Former Pakistani General Urges Short Range Indo Pakistani Ballistic Missile Limits to Avoid War

Retired General Feroz Khan, who ran the Pakistani army's Arms Control and Disarmament Office, authored this essay for NPEC which suggests that the Indian and Pakistani governments should consider eliminating certain types of short range ballistic missiles. This complements a presentation he gave with U.S. government officials present at a private NPEC gathering organized with the U.S. Naval War College.

Feb 24, 2010
AUTHOR: Retired General Feroz Khan
Prospects of Arms Control and CBMS Between India and Pakistan-ESSAY (PDF) 191.47 KB

Prospects for Indian and Pakistani Arms Control and CBMs


The regional dynamic in South Asia is both extravagant and complicated. For centuries various empires have risen, thrived and fallen, as numerous wars and clashes for control over resources spread across the geography. South Asian history writ large has seen hypothetical borders drawn several times over, leaving open the questions of viability of state control and dealing with perpetuating ethnic tensions. Though the great partition of India in 1947 ought to have politically resolved communal disharmony, the haste of British withdrawal constituted a geopolitical quagmire that has resulted in an “enduring rivalry” between the nations of India and Pakistan that has lasted for more than 60 years.[1]

The contemporary security climate in the region has exasperated this historical precedent of protracted conflict, which has in turn, nurtured an environment that remains immune to building trust and confidence. Since the demonstration of their nuclear capabilities, both India and Pakistan have increased the risk of wars; cross border arms build-ups; and lack of sustained peace dialogue either bilaterally or under the aegis of any third party or international organization.Moreover, the regional security environment breeds broader strategic anxieties in both India and Pakistan, which makes the likelihood of conventional war between the two nuclear armed neighbors exponentially higher than anywhere else in the world.

Thus the ensuing regional culture leans more towards military competition, as opposed to strategic restraint and conflict resolution (the logical course for strategic stability). Clearly, considering prospects of arms control and confidence building measures (CBMs) in the midst of this current regional and international climate remains problematic all to itself, but when strategic imbalances are further influenced by the singular perceptions of the predominating powers in the region, addressing the various grievances becomes ever more convoluted.

Despite these geopolitical calamities, this paper examines the prospects of arms control and CBMs in South Asia within the next decade. In order to provide a sustainable and realistic effort toward the latter, the first section will examine the strategic anxieties of India and Pakistan, respectively; the second section will be an overview of treaties and CBMs that have been attempted in the past (some of which are still applicable today), reviewing a trend of crisis and bilateral missteps; the third section analyzes the Lahore Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) of 1998, and the Strategic Restraint Regime (SRR) proposals, and how such measures can be more effective in the future; and finally, presenting three possible trajectories that the region might take, and suggesting new ways forward that can create an environment malleable to pragmatic CBMs and arms control measures feasible in the foreseeable future.


India’s Strategic Anxieties

As previously suggested, the dynamics associated with the endemic rivalry between India and Pakistan must be viewed through the broader lens of regional politics and security. This becomes more apparent when considering India’s perception of Chinese strategic objectives in the region. In order to propose any realistic CBMs for the future, such perceptions must be factored into the overall South Asian security equation

In general, India believes China is encircling the country by establishing special partnerships with many of India’s smaller neighbors. Specifically, India is irked by growing relationship evolving between China and Pakistan, which India believes has a singular purpose of bringing down its natural rise as an aspiring global power.

One of the more onerous issues is the perception that has come to be known as the “string of pearls.”[2] To provide a frame of reference, Pakistan’s Makran coastline has strategic significance, which offers Pakistan options to counter India’s projection of power in the Indian Ocean. Pakistan has already shown signs that it is moving to develop broader air and naval capabilities.The build-up of Gwadar commercial port along this coast – assisted by China – exacerbates India’s anxieties, and provides Pakistan with broader strategic utility. For the Chinese, it provides a potential access to energy pipelines that would “unlock trade routes to the market and energy supplies of Central Asia,” with less risk.[3]

This is significant as India is geographically restricted in its access to the east as well as the west; due to the physical presence of Bangladesh and Pakistan, as well as the Himalayas to the north. In this regard, India’s access to South West Asia runs into a geographical barrier because of its rivalry with Pakistan. Similarly, India succumbs to constraints from East Asia via Bangladesh/Burma, which physically blocks India’s access to those markets. With China also entering the scene with growing presence along the Makran Coast, the situation from India’s perspective becomes evermore tenuous. This, in turn, forces it to rely on its maritime capabilities in order to maintain trade routes and logistics between its continental shores and the rest of the world making-up for this strategic handicap.

