Pakistan Foreign Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said Saturday (Jan 13) that Indian Army Chief General Bipin Rawat’s remarks about Pakistan amount to “invitation for nuclear encounter”.
Asif was reacting to Rawat’s Wednesday remark that his forces are ready to call Pakistan’s “nuclear bluff” and cross the border to carry out any operation if asked by the government.
“We will call the (nuclear) bluff of Pakistan. If we will have to really confront the Pakistanis, and a task is given to us, we are not going to say we cannot cross the border because they have nuclear weapons. We will have to call their nuclear bluff.”
Gen. Rawat was responding to a question during a press conference on possibility of Pakistan using its nuclear weapons in case the situation along the border deteriorates.
Reacting to the statement, Asif wrote on Twitter: “Very irresponsible statement by Indian Army Chief, not befitting his office. Amounts to invitation for nuclear encounter. If that is what they desire, they are welcome to test our resolve. The general’s doubt would swiftly be removed, inshallah.”
At the same time, the Pakistan Army on Saturday warned India against any misadventure, asserting that the country’s nuclear weapons were exclusively meant to foil any threat emanating from the east.
Pakistan Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor said: “Well, it’s their choice. Should they wish to test our resolve they may try and see it for themselves.”
Asserting that India was not in a position to launch a conventional war after over nulcearisation, Ghafoor said Pakistan had credible nuclear capability exclusively meant to foil any threat emanating from the east.
“But we believe it’s a weapon of deterrence not a choice. The only thing stopping them is our credible nuclear deterrence as there is no space of war between the two nuclear states,” he said.
Ghafoor said India was unsuccessfully targeting Pakistan through sub-conventional threats and state-sponsored terrorism because it could not subdue Pakistan through conventional engagement following overt nuclearisation in the region.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal on Sunday (Jan 14) stressed that the Indian army chief’s statements on ‘calling Pakistan’s nuclear bluff’ prove that “India is an irresponsible nuclear state”.
“Nuclear weapons are not pistols or slingshots, they are weapons of mass destruction. Therefore people expect nuclear powers to behave responsibly,” he said.
Iqbal raised questions over the possibility of Indian inclusion in the Nuclear Suppliers Group, given the “irresponsible” statements made.
“What do the Indian army chief and [US President Donald] Trump’s statements indicate?” he asked. “That external attempts are being made to pressure Pakistan.”
On the other hand, Foreign Office Spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said the “statement by the Indian army chief is representative of a sinister mindset that has taken hold of India. Pakistan has demonstrated deterrence capability.”
He said the statement could not be taken lightly. “There must not be any misadventure based on miscalculation. Pakistan is fully capable of defending itself,” he added.
The daily Dawn reporting the Indian threat pointed out that India developed and operationalised the Cold Start Doctrine to address longstanding mobilization dilemma of its military force structure. Pakistan considers the doctrine as highly dangerous and reflective of the offensive politico-military mindset in Delhi.
India has repeatedly warned of surgical strikes against Pakistan and in 2016 claimed to have executed one, said Dawn adding: Many quarters believe that the Indian military has been consistently pushing for the Cold Start Doctrine to justify its huge budget and get increases.
According to India Today, the main objective of the Cold Start Doctrine is to launch a retaliatory conventional strike against Pakistan inflicting significant harm on the Pakistan Army before any international community could intercede, but not in way Pakistan would be provoked to make a nuclear attack.
However, British defense expert, Walter C. Ladwig III, argues “that limited war on the subcontinent poses a serious risk of escalation based on a number of factors that are not necessarily under the control of the policymakers or military leaders who would initiate the conflict. A history of misperception, poor intelligence, and India’s awkward national security decision making system suggests that Cold Start could be a risky undertaking that may increase instability in South Asia.”
Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net). He is the author of several books including Islam & Muslims in the 21st Century published in 2017.