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Felix Imonti

Felix Imonti

The author studied international relations and economics at UCLA where he was in the African Studies Program.  After graduation, he was a securities broker for…

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Is Pakistan's Paranoia Pushing it Into a Nuclear War with India?

Is Pakistan's Paranoia Pushing it Into a Nuclear War with India?

The possibility of a nuclear war between Pakistan and India grows every day.  If the Pakistanis do not bring under control the terrorist groups in the country and resolve the conflicts with India, it is not a matter of if it will happen, but when.

There have been few achievements to celebrate in the sixty-five year history of Pakistan and that has made the success of the nuclear program central to the national identity.  This is especially true for the military that receives a quarter of the budget and is the only strong national institution.

Development of the weapons started in January of 1972 by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, when he was the Minister for Fuel, Power and Natural Resources.  The decision to go nuclear came after a disastrous military defeat in 1971 by India.  Bangladesh with Indian assistance separated from Pakistan.

Without its eastern territory, Pakistan was facing an enemy six times larger.  The only way to deal with such a threat was to acquire an equalizer.  Pakistani Prime Minister Muhammad Ali Bogra stated in 1954, "When there is more equality of military strength, then I am sure that there will be a greater chance of settlement."  His words expressed what is an ongoing national preoccupation with military parity with the far more powerful India.

India joined the nuclear club in 1974.  Pakistan followed in 1998 and became the only Moslem nuclear power with what became known as the “Islamic Bomb;” and that made it a leader in the Islamic world community. 

The Pakistan high command believed that the U.S. does not want a Moslem country to possess nuclear weapons and will at some time in the future attempt to seize or destroy its arsenal.  Since September of 2001, much of the American military action has been directed towards Moslem states.  As the sole nuclear Islamic country, that convinces the Pakistanis that they too will be targeted.

Washington worries that Pakistan with a number of terrorist organizations supported by the Inter-Service Intelligence is the one place where terrorists would be the most likely to acquire a nuclear weapon or nuclear materials.  A high ranking official of the Inter Service Intelligence told the Atlantic for a December 2011 article on the Pakistani nuclear weapons program, “You must trust us that we have maximum and impenetrable security. No one with ill intent can get near our strategic assets.”

Since April 2012, The Strategic Plans Division that is charged  with protecting the nuclear arsenal of an estimated ninety to one hundred and ten strategic warheads has been adding an additional eight thousand specially trained troops to protect the storage facilities from an American attempt to seize or destroy the nuclear weapons.  A retired high level Pakistani officer confided that he and many of his colleagues believe that the U.S. will move against nuclear facilities shortly after the American combat role ends in Afghanistan.  He and his colleagues expect the United States to abandon Pakistan as it did in 1989 when the Soviet Union was driven out of Afghanistan.

The raid by U.S. special operation forces into Abbottabad in May of 2011 to kill Osama Bin Laden has been taken as a warning signal by chief of army staff General Ashfaq Kayani what to expect.  Senator John Kerry was sent to Pakistan shortly after the raid to explain the American position.  He did not reduce the general’s anxieties when he declined to provide a written guarantee that the U.S. would not attack the Pakistani nuclear storage facilities. 

The positioning in the region of units under the United States Joint Special Operations Command is a factor that is feeding the Pakistani paranoia.  The task of JOSC is to keep out of the hands of terrorists nuclear materials that were abandoned when the Soviet Union left the Central Asian states.  Included in what is seen as a high risk region is Pakistan that is on the list of failed or failing states. 

Satellite photos and other sources estimate that there are fifteen locations where weapons or nuclear materials are likely to be kept.  Six of these have been attacked by terrorists, although no weapons or materials have been taken.

The generals are probably telling the truth when they say that the weapons are safe in the military facilities.  What they are not saying is that their effort to evade detection by the Americans has created other serious flaws in the security.

The assurance that the weapons are safe from attackers collapses once a warhead leave the guarded facilities.  Weapons are being moved frequently in lightly defended ordinary vehicles along public highways to prevent Indian and American spy satellites or snooping drones from tracking the movements.  There is little doubt that various extremist organizations have penetrated the military and are aware of the schedules and routes, but ISI acts as if it has enough control over the terrorists to prevent an ambush.

The larger strategic nuclear warheads are often transported disassembled.  Recently, though, Pakistan has adopted tactical nuclear weapons with smaller warheads that are easier to moved assembled.

