India undermining strategic stability: Experts

ISLAMABAD: Experts have warned that India’s conventional and nuclear build-up is undermining South Asia’s strategic stability and could set off an arms race in the region.

They expressed their views at a round-table discussion titled `Growing Challenges to Strategic Stability in South Asia,’ said a press release on Saturday.

Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) hosted the discussion for examining strategic stability in South Asia in the context of developments in India and Pakistan, existing nuclear doctrines, conventional deterrence, missile and space programmes and regional security environment.

The well-attended event featured participation by nuclear experts, academics, and government officials.

Dr Adil Sultan, a director at the Strategic Plans Division, said that India, besides upgrading its conventional capability in a big way, was also developing a complete inventory of nuclear arms ranging from tactical weapons to inter-continental ballistic missiles out of its ambitions to be reckoned as an undisputed power at least in the region.

He said India was operationalizing its nuclear triad, for which it tested the sub-marine launched ballistic missile, and developing anti-ballistic missile systems.

Dr Sultan worried that inconsistencies in India’s declaratory policies and evolving strategic thought and the discord in India’s security enclave over nuclear drivers affect the regional strategic stability.

He cautioned that anti-ballistic missile systems could give Indian planners a false sense of security while planning any military adventurism against Pakistan.

Furthermore, he pointed out that India was also creating instability at the sub-conventional level by shifting Pakistani military’s focus from external threat to internal security challenges.

Dr Riffat Hussain, a professor at NUST, was of the view that any additional military capability acquired by India would hurt Pakistan.

He said even if India may not be interested in fighting a war with Pakistan at this stage, but if it maintains the current growth rate, it may sometime in future impose war on Pakistan.

Dr Hussain maintained that Pakistan would have to work harder to counter India-US alliance.

Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal of Quaid-e-Azam University believed that an arms race was already taking place in the region, which implies that there is no strategic stability.

He noted that provocative actions by states involved were against the spirit of having nuclear deterrence stability in the region.

Executive Director CISS Amb Sarwar Naqvi said Pakistan needed to closely watch the India-US strategic partnership especially in the context of the upcoming agreement on the Logistic Support Agreement (LSA) and accordingly assess its policy options. LSA was to be signed later this year between India and the US.

The prospects of conflict between two nuclear armed rivals have only increased due to absence of an institutional dialogue process and deliberate escalation by India both by covert and overt instruments against Pakistan, he added.-APP