Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal speaking at the Department of Political Science; Monday Feb. 18, 2013 (Photo: Khalid Jaleel)
Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal speaking at the Department of Political Science; Monday Feb. 18, 2013 (Photo: Khalid Jaleel)

Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal Speaks on “Nuclear Strategy of India and Pakistan”

In an effort to understand the nuclear strategy of two nuclear powers of South Asia—India and Pakistan—a lecture and a book launch session was held in the Department of political science on Monday Feb. 18, 2013.

“Nuclear issue is an important issue because there are no winners, only losers,” said Head of the department, Professor Muhammad Badrul Alam in his welcome address. Prof. Alam is also editor of the Book, “Perspectives on Nuclear strategy of India and Pakistan,which was formally launched at the event. (Link) The book discusses and analysis nuclear discourse of India and Pakistan and its wider technological ramifications. It also throws light on the arms race between the two countries and other various nuclear issues and their impact regionally as well as globally.

After the formal book Launch by Brigadier Gurmeet Kanwal, fellow, Wadhwani Chair, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington DC, USA; a lecture by Kanwal elucidating the nuclear strategies of India and Pakistan was presented. He reasoned that Nuclear weapons should be talked in a much more open way “because we live in a dangerous nuclear neighborhood.” The “dangerous neighborhood” included nuclear power China as well.

Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal speaking at the Department of Political Science; Monday Feb. 18, 2013 (Photo: Khalid Jaleel)
Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal speaking at the Department of Political Science; Monday Feb. 18, 2013 (Photo: Khalid Jaleel)

Kanwal explained that nuclear weapons have and should have one purpose, and that is to deter the use and the threat of nuclear weapons. “India’s nuclear weapons have only the purpose of deterrence,” he told the students in the seminar room of the department. Citing the political nature of India’s nuclear weapons as the basic difference between India-Pakistan nuclear discourses, he said, “India’s Nuclear Weapons are basically political weapons.”

While commenting on the nuclear weapons of Pakistan, he said that they are solely for the purpose of war fighting. “Pakistan feels conventionally inferior to India. They feel their forces are inferior and compensate for their inferiority by Nuclear weapons.” Kanwal said that Pakistan has a first use policy, though it is not a written doctrine.

Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal (left) and Prof. Badrul Alam (right) formally launch the book titled "Perspectives on Nuclear strategy of India and Pakistan" edited by Prof. Badrul Alam, at the Department of Political Science; Monday Feb. 18, 2013 (Photo: Khalid Jaleel)
Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal (left) and Prof. Badrul Alam (right) formally launch the book titled “Perspectives on Nuclear strategy of India and Pakistan” edited by Prof. Badrul Alam, at the Department of Political Science; Monday Feb. 18, 2013 (Photo: Khalid Jaleel)

He then traced the history of Nuclear weapons in India and Pakistan. “It is only after the Chinese nuclear tests that India began its nuclear pursuit and after India, Pakistan started under the leadership of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.” He further added, “Now the situation is that they (Pakistan) have reportedly more nuclear weapons.”

Kanwal raised the question of what it takes to deter a country. “We can’t say about China. They are not easily deterred. They put the cost of human value very, low but Pakistan is a very difficult question. I think they will be deterred if India attacks their cities” he said. To understand what it takes to deter a country, Kanwal talked about the strategies like “Counter Force” and “Counter Value” strategies. These strategies define whether a country will deter or not.

“Then there are force structures. How to deliver nuclear warheads? India has a wide range of missiles, aircrafts and is developing submarines. Pakistan on the other hand has also missiles, aircrafts—F-16 primarily—but they don’t have submarines,” Kanwal said. He also said that Pakistan can cover most of India up to Chennai.

Talking further Kanwal explained the command and control of nuclear weapons. “India’s nuclear weapons are strictly under civilian control,” he said. In Pakistan, Kanwal said the situation is reverse, “Army enjoys unbridled control over Pakistan’s nuclear weapon.” After the lecture, a question answer session was held where many students asked question.

In the question-answer session, Kanwal elaborated that China is much more worrisome case than Pakistan. “Pakistan talks irrationally but the truth is that they will not use Nuclear weapons unreasonably,” he said. He further added that no nation can afford nuclear war, not even Pakistan. “It is horrendous. Horrific.”

Audio Supplement:

Listen to Brig. Gurmeet Kanwal’s lecture at Department of Political Science on Feb. 18, 2013:

About Iymon Majid

Iymon Majid
Iymon Majid (2014) is a postgraduate student in the Department of Political Science. He can be reached via email at: iymonmajid [at] gmail.com

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