In April, ISI released photos of the Nasr, a new sixty kilometer range missile that appears to be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.  Because of the short range of the weapon, it will have to be positioned close to the frontier.  That places the missile in a more vulnerable position for a terrorist group to seize while being transported along public highways or in isolated locations.

At the time that Pakistan acquired nuclear weapons, military strategists rejected tactical nuclear weapons because they would provoke the Indians to escalate to strategic weapons in response.  That opinion has changed. The addition of a fourth nuclear reactor at Khushab that produces plutonium to be used in tactical weapons says that the inventory will be expanded. 

Estimates of the amount of enriched uranium and plutonium in their inventory in 2011 places the potential number of weapons that can be produced at between 160 and 240.  They are developing as well two cruise missiles, two short range shoot and scoot type missiles and two ballistic missiles that will all require different types of warheads and different amounts of materials.  They have the fourth largest and fastest growing inventory of warheads of the nine nuclear classified countries.  What has never been made clear is when they will feel that they have enough warheads to give them a sense of security.


The military consumes so much of the national budget that the country has been forced to curtail other developments.  No other source of revenue is available that will enable the Pakistanis to compete with the Indian military that has a budget three times greater than theirs and a growing diversified economy to support its expansion.

The high command has concluded that the only equalizer for the weaker of the competitors is the tactical nuclear weapon.  What makes this a very high risk strategy is the Pakistani first-strike policy.

India nearly retaliated against Pakistan after the 2008 Mumbai attack.  That was before Pakistan had begun deploying tactical nuclear weapons.  India would have been able to use its superior forces to crush Pakistani defenses.

Should there be another deadly attack by a Pakistan based terrorist organization, especially if it involves a stolen nuclear warhead, the Indians will not hesitate to retaliate.  This time, the Indian army will encounter nuclear weapons in the field.  Then, Delhi that has no tactical nuclear weapons will have to decide if a strategic response is to be used.  The survival of South Asia and far beyond will be depending on that decision.

By. Felix Imonti

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  • Dr KV Ranjit on October 29 2012 said:

    A nuclear Threat from Iran can no longer be prevented since when Iran is not allowing a few sites like Parchin&Fordow; etc to be examined by IAEA and moreover they have more than15 nuclear sites some of them deep inside mountains. It is obvious that THEY are cladenstinely developing nuclear bombs.Only a nuclear strike in future can be preempted by devising strategies which preempted a Pakistan nuclear strike on India in 1999during the Kargill conflict between India&Pakistan;(This has been corroborated by the definitive hints in NAWAB Sharif's biography-where he quotes then Pakistan Army Chief Musharaff of having plotted to drop the ATOM BOMB over India and Bill Clinton's Biographical books where Clinton says he felt to rush to the continent to prevent an imminent nuclear war)∈ again in 2001 as well as N Korean one over S Korea in 2010 during the USA-SKorean war exercises.For details please see my Facebook notes etc since these are too lengthy to be described here described here.IN THE 1999 ATOM BOMBING PLOT AN INTELLIGENCE MANOEUVRE WAS DONE BY ME BY PROGRAMMING THAT INDIA WILL RETALIATE WITH THE EVER MORE POWERFUL HYDROGEN BOMB DUE TO WHICH REASONS THE CONFLICT ENDED WITHOUT A WAR
  • burhan on October 29 2012 said:
    Indian Army may well be bigger in size. But has always found it difficult to even cross the first line of border. There soldiers has fear in their hearts.Wars are never won with superior numbers but with hearts and minds. If India had to crush Pakistan they would have easily done so in 1975 when. Pakistan had lost a war and India had become a nuclear power already. In their dreams! Its not just the Army that fight Indians. Its the whole Nation. Infact all these Organiz ations will also join against Indians. Be ready you Indiansssssss.....
    Indians are on their knees infront of Americans and Jews. Why wont they be rewarded.
  • AdnanR on October 29 2012 said:
    Pakistan's nuclear programme is the safest and nobody can even trace it by satellite pictures. Pakistan does not need terrorists to take control and attack India. If India initiated any kind of war, Pakistan will bomb India definitely.
  • Allaisa on October 29 2012 said:
    Brave words my Pakistani brothers! But the ground realities do not support your words. India cut you in half without anyone's help in 1971. You started all the wars with India in '65 and '99. You did not achieve your objectives in any of them and Russians in '65 and we in '99 had to save your sorry ass. Why your great army could not capture Kashmir in '47 against the rag tag Raja's army and when the real army from India showed up your army ran. You can tell about your bravery to the 93,000 troops who surrendered to Indian Army in '71. This time when India does want start a war it will be at own chosen time and place and mark my words it will be in Islamabad in 24 hours!

