DESPARDES — Last year in October, Christophe Jaffrelot, a Senior Research Fellow at the CERI-Sciences Po/CNRS opined that a new arms race is underway in the region, but India suffers from a clear disadvantage: it still has not created a proper arms industry, hence its dependence on foreign suppliers.
Even on that matter, Modi government has a situation. Faffrelot points out that PM Modi’s decision to finalize a $5 billion weapons deal with Russia to purchase the high-tech S-400 missile defense system is in the crosshairs. According to him, the deal could potentially expose Delhi to American sanctions, according to the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) legislation signed by President Donald Trump a year earlier (August 2017). The latter declared since that “India would soon find out” about its decision in this regard.
A year later, Modi’s government finds itself in another situation: the abrogation of special status of the occupied Kashmir — a disputed territory between India and Pakistan since 1947. This week Delhi formalized the annexation as most of the world watched (with muted response from some of them) and as PM Khan’s one-year-old government in Islamabad took stock of the situation and launched quite an impressive diplomatic offensive and called the move ‘Modi’s last card’.
A kinetic (cross-border) escalation from India could lead to another (nuclear) situation, said defense and nuclear expert Dr. Syed M Ali– several independent observers concur.
The Indian army’s “Cold Start” doctrine envisions rapid mobilization followed by a major offensive into Pakistan before the country can respond. Such an offensive could make the use of tactical nuclear weapons all the more likely, wrote Kyle Mizokami back in 2017, as in his opinion the disparity in conventional forces of the two warring countries means that Pakistan would not launch a major, war-winning offensive and terminate a ground war on their own terms. As a result, should India opt for brinkmanship, “the Pakistan army is increasingly relying on tactical nuclear weapons to aid their conventional forces.”
That means, according to Mizokami, the adversarial relationship between India and Pakistan makes the subcontinent one of the most dangerous places on Earth. “The disparity in forces, war plans on both sides, and the presence of tactical nuclear weapons makes a regional nuclear war—even a limited one—a real possibility.”
“We’re in a pre-WWII like situation,” a Pakistan defense official said (on condition of anonymity, as he’s not authorized to comment).
In such a case, a military clash between the two almost guarantees a nuclear exchange. Billions could perish.
The two armies ( India and Pakistan both are larger in personnel than the U.S. Army) have clashed four times in the past seventy years.
But this time it (response) will be through softer prong, the defense official added. That seems to be happening, starting with the Kartarpur Corridor initiative– building bridge among chill.
“It’s one of the rarest master-strokes”.
According to observers, this is another disadvantage to PM Modi– he opted to play “the border and Hindu nationalism” card.