What is Pakistan's psychological warfare against India

An escalation in Kashmir could threaten a nuclear winter

Hardly any other type of weapon has such a deterrent potential as nuclear weapons. Impending losses have already prevented states from entering into a nuclear conflict in the past. As things stand, a nuclear war between India and Pakistan is unlikely, but in the current heated mood it remains a real danger. The two states have already fought four times. In two cases, nuclear weapons would theoretically have been available. They were never used. The fear of being deployed grows with every further conflict.

A war with around 50 nuclear warheads deployed in the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima (15 kilotons) would have global consequences. The detonations would generate up to five million tons of smoke. This would spread extremely quickly in the stratosphere at a height of 50 kilometers to almost the entire globe, persist for years, darken the earth, lower the average annual temperature by up to three degrees in the first year, reduce precipitation by up to ten percent and Shorten the cultivation period of fruit and vegetables in both the northern and southern hemisphere by around 30 days, as geophysicists calculated in 2007 - the stupidest and cruelest way to curb global warming.

Of the almost 15,000 nuclear warheads that are still in circulation (around 6,800 are in Russia, around 6,500 in the USA), Pakistan and India each have more than 100 - some of them considerably more powerful than those in the case of the only warlike one to date Use at the end of World War II in Japan were used. Many millions of people would die instantly within a few hours, depending on the location of the detonations; several million would be directly threatened by the subsequent food shortage.

Deterrent theory

The nuclear warheads - at least that is what their owners and many realpoliticians are convinced - protect those states that own them and those that live under their nuclear protective shield, such as Germany, from large-scale attacks. This nuclear deterrent theory only works if states are willing to use the destructive weapons. With the People's Republic of China and India, however, at least two of the nine nuclear weapon states have committed themselves to a so-called "no-first-use policy". This means that they never want to be the first to use nuclear weapons in a military conflict. For China and India, nuclear weapons only act as a defensive means of self-defense.

If both states follow this self-imposed doctrine and if - naively - human misconduct is ruled out, then, following this logic, no nuclear war can break out between India and China.

The situation is different with the current heated up conflict over the Kashmir region. Although a change in the renunciation of a nuclear first strike is repeatedly brought up for discussion, Pakistan's defense ministers and national security advisers have repeatedly emphasized in the past that they are willing to use all weapons at their disposal.

What is certain is that missiles armed with nuclear warheads in the region would sometimes reach the other state in just four minutes. With such a short lead time, launching the rockets is almost impossible, and evacuating megacities is definitely unthinkable.

Conventional arsenals

Both India and Pakistan have invested billions in armaments in recent years. In 2018, India invested around 50 billion euros, around two percent of its gross domestic product, in national defense, which comprises around 1.4 million active soldiers. Pakistan's almost ten billion euros correspond to 3.6 percent of the gross domestic product and also include the salaries of almost 650,000 soldiers. According to estimates by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri), between 1993 and 2006, when the development of the atomic bomb was pushed ahead, more than 20 percent of government spending was spent on defense.

Both states have numerous types of missiles. According to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, India's nine missile types also include medium-range missiles with a range of 3,000 to 5,000 kilometers (Agni-3). The Pakistani missiles should be able to fly a maximum of 2,000 kilometers (Shaheen 2).

The arsenals of the Pakistani Army and Air Force are somewhat smaller with around 2,500 tanks, 1,600 armored vehicles and 4,500 artillery pieces than those of India with its 3,500 tanks, 3,000 armored vehicles and 4,500 artillery pieces. This is another reason why the Pakistani side is trying to compensate for this imbalance with nuclear weapons. According to Sipri, both have 130 to 150 nuclear warheads.

India's air force, on the other hand, with around 800 fighter planes, is twice as big because it wants to be prepared for a simultaneous attack by China and Pakistan. The significantly longer coast of India is also reflected in the preponderance of the sea fleet. An Indian aircraft carrier, 16 submarines, 14 destroyers and 13 frigates are not opposed to an aircraft carrier, eight submarines and nine frigates on the Pakistani side.

A nuclear conflict would have dire consequences both locally and globally, but a conventional war would most likely also result in high blood tolls in the region. (Fabian Sommavilla, February 28, 2019)