India developing destabilising doctrines and technologies, former SPD chief says

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India’s expansionist and revisionist mindset is guiding its force posture development that makes war look more likely, said former head of Strategic Plans Division (SPD) Lt Gen (retd) Mazhar Jamil.

He was speaking at a seminar on ‘Indian Force Posture Development’ organised by Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), an Islamabad-based think tank, on Tuesday. The seminar coincided with the fifth anniversary of the founding of the think tank.

The seminar aimed at providing strategic insight into the emerging trends in Indian force posture, shift in India’s nuclear doctrine and its growing nuclear and missile capabilities.

In a statement issued after the event, SVI said it believed that changes in Indian force posture would affect Pakistan, whose threat perception was already India centric. Moreover, the think tank considered that change in Indian nuclear doctrine was alarming as it sought strategic dominance.

“India is pursuing long-term conventional and strategic nuclear force modernisation including the introduction of high-end technologies and advanced systems. India’s conventional force posture has also undergone a significant change moving from Sundarji Doctrine to the dangerous Cold Start Doctrine (CSD), which is a pro-active and aggressive strategy aiming to engage Pakistan in a limited war under nuclear overhang.

“The Indian strategic thought has, for centuries, been focused on an expansionist agenda which to this day is the muse for its power maximization, including the force posture developments. Our neighbor fancies itself as a regional hegemon, with designs of grandeur,” Gen Jamil said.

“This notion has become so ingrained in their revisionist thinking that all their developments – be these conventional or nuclear – are geared towards changing the status quo and find space for war,” he said, adding that India was developing destabilising doctrines and technologies that made war more imminent.

Comparing Indian strategic thinking with that of Pakistan, the former SPD chief said Pakistan’s strategic culture, in contrast, “has always been characterised by restrained responses, pursuit of conflict resolution and closing the space for war.” He said Pakistan’s force posture development was in response to the destabilising developments in the neighbourhood. But, he, at the same time, underscored that Pakistan would not enter an arms race.

Strategic restraint, he maintained, was more stabilising than strategic competition. He was of the view that peace and stability in the region was possible if India agreed to mutual restraint and conflict resolution.

Gen Jamil recalled that Pakistan had proposed to India Strategic Restraint Regime with three interlocking elements of nuclear restraint, conventional arms balance and conflict resolution. However, he regretted that Pakistan’s “hand of friendship” always encountered India’s “aggressive strategic culture”.

He urged India to shun belligerence and war-mongering and resolve disputes peacefully. “I am sure that Pakistan will meet India halfway in peace efforts,” he added.

SVI president Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema, on this occasion, said Indian National Security Strategy (NSS) objective was to maintain an overwhelming conventional and nuclear weapons capability by developing strategic and conventional offensive capabilities for full spectrum of military conflicts.

The main instruments of India’s force posture were deterrence, coercion and coercive diplomacy, he said. “The Joint Indian Armed Forces Doctrine contemplates the use of military force aimed at destruction, disruption and constraining its adversaries in South Asia, with specific concentration on Pakistan,” he added.

“Disruption and constraint also aim at sea denial; including blockade of adversary’s sea-routes. In low intensity operations, Indian Armed Forces Doctrine visualizes carrying-out surgical strikes,” he said.

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