India-Pakistan: June 4, 2002



Indian Grand Strategy and the 'War on Terrorism'- The current Indian government has three strategic goals in its face off with Pakistan: 

1) Remaining in power. 
2) Forcing Pakistan to remove Musharraf for losing to India politically or militarily.
3) Neutralizing the political threat of Pakistan's nuclear weapons to India's conventional forces.

The Pakistanis have used their nukes as a shield to conduct 'asymmetrical warfare,' AKA state sponsored terrorism, against India.  This strategy has worked. The threat of nuclear war caused a Clinton Administration intervention, which stopped the Indians from using their conventional superiority.  'Asymmetrical warfare' only works as long as the victim is willing to play by the attacker's rules. India isn't Israel. The Indian government of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee is no longer willing to follow the Israeli script because Indian voters will remove his government from power for doing so.

The Indian public knows that Musharraf was the architect of the 1999 Kargil war, thanks to Indian intelligence leaks to the Indian press. It also knows that the ISI backed the Dec 2001 attack on the Indian parliament, and recent attacks on Indian soldier's families in Kashmir. Musharraf has become the devil to the Indian public. For Vajpayee's government to survive, Musharraf's government must fall. The chief obstacle to this Indian goal is the United States. 

Musharraf bought a short-term reprieve for the Pakistani state from U.S. enmity, thanks to his betrayal of the Taliban. As long as Musharraf can 'deliver,' the Bush Administration can pretend that Pakistan is not a state sponsor of terrorism with weapons of mass destruction.  Once Musharraf can no longer 'deliver.' Pakistan is on the 'Axis of Evil' list.

India is now destroying the Bush Administration's political 'cover.'  Indian military pressure has forced Musharraf to abandon al-Qaeda hunting with his most politically reliable troops. Musharraf urgently needs them as 'regime protection' more than he needs to placate the U.S. Thus Musharraf cannot 'deliver' on promises to stop Pakistani ISI backed terrorism.

Once India thoroughly isolates Musharraf from his American patrons. The Indian government will conduct a "Short Victorious War" in Kashmir. India will publicly announce limited war aims. Attack and take Kashmiri guerrilla camps. Then return to the line of control. US political pressure will be on the Pakistanis this time to accept the conventional defeat rather than use nukes. This defeat will bring down Musharraf. 

The political end result will be to return the 20-year's previous status quo. India having proving that the nuclear weapons are irrelevant to the sub-continent's military balance. And that fighting a war with India will cause the fall of any Pakistan government.  

This scenario is a failure of imagination on the Indian's part. (The Indian Army is a dominant domestic political constituency compared to the Indian navy.) Blockading the Pakistani port of Karachi would shut down the Pakistani economy. Karachi is the only Pakistani port that handles large imports of food and fuel. Other Pakistani ports lack the port handling equipment and the transportation net to the rest of the country to replace it. 

The Pakistanis cannot counter India's patrol planes laying naval mine fields covered by its sub fleet. (If Pakistani Islamists did blow up those French sub technicians, they might as well have been Indian Agents.) Threats by Musharraf to nuke India for blockading Karachi will force the abandonment of Pakistan by Bush Administration, followed shortly by a U.S. alliance with India.

Whatever the scenario, 'Short Victorious War' by India would be a strategic disaster for the U.S. Musharraf going down makes a Pakistani transfer of a nuke to al-Qaeda highly plausible.  The Bush Administration will do everything it can to prevent a WMD attack from happening and only the immediate destruction of post-Musharraf Pakistan will guarantee the safety of the U.S. homeland. The only coin that the Bush Administration has that can buy off  Vajpayee, and delay the Indians until after the U.S. conquest of Iraq, is the extension of America's nuclear shield over India. Chances are that Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld will discuss just that with the Indians during his trip to the sub-continent.  ---Trent Telenko

Shelling and gun fire across the Line of Control continues, although it appears to be easing up today. Russia is trying to bring the leaders of India and Pakistan together to defuse the threat of war. India has refused to talk until Pakistan stops assisting the Kashmiri rebels in Pakistan controlled Kashmir. Apparently, the pressure on Pakistan to stop supporting the rebels is working, and the Pakistani armed forces will stop helping the rebels get across the Line of Control into Indian controlled Kashmir. But this will probably not last, as eventually the Pakistanis tend to return to supporting the rebels eventually.

India has some 30 divisions on it's border with Pakistan (which has about 15 divisions on the border). Pakistan knows it is outnumbered, and somewhat less well equipped, and has lost it's three previous wars with India. But this time Pakistan has nuclear weapons. But after weeks of tension, the popular attitudes in Pakistan are beginning to shift. People are realizing that using the nuclear weapons to avert a defeat by Indian conventional forces would just make a bad situation worse. India has more nuclear weapons, and in the end, Pakistan would suffer a lot more than India. The "war fever" is subsiding and more sober assessments are being made of the situation. Leaders in both nations have said that they would not use nuclear weapons. India has said it would not use nuclear weapons first, Pakistan has not made such a pledge. Many in Pakistan believe that the only way to prevent India from conquering Pakistan is through the use of nuclear weapons. A larger fear is that some of the Pakistani nukes would be given to Islamic radicals. 

India has asked Israel to speed up deliveries of  radar systems that would make it easier for Indian fighters to stop Pakistani bombers from entering Indian air space. 



Article Archive

India-Pakistan: Current 2023 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us From Drying Up

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling.

Each month we count on your contribute. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage.
Subscribe   contribute   Close