Home Contact Us  

India - Articles

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
#4056, 28 July 2013
India and Pakistan: Azm-e-Nau as a Response to the Cold Start
Ali Ahmed
E-mail: aliahd66@hotmail.com

The Pakistani Army has just completed its summer war games, Azm Nau IV. The press release has it that with the Azm-e-Nau series of exercises held since 2009, Pakistan has arrived at an answer to India’s Cold Start. Its distraction so far with the ‘Af-Pak’ related security situation on its western border appears to be now behind it. With the Americans packing to depart, it’s back to business in South Asia.

The nuclear backdrop does make this worrisome. There is also no guarantee against a war breaking out. A conventional war cannot be guaranteed to stay conventional. It can be argued that Pakistan’s signalling that it is prepared conventionally is good in the sense that it will deter India on the conventional level. But the problem is that this gives Pakistan the confidence to provoke India at the subconventional level; providing a trigger for India to go conventional in response.

The ‘unthinkable’ cannot be wholly discounted. Pakistanis have gone down the plutonium route to miniaturise warheads so as to place them on missiles. Being short on planes, missiles are the mainstay of the Pakistani nuclear force. The latest of these missiles is a nuclear-tipped battlefield missile designed for use against Indian conventional forces. Its battlefield employment serves to bring nuclear war outbreak that much closer. Pakistan’s rationale for such lowering of the nuclear threshold is that it would deter India from launching Cold Start offensives; thereby, making nuclear war more remote.

This has got India debating its options. India could pay Pakistan back in the same coin of proxy war. It is easy to destabilise Pakistan, perpetually on the brink of being a failed and terror sponsoring state. However, there is no guarantee that this will end the terror provocations, and an unstable Pakistan is not necessarily in India’s interest.

India could rely on conventional asymmetry in its favour, deepened by successive defence budgets such as this year’s crossing of the INR250 thousand crores mark. The intent is to deter Pakistani adventurism and, if push comes to shove, to prevail at every level of the conflict, including nuclear. The idea is to gain ‘escalation dominance’, which means to convince the adversary to give up the fight rather than take it to the next higher level at which, yet again, it cannot hope to win.

India’s military has been on a learning curve ever since its conventional war doctrine was rendered obsolete by Pokhran II. While arriving at the concept of Limited War soon thereafter, it was unable to rise to the occasion when it was sorely tested at the next crisis in wake of the parliament attack. The embarrassment of having taken over three weeks to ready itself, led to the intensive thinking that resulted in the Cold Start doctrine.

The doctrine required multiple attacks into Pakistan at-the-double. Genuflecting to the nuclear backdrop, the army sought to limit these thrusts to shallow depths. Even so, this amounted to nuclear flirtation since the attack was to be rapid and along a broad front using resources with ‘pivot corps’ or defending formations and offensive formations staged forward closer to the border for the purpose. With the balance of its strike corps forming up in wake of the limited offensives and an air offensive unfolding simultaneously, Pakistan could well be stampeded into a nuclear decision in a truncated timeframe. This made Cold Start difficult to sell to the political masters.

Consequently, India has since distanced itself from Cold Start. An army chief has gone on to say that there was nothing called Cold Start. The contours of what it has come up with instead are indistinct. The publicity that attended Cold Start, intended no doubt to enhance its deterrent effect, is missing. Consequently, little is known of its successor, ‘Cold Start lite’. It apparently involves quick punches at key locations to punish Pakistan’s army and force its hand against destabilising forces within. While Pakistan could choose to up-the-ante, it is logically expected to be self-deterred when faced with the nuclear overhang. The nuclear scare is to help Pakistani army along in reining in its jihadists in a ‘Pakistan first’ strategy.

At the end of its summer exercises, the Pakistani army has claimed that it is in a position to deploy fast enough to the borders to give Indian attacks a bloody nose. This challenges India’s expectation that Pakistan would choose to lose cheaply than resoundingly at the next higher level. India will need to take the fighting up a notch higher. Its air force is also unlikely to sit out the war. This amounts to getting back into nuclear danger zone.

