Evening The Odds: Pakistan’s Full Spectrum Deterrence Doctrine


In the background of the ongoing surge of militancy in the Kashmir freedom movement generally and after Pulwama attack on Saint Valentine’s Day 2019 specifically, hostilities & moron-ism from the eastern borders are attaining new elevations hence lunacy on the Indian intelligentsia and masses is on a recent all-time high. The objective of this write up is to provide a reality check and bring the bozzos down back to the ground.

2019 is the election year in the “largest democracy” so spectacle needed to be much larger and this is exactly what trendy these days over there, the moment that 20-year-old kid blown 350 KG of RDX; in words of Jack Woltz every guinea-wop-grease-ball-goombahs came out of the woodwork demanding to punish Pakistan. However, every want does not get, and there is a reason.

In response to mind-numbing Indian barrage of baseless allegations, especially after their apparent rejection of PM Imran Khan’s peace offer, when DG ISPR Major General Asif Ghafoor took up the stage and said that Pakistan would use full-spectrum response to counter any misadventure from the Indian side, then as a student of strategic affairs it made me curious as to what exactly this means.  And why precisely it started to have an immediate impact on the warmongering on the other side (now evidently Indian war hysteria is on a decline, PM Modi is reminding PM Imran Khan of his “promise” of fighting poverty instead of having another war).

In strive of the answer, one went through the details of the concept and found Pakistan’s full spectrum deterrence doctrine has more to it than what meets the eye, it’s the ultimate counterweight to the opposition’s so-called numerical & technological superior military might, it’s the factor that evens the odds.

Full Spectrum Deterrence:-  

FSD came forth when Pakistan tested the tactical nuclear weapon HATF-IX (NASR) in 2011. According to Lt General Khalid Kidwai of Pakistan’s National Command Authority, the implications of FSD are many, but it mainly includes the development of a nuclear capability to bring “every Indian target into Pakistan’s striking range” and acquire “appropriate weapons yield coverage and the numbers to deter the adversary’s pronounced policy of massive retaliation.” General Kidwai also specified that another tenet of FSD is the liberty to select from a range of counter value, battlefield, and counterforce targets.

 “Pakistan’s deterrence strategy revolves around escalation dominance at all rungs of the military ladder; from low intensity to conventional and nuclear war.”

                                                                                                – Peter R. Lavoy, Asymmetric Warfare in South Asia

In case of any Indian incursion from the east in foreseeable future, one assumes under the given pattern of circumstances that following factors will sequentially play a key role in as to how the situation will pan out.

 1.        The Indian Objectives:- Rope-A-Dope 

Fight and win the limited war under the nuclear threshold with a minimum risk of escalation. What Indians have failed to realize over the years that any war initiated will not remain limited by any means what so ever, limited war from the east means total war from the Pakistani perspective. We tried the strategy in 65 and 99 it did not work, if you are copying it, you should know too, showing one hand and throwing other is called rope-a-dope in boxing terms, Indian strategy seems to revolve around this idea.

2.   The Pakistani Retort:- A Mean Right Hook

It cannot completely defeat India in a conventional thrust; therefore, Pakistan will strive to reduce its vulnerability to Indian coercion by:

  • Deny India any incentive to initiate the war at first.
  • Deliberately raising the risk of nuclear escalation. No war is a limited war.
  • Pakistan, with high stakes and fewer options, might quickly escalate and seek escalation dominance in case its conventional response falters.
  • Full spectrum deterrence appears to increase the risk of violence at all levels of war—in an attempt to dissuade aggression.
  • Seek escalation dominance at different rungs of the ladder. Seek & exercise every conceivable option to bring down the behemoth, one cut at a time, in its entirety, in boxing terminology it will be a mean right hook to the advancing heavyweight.

3.  The Cold Start:- A Pile Of Rust:

The first thing which comes into mind when one attempts to look for probable Indian misadventure is this good-old, paradoxical dogma of Indian policymakers, the cold start; an armored thrust through international border with several integrated battle groups, how would it play out & what potential response it will evoke, one imagined to draw it side by side, precisely.

