short of nuclear blackmail.”
What Pakistan is “signaling” to me is that it doesn’t want to feel compelled to stay the hand of its Islamistmilitants, who it’s long viewed as its wild card. (That’s making the generous assumption that the army and/or ISIwon’t be complicit in a future militant attack on India.) Instead, Pakistan is making contingency plans for theretaliation from India that it expects. But, is the luxury of keeping militants around worth developing andmaintaining tactical nukes to clean up their messes? That’s some skewed calculus.To give you an example of the problems this created, consider Ricks’s remark “This might provoke India toescalate further.” Saran says (emphasis added):
“India will not be the first to use nuclear weapons, but if it is attacked with such weapons, it would engage in nuclear retaliation which will be massive and designed to inflict unacceptable damage onits adversary. The label on a nuclear weapon used for attacking India, strategic or tactical, isirrelevant from the Indian perspective. … “A limited nuclear war is a contradiction in terms. Any nuclear exchange, once initiated, would swiftly and inexorably escalate to the strategic level.”
In other words, not only wouldn’t India be deterred from retaliating by Pakistan’s tactical – once called“battlefield” – nukes, it would retaliate with strategic – your garden-variety, apocalyptic – nukes! This wholebusiness is riddled with opportunities for miscommunication that could result in an all-out nuclear war. InOctober 2012,George Perkovich explained in a Stimson Center report, about whichI posteda month later.
Many worry about Islamist militants acquiring proprietorship of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. But thegreater risk, according to Perkovich, is the confusion that India experiences in situations such aswhen its parliament was attacked in New Delhi in 2001 and during the Mumbai 2008 assault. Thusthe nuclear deterrence model, which, according to conventional thinking, worked for the United States and Russia, may not be universally applicable. Why?Perkovich writes that, “when it comes to … initiating and managing warfare between nuclear-armed states, it is generally assumed that a tight, coherent line of authority” is S.O.P. Otherwise “theimplications for deterrence stability are profound.”
For example, if
… India is attacked by [Islamist militants] emanating from Pakistan and with ties to Pakistani intelligence services, [India] naturally infers that such actions represent the intentions and policies of Pakistani authorities. … If Pakistan does not … detain and prosecute the perpetrators … pressuremounts for India to demonstrate through force that it will [retaliate].
Perkovich presents this scenario.
For example, while India could perceive that the terrorist attacks it attributes to Pakistan signal Pakistani aggressiveness, Pakistani leaders [may only have intended the] initial terrorist attacks asa signal that the Pakistani state does not seek a wider conflict but [merely seeks] to press India to