As a part of this expanded naval presence, India has launched ballistic missile subs, and other naval capabilities, that can act as an extended security arm for protecting its various trade routes, as well as enable a third strike capability (in addition to its land based and air assets). India’s growing presence in the maritime environment, in conjunction with its overall strategic rise, makes its smaller neighbors nervous. This strategic apprehension creates a ripple effect across the region, where the smaller countries move closer to external alliances in order to balance India’s rising power.

Additionally, India believes China is propping up Pakistan’snuclear and military capabilities in areas where western technologies are not supplanting the need. In particular, India is under the impression that Pakistan is taking advantage of America’s involvement in Afghanistan, which places it in a unique position to acquire strategic capabilities and other political remunerations.

Regardless of these concerns, India’s strategic calculus of structural and conventional force advantages over Pakistan was neutralized (to an extent) ever since Pakistan demonstrated its nuclear capability in 1998. Many Indian strategists believe, however, that this nuclear hedge provides Pakistan with the ability to boldly conduct asymmetric warfare against India without fear of reprisal. This reinforces India’s belief that and as long as Pakistan can keep India engaged inwardly through insurgencies (as well as build upon its strategic alliances with the U.S. and China), India’s rise to power will be curtailed.

Pakistan’s strategic anxieties:

Generally speaking, Pakistan’s strategic anxieties in the region are a mirror reflection of India; vis a vis the other half of the “enduring rivalry.” For Pakistan, however, the objective is threefold and simplistic in nature: national survival; remain a relevant actor in region; and refuse to be marginalized by India.

Pakistan is also a country that wields vast manpower with a population of 170 million; strong strategic assets in the shape of nuclear weapons and natural resources; half million size conventional army; and a proactive player in the Muslim world. The latter not only serves as a means to connect with the Muslim community on a bilateral sense, but also helps play a role in bridging Islamic countries with China and United States. Despite such macro level accolades, the intense rivalry and competition with India over the past 60 years has made Pakistan India-phobic and paranoid of a variety of issues.

Much like India’s concerns over the geographic firewall that restricts its land accessibility to the east and west, so does Pakistan interpret India’s foreign policy maneuvers as geopolitically encircling the state. As India increases its influence and presence in Afghanistan through a slew of consulates, Pakistan considers these developments hostile to its interests. India has also established a strategically located air base in Tajikistan (Ayni Air base in Dushanbe), which also adds to these suspicions. Further, India’s investment in the Iranian port of Chabahar – 50 miles west of Gwadar Port – and construction of roads through Zahedan into Afghanistan, adds additional tension in an area that is essential for transporting goods and energy to a host of countries. All of these moves are, respectively, viewed as encircling Pakistan.

There are also operational issues that hinder Pakistan’s strategic balance on its eastern and western borders. India’s strategic orientation remains towards Pakistan, where the bulk of its armed forces are deployed. As a result, Indian and Pakistani troops remain deployed –eyeball to eyeball – along the Line of Control (LOC) in Kashmir; this has been the case since 1948. On the opposite side of its border, Pakistan’s anxieties are no more apparent than the multitude of internal strife that has embroiled in multiple insurgencies and instabilities along its frontier territory. In sum, Pakistan is caught between striking a balance between dealing with India and crushing multiple insurgencies, while still retaining interests in Afghanistan.

The ultimate nightmare for Pakistan is to live with two hostile neighbors -- India in the east and Afghanistan in the west. Pakistan believes that unless conflict is resolved with India, it has no choice but to seek balance with an ethnically diverse and friendly government in Kabul; a government that does not conduct negative bidding on the behest of powers hostile to Pakistan and further destabilizes the already troubled western border areas. On the contrary, if Afghanistan becomes a strategic satellite of India’s geopolitical out-maneuverings, in addition to the ongoing problems in Jammu and Kashmir, a perpetual state of tension and crises will continue to loom between the three countries.

Overarching these regional issues is Pakistan’s fear that its long-term ally, the U.S., may eventually turn against it under Indian influence. The U.S.-India nuclear deal was an event which has exacerbated these anxieties, viewed by Pakistan as skewing the imbalance in greater favor of the already powerful India. In fact, since 9/11, there has been a slow erosion of overall international sympathy with Pakistan’s grievances, especially over the issues of Jammu and Kashmir; the socio-economic costs of three decades of Afghan wars; and daily episodes of terrorism within the country.