    About being on the knees, it is your country that is always begging for aid from all and sundry on bent knees. Our drones have been bombing you all these years and you could not do diddley about them. We killed Osama, whom you shamelessly hosted your country, and you could not do a thing.
  • Aga Majid on October 29 2012 said:
    Indians are cowards, hypocrites an follow Chanikiya's philosophy of subterfuge and deception. Pakistan fought on two fronts, each separated by 1000 miles of ugly Hindoostan, riding on the shoulders of the Soviets. Our own Bengali ghadaars like Mujib were responsible for the debacle. Soon Bodoland and and Khalistan, as you say, will take Janam," with Independent Dravida Nadu, already on its way, followed by Greater Bengla, including Indian occupies West Bengal and Free Kashmir. So, people of Hindoostan, you live in a glass house, do not throw stones and bring on the wrath of Brahma! Hindoostan has always been co-dependent on other nations. In 99, Hindoostan Army got a thrashing. Hindoostan Army still teaches the 99 debacle in its military curriculum. Never underestimate Pakistan, we have many surprises for Hondoostan, including Ghauri, Ghaznavi, Abdali, Nasr, Tipu, and Shaheen series ICBM. Here is an account of your Army's defeat in 99, by your own officers. If this is a Hindoostani site, this response will not see light of day. And,
    "An Indian general, who commanded troops during 1999 Kargil war, on Sunday broke his 11-year silence to say that India actually lost the war in strategic terms.

    Lieutenant-General (r) Kishan Pal, the then head of Srinagar-based 15 Corps, told a private channel that he did not speak because he was never convinced about this war.

    “We did gain some tactical victories, we regained the territories, but lost 587 precious lives. I consider this loss of war because whatever we gained from the war has not been consolidated, either politically or diplomatically. It has not been consolidated militarily,” he said, when was asked for his assessment of the conflict 11 years later.

    Gen Pal was recently in a controversy involving the battle performance report of one of his juniors, Brigadier Devinder Singh. An armed forces tribunal has indicted Pal for showing bias against Brigadier Singh; former 70 infantry brigade commander, and belittled his achievements in the war besides falsifying accounts of battles during the Kargil operations.

    Meanwhile, a Chandigarh-based former army major has also come out with a revelation that his inputs on Kargil ‘intrusion’, sent to his seniors as early as January-February 1999, were ignored and he was asked to stop sending such reports in writing.

    Major Manish Bhatnagar, who participated in the Kargil war, said not only were his inputs ignored, later, when a full-scale conflict broke out, he was court martialled on another pretext and made to leave the army.

    He said he had informed his senior officers about the heavy presence of hostile forces and had also apprised them of the large number of bunkers and occupation of vital points by them during his posting. “Later, when the strength of ‘intruders’ was found to be more than the perceptions of the top generals — resulting in mass causalities of soldiers officers like me were persecuted to hide their wrongs,Bhatnagar said.
  • neo on October 30 2012 said:
    So nice to talk.....Indians and pakisthanis....but difficult to LIVE IT!!!

    Its so nice to comment about war against countries...sitting in the comfort of AC cooled offices and Homes...while the actual people who suffer the most are the soldiers and their families.

