The complexity of South Asian deterrent relationships is likely to remain at a higher level than most other regions the world, according to T.V. Paul, director, McGill University Centre for International Peace and Security Studies and K.P.S. Menon Chair professor.

Delivering his special lecture on ‘Nuclear Doctrines in South Asia and Implications for Peace' here on Wednesday, Prof. Paul said that nuclear doctrines in South Asia were complicated by the trilateral nature of the relationship involving India, China and Pakistan. The involvement of non-State actors in the deterrent relationship has made the deterrence more complex and this situation is likely to remain so for quiet sometime, he said.

Prof. Paul said that the Indian nuclear doctrine has to factor in the Chinese doctrine, and deployment policies which affect the way Pakistan formulates its doctrine. That India and Pakistan were in the early stages of their “nuclear learning” and as such have ambiguous nuclear doctrines and face major challenges arising out of the instability on both internal and  transnational fronts, add to the complexity, he said.

 According to him, Pakistani nuclear policy was leading to a highly destabilizing doctrine due to the short response time involved in crossing the nuclear threshold. Nuclear weapons have been perceived by Pakistani elite as a “great strategic equalizer” in its relations with India, and there seemed an overambitious agenda for expansion of the nuclear arsenal to meet a large set of national goals, Prof. Paul said. He called for more confidence-building measures between the two nations as the involvement of non-State actors have complicated the situation increasing the chance of miscalculated and inadvertent escalations of nuclear hostility.

“In a 2008 Mumbai attack-like scenario, India may respond conventionally, and if Pakistan resorts to nuclear attack using theatre missiles the whole notion of deterrence could fly in the thin air,” Prof Paul said.

A.M. Thomas chaired the session. K.M. Seethi, Mathew Kurian, Rajesh Kuniyil, and others spoke. The lecture will continue on December 9 on the theme ‘Is nuclear abolition possible?'.

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