The prospects of such growing imbalances of political and economic disparities vis a vis India, coupled with these mounting internal problems (especially persistent terrorism ranging from Quetta to Swat) will continue to endanger Pakistan’s cumulative national power. Under consistent pressure from India, instability in Afghanistan and fragile domestic structure, Pakistan as a state will become significantly weak and unstable. Therefore, its aforementioned strengths could very well become its vulnerabilities, and stir broad international upheaval. Under these circumstances, Pakistanis are keener to obtain strategic peace with India that allows them the space and time to recover from these multiple challenges.

Breaking the Gridlock

Given both India and Pakistan’s strategic anxieties, it is no wonder that they succumb to gridlock rather than a path of reconciliation and confidence building measures (CBMs).Further, because of blatantly conflicting objectives between the two countries – one global and the other regional – security competition and asymmetry of interests continues to grow between the two. Despite negativity and pessimism, however, there are potential for both new CBMs and arms control. A brief overview of the CBMs from 1947 to date, illustrates the nature of the problem, and a conceptual framework of past initiatives is also necessary to consider (especially given that past attempts have been directly affiliated with crisis and entrenched in ulterior motives). Nonetheless, learning from these unsuccessful attempts will strengthen considerations when framing such policies in the future.


One of the explanations attributing to such a track record has been indebted in the fact that each major treaty, or CBM, has had a high point of origin in crisis resolution. Historically, Pakistan preferred outside mediation in disputes with India; because as a smaller and weaker party with a strong sense of morality on its side, it could win justice through such means (e.g. international organizations like the UN, or seeking alliance with major powers). That proved to be a fallacy. Instead it became a geopolitical pawn between great powers during the Cold War. Rather than strengthening itself by alliance and relevancy against its archrival India, it found itself in strategic competition with India where trajectories favored India, while the alliance did not mitigate its security concerns. This then became a fundamental reason for Pakistan to seek a nuclear weapons program.

India, on the other hand, always despised outside intervention in its sub-continental affairs, and has sought to address all problems to be resolved on a bilateral basis – because of asymmetric power that is tipped in its favor. In general, bilateralism has suited India for strategic reasons, and conforms to its traditional nonaligned stance of keeping the superpowers away from the region.

Nevertheless, despite India’s insistence on bilateralism, not a single problem has been resolved on a bilateral basis. Moreover since 9/11, Pakistan has come under scrutiny from the international community in regards to its policy of use of asymmetric force to settle the dispute of Jammu and Kashmir. In this context, outside intervention does not necessarily favor Pakistan, and could strengthen India’s position. Aside from the present disparity, treaties and agreements that were brokered by outside intervention in the past, had led to both India and Pakistan having a generally good record of implementation.

Major Agreements and Treaties, 1947-2004

The first agreement after the 1947-48 war over Kashmir, through bilateral talks between India and Pakistan, came about as an extension of a UN Security Council Resolution. Under this resolution, the 1949 Karachi Agreement was constituted.This initial agreement should have served as a framework for other measures in the future. To date, the Karachi Agreement serves as the guideline for the conduct of troops deployed along the LOC in Kashmir.Monitored by UN observers, both India and Pakistan have deployed forces along the LOC adhering (by and large) to the parameters set by the UN approved agreement.

The next major agreement, the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, was also a response to crisis and brokered by any third party mechanism – the World Bank. This agreement, over water distribution, had its origin in the Kashmir crisis. While former President Pervez Musharrraf’s “out of the box” interim solution to Kashmir dispute went nowhere, behind the scenes negotiations continued dragged on. Meanwhile India began constructing new dams in Kashmir, diverting authorized water resources to Pakistan; this was in clear violation of the Indus Water Treaty. This not only reveals that Kashmir is not just ideological and territorial dispute, but a water resource issue with a potential for crises and tension as well. Though both India and Pakistan have developed reasonable complaints, the basic tenants of the treaty have functioned despite many wars and military crisis. Yet, if India’s dam constructions and water diversion strategy to leverage against Pakistan persist, it could well lead to the eventual collapse of the Indus Water Treaty all together.

The Tashkent Agreement 1966 was brokered by the Soviets after the 1965 war, and indirectly supported by the U.S. Once again, like the previous agreement in 1948, this came about as a result of crisis and war. Though the Tashkent Agreement did not provide any framework for resolution of the disputes between India and Pakistan – at least for the next 25 years – the dispute over Jammu and Kashmir remained on the backburner.

After the 1971 war, however, the approach to dialogue changed. With India’s primacy established, there was no further agreement that was implemented on a third-party basis. Proceeding agreements would be conducted bilaterally, or with mere pressure from the international community. There are three major agreements that can be attributed to India and Pakistan bilateral relations. Again, each of these agreements came with crisis as a backdrop:

· The Simla Agreement 1972 was directly in response of the 1971 War.


