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Short-range nuclear weapons to counter India’s ‘cold start doctrine’: Pakistan PM Shahid Khaqan Abbasi

Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said that the command-and-control systems they have in place are as secure as anybody else’s in the world.

india Updated: Sep 21, 2017 11:28 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India, New York
Pakistan,Nuclear weapons,Shahid Khaqan Abbasi
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi answers a question during the panel discussion with the Council on Foreign Relations in Manhattan, New York.(REUTERS)

Pakistan prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Thursday his country has developed short-range nuclear weapons to counter the ‘cold start doctrine’ adopted by the Indian Army.

Abbasi was also assertive of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenals being safe and secure.

“We have a very robust and secure command-and-control system over our strategic nuclear assets. Time has proved that it’s a process that is very secure. It’s a process that has complete civilian oversight through the NCA,” Abbasi said in response to a question at the Council on Foreign Relations, a top American think-tank.

The Nuclear Command Authority (NCA) of Pakistan is the authority responsible for command, control and operational decisions regarding the country’s nuclear arsenals.

“As far as tactical nuclear weapons (are concerned), we do not have any fielded tactical nuclear weapons. We have developed short-range nuclear weapons as a counter to the Cold Start doctrine that India has developed. Again, those are in the same command-and-control authority that controls the other strategic weapons,” he said.

Moderator David Sanger said Pakistan has the fastest growing nuclear arsenal in the world.

“There’s no nuclear arsenal in the world that is growing faster. And there’s no nuclear arsenal in the world, other than North Korea’s, that tends to worry American more, because they worry about the safety of the arsenal. They worry about the command and control of the arsenal,” Sanger said.

What is the cold start
India’s ‘cold start’ military doctrine means that in the event of any conflict with Pakistan, New Delhi will avoid a full-blown war and go for a low-intensity offensive.
The doctrine’s main objective is to launch a conventional strike inflicting significant harm on the Pakistan army before the international community could intercede, but not in way the enemy would be provoked to make a nuclear attack.
The doctrine was developed after Operation Parakram, the 2001–2002 India–Pakistan military standoff between India and Pakistan that led to the massing of troops on either side of the border and along the Line of Control in the Kashmir region.
The Indian Army announced the doctrine in 2004, aiming to mobilise quickly and undertake limited retaliatory attacks on its neighbor, without crossing Pakistan’s nuclear threshold. Cold start deviates from India’s "non-aggressive" defence strategy since 1947 and involves limited, rapid armoured thrusts, with infantry and necessary air support, a report in India Today notes.
The Pakistan army has a counter strategy called the "Early War Offensive." It means that 25% of its army reserves will be deployed on the eastern border to take on the Indian offensive at the first sign of war.

Abbasi said that the command-and-control systems they have in place are as secure as anybody else’s in the world.

“The last 20 years are testament to that,” Abbasi said in response to another question.

“So let there be no doubt that any extremist element or somebody like that can gain control of fissile material or a nuclear weapon. There is just no possibility of that. And it’s time-tested, and it’s a very secure system that has been put in place,” he said.

“Pakistan is a responsible global citizen, and we’ve shown a responsibility on the ground with this huge war on terror that we’ve been fighting for the last 15 years,” Abbasi said.

The Pakistan premier sought to dispel the notion surrounding the country’s alleged inability to handle its nuclear programmes properly.

“We do have nuclear capability. There’s no doubt about that. And we know how to handle nuclear waste. We had a nuclear program in the early ‘60s, one of the first countries in Asia to have a nuclear program. So if we’ve managed it for over 50-odd years, I think we can continue to manage it,” he said.

First Published: Sep 21, 2017 08:14 IST