IN THE beginning of May, Just about the time when Indian Army’s major war game in Thar Desert, testing and refining its new concept of war against Pakistan ‘The Cold Start’, watched by top Indian political dignitaries was concluding, Pakistan announced that it has developed a short range tactical nuclear missile NASER basically to deal with this Indian Cold Start Concept.
Pakistan has developed two short range (60km) nuclear capable missiles Hataf-9 and NASER. They are easy to transport and are capable of launching small yield plutonium tipped nuclear warheads. These missiles are basically called tactical nuclear missiles. They are meant to be used in close ranges in actual battlefield against attacking enemy armoured columns and ground troops. Actually these have been supplied to Pakistan by China. In other words, China is also accepting the fact that it is part of this game of tactical nuclearisation of battle field.
Cold Start concept has been developed after the lessons learned during the mobilization of Indian Army in 2001 against Pakistan, following the Pakistan sponsored Jehadi attack on Indian Parliament. Indian Army took three weeks to fully get mobilized. When it was finally ready to get into Pakistan from its launching pads, the Indian political hierarchy chickened out.
For almost one year the entire Indian Army remained deployed on the launch pads and then was tamely called back. In the bargain all our top secret plans and launch pads were disclosed on a platter to Pakistan.
Learning from this fiasco, Indian Army since has come out with a new concept by the name Cold Start. This concept does not require large scale mobilization. Self contained fast moving Battle Groups of Brigade Strength based on tanks and armored personal carriers start from where they are so located in peace time and get into Pakistan for surgical strikes suitably supported by Indian Air Force. The entire operation from word go takes very little time.
At the height of the Cold War, when two nuclear superpowers America and Soviet Russia were breathing down each others neck. Russia had its hundreds of Armored Divisions ready to drive into Europe at an instant notice , even at that time nobody banked on tactical nuclear weapons to blunt Russian Armored thrust because it was thought that once started, the dynamics of these tactical nuclear strikes will give way to Strategic Nuclear strikes that nobody will be able to control .
To blunt Indian Cold Start concept, Pakistan in its stupidity is ready to cross this nuclear threshold from the word go. It simply means that Pakistani Army wants to play with fire in the belief that they will be able to scare Indian political masters from ordering surgical strikes within Pakistan in the event of another Mumbai type attack.
If we abandon our Cold Start concept in view of this new development or give any impression to Pakistan that their missiles have made us rethink about our proactive policy of surgical strikes, then we should be ready to face many more Mumbai type of attacks. So what is the answer? If we have not faced another 26/11 after November 2008, the credit to a large extent also goes to our Cold Start concept and Pakistani belief that Indian public pressure will force Indian Government to react militarily.
India also needs to immediately develop tactical nuclear missiles with clear cut policy that will be used if Pakistan is foolish enough to use them in the battle field. India should also go for total mechanization of its battle groups to be used in cold start because only mechanized groups can survive this new threat on battle field. It is also necessary that Indian Army must start giving extensive nuclear warfare training to their battle field troops.
At strategic level India must go all out to make operational its nuclear powered Submarine Arihant at the earliest and produce them in numbers. Pakistan’s biggest strategic weakness is that in its entire length it is nowhere more than 350km broad. So even the short range Indian nuclear capable missile Prithvi can cover entire Pakistan. Apart from producing and ringing Pakistan with Prithvi and Agni 1 (700 km range) missiles India should at any time have three to four nuclear submarines hiding under water in Arabian Sea ready to launch their nuclear missiles at an instant notice.
Indian Nuclear submarines hiding deep under in Arabian sea will pose a existential threat to Pakistan. India should then tell Pakistan that if they use tactical nuclear missiles in battlefield against India’s Cold Start, India will not only use its tactical nuclear missiles but also its submarine-based Strategic Nuclear missiles which will wipe out Pakistan. It is important that India now must think of all options including military, to neutralize Pakistan. The growing China-Pakistan nexus is dangerous for India.