India has a no-first use nuclear policy while Pakistan does not. That may change with a new BJP govt at the helm. While this may appear only to be of symbolic importance nevertheless symbols are important. There should have been out of the box thinking (whereby NaMo would sit down with NaSha and discuss ways and means to strengthen regional security) instead what we have is more macho posturing.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), widely tipped to form the next government,
pledged on Monday to revise India’s nuclear doctrine, whose central
principle is that New Delhi would not be first to use atomic weapons in a
Unveiling its election manifesto, the party gave no
details, but sources involved in drafting the document said the
“no-first-use” policy introduced after India conducted a series of
nuclear tests in 1998 would be reconsidered.
Arch-rival Pakistan, which responded within weeks that year by conducting tests of its own, does not profess “no first use”.
The BJP made no mention of reviewing nuclear policy in its manifesto for the previous elections in 2009.
India adopted a no-first-use policy at a
time when it was under pressure from punitive embargoes by western
nations for its nuclear tests, but since then it has been unofficially
accepted as a nuclear power. The no-first-use policy was based on a premise that India would
retaliate so massively against a nuclear strike that an enemy would not
contemplate such a move in the first place.
However, a source
who advises the BJP said there has been significant debate in recent
years about being bound to the policy given the advances of Pakistan’s
He said Pakistan’s nuclear inventory may
have already overtaken that of its neighbour, and it has claimed
progress in miniaturization of weapons for use on the battlefield. “Do we need tactical weapons? This issue was never raised and discussed
because at the time it was not a concern.” said another source involved
in drawing up the manifesto.
There was no immediate reaction from the Pakistan government or its military, which controls foreign and defence policy. A former Pakistani national security adviser, retired Major General
Mahmud Ali Durrani, said he would not be concerned if India revised the
central tenet of its nuclear doctrine. “I don’t think it will
be of great consequence,” he said. “The nuclear doctrine here is MAD
(mutually assured destruction). If one side does it, the other side has
enough to cause unacceptable damage in response.”