“Army’s mother document” says growing Indian military power “disturbs strategic equilibrium of the region”

Pakistan’s official Army Doctrine calls on the country to “invoke disproportionate responses” in future wars with India, a copy of the document obtained by TheHindu has revealed. “The causes of conflict with the potential to escalate to the use of violence,” the classified internal document states, “emanate from the unresolved issue of Kashmir, the violation of treaty arrangements on sharing of natural resources, and the organised and deliberate support by external powers to militant organisations.”

The December 2011 Doctrine does not name any country as a threat, but Pakistan has accused India of seeking to block its access to Indus waters, and backing terrorism. The Doctrine describes itself as the “army’s mother document” and “the fountainhead for all subordinate doctrines.”

Indian military sources told TheHindu the study was commissioned in the summer of 2008, soon after former chief of army staff General Pervez Kayani took office. It evolved through intensive discussions of the Kargil war of 1999 and the near-war that followed the December, 2011, terrorist attack on Parliament House

Georgetown University scholar Dr. C. Christine, author of a forthcoming book, Fighting to the End , says the Doctrine confirms what scholars have long known. “It tells us several interesting things,” she says, “among them that the Pakistan army sees Indian military modernisation as a threat, but that they also think nuclear weapons will insulate them from the consequences of pursuing high-risk strategies, like backing jihadist clients.”

Future wars, the Doctrine states, “will be characterised by high-intensity, high-tempo operations under a relatively transparent battle-space environment.” This, it states, is because of the “incremental increase in asymmetry of conventional forces and [the] nuclear overhang” — evident references to the programme of rapid modernisation India put into place after the 2001-2002 crisis, and both countries’ efforts to expand their nuclear weapons capabilities.

In the view of the Doctrine’s authors, de-facto parity between the two countries induced “through a combination of conventional and nuclear deterrence, has obviated the [likelihood of] conventional war.”

However, the Doctrine argues, “a disparity at the conventional plane continues to grow disproportionately, which too disturbs the strategic equilibrium of the region.” This, it states, “depletes peaceful diplomacy and dialogue, replacing it with coercion on the upper planes and violence across the lower-ends of the spectrum.”

“What worries Pakistan’s army,” says the former Indian Army vice-chief, Arvinder Lamba, “is their inability to organise offensive or defensive responses to our growing rapid mobilisation capacity. Their challenge is to deter us from striking by threatening nuclear weapons use in the face of the least provocation.

“India’s government and military must seek perceptual clarity on exactly what we intend to do in the face of such threats,” he said.

The Doctrine states that Pakistan will use nuclear weapons “only as a last resort, given its scale and scope of destruction.” Nuclear parity between India and Pakistan, it argues, “does not accrue any substantial military advantage to either side, other than maintaining the status quo.”

“In a nuclear deterrent environment,” it adds, “war is unlikely to create decisive military or political advantage.” However, it argues that “integration and synergy between conventional and nuclear forces, maintaining both at an appropriate level… [will avoid] an open-ended arms race.”

It does not state what the red lines compelling nuclear weapons use might be, but says future strategic “force development centres around developing and maintaining credible minimum deterrence, based on a [land, sea and air] triad, including an assured second-strike capability [to an Indian nuclear first-strike].”

“Lots of this thinking has been operationalised in Pakistan’s military,” says Rana Banerjee, a New Delhi-based expert on the Pakistan army, and former Research and Analysis Wing official. “Basically, this document signals they intend to react to even limited Indian military operations with disproportionate force, and hope fear of escalation deters New Delhi from reacting to events like 26/11.”