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Stability-Instability Paradox, and India’s Fourth Generation Warfare against Pakistan

Stability-Instability Paradox, and India's Fourth Generation  Warfare against Pakistan

The stability–instability paradox is relatively a new concept in strategic studies and international relations. It was one of the several concepts evolved during the Cold War period to explain why “stability” at the strategic level between the two superpowers led to “instability” at the lower levels of the conflict. This paradox continues to remain a subject of intense debate even today.

Nuclear optimists argue that the possession of nuclear weapons by two rival states will guarantee stability and balance between them, and their probability of going to war would be minimized. It is true given the harrowing repercussions in the form of death and destruction that would be unleashed if nukes are used. This notion is known as Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD).

The Stability-Instability Paradox posits that when two rival states possess nuclear capability, the probability of a direct full-fledged war between them would decrease to a greater extent. However, the possibility of limited or indirect conflicts, proxies, covert operations or some other sorts of unconventional confrontation would increase drastically. Among the options of low-intensity conflicts, the deployment or use of low-range, tactical nukes have gained significant attention.

This is mainly due to the fact that the states being rational actors in the global system avoid nuclear confrontation. They neither start major conflicts nor do they allow the limited conflicts to transform into full-blown escalation; thus, making it relatively safer to engage in minor conflicts. For instance, during the Cold War, the two superpowers i.e. the United States and the Soviet Union, never engaged in a direct war against each other rather they attempted to achieve their objectives through proxy wars on the Korean peninsula and in Vietnam, Angola, the Middle East and Afghanistan, pouring considerable resources to gain an upper hand in their strategic rivalry.

In his book entitled “Deterrence and Defense” (published in 1961), Glenn Snyder, scholar of international relations theory and security studies, presents this dilemma in the following words:

“The Soviets probably feel, considering the massive retaliation threat alone, that there is a range of minor ventures which they can undertake with impunity, despite the objective existence of some probability of retaliation.”

Snyder reiterated the same concept in his chapter for Paul Seabury’s edited volume, Balance of Power (1965), noting:

“The point is often made in the strategic literature that the greater the stability of the ‘strategic’ balance of terror, the lower the stability of the overall balance at lower levels of violence.”

Robert Jervis offered a more generalized and yet compact formula for this paradox in his work “The Illogic of Nuclear Strategy” (1984):

“To the extent that the military balance is stable at the level of all-out nuclear war, it will become less stable at lower levels of violence.”

In reality, due to the level of threats and danger perceived by Washington and Moscow in an accelerated nuclear competition, the stability part of this equation turned out to be deeply suspected. But Jervis’ larger point remained valid: Adversaries possessing nuclear weapons would exercise caution to avoid major wars and any crossing of the nuclear threshold. At the same time, their so-called “insurance policy” of nuclear retaliation provided ample leeway to engage in crisis-provoking behaviour, proxy wars, and mischief-making. This construct eventually became known as the stability-instability paradox.

On the concept of stability-instability paradox in the context of South Asia, some very distinguished observers from the region, such as Krishnaswamy Subrahmanyam, K. Sundarji and Abdul Sattar, believed that going public with nuclear capabilities would serve as a stabilizing factor. But, the incidents like the Kargil War (1999), the “Twin Peaks” crisis sparked by an attack on the Indian parliament building (2001-02) and the 2008 Mumbai attacks suggest otherwise.

At the same time, many analysts like Kenneth Waltz and Devin Hagerty argue that since these events did not cascade into full-blown wars or nuclear exchanges, deterrence optimism is in order. Perhaps, over time, this will be the case. However, it is noteworthy that the proponents of the stability-instability paradox of Cold War times never faced the phenomenon that India and Pakistan are faced with such as non-state actors as well as irrational fanatic actors at play on both sides of the Radcliffe Line. Terror incidents in Pathankot and Uri, which resulted in the aggressive moves by India, have prospects of miscalculations. Similarly, the extremist elements within the government of India, pressure groups, as well as nationalist political lobbyists and activists joining hands with the hysteria-creating Indian media, are playing with fire that may lead to some unbearable and irreversible consequences.

Indian government however seems prepared to launch some misadventures. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in the combined commanders’ conference in 2015 that the future conflicts would become shorter, and wars would become rare. Then, in January 2017, General Bipin Rawat, appeared in a TV interview, few days after taking charge as the new Chief of Army Staff, in which he dropped a bombshell by acknowledging the existence of the Indian army’s infamous, flawed and impractical Cold Start Doctrine (CSD). These developments vividly show the dangerous path Indian ultranationalist government is treading without caring for the catastrophic consequences.

However, the principal outcome of this paradox is India’s massive investment in Fourth Generations Warfare (4GW) under Modi’s National Security Advisor and a former Spy Ajit Kumar Doval.