· Lahore Agreement 1999 was reaction to crisis spawned from the 1998 nuclear tests and ongoing Kashmir crisis.


· 2004 Islamabad Accord resulted from 9/11 and the 2001-2 military crisis and ongoing Kashmir issues.


All of these agreements, from 1972 onward, were bilateral, had effective framework to resolve conflict but had no effective longevity. One after another they were violated by either side, resulting in deep military crisis repeatedly. For example, in the mid-1980s, India was undergoing a Sikh crisis in Punjab when Indian Army assaulted Sikh holy shrine in Amritsar (Operation Bluestar) that exacerbated Sikh insurgency. Simultaneously in a planned military operation, India decided to occupy Siachin Glacier (Operation Meghdoot) in the disputed northern areas of Kashmir. This event once again brought up the issue of Jammu and Kashmir on the radar screen of India- Pakistan dispute. Two years later, Indian army chief General Sundarji planned a major military exercise code named ‘Brasstacks’ that had a secret plan for a preventive war as a pretext to neutralize Pakistan’s nuclear program.[4] These two crises occurred at a time when Pakistan was deeply involved in asymmetric war against the Soviet Union (with support of with the U.S).

In 1990, the next crisis resulted from a Kashmir uprising where escalation peaked to a point when India and Pakistan were once again at the brink of war. This crisis was significant from one stand point – both India and Pakistan had a covert nuclear weapons capability, which was known to both sides. This prompted the United States to intervene from now onwards.

Additionally, the history of trust damaging episodes in the midst of such crisis has been far greater than the record of keeping faith in treaties. Again, while India has a global audience to project its position, Pakistan has typically had a smaller, regional venue. All of these elements help explain the rise and failure of various agreements, treaties and accords. Yet, another lens to consider toward progress on the diplomatic front is the induction of strategic CBMs.

Strategic CBMs:

The notion of strategic CBM implies that nuclear CBMs and conventional military force CBMs have a symbiotic relationship. One of the foremost issues of CBMs between India and Pakistan is of a conceptual nature. The premise behind strategic CBMs is that nuclear CBMs, on their own, are meaningless if conventional force restraints are not applied. There are four distinct areas where India and Pakistan differ in terms of structuring and harnessing CBMs, while arms control becomes problematic.

First, India is abhorrent to anything that binds it to regional terms.From the outset, India took a position of global disarmament as a prelude to its own disarmament on nuclear weapons. Pakistan, on the other hand, insists on everything that is regional and India specific. Based off the latter, India does not want to be tied down to Pakistan alone, and recognizes problems with other countries (specifically China) that must also be calculated. India also only wants nuclear military CBMs that allow it to keep its conventional force supremacy intact. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s insistence on regional nuclear CBMs is also a result of Western pressure to forgo its nuclear ambitions. Its nuclear program was nurtured under obstacles, sanctions and other reprisals from the nonproliferation regime. Moreover, Pakistan has endured sanctions that have affected it a negative manner, whereas India has sustained sanctions with little or no affect.

Second, any CBM that inhibits India’s use of force within the region is considered to be counterintuitive to their force posture. This then is Pakistan’s fundamental problem. Third, India insists that nuclear CBMs begin with a declared doctrine. Pakistan simply believes that real doctrines are classified and declared doctrines are simply “verbal posturing” meant for diplomatic consumption only.[5]

Lastly, India believes that on the matters of command and control, its declared second-strike doctrine and civil supremacy of armed forces is sufficient to explain the articulation of command and control on nuclear weapons. For Pakistan, clear delineation of command channels and explicit decision making bodies constitute a system that is responsible for managing command and control during peace, crisis and war. This emphasis on command and control is also a reflection of Pakistan’s checkered history of civil-military relations.

In response, Pakistan began to proffer regional proposals beginning with India’s first nuclear test in 1974. Seven regional based proposals were made, with each one automatically rejected by India.[6] This allowed Pakistan to show (the region in their case) that India did not want to cooperate; thus, placing this burden on India to defend its position. Pakistan knew that the proposals were not realistic and the international community recognized this point as well.Though not all proposals were disingenuous, and had world powers not dismissed it, there might have had different outcome. Pakistan also used these regional proposals in order to create the diplomatic space to develop their own nuclear program, while simultaneously shifting the pressure onto India, and underscoring the responsibility of proliferation on the bigger power.

