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India-Pakistan Conflict

Military Capabilities

Military Capabilities

Nuclear Weapons

Nuclear Weapons

News Reports

News Reports

The internal conflict between Hindus and Muslims has received some of its stimulus since 1947 from the international conflict between India and Pakistan. One of the great tragedies of the freedom struggle was the relentless polarization of opinion between the Congress, which came to represent mostly Hindus, and the All-India Muslim League (Muslim League--see Glossary), which eventually stood behind a demand for a separate homeland for a Muslim majority. This division, encouraged under British rule by provisions for separate electorates for Muslims, led to the partition of Pakistan from India and the outbreak of hostilities over Kashmir. Warfare between India and Pakistan occurred in 1947, 1965, and 1971; the last conflict led to the independence of Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan) and a major strategic victory by India.

The perception of Pakistan as an enemy nation has overshadowed all other Indian foreign policy considerations because neither country has relinquished claims over Kashmir, and a series of border irritations continue to bedevil attempts at rapprochement. In the late 1980s, tensions over large-scale military maneuvers almost led to war, and regular fighting over glacial wastelands in Kashmir continues to keep the pressure high. An added dimension emerged in 1987 when Pakistan publicly admitted that it possessed nuclear weapons capability, matching Indian nuclear capabilities demonstrated in 1974. In the mid-1990s, both nations continue to devote a large percentage of their military budgets to developing or to purchasing advanced weaponry, which is mostly aimed at each other--a serious drain of resources needed for economic growth.

Pakistan does not possess the relative strength necessary for adoption of an offensive posture against India. On the other hand, remaining on the strategic and tactical defensive would be disastrous due to lack of strategic depth. The same lack of depth precludes a protracted struggle.

"Cold Start" is the Indian military doctrine meant to allow rapid deployment Special Forces units "to strike Pakistan within hours of any terrorist attack on Indian soil. It assumes that militants from Pakistan, and not home grown Indian radicals, are responsible for any actions". Such a rapid response would not allow time for diplomacy. "Cold Start" was developed with the help of external strategists, borrowing heavily from Israeli tactics, notably from the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

India can deploy four Strike Corps against Pakistan, one each against the Southern part of Azad Kashmir, Central Punjab, Southern Punjab and one against Sindh. They have the necessary balance to focus their attack in a combination of two or even three corps but time and space dictate they cannot move more than one strike corps on any axis and they have to cater for Pakistan's counter-offensive.

Pakistan's assumptions about "Cold Start" are: (1) offensive operations will commence without giving Pakistan time for diplomacy and (2) offensive operations will not cross the nuclear threshold or prompt Pakistan into crossing it. India implies that, should Pakistan opt for crossing the threshold, the onus would lie squarely on Pakistan. The ability to hold limited portions of Pakistan with military might and use this for political leverage against Pakistan will be unacceptable, triggering a ground war as well as a possible nuclear exchange.

Pakistan's "Riposte" is simple in concept: the two Strike Corps would conduct a limited advance along narrow fronts to occupy Indian territory near the border, probably to a depth of about 50 km. I Corps (Mangla) and II Corps (Multan) are armor heavy "strike" corps. Independent Armored and Mechanized Brigades are intended for quick counter attack and exploitation and would add weight to advances by the Strike Corps. Pakistan believes that international pressure would result in a ceasefire after a maximum of three weeks of conflict, which should be enough time to gain some territory to be used in subsequent bargaining.

Others have suggested that "instead of seeking a better bargaining position vis a vis India, through capture of sensitive territory - a riposte - Pakistan should adopt a destruction-oriented strategy, fighting on our own territory, permitting penetrations by the enemy. This would allow Pakistan to destroy the forces that make these penetrations by using the reserves. Such a strategy would erode India's numerical superiority and its ability to threaten Pakistan with a long war."

By 2005 the gradual easing out of tensions between India and Pakistan had enabled a series of confidence building measures (CBMs). Since then the slow but steady negotiations have aimed at addressing the contentious issues such as Siachen, Sir Creek, Baglihar, Tulbul navigation project, drug trafficking, terrorism, organized crime, prisoners, roadblocks to trade and transit routes. While significant achievements have been made on certain issues, there are some issues over which no agreements had been reached.

The agreement on conventional CBMs is merely in finalization of the proposals put forward in the Agra Summit in 1999. It has taken six years to agree to implement the said proposals which acts as a dampener for speeding up the pace of the CBMs. Moreover, genuine security concerns need to be retained while chalking out these measures which are precisely the reason for the stalling in this area. Indian Defense Minister Mr Pranab Mukherjee's observations that Pakistan has built bunkers and reinforced defense structures in Tanghdar, Batalik, Kargil and Nowshera sectors since the November 2003 ceasefire along the Line of Control (LoC) could hamper the movement. There is a need to institutionalize nuclear CBMs and establish nuclear risk reduction centers on the lines of the ones established between the US and the former Soviet Union.

While diplomatic dealings have been underway, the 2008 and 2011 terrorist attacks in Mumbai have greatly increased tensions between the two countries. The 2008 series of attacks were perpetrated by members of the Pakistan-based Islamic terrorist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, who came into the city via Pakistani seawaters. The sole attacker captured alive said their handlers were based in Pakistan; Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence, the ISI, was alleged to have been involved in the planning of the attack.

From 26 November 2008 to 29 November 2008, eight attacks occurred in South Mumbai: at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, Leopold Cafe, Cama Hospital (a women and children's hospital), the Nariman House Jewish community center, the Metro Cinema, and a street behind the Times of India building and St. Xavier's College. There was also an explosion at Mazagaon, in Mumbai's port area, and in a taxi at Vile Parle. Including the ten terrorists, 164 people lost their lives, and at least 308 were wounded.

Another series of attacks was carried out on 13 July 2011. Three bombs were detonated at different locations across Mumbai: the Opera House, Zaveri Bazaar, and in Dadar West. A fourth bomb was reportedly discovered in the Santacruz area and disarmed before detonation. 21 died and 130 were injured.

As of 15 July 2011, the perpetrators of the attacks were unknown. Indian authorities investigated the possible involvement of Indian Mujahideen and the Lashkar-e-Taiba. As the attacks took place on the 13th, the Indian Mujahideen looks to be involved due to their pattern of attacking on the 13th or 26th of a month. The Mumbai Underworld could also be responsible in light of the killing of journalist J. Dey, as well as the killing of Dawood Ibrahim's brother. The 13th of July is also Kashmir Martyr's Day, which could mean the involvement of Kashmiri dissidents. Along with the rest of the world, Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani condemned the blasts and expressed their sympathy with the Indian leadership on the loss of lives and property. India took note of the condolences expressed by Pakistan and has stated that the blasts would not interrupt peacetalks between the two nations foreign ministers planned for the end of July.


  • 2008 - Mumbai Attack
  • 2002 - Kashmir Crisis
  • 1999 - Kargil Conflict
  • 1990 - Kashmir Crisis
  • 1987 - Brass Tacks
  • 1984 - Siachen Glacier
  • 1971 - Bangladesh
  • 1965 - Indo-Pakistan War
  • 1965 - Rann of Kutch
  • 1947 - Indo-Pakistan War
  • 1947 - Partition

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    Page last modified: 18-07-2011 14:35:39 ZULU