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India’s Shifting Nuclear Posture and Evolving Threat Perception


India’s Shifting Nuclear Posture and Evolving Threat Perception

Mehtab Ali Bhatti

Indian Nuclear Policy of “No First Use” to “First Use”

Vipin Narang, an Associate Professor of Political Science at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a renowned expert on South Asian nuclear strategy, asserts: “India may shift its nuclear policy of ‘No First Use’ to ‘First Use’ against Islamabad if it felt imminent threat.” While speaking at 2017 Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference, Mr Narang said, “There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first.” Further, he discussed that India will attack if and only if Pakistan will use its tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) and India’s preemptive strike would not be just a conventional strike; it would be a full-fledge counter force strike that would entirely disarm Islamabad’s nuclear warheads; India would not attack tit-for-tat and would not take risk or wait for its devastation.

However, this ‘likeliest pathway’ and reasonable conventional wisdom shift started when militant attacks happened in India and were speculated to be from Pakistan. New Delhi ordered its main strike corps forces (XXI-Corps) to be offensive if any attack comes from Pakistan; Indian operation across the border would not be limited only to Jammu and Kashmir i.e. Line of Control (LoC). This development put Pakistani forces on their heels. According to Strategic Plans Division (SPD), Pakistan will use its Nasr (Hatf-IX) and Abdali missiles to ward off Indian offensive forces and corps armoured divisions if they cross the boundary.

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