Two fundamentally different nuclear futures are conceivable on the subcontinent. One is surprisingly pacific, even without conflict resolution between India and Pakistan. The other is deeply tragic – the worst case of a limited conventional war crossing the nuclear threshold. This choice is worthy of discussion with Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, who is in Washington this week.
The classic, radioactive scenario spools out from a big explosion on Indian soil that is traced back to a group in Pakistan, like the Lashkar-e-Toiba, with prior links to the ISI. Both militaries thereafter begin to re-position themselves for a limited war. Pakistan ostentatiously moves missiles around to warn India and spin up Washington to engage in crisis management. New Delhi follows suit. A missile or two is flight-tested. Pakistan’s short-range, nuclear-capable missiles, Nasr, move closer to likely contact points between the two armies, clarifying deterrence messages and raising the stakes for Indian military engagement.
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