 Basic Assumptions of
Cold Start
Pakistani Response
Combat command advancing with 2 combat groups – covering a front of 20-25 kmStrike hard but not deep aimingto make Land incursion 50-80km inside Pakistani territory‘Bite and Hold’ – occupy some chunk of territory to use as a bargaining counter. Coordinated and quick mobilization, 24-48 hours) of division-sized combat groups.Taking war into the enemy’s territoryCapture some chunk of territory before India operationalizes ‘air-land battle’ concept.Operational Readiness of the Formations buttressed with forward-leaning Logistics system.

4.   BRBM Vengeance IX  aKa NASR:- The Uppercut

In the current environment, the introduction of tactical nuclear weapons by Pakistan in response to India’s limited war strategy is only a means of reinforcing deterrence and enhancing stability at the higher level of conflict by inducing instability at the lower levels.

 Nasr provides “flexible deterrent options” to fulfill the objective enumerated by the school of thought of Pakistani policy makers represented by Lt Gen Khalid Kidwai. Pakistan’s “broad deterrence,” it works by “developing deterrence at the tactical level (against limited incursions), the operational level (to deter sizeable military offensive), and strategic (to prevent an all-out war).” General Kidwai stated

In combination with Pakistan’s existing nuclear assets, the Nasr offers decision makers the choice of responding proportionately at each of three levels while retaining the option of retaliating massively through strategic weapons. Nasr is not the only short-range missile system capable of delivering nuclear weapons on the battlefield “as late as possible and as early as necessary.” He maintains, however, that Pakistan’s emerging posture is not different from NATO’s flexible response strategy during the Cold War.  Pakistan’s strategy uses the Nasr to “pour cold water on Cold Start”. If Nasr forecloses India’s dangerous option to fight a limited war under the nuclear overhang, it contributes to the regional stability and makes Pakistan’s deterrence more credible. It will serve as an uppercut, close ranged, accurate, precise & annihilating.

5.   Quid Pro Quo: – Pakistan’s Escalation Dominance Ladder

  • The day Indians decide to initiate the war will be the precise moment they will lose the initiative and rest will be upon resolve of Pakistan to take further, how it will do, it is not hard to imagine. Google Hiroshima.  
  • Not ideal, but it will facilitate the ability of Pakistan to escalate the conflict in ways that will be disadvantageous or costly to the adversary, e.g. the instant first string of Indian IBGs hit 60KM mark inside Pakistani territory, let there be light.
  • Once across the border, the adversary has no escalation option. Either conventional, tactical or strategical, it will be Pakistan who will be able to choose the rung on the ladder at which the issue would be resolved.
  • Quid pro quo (“something for something” in Latin), transfer is contingent; “a favor for a favor”.

 The Conclusion:- Memento Mori

Indian think tanks must have realized up until now that there is no military solution of India’s Pakistani obsession, of course, unless they agree on a nuclear winter in the plains of Himalayas specifically and on the equator generally, they can put this one to bed. Sure, we will go down in an ash cloud too, but rest assured we would take them with us. Though stated earlier, yet requires a repetition, Indian warmongers need to comprehend, there is no throne waiting for them, there is no Akhand Bharat, there is absolutely no version of it in which they can come on top. So, if you have listened Pakistani DG ISPR saying “if forced Pakistan will exercise its full spectrum deterrence strategy” you know he means business. Memento moir folks, meaning you are gonna have to die to try.

Ahsan Malik is an IT professional with a passionate & candid version of his own on national and international issues relating to Pakistan, he tweets @MohdAhsanMalik and can be reached at m.ahson.malik@gmail.com

Discussion1 Comment

  1. spit on your army you cowards,your real hindus.soon your country shall be no more but modi saves you.you are as evil as modi.how can you protect kashmiris.let modi go pakistan shall be no more within months.

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