    Please have some sympathy on them....And look at the shear Guts of both of u...pls..when the whole world is going through Recession...why do u both dare a war? this ain't a noble idea...Please invest the kind of money one invests in ARMS..for the betterment of the poor and providing Food security.....rest everything will fall in place....WAR....easily said....better forgotten!
  • Indian on October 30 2012 said:
    First of all india has a substrategic nuclear weapon- a 10kt boosted fission device which can be increased or decreased in yield as per need fitted in brahmos missile. This was the missile recently tested. As for tactical nukes like those with yield in 100s of tones rather than kilotonnes, they are practically useless and expensive to fabricate. Most mordern tank formations today can withstand such tactical strikes. Nobody will be foolish to send mass of men into pakistan or for that matter any hostile territory which may be mined in case war breaks out. In today's warfare cruise missiles and air power is first mode of strike followed by armed assault if necessary and india has 1000 brahmos missiles and plenty of Su30 mki to do the job if the need arises.
  • Jim on November 01 2012 said:
    India does not, need not, and will not fight a war against Pakistan. Pakistan is at war with itself, in its own mind, body, and spirit, and is defeating itself. Why waste bullets? Most Indians are sitting back and enjoying the spectacle. Some are concerned. A self-defeated Pakistan also means trouble for India. It is only stupid Islamist Pakistanis who are fantasizing about war and managing to provoke a few stupid Indians in online battles.Those with brains use it for more constructive purpose.
  • Rocky on December 07 2012 said:
    Indians have always been retaliatory and never the aggressor in all the 4 major wars that India and Pakistan have had.Even after the Indian parliament was attacked they handled the matter peacefully.So there is no possible chance of Indians being the aggressors should the situation for war arise between India and Pakistan in the near future someday and specially a nuclear war.Maybe Pakistanis should visit India and meet the common Indian citizen who actually has nothing to benefit from war but has a lot to lose because of war.maybe then common Pakistani and Indians will see beyond the image projected by their politicians who lie to them on both sides of the border.But at the same time this peacefulness of the Indians should not be taken as their weakness by the Pakistani Military and Government.The Indians have always followed a policy of live and let live,but the day Pakistan forces India to use nuclear weapons in war,there will be no doubt when entire Pakistan ever millimeter of it will be nuke bombed and wiped clean the face of the earth by the Indians and that day my friends nobody will have any right to blame India for such a nuclear holocaust.When a Pakistani guy stated something about USA aggression here.I have to tell him comparing USA's aggression limit and capability with the aggression limit and capability of India is like comparing a firecracker power with the power of the sun.USA is just a firecracker when compared to India which is equal to the son.

    Let me tell you a joke.3 guys,a Indian, a Pakistani and an American were discussing strategies of war in case a war broke out between their countries.When it came to the situation of USA possible damage that India and Pakistan could inflict upon USA was agreed to be of zero percent by all 3 guys.When it came to same situation faced by India and Pakistan in case USA attacked them percentage of possible damage caused to both nations varied with 100% damage for Pakistan and 60% for India.In case of the same situation between India and Pakistan the damage was assessed on 60%-40% basis.Now the mode of attack came into discussion the American guy said they would attack from USA itself with all the latest long range nuclear missiles they had.The Pakistani said they would not reach USA before being wiped out completely but in case of attacking India conventional weapons coupled with a nuclear bomb here and there would be enough.The Indian said if only 40% of the Indian population stood on the border of India facing Pakistan and pissed into Pakistan a big flood of piss would drown and kill every living being inside Pakistan.
  • Far on December 30 2012 said:
    Lets not talk about WAR, past & the use of NUKEs, its will only destroy both our countries, The Fact is that even thought India is Bigger and stronger than Pakistan,it will also be a bigger looser in a Nuclear war since it has 6 times more people to loose. So Technically Indian May win a WAR against Pakistan ,But than it Will Lose it. In-fact both side will loose the WAR. Learn from China, which was more poor than PAK and Indian 40 yrs ago and Focus on Economy, and making better, the lives of your Citizens.All difference can be solve with communication but the big brother must raise the hand of Friendship FIRST.
  • Arjun on January 17 2013 said:
    my dear friends don't expect a war for a year.it may happen after the elections held in india and pakistan as both countries are facing internal issues and there may be a chance of miltary coup in pakistan and possible emergence of new government in india will led the situation to a war which in the end pakistan will be destroyed and may cut in to several pieces like we have done earlier in 1971.but this time the pakistanis will face much consequences as we indians will not be kind always as before to you pakistani cowards.....!
  • Khan on January 17 2013 said:
    Listen guys!!!its very childish to argue that India can destroy Pakistan or Pakistan can destroy India.Look both of them have nuclear bombs!!! and if there is a war between them,they will use these bombs and guess what will happen???It will destroy both these countries because you are talking about atomic bombs and you know what atomic bomb did in 2nd world war and you should also know the modern atomic bombs are much more powerful than the ones that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki.So lets put this war bullshit in the bin and talk constructive.The fact of the matter is,both countries have big problems like poverty,health,discrimination,education and unemployment issues.Why don't we talk about these issue and try to spend billions on these rather than making atomic bombs.There are millions of people in both countries who cant even get two meals a day.They are so poor!!!! and unhappy that they get ready to kill people so that they can get money and feed their families.If we create jobs,provide education and food,that will be more constructive and help both countries.We need to throw the atomic bombs of employment,food,health,non-discrimination and education on our nations.Because such bombs will result in peace,happiness and prosperity but not in destruction.So please stop spreading hatred towards each other and behave more sensible and think for others!Thanx
  • Science Group on January 23 2013 said:
    An article published long time ago is still available to read from library records of Kutch Science Foundation.