Moving forward, new military and nuclear CBMs (similar to the treaties previously discussed) came about in the wake of nuclear developments and military crisis. Most of them were, once again, bilateral CBMs.For example, the prohibition against attacking nuclear installations and facilities in 1988 was in response to information that was widely analyzed, showing that India would attack Pakistani nuclear installations; precedent was also established after Sachin and bombing on Iraqi nuclear facilities.

India and Pakistan once again went into bilateral agreements following the major crisis in the 1980s, when political leadership under Zia-ul-Haq, and subsequent civilian leaders like Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif, also created initiatives with India’s Rajiv Gandhi and other congressional leaders. Additional agreements would follow.

Notifications of military exercises and airspace violations were actually a derivative of ‘Brasstacks’ and other minor incidents in which the Indian Army contemplated making a war with Pakistan. The agreement would oblige each side to provide advanced notification of military exercises.

Another example is the bilateral, joint declaration of complete prohibition of chemical weapons (1992), was in response of both sides trading allegations that the other was building a chemical weapons program. This joint agreement was also a way to deflect pressures from the international community, which was then deliberating the implementation of Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) that was eventually signed in 1993. When India declared possession of Chemical Weapons as required by CWC, Pakistan protested, alleging violation of the bilateral, joint declaration against chemical weapons.

Lastly, are the hotlines agreement between DGMOs, the foreign secretaries and maritime security agencies, which came about as an agreed mechanism for military and diplomats to communicate with each other in order to prevent emergence of a crisis, and manage escalation. Though this is a reasonable and practical means to communicate, it has not been used in such a manner. As opposed to their original intent to act as a crisis prevention tool, hotlines have typically been used for deception at worst and post-crisis management at best.

There have been plenty of examples showing this misuse of the otherwise productive tool, for example:hotlines were useful after the withdrawal of the Kargil crisis, but not during; the 1999 Indian plane hijacking hotlines between the DGMOs did not work when crisis was at its peak; Mumbai 2008, the foreign secretaries line did not prevent India and Pakistan situation from derailing the entire peace process; the maritime security hotline has not prevented the daily fishermen from being caught by each side, rather, it has been used after the fact when the governments decide to return them.

All of these agreements indicate that there have been thoughtful ideas, but the implementation of those ideas has been incredibly poor in nature. Neither side has built upon such measures, but has instead used them as a means to counteract the other.


Contrary to many of the discussed agreements, The Lahore Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is by far the most significant agreement between India and Pakistan that has created a framework for not just new arms control and CBMs, but contains the prospects of conflict resolution as well.

The Lahore MOU came as a result of the famous summit between the Prime ministers of India and Pakistan in February of 1999. This agreement was a result of an intense eight month period after the nuclear test in May 1998 in which U.S. diplomats – led by Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbot – were actively involved to implement the United Nations Security Council resolution.[7]The June 1998 UN Security Council resolution condemned both India and Pakistan, placing stringent conditions on both countries including the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. In fact, there were many ideas flowing between India and Pakistani diplomats during this time.[8]

India and Pakistan decided to triangulate bilateral dialogues with the U.S. as the third party player. Theoretically, this was a good way forward; however, with each side speaking separately to the U.S., great suspicion ensued. Another entanglement was that the U.S. was approaching the issue based on their experience in Europe; this did not necessarily conform to South Asia.For example, most CBMs and agreements were in a bipolar world during the Cold War. Moreover, these agreements happened after the conflict was resolved: East-West conflict had ended. This did not conform to the strategic realities of this region.

Despite these incongruities, strategic restraint became the term de jour. The U.S. experts team presented Pakistan a paper called Minimum Deterrence Posture (MDP), which included concepts of how to move forward, to include: geographical separation of major components of nuclear arsenals and delivery means; the segregation of delivery systems from warhead locations; declaring nonnuclear delivery systems with their specific locations (e.g. which squadron of aircraft would be nuclear or non-nuclear and provide the location); the establishment of a finite ceiling for fissile material production and monitoring of nuclear testing; and lastly, limiting ballistic flight tests and production limits. This was otherwise referred to as “strategic pause.”

These concepts were alien to South Asian security experts. Again, it was derived by Cold War concepts, which was not applicable to the regional security environment. India and Pakistan obviously did not accept them; however, the Pakistan side did recognize these concepts in principle, with a promise to return back to what they considered to be within their own regional interests.

