That Pakistan may first use nuclear weapons in a future war with India was announced last week by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry. Coming just two days before Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Oct 22 visit to Washington, this could be considered a reiteration of the army’s well-known stance. But, significantly it came from the Foreign Office rather than GHQ or Strategic Plans Division. Coming from both ends of the power spectrum, this confirms that Pakistan has drastically shifted its nuclear posture.
In the late 1980s, Pakistan had viewed nuclear weapons very differently; they were the last-ditch means to deter a possible nuclear attack by India. But Pakistan now says it intends to use low-yield nuclear bombs, also called tactical nuclear weapons, to forestall the possible advance of Indian troops into Pakistan under India’s ‘Cold Start’ operational doctrine.
Floated by Gen Deepak Kapoor in 2010, Cold Start calls for cutting Pakistan into “salami slices” as punishment for hosting yet another Mumbai-style terrorist attack inside India. It assumes that this limited action would not provoke a nuclear exchange. India strenuously denies that such a doctrine is official or that it has been made operational.
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