In 4GW, unlike conventional wars, the centre of operations remains decentralized and methods employed are generally under the masquerade of ideology, through terrorism, gray, white and black propaganda, as well as exploiting public grievances to orchestrate separatist movements and insurgencies against the enemy state. Through these ways mainly economic, political and psychological losses are inflicted and exaggerated to create chaos and disorder, and destabilize or at least create uncertainty in the minds of the general public and world audiences. The immediate result of this might be the nation losing the battle at psychological front.

This is exactly what Pakistan is facing today. New Indian offensive against Pakistan is not a conspiracy theory rather it’s an open secret now. Ajit Doval is on a leading role against Pakistan and China in this new war. Pakistani intelligence agencies, who already have their plates full with enemies, are now faced with this Doval strategy fully aided and abetted by the Indian government and Hindutva nationalist factions including RSS.

Doval has, reportedly, established contacts with Pakistan’s core enemies like TTP and Balochistan’s hardcore separatists. He recently organized a meeting between TTP and ISIS at Indian consulate in Kandhar. Doval and RAW are out to establish TTP-Daesh nexus with singleness of objective i.e. to dent Pakistan’s security. The ultimate objective is to create serious hurdles in the way of CPEC. Kulbhushan Jadhav’s arrest is an undeniable corroborative fact in this regard.

Furthermore, the reported role of underworld don Chota Rajan in providing funds for these operations, in addition to government’s financial and logistical support, rings alarm bells. These links were not only confirmed by leaked diplomatic cables from American Embassy in India but also by Kulbhushan. India’s RAW approached Chota Rajan after learning that he has parted ways with Dawood Ibrahim and tasked him to work against Pakistan – the duty Chota Rajan himself confessed.

Base camp for all the recent operations against Pakistan is Afghanistan and Afghan security agencies are either complicit or they have deliberately kept their eyes closed. The center of gravity of India’s plans is Balochistan for some understandable reasons; failure, or at least mitigation of the viability and safety, of the Gwadar Port and CPEC is one of the main targets of this nefarious campaign. Besides creating sense of insecurity through terrorist activities in the region, Modi is also pumping in massive diplomatic and economic resources to convince regional actors that Iran’s Chabahar Port is a better and safer alternative to Gwadar Port.

One more battle-front on this 4GW is India’s water war against Pakistan which Modi, on record, has been threatening. In this regard, Indian lobbying has recently won the permission of the World Bank, in a meeting regarding Indus Waters Treaty, to move ahead with two controversial hydroelectric power projects on the tributaries of the Jhelum and Chenab rivers.

Pakistan’s security and intelligence agencies are now set to tackle these nefarious manoeuvres of the enemy. But this is not the war to be won by security agencies alone. Concerted efforts at national level are required. Every single citizen of the country is a soldier against this covert and unconventional war. This is the only way to thwart the enemies’ conspiracies against our home.

What is Cold Start Doctrine?

A military doctrine helps standardize operations, facilitating readiness by establishing common ways of accomplishing military tasks. Its objective is to foster initiative and creative thinking and links theory, history, experimentation and practice. Cold Start is a military doctrine developed by the Indian Armed Forces to put to use in case of a war with Pakistan.

Here are nine things to know about the Cold Start Doctrine:

1. The main objective of the Cold Start Doctrine is to launch a strike against Pakistan inflicting significant harm on the Pakistan Army before any international community could intercede, but not in way Pakistan would be provoked to launch a nuclear attack.

2. Cold Start Doctrine deviated from India’s defence strategy since 1947 – a so-called “a non-aggressive, non-provocative defense policy,” – and will involve limited, rapid armoured thrusts, with infantry and necessary air support.

3. In May 2001, Operation Vijayee Bhava was launched by the Indian army, involving 50,000 troops to boost synergy between various branches of the armed forces. The objective of this operation was to reduce the mobilisation time drastically to 48 hours, and was successful in achieving it. Operation Vijayee Bhava is considered a trail run of the Cold Start Doctrine.

4. Later in 2011, Operation Sudarshan Shakti was conducted to re-validate Cold Start Doctrine. Focus of Sudarshan Shakti was to practice synergy and integration between ground and air forces.

5. Indian Army’s official stance was denying the existence of the Cold Start Doctrine. However, a “proactive strategy” being in place have been confirmed by the officials.

6. Post the 2008 Mumbai attacks, Indian government took a decision not to implement the Cold Start Doctrine. This was to defeat allegedly the strategic goals of Pakistan to redirect the attacks of other Islamist militant groups attacking Pakistan to an external threat – India.

7. During the years 2007 to 2009, India’s defence budget increased from $24 billion to $40 billion. Sensing threat, Pakistan increased its defence budget by around 32%.

8. Cold Start Doctrine was developed as the limitations of the earlier doctrine – Sundarji Doctrine – was exposed after the attack on the Indian Parliament.

9. According to the Cold Start Doctrine, battle groups will be well forward from existing garrisons. India’s elite strike forces will no longer sit idle waiting for the opportune moment, giving Pakistan the luxury of time.

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About Mustansar Hussain Tasir

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The writer is an independent journalist and researcher. He can be reached at: mustansar.tasir@gmail.com

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