Clearly, even if a summer’s end finds both militaries more practiced, it does not mean either nation is any safer. The writing on the wall is to not only draw up the calendar for talks agreed on by Salman Khurshid and Sartaz Aziz at their meeting in Brunei recently, but have the two prime ministers meet swiftly to take the reopening forward.

Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
IPCS Columnists
Af-Pak Diary
D Suba Chandran
Resetting Kabul-Islamabad Relations: Three Key Issues
Can Pakistan Reset its Relations with Afghanistan?
The New Afghanistan: Four Major Challenges for President Ghani
Big Picture
Prof Varun Sahni
Understanding Democracy and Diversity in J&K
When Xi Met Modi: Juxtaposing China and India
Pakistan?s Tactical Nuclear Weapons: The Inevitability of Instability

Dateline Colombo

Asanga Abeyagoonasekera.
Sri Lanka: Moving Towards a Higher Collective Outcome
The Importance of Electing the Best to our Nation's Parliament
Sri Lanka: Toward a Diaspora Re-Engagement Plan
Dateline Islamabad
Salma Malik
Pakistan's Hurt Locker: What Next?
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
India-Pakistan Relations in 2015: Through a Looking Glass
Dhaka Discourse
Prof Delwar Hossain
IPCS Forecast: Bangladesh in 2015
18th SAARC Summit: A Perspective from Bangladesh
Bangladesh in Global Forums: Diplomacy vs. Domestic Politics
Eagle Eye
Prof Chintamani Mahapatra
India-US: Significance of the Second Modi-Obama Meet
Has President Obama Turned Lame Duck?
Modi-Obama Summit: Criticism for Criticism?s Sake?

East Asia Compass
Dr Sandip Mishra
India-Japan-US Trilateral: India?s Policy for the Indo-Pacific
China-South Korea Ties: Implications for the US Pivot to Asia
Many ?Pivots to Asia?: What Does It Mean For Regional Stability?
Himalayan Frontier
Pramod Jaiswal
Nepal?s New Constitution: Instrument towards Peace or Catalyst to Conflict?
IPCS Forecast: Nepal in 2015
Constitution-making: Will Nepal Miss its Second Deadline?

Prof Shankari Sundararaman
IPCS Forecast: Southeast Asia in 2015
Indonesia's Pacific Identity: What Jakarta Must Do in West Papua
Modi in Myanmar: From ?Look East? to ?Act East?
Sushant Sareen
IPCS Forecast: Pakistan in 2015
Islamic State: Prospects in Pakistan
Pakistan: The Futility of Internationalising Kashmir

Looking East
Wasbir Hussain
Myanmar in New Delhi's Naga Riddle
China: ?Peaceful? Display of Military Might
Naga Peace Accord: Need to Reserve Euphoria
Maritime Matters
Vijay Sakhuja
Indian Ocean: Modi on a Maritime Pilgrimage
Indian Ocean: Exploring Maritime Domain Awareness
IPCS Forecast: The Indian Ocean in 2015

Nuke Street
Amb Sheelkant Sharma
US-Russia and Global Nuclear Security: Under a Frosty Spell?
India's Nuclear Capable Cruise Missile: The Nirbhay Test
India-Australia Nuclear Agreement: Bespeaking of a New Age
Red Affairs
Bibhu Prasad
Countering Left Wing Extremism: Failures within Successes
Return of the Native: CPI-Maoist in Kerala
The Rising Civilian Costs of the State-Vs-Extremists Conflict

Regional Economy
Amita Batra
India and the APEC
IPCS Forecast: South Asian Regional Integration
South Asia: Rupee Regionalisation and Intra-regional Trade Enhancement
South Asian Dialectic
PR Chari
Resuming the Indo-Pak Dialogue: Evolving a New Focus
Defence Management in India: An Agenda for Parrikar
Pakistani Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan: Implications for Asian Security

