South Asia's Emerging Nuclear Postures Implications for Regional Stability
The overt nuclearisation of South Asia in 1998 and the development of operational nuclear capabilities by both India and Pakistan helped restore the strategic balance between the two countries. The lessons of the 1999 Kargil conflict and the 2001–2002 military stand-off further reinforced the idea that war was no longer a feasible means of achieving political objectives. This was also reflected in the Joint Communiqué of 2004, in which both sides considered nuclear weapons as a factor contributing to stability. This bilateral understanding, however, remained short lived. India moved on to explore space under a nuclear environment, and Pakistan reacted by introducing short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) to cater for its conventional disadvantage, while maintaining deterrence at the strategic level. This action–reaction syndrome has caused a degree of anxiety among international observers, and therefore its implications must be understood in the South Asian regional context.
Adil Sultan is a Visiting Research Fellow for South Asia at International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), London from Pakistan, where he serves as Director, Research & Analysis at the Policy, Doctrine and Strategy Branch of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD). Also a Visiting Faculty Member at the National Defence University, Islamabad, he has published extensively on issues of nuclear deterrence, arms control and strategic stability in South Asian.
Co-sponsored by the Oxford University Pakistan Society