offensive posture, while Pakistans will likely assume a defensive one. However, if the conflict gives an opportunity for Pakistan to employ asymmetric tactics, it may wreak havoc in small ways with its naval forces, or encourage militants to attack Indian naval assets. In the air battle, India will attempt to gain air supremacy from the onset in order to adequately provide close air support to ground forces. This is vital for its ground operations to succeed. Pakistan will aim to deny India the victory in the air battle, although it will be hard-pressed to do so considering the quantitative and qualitative air advantage that India enjoys. While the ground campaign is the focal point of Cold Start, Indias largest challenge will be mobilization and speed. The longer it takes to mobilize, the more time Pakistan

Ibid 40.

has to defend or preemptively strike, and the more time the international community has to intervene. If Pakistan realizes the imminent nature of an Indian attack and is able to mobilize before India is able to, the conflict could escalate very quickly and spiral into potential nuclear use. One other component on the ground is the likely continuation of rogue militant participation in the conflict. This becomes challenging for India, as smaller-scale attacks (especially on civilians) can largely distract from the broader state-on-state conflict. Another potential challenge for India is not only countering militants with strong Pakistani affiliations or linkages, but also neutralizing radical, homegrown jihadists within its own borders which may cause internal strife throughout the conflict.43 Assuming that nuclear weapons will not be used, the conflict would likely wind down with India becoming nervous about crossing nuclear redlines and issuing an ultimatum to Pakistan to stop aggression and rein in terrorist groups in exchange for a halt to conventional attacks. With the aid of international pressure, it is likely that the conflict would wind down with both sides demilitarizing the border and India issuing stern warnings to Pakistan that Cold Start will penetrate deeper the next time if incursions and militant attacks recur. In this case scenario, both sides would be able to claim partial victory. India would showcase the fact that it is capable of following through on credible threats to inflict punishment on Pakistan. Pakistan would claim victory by highlighting that it withstood the attacks of Indias conventional forces. Victory, then, would simply be a return to Ashley Tellis ugly stability until another conflict broke out. While the use of nuclear weapons certainly is not impossible, deterrence is arguably strong enough to hold. VI. Future Predictions

Although deterrence seems reliable for the present, it cannot always last without tangible progress on the issues that poison the India-Pakistan relationship. Unless the seemingly impossible resolution of the Kashmir dispute is achieved, tension will continue to plague the bilateral relationship of the two countries. Other contentious issues include

Gurmeet Kanwal, Future Conflict Scenarios, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies, 4 January 2010. <>

Pakistani-sponsored terrorism, water disputes, and arms control. If these factors cannot be brought to the table with each state open to a compromise, the levels of conflict will continue to escalate each time India and Pakistan enter into violent military engagement. VII. Conclusion Nuclear weapons are a great equalizer. Despite Indias obvious military advantages, Pakistan has remained a powerful focal point of Indias strategic calculations due to its nuclear capabilities. However, rationality typically prevails; even in an escalated military conflict, the fear of a retaliatory nuclear strike should be powerful enough to deter an initial one. While conflict within the near future does not seem to precipitate the usage of nuclear weapons, this fact does not rule out their employment in the future as geopolitical realities continue to shift. Thus, it is imperative that India and Pakistan work to resolve what they can while deterrence is the dominating factor in their calculations. Failure to recognize the potential of the present could jeopardize the fulfillment of the future.


Sisson, Richard and Rose, Leo, War and Secession: Pakistan, India, and the Creation of Bangladesh, (University of California Press, 1991). Conflict in Asia: Korea, China-Taiwan, and India-Pakistan, edited by Uk Heo and Shale A. Horowitz, (Westport: Praeger, 2003). Misra, Ashutosh, India-Pakistan: Coming to Terms, (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010). India and Pakistan: Opposing Viewpoints, edited by William Dudley, (San Diego: Greenhaven Press, 2003). Siddiqa, Ayesha, Military Inc.: Inside Pakistans Military Economy, (Pluto Press, 2007). The India-Pakistan Military Standoff: Crisis and Escalation in South Asia, edited by Zachary S. Davis, (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011). Ul Haq, Noor, Making of Pakistan, the Military Perspective, (Reliance Pub. House: Distributed by Globe Book Depot, 1997). Cohen, Stephen P. and Dasgupta, Sunil, Arming Without Aiming: Indias Military Modernization, (Brookings Institution Press, 2010). Jain, B.M., India in the New South Asia: Strategic, Military and Economic Concerns in the Age of Nuclear Diplomacy, (Tauris Academic Studies, 2010). Military Capacity and the Risk of War: China, India, Pakistan, and Iran , edited by Eric Arnett, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1997). India and Pakistan: The Expanding Nuclear Threat, directed by Daisuke Koyama, produced by Hiroshi Umeoka, Fumito Kondo, and Makoto Yonemoto, (Princeton, NJ : Films for the Humanities & Sciences, 2004). Iskander Rehman, The Military Dimensions of Indias Rise, (London School of Economics

Special Country Report, 4 March 2012). Francisco Aguilar, Randy Bell, Natalie Black, Sayce Falk, Sasha Rogers, and Aki Peritz, An Introduction to Pakistans Military, (Harvard Kennedy School Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, July 2011).