Spotlight West Asia
Amb Ranjit Gupta
Prime Minister Modi Finally Begins His Interaction with West Asia*
A Potential Indian Role in West Asia?
US-GCC Summit: More Hype than Substance
Strategic Space
Manpreet Sethi
India-Russia Nuclear Vision Statement: See that it Delivers
Global Nuclear Disarmament: The Humanitarian Consequences Route
Nasr: Dangers of Pakistan's Short Range Ballistic Missile

The Strategist
Vice Admiral Vijay Shankar
Jihadi Aggression and Nuclear Deterrence
The Blight of Ambiguity
Falun Gong: The Fear Within

OTHER REGULAR contributors
Gurmeet Kanwal
Harun ur Rashid
N Manoharan
Wasbir Hussain
Rana Banerji
N Manoharan

Ruhee Neog
Teshu Singh
Aparupa Bhattacherjee
Roomana Hukil
Aparupa Bhattacherjee

Related Articles
Rana Banerji,
"Pakistan: Civil-Military Relations and the Instrumentalisation of Political Power," 23 July 2013
Somya Chhabra,
"15 Years After India and Pakistan's Nuclear Tests," 19 June 2013
D Suba Chandran,
"What next vis-a-vis China and Pakistan," 23 May 2013
Salma Malik,
"India, Pakistan and the Nuclear Race: Strengthening the Risk Reduction Measures," 6 May 2013
Michael Krepon,
"India, Pakistan and the Nuclear Race: An Assessment," 28 April 2013
Rabia Akhtar,
"India, Pakistan and the Nuclear Race: The Two Pots Down the Nuclear Stream," 24 April 2013
Vijay Sakhuja,
"P-3C vs. P-8I: India, Pakistan and the Naval Balance," 21 April 2013
D Suba Chandran,
"India, Pakistan and the Nuclear Race: No Clear Winners," 17 April 2013
Vijay Shankar,
"India, Pakistan and the Nuclear Race: The Elephant and the Dilemma of Nuclear Force Planning," 16 April 2013
Amit Gupta,
"Special Commentary: India’s Missile Defence," 12 April 2013

Browse by Publications

Issue Briefs 
Special Reports 
Research Papers 
Seminar Reports 
Conference Reports 

Browse by Region/Countries

East Asia 
South Asia 
Southeast Asia 
US & South Asia 

Browse by Issues

India & the world  
Naxalite Violence 
Suicide Terrorism 
Peace & Conflict Database 
Article by same Author
Indo-Pak Nuclear CBMs: Mere Dialogue will not Suffice

Towards an Indo-Pak Nuclear Lexicon - III: Cold Start

Y! MyWeb
Print Bookmark Email Facebook Subscribe
Year 2018
 2017  2016  2015  2014  2013  2012  2011  2010
 2009  2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002
 2001  2000  1999  1998  1997

The Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies (IPCS) is the premier South Asian think tank which conducts independent research on and provides an in depth analysis of conventional and non-conventional issues related to national and South Asian security including nuclear issues, disarmament, non-proliferation, weapons of mass destruction, the war on terrorism, counter terrorism , strategies security sector reforms, and armed conflict and peace processes in the region.

For those in South Asia and elsewhere, the IPCS website provides a comprehensive analysis of the happenings within India with a special focus on Jammu and Kashmir and Naxalite Violence. Our research promotes greater understanding of India's foreign policy especially India-China relations, India's relations with SAARC countries and South East Asia.

Through close interaction with leading strategic thinkers, former members of the Indian Administrative Service, the Foreign Service and the three wings of the Armed Forces - the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force, - the academic community as well as the media, the IPCS has contributed considerably to the strategic discourse in India.

Subscribe to Newswire | Site Map
18, Link Road, Jungpura Extension, New Delhi 110014, INDIA.

Tel: 91-11-4100-1902    Email: officemail@ipcs.org

© Copyright 2018, Institute of Peace and Conflict Studies.