Over the short term, events in Pakistan dictate higher order readiness. In the middle term, equations have to be managed with China so as to gain time to get the second strike capability and infrastructure organised.
The advantage in foregrounding the military option is in the deterrence value. Further, it helps the military and the government prepare for the exercise of the option in case of a shift to compellence. However, it leads to a displacement of alternative approaches from center stage. These approaches arguably have greater potentiality for delivering on long term peace and stability. The nuclear age requires that these be explored to the fullest extent.
The Prime Minister in his address to the Combined Commanders conference of the armed forces exhorted the Services to remain alert, due to the unfolding situation in Pakistan. The armed forces would be monitoring the situation closely, because preparedness is a professional obligation and a matter of pride. Thus, if another 26/11 were to occur India’s military options would need to be considered. This commentary reinforces arguments against war as an ‘option’ by looking at the probability of breakdown in deterrence in the event of an India-Pakistan conflict.
In a new book Nuclear Strategy: India’s March Towards a Credible Deterrent, Dr. Manpreet Sethi has recommended a restructuring of India’s Nuclear Command Authority. Since India’s nuclear doctrine is premised on ‘Assured Retaliation’, nuclear retaliatory attacks can only be authorised by the civilian political leadership through the Nuclear Command Authority. Presently, the Nuclear Command Authority, as approved by the Cabinet Committee on Security on 04 January 2003, stipulates:
There has been a shift to a deterrent strategic doctrine with an offensive bias. India's strategic doctrine is thus potentially a compellent one. However, cognizance of the need for limitation to conflict in the nuclear age entails identification of the implications of compellence for both conventional and nuclear doctrines. On the conventional plane, the hiatus between pivot corps and strike corps offensives is taken as a key 'exit point' for war termination efforts.
“There is credible information of ongoing plans of terrorist groups in Pakistan to carry out fresh attacks. The area of operation of these terrorists today extends far beyond the confines of Jammu & Kashmir and covers all parts of our country…In dealing with the terrorist challenge we need to be prepared for encountering more sophisticated technologies and enhanced capabilities.”
- PM’s speech at CM’s conference on internal security, 17 August 2009