Yom-e-Takbeer: The Strategic Advantage of Nuclear Power in Contemporary Geopolitical Landscape

by Syeda Tahreem Bukhari

On May 28, Pakistan commemorates the completion of 26 years since its nuclear tests. These tests were conducted in response to India’s nuclear tests on May 11 and 13, 1998. The security dilemma in the region, prompted by India’s nuclear advancements, compelled Pakistan to pursue nuclearization, thereby establishing a robust framework of nuclear deterrence in South Asia. This development served as a significant obstacle to India’s aspirations for regional hegemony.

Recent global conflicts, such as the Russia-Ukraine war and the Israel-Palestine conflict, highlight that situation would have been different if  both parties involved possessed nuclear capabilities. The presence of nuclear deterrence might have mitigated these crises, potentially averting full-scale warfare. Historically, Pakistan and India fought three major wars before 1998; however, the possession of nuclear weapons has prevented the outbreak of another major war between the two nations. Despite this, India has tested Pakistan’s nuclear potential by engaging in conflicts that remain below the nuclear threshold. India’s Cold Start Doctrine, met with Pakistan’s full-spectrum deterrence strategy, effectively deters India from any significant military misadventures.

This anniversary underscores the critical role of nuclear deterrence in preserving national sovereignty and security. It has prevented India from transforming the situation in Kashmir into one resembling the plight of Palestine. Nevertheless, India appears to be emulating Israel’s occupation model in Palestine within the region of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK). The strategies employed by Israel in Palestine are being mirrored by India in Kashmir, with both states perpetrating similar brutalities upon Kashmiris and Palestinians.

The Modi regime’s recent domicile law for Jammu and Kashmir reflects the Israeli settler colonial project, aimed at altering the demography of the occupied territory. This tactic is reportedly inspired by Israel’s policies  suggested to India. The ideological underpinnings of Hindutva, advocated by figures such as Savarkar and Golwalkar, have historically supported Zionism, and the India-Israel relationship has significantly strengthened under the RSS-backed Modi government. Proponents of Hindutva and Zionism share a strong affinity in their outlook, objectives, and methods. India is adopting Israeli techniques of oppression in Kashmir, including arbitrary detentions, surveillance, restrictions, and extrajudicial killings. Indian forces have received training in Israel for conducting violent operations in occupied Kashmir, akin to those carried out by Israeli forces against Palestinians. It is Pakistan’s nuclear capability that has prevented India from fully transforming Kashmir into another Palestine.

However, nuclear deterrence alone is insufficient to curtail India from  any military misadventure in the region. India’s large-scale modernization of its nuclear arsenal, conventional arms buildup, and the nuclearization of the Indian Ocean, along with the development of ballistic missile defense systems, pose significant threats to strategic stability in South Asia, perpetuating the regional security dilemma. This arms race extends into space, where India’s attempts to weaponize space threaten global peace and stability.

In the current geostrategic environment, South Asia is a pivot to great power competition. Pakistan’s nuclear power has maintained its position as a key player in the region, countering India’s attempts to overshadow it through proxy wars. India is leveraging its strategic competition with the United States, presenting itself as a vital balancer in the Asia-Pacific region to counter the rise of China. India’s strategic partnership with the US aims to secure critical and emerging technologies, enhancing cooperation in space, defense, and military domains. Key agreements, including BECA, COMCASA, LEMOA, GSOMIA, the Naval Ship Repair Agreement, and the Jet Engine Deal, bolster India’s strategic positioning, facilitating its ambitions of regional hegemony and influencing the global order.

In this context, Pakistan’s nuclear capability remains a significant obstacle to India’s hegemonic aspirations. India’s aggressive policies towards its neighbors, evident in its strained relations with Maldives, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, underscore its regional ambitions. However, Pakistan’s nuclear prowess has effectively prevented India from overpowering it, reinforcing Pakistan’s security and stability.

The nuclear arms race in South Asia, driven by India’s ambitious defense strategies and extensive military modernization, poses a substantial challenge to regional peace and security. This competitive dynamic is further complicated by India’s efforts to develop advanced missile defense systems and its aspirations to dominate space militarily. Such developments could destabilize the region, intensifying the security dilemma and potentially sparking an arms race that extends beyond conventional and nuclear weapons.

Moreover, India’s burgeoning strategic partnership with the United States serves to enhance its military capabilities and geopolitical influence. The collaborative agreements between India and the US cover a wide range of areas, from defense and technology to intelligence sharing and space exploration. These agreements are designed to position India as a counterbalance to China in the Asia-Pacific region, reflecting a broader strategic alignment against Chinese influence. These agreements are going to bolster India’s strategic positioning in the region facilitating its dream of becoming not only a regional hegemon but eying for changing the global order.

In this evolving geostrategic landscape, Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal continues to be a cornerstone of its national defense strategy. It acts as a deterrent against India’s superior conventional military forces and its aggressive posturing in the region. Despite India’s attempts to assert dominance, Pakistan’s nuclear capability ensures a balance of power, preventing unilateral actions that could jeopardize regional stability. Thus, Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence is not merely a tool of national security but a critical factor in maintaining strategic equilibrium in South Asia.

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