In response, Pakistan analyzed U.S. proposals and translated it into their own regional-based proposal, which they coined, Strategic Restraint Regime (SRR).[9] The SRR was conceptually emphasized through the principle of nuclear restraint, with conventional force restraint as well; hence, a strategic CBM. It was simply not practical for a small country like Pakistan to ‘segregate’ delivery systems as presented by the U.S. This was unacceptable because it undercut Pakistan’s ambiguity of strategic deterrence, while still allowing India to wage a conventional war against them. Lastly, Pakistan and India were not agreeing to the comprehensive CTBT, but were principally agreeing to the U.S. that they would not be conducting anymore tests. The result was that the dialogue lost its fervor because the U.S. began to mirror India’s position resulting in the Pakistan loosing interest.

Pakistan’s fundamental problem was India’s conventional threat, which remained unaddressed in every proposal given by the U.S.Any CBMs not related to conventional force would be irrelevant, and therefore, the failure of acceptance of SSR in South Asia was the bedrock from which new U.S. policy towards the region, as well as new strategic competition between India and Pakistan began.

What Pakistan proposed was a comprehensive conventional force restraint agreement. This proposal had three major elements: first was indentifying the offensive forces of each country whose location and posture were to be acknowledged; second, was the designation of geographical border areas as Low Force Zone (LFZ) where offensive forces would be kept at bay; third is the notion of a mutually balanced force reduction in the long-run as conflict resolution and peace prevails in the region. As an alternative, the Pakistani side produced several proposals and designated each side as an offensive force. By identifying the forces that are offensive to each other, there could be measures to move these formations away geographically in order to prevent tensions and armed conflict.

The LFZs would be the hallmark of this intended policy.In LFZs, the border areas and towns close-by would have a defense purpose only – the number of forces in these garrisons would remain as agreed upon by both sides. In the event of changes, each side would notify the other. Moreover, the Pakistani side proposed a mutually balanced and proposed force reduction in the long-run. Due to a proportional difference in force (India having a much larger military apparatus) conventional force reduction, would be proportional, with force ratios equal between the two sides.

On the question of nuclear non-mating and delivery systems, Pakistan acknowledged this to be an existential nuclear posture. Pakistan was amenable to formalizing regional non-deployment of nuclear weapons in conjunction with conflict resolution and conventional force restraints. The SRR also proposed mutual missile restraints between India and Pakistan, including: range payload ceiling; flight testing notifications; and prohibition of additional destabilizing modernizations, such as missile defense and development of SLBMs in order to address the issue.

Despite all of these developments in the negotiation process, however, the U.S. accepted India’s position in not agreeing to these terms. This resulted in derailment of the whole process. Unfortunately, U.S. ignorance of the SSR was a historical failure, which could have produced a general peace and stability framework in the region against a trajectory of competition and conflict.

Nevertheless, the Lahore MOU framework came as a result of political will from the leadership in both India and Pakistan. The bureaucrats were pressured to reach an agreement within a span of ten days – and they did. This not only illustrates that there is no dearth of ideas as far as CBMs are concerned, but emphasizes the importance political will as well. The Lahore MOU still stands as the best framework to pick up the threads of peace and security architecture in South Asia.

The next section examines the three possible trajectories India and Pakistan could take in the second decade of the 21st century given the current course. The stability in the region would depend on the dynamics that could be emerged from the following three scenarios; ideally, one that promotes peace and security through strategic CBMs.



Today, the region as a whole stands in a ‘bad’ position; the choice from here is to either go down a path that leads to a good scenario, or one that plummets the situation into a multitude of ugly developments.

The status quo between India and Pakistan is plush with tension, where trust has been lost (as presented throughout this piece). There is no third party influence that can change this inertia. The only positive influence is the U.S., however, even under its nudging, India and Pakistan continue to only ‘talk the talk,’ not ‘walk the talk.’ Each failure in a dialogue process, results in the stronger side learning from the weaker side’s negotiating positions and vulnerabilities so it can exploit when tension and crises return. Therefore, whenever Pakistan has tried to concede in the past, instead of converting the development into a sincere, honest proposal, India has come back with an alternative proposition, which knowing full well would be unacceptable for Pakistan to concede.

The result the outlined posture in the region, is a slow arms race that continues to push the region closer to conventional force deployments. India continues to apply coercive diplomatic pressure and suggestive doctrines like Cold Start, which has implied threatening use of force through public statements by both civilians and military leaders alike. In fact, a recent statement by Indian Army Chief Deepak Kapur stated publically that India can deal with Pakistan within the first 96 hours of engagement, and immediately turn to China without issue.[10]This is a mere example of the aggressive posturing by Indian military in recent years.And because Pakistani forces are deployed on multiple fronts, with the potential of political crisis, the likelihood of Pakistan to push toward strategic weapons deployment, or shift from the a recessed nuclear deployment toward an ambiguous state of deployment is likely (2-3 years if the trend persists)

Every major power is dealing with India with new nuclear agreements, making India the only country in the world which is a non-member of NPT – having no obligation of a non-weapons state -- but is at the same time recognized as a de facto nuclear weapons state. This position of a appeasing a state, which challenged the regime and is not susceptible to the NPT is creating a sense of Western duplicity and discriminatory feelings in Pakistan. These issues, coupled with the U.S. agenda to jump-start the global arms control process (CTBT, etc), will force Pakistan into a position where it no longer has any incentive to cooperate.