    We are well aware of the news published in KutchMitra that Pakistan is aiming their atomic missiles to Gujarat. But in reality Target is not the Gujarat but the First target is BHUJ along with Delhi. As Delhi is a strategic importance as centre of all commands and BHUJ is strategic importance of warfare target.

    Delhi may be protected by deep underground atomic resistant bunkers and command centres for political and warfare importance but not for the public point of views. And naturally how public of Delhi can be accommodated in such bunkers.

    Similarly for attacking to Gujarat, BHUJ is the First hurdle and so strategic warfare importance of BHUJ. And so BHUJ is such a place that it does not have any facility knowledge/preparation of such BUNKERS will be first target of such an attack.

    Though BHANADA NALIYA air force is second air force based in Kutch but attacking BHUJ is more Vulnerable and likely to create the more chaos as city centre will be destroyed along with military command protecting Gujarat.

    We need to make awareness and act for quick shelter as it takes only minutes to arriving destructing weapons from across the border.
  • Ishfaq on January 25 2013 said:
    It is a fact that since the 80's India is reluctant to attack Pakistan and it is mainly due to nuclear and air-borne superiority of PAF, by the support of F-16 and now JF-17. Now all the Pakistani tanks have night vision technology while only 20% of indian tanks have this. The difference is only size.
    The conclusion is that Pakistan has nothing to loose but india will be torn if anything unexpected happens.
  • JK on February 03 2013 said:
    I am appalled that people talk of nuclear strikes in such casual terms. Let's stop talking like trigger-happy morons. Any nuke deployed will set either one of the country back by years. Both countries have too much to live for and too much to aspire towards. Because a strike by either would mean that we, the people, will be living in a wasteland for years to come. The rush of nationalism will seem completely inconsequential, when we will live on a daily basis with the horror that a nuclear holocaust would bring. I just wish people here reconsider their attitudes towards a nuclear attack and really grasp the severity of the situation. Its not a blink-and-you-miss it moment. It will destroy more than buildings and families. It will crush the very spirit of people.
  • muhammad al sayeed al makhtoon bin qadri al rasul on February 07 2013 said:
    USA IS AFRAID OF PAKISTAN ARMY so they dont dear to send the solder to fight us...they only send robots drons.we pathans fight with swords and will kill all israel america india and all non muslims of world nd rule world.now we have more nukes boms and we will kill all because it is jehad..pakistan is superpower of world and all others are slaves.i no all this becos i was taught this in best madarasa of islamabad.after graduation i hav done phd in suiside bombing and jehad from university of terrorist training in karachi which is biggest in world.we hav to rape hindu girls of pakistan as part of our sylabus.it is fun.i love pakistan.i am most proud pakistan.PAKISTAN ZINDABAD
  • Shahid Butt on March 13 2013 said:
    Americans to go in and take Pakistani nukes what a joke. Do these Americans think that Pakistan army is that off Iraq and Libya .. Wo would hide and runaway without a fight .. The Pakistan army is a professional and well armed organisation for the past 65 years. If America wants to make a adventurer then goodluck and south Asia can get ready for doomsday. Don't underestimate Pakistan army strength and courage.. Any aggression by the US would be seen and treated by the Pakistani generals as a attack and propaganda forced by India. I have no doubt that Pakistan's top generals would retaliate by striking Pakistan's powerful nuclear weapons inside India and who knows Israel. The Americans love flattering themselves .. We'll do this at that but the truth is you got battered in Vietnaam and most recently Afghanistan, despite all your air power and sophisticated weaponary!
  • subham chhetri on June 18 2013 said:
    The only thing these pakistanis like to talk is about war and destruction.
    They dont understand that with a stagnating economy they cannot win a war against a country with an economy nearly ten times as theirs.Therefore it is better for them to improve their economy first and then talk about waging a war with INDIA..

    Jai Hind...
  • Ali Khan on July 05 2015 said:
    Sigh !! When will these two countries learn that there are better ways to compete than nuclear showdowns and chestthumpings. Together they both are host to 1/5th of the world's population. The hope for both countries lies in their youth who can see beyond popular narrative of hate and envision the grand rewards of prosperity. I wish to live to see that day

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