For 15 years, since its inception in February 2000, General Khalid Kidwai served as Director General of Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division. Now an adviser to Pakistan’s National Command Authority, Kidwai was a speaker at the recent biennial Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference. Offering a glimpse into Pakistan’s strategic thinking, he explained Pakistan’s shift from a strategy of “minimum credible deterrence” to “full spectrum deterrence.” During his talk, Kidwai justified Pakistan’s induction of battlefield nuclear weapons with operational ranges as low as 60 kilometers on the pretext of a non-existent “Cold Start” doctrine.
Kidwai’s remarks have re-opened the debate over South Asia’s nuclear stability. A Stimson Center essay by Jeffrey McCausland has expanded on the dangers of Pakistan incorporating tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs). For instance, Pakistan’s Army would have to use this weapon early in any battle, lest the conventionally superior Indian forces intrude deep into Pakistani territory and foreclose on the option of deploying TNWs. Moreover, Pakistan’s forces would have to ensure a concentration of Indian troops in the target area so that the damage inflicted can justify the use of a nuclear weapon. In general, command and control of tactical nuclear weapons can also be tricky in the heat of conventional battle.
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