If this bad trend continues, then a direr scenario will ensue. Increasing tension between India and China, as well as India and Pakistan will develop. This will lead to a heightened security environment in the region, leading military forces to be on the alert, if not fully deployed on the borders. This could easily become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Technological innovation would be the acquisition or deployment of missile defenses with the transfer of technologies such as arrow, in collaboration with Israel, etc. China may not be expected to deploy its strategic arsenal, but Pakistan cannot be expected to remain non-deployed if this arises. In return, India would have deployed strategic arsenals by more robust naval development such as nuclear submarines, or any other mix of strategic weapons.

When a situation of this sort happens, the possibility of hot pursuits either along the LOC, by Indian ground forces and Special Forces; cross border attacks by Indian air force; ornaval coercive deployment in the Arabian Sea by Indian forces to exploit Pakistan’s vulnerabilities cannot be ruled out.

Alternatively, implementing Cold Start organizational pattern of deployment as outlined in the doctrine – through integrated battle groups (IBGs) – could also be strategically deployed in the area. This would be a clear fortification of the border, and flagrant attempt to escalate. In response, Pakistan would break loose from all arms control discussion. This can lead to a whole meltdown of the regional situation, with the U.S. no longer in a position to positively intervene.


The ugly scenario can be prevented if the current trajectories are reversed through cautious influence by big powers to end the India-Pakistan deadlock. If the dialogue process does lead in a positive direction, and in a meaningful way, there can certainly be a good option, with the potential for strategic CBMs.

India must make a consciences policy shift towards Pakistan, recognizing the two positive trends that have recently emerged. First is the success of democratic political process, and second, is the focus of the Pakistani military against violent extremism. Therefore, India must reach out through the dialogue process to strengthen and support these trends. India should also revise its current security doctrine of coercion (Cold Start), exploitation (e.g. back away from perceived negative role in Afghanistan) and aggressive diplomatic isolation of Pakistan, which is in vogue at the time of this writing.

The best course for India is to pick-up the threads of the Lahore MOU and Islamabad Accord, from where it was left. If India picks-up what was in the framework in Lahore and gives a fair consideration of thought to the SSR (thinking through the lens of strategic CBMs) that Pakistan offered, progress can be made.

By way of easing the relationship and initiating people-to-people contact, three separate endeavors should be agreed upon between India and Pakistan:

· Promoting religious tourism. Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims and other religious sects should be afforded an opportunity to visit shrines in India, as well as Pakistanis in the inverse. 

· An increased cultural tourism and sports exchange. India has used sports as a cultural and political tool in the past ranging from threats to not send cricket teams for competition, to openly supporting Hindu extremists to threaten Pakistani players and cultural performances. Such acts should cease, with a more positive exchange in the future. 

· Ease-up trade relations between the two countries. There are concerns on both sides, but there can be some linkages. 

· Most important is the water – Indus Water Treaty. For the first time, there is a sense that India is using its position to bolster water rights from Pakistan by erecting dams, etc. If they move in a direction that embraces cooperation on such important strategic issues, than the prospects of CBMs can sow the seeds from this fertile soil. 


In the next three to five years, four key areas have prospects of beginning CBMs and even rudimentary arms control measures. These are briefly mentioned here – all of which can be attributed to the tragic Mumbai incident in 2008. Further analysis and elaboration can be fulfilled in a later discussion. Yet, it is important to provide an overview of such potential measures when proposing a new way forward.

First, and most immediate, is a CBM for India and Pakistan to revive the Joint Anti-Terrorism Mechanism that was agreed in 2006; sequential to the 2004 Islamabad Accord. This mechanism failed as a result of Mumbai incident, 2008. It is important that both countries draw lessons from the failure and improve the mechanism so as to prevent derailment of relations between the two countries as a result of a terror attack. It is unlikely that terrorism in the region will disappear any time soon, but it is important to not allow terrorists to hold two nuclear armed states hostage.

