How Should India Respond if Pakistan Uses Nuclear Weapons?
"Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds” Bhagavad Gita.
The above words were spoken by J Robert Oppenheimer American theoretical physicist and leader of the Manhattan Project, during World War II and he is often called "father of the atomic bomb." He spoke those words from the Bhagavad Gita moments after the first atom bomb was detonated which was codenamed "Trinity".
Any nuclear attack carried out by Pakistan over Indian soil will have catastrophic consequences for both nations. So it must be safe to assume this nightmare scenario must have been discussed and analyzed by highest echelon of policy makers and military strategists at length. But one thing is certain the impact of any nuclear attack on the Indian subcontinent will have far reaching effect which will impact generations. Other nations who border both our nations will also suffer significantly and economic fallout will also carry global implications.
But the true motivation behind this article is what India should do in the event, Pakistan in its desperation use of nuclear bombs to target our cities, important industrial facilities and target our advancing military with tactical warhead in the battle field. What should we do? How should we respond?
The plausible response will be a counter nuclear strike and since Pakistan is not a very big country we can hit all the targets. We would be compelled to act and the authorization to launch nuclear strike using ballistic missile from ground, air and sea will initiated. Millions will perish on both sides and the refugee crisis which the global community will face will be unprecedented in our history. A new Exodus of hundreds of millions of human being scrounging for food and water and the Indian subcontinent will become a “Mad Maxian reality.”
But enough with the apocalyptic talk and let us get back to business, what should India do? The answers is simple retaliate! We will have the moral authority to use nuclear weapons and no country can question that. But is that enough? Would our comprehensive response neutralize the geo political problem for the coming and presumably difficult future? Here lie the complicated questions which surely our leaders and strategists would have asked themselves.
But what if there is another alternative wherein after being attacked with nuclear weapons we chose to show temporary restrain. If there is a war between India and Pakistan without the use of nuclear bombs, India will surely win because of our overwhelming conventional military power and that is a foregone conclusion. Pakistan psychologically since 1971 has no reservation what so ever that they will indeed lose to India in conventional war and this is a equation which they can never match. If there are hostilities and India use the “Cold Start Doctrine” which would basically dissect Pakistan into three parts without losing its territorial integrity and international standing. The idea of cold start was to negate the threat of nuclear strike by making strategic inroads into Pakistan but not enough for them to collapse. This was indeed a brilliant plan but it comes with its own risks and how far we can push it.
Pakistan is habitually an insecure nation which is still grappling with identity and is torn between modern democracy and the seduction to Islamic theocracy and any provocation which mildly overwhelms them could trigger a nuclear strike by them. Their nuclear button is on a hair trigger and their launch protocols are not just questionable it is nonexistent so the cold start doctrine though highly effective but the chances are tactical nuclear bombs could still be used inside Pakistani territory.
However what if India shows restraint and we do not use nuclear bombs as definitive response which Pakistan surely be expecting it. This would indeed be a very dangerous and difficult political decision to make for any leader who would stand to lose so much politically because the use of nuclear weapons by India will not only be a politically expedient move but we will also have moral authority.