Pakistan’s national security necessities and compulsions due to tense regional environment forced it to pursue a nuclear capability that balances India. It has managed to institutionalize a robust command and control structure to ensure the complete safety, security, and effectiveness of its nuclear program – both civil and military – and has increasingly sought to cooperate with various international efforts on nuclear safety, security, and non-proliferation. Pakistan has sought to seek a strategic balance with India in lieu of New Delhi’s superior conventional military strength, its Ballistic Missiles Defense developments, military space development and growing strategic capabilities increasingly becoming China-centric without ignoring Pakistan on its west.
By combining elements of conventional and strategic forces, Pakistan’s Full Spectrum Deterrence has become pertinent to address its security compulsions towards not just India, but also address internal security challenges for ensuring state writ and control. Furthermore, peace with India and any strategic stability attempts goes back to solving the age-old bilateral issues that have been plaguing Pak-India ties since 1947 in which both sides will have to give concessions on their respective stances in order to ensure peace.
Similarly, there are misperceptions regarding Pakistan induction of Tactical Nuclear Weapons into its nuclear arsenal as the tactical weapons need to be deployed forward in the battle zone. Although, it is safe to assume that decision to deploy TNWs will be taken by the National Command Authority and it would be handled by the tri-service Strategic Forces Commands. But, since these have to be deployed on the battle zone their control has to be delegated down the military command chain vertically. This could eventually render the delegation independent of the central command authority. For the timely deployment of TNWs, command and control of these weapons would need to be decentralized. Such weapons make sense only when they are deployed on the borders (on the battle zone) for quick and early use. The decision to use TNWs would rest with the officers lower down the hierarchy, present on the battlefields. In this scenario the ‘intent of the employer’ and also, the ‘decision-making ability of the employer’ play an extremely crucial role. These increases the chances of pre-emptive launch by the field commanders because of the fear of what we call it ‘use it or lose it’ dilemma.
Credibility is a vital ingredient for a state’s deterrence capability to work. Credibility is based on perceptions of both sides to ensure the fear of nuclear destruction keeps them away from a war. However, Pakistan’s internal security challenges, doctrinal opacity, accusations of proliferation, safety & security and arsenal developments have raised suspicion, concern, and accusations that aim to undermine its deterrence stability. Many Indian, Western, and even domestic writers maintain that Pakistan’s deterrence is not credible enough and poses significant security risks. Many of these perceptions are as a result of major powers like US regarding the emergence of smaller nuclear-capable states as a threat to their interests in the region.
Pakistan has taken numerous steps in order to showcase itself as a responsible nuclear weapons state. It has gradually brought more transparency in its nuclear safety and security, established an elaborate command and control system, proactively participated in international nuclear forums, and its efforts have been recognized and appreciated by numerous states and global think tanks as that of a responsible nuclear state.