Next, India and Pakistan should establish a National Risk Reduction Center (NRRC). In the case of Mumbai, there existed a deadlock of communication at both political and military levels following this horrific event. This indicated the fragility of relations between the two countries. An intuitional mechanism of reducing such risks –with a spectrum of communications and resolutions ranging from a Mumbai-type terror incident, up to a nuclear related accident –is now essential.

The third CBM is maritime in nature. Because the Mumbai incident involved maritime transit, there is all the more reason for developing maritime CBMs between the two countries. India and Pakistan can begin under the spirit of Lahore MOU, and INC SEA agreement, delineating maritime boundaries to prevent fishermen incursions, and also develop maritime cooperation in other areas like sea piracy. A maritime hotline should be put to better use as to prevent another Mumbai related event, and abduction of innocent fishermen.

Finally, even though it may appear premature, India and Pakistan must conduct a very sober analysis of ballistic missile inventories. As widely reported and understood, the shortest ranged ballistic missiles, Prithvi-I in the case of India and HATF-I in the case of Pakistan, have little strategic utility and greater technical problems to manage. It may be wise for India and Pakistan to consider eliminating these two capabilities as a first step. This will prove to be symbolic, without impacting military stature, or capabilities to address various contingencies. Similarly, in the long-term, there may be a realization that the next category of ballistic missiles, Prithvi-II and HATF-II, may also be left with less military utility. The technical and strategic analysis of this proposal is not given here, but is again left for further analysis at a later time.

Nonetheless, if the current dialogue process that has been announced to start by the end of February 2010 puts the region on the good path, with India and Pakistan commencing a meaningful CBM, there are clauses within the Lahore LOU which can be resurrected. Examples are as follows: engaging in bilateral consultations on security; disarmament and nonproliferation issues; review of the existing communications links; and periodically reviewing the implementation of existing CBMs. The Lahore MOU also promised that expert level agreements would be negotiated at a technical-expert level. It would be wise of India and Pakistan to begin a prospect of arms control and CBMs in the next decade, using the Lahore LOU as a rubric.

The first decade of the 21st century has been rift with tremendous tensions in the region from the response to 9/11, via the “War on Terror,” to the lasting rivalry between India and Pakistan. This decade has shown that India and Pakistan have engaged on a pathway of competition and non-resolution that is steeped in historical precedent. The next decade should reverse this trend from competition to a cooperative security framework, redressed of new formal security threats and nontraditional security issues (e.g. water, energy, food security, and cross-border terrorism) taking a greater salience over old military issues.

[1] The term “Enduring rivalry” is borrowed from T.V Paul ed. The India- Pakistan Conflict: An Enduring Rivalry (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2005. He defines “enduring rivalry” as conflicts between two or more states, lasting more than two decades, with several militarized inter-state disputes punctuating the relationship in between and characterized by a persistent, fundamental and long term incompatibility of goals between two states. 

[2] Pherson, Christopher J. “String of Pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China’s Rising Power.” Strategic Studies Institute. July 2006.

[3] Kaplan, Robert. “Pakistan’s Fatal Shore.” The Atlantic. May 2009 Issue.

[4] Sagan, Scott D. Waltz, Kenneth N. The Spread of Nuclear Weapons: A Debate Renewed. New York: W. W. Norton. 2003. Pg. 92-95.

[5] See Quester, George H. Nuclear Pakistan and Nuclear India: Stable Deterrent or Proliferation Challenge?. Strategic Studies Institute. Pg 12.

[6] The regional proposals states are as follows: the South Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, Nov. 1974; Joint Renunciation of Acquisition of the manufacture of nuclear weapons, 1978; Mutual inspections of nuclear facilities, 1979; Simultaneous acceptance of IAEA ‘full scope safeguards, 1979; Simultaneous accession to the NPT, 1979; Bilateral nuclear test-ban treat, 1987; Multilateral conference on nonproliferation in South Asian in 1987 and 1991.

[7] See Security Council Resolution 1172 (1998),

[8] The author was involved as part of the expert-level dialogue with both the U.S. and India.

[9] The author was personally responsible for this paper preparation, which developed this concept. The paper was presented to the U.S. team on September 15, 1998 in New York. See Feroz H. Khan, “Reducing the Risk of Nuclear War in South Asia,” in Pakistan’s Nuclear Future: Reining in the Risk. Henry Sokolski, Editor. ) Carlisle Barracks, Strategic Studies Institute.Pg. 70-71.

[10] Kapur, Deepak qtd. by Subramanian, Nirupama. “General Kapoor’s Remarks Generate Heat in Pakistan.” The Hindu. January 5, 2010.