Policy Paper

Limited War Under the Nuclear Umbrella and its Implications for South Asia

in Program

Stimson Center’s Visiting Fellow Khurshid Khan analyses India’s exploration of a limited war strategy and the implications of such a war fighting model for strategic stability in South Asia. Khan concludes that any Indian attempt to wage a limited war against Pakistan would inevitably escalate to an all-out conventional war and increase the chances of a nuclear exchange. Factors fueling escalation would include India’s growing conventional superiority that forces Pakistan to contemplate lowering its nuclear threshold and Pakistan’s inability to lose any space in vital strategic areas. Khan urges India and Pakistan to avoid crises and engage in a political dialogue to resolve their differences. He calls on the US to curtail hi-tech weaponry sales to India to prevent a deepening of the existing conventional imbalance and to help India and Pakistan with nuclear weapons management and security.


The Stimson Center’s programming on escalation control in South Asia includes commissioned essays to explore topics related to deterrence and crisis stability on the subcontinent. Stimson Center Visiting Fellows also produce essays during their stay with us. Many different points of view will be explored. The posting of essays on the Stimson Center website should not be construed as an endorsement of them by the Stimson Center.

At the time of publication, Khurshid Khan was serving as a General Staff Officer Grade 1 in the Arms Control and Disarmament Affairs Directorate, Strategic Plans Division, JSHQ, Pakistan.


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