Why has Pakistan developed Tactical Nuclear Weapons? Major Gen PK Sehgal explains

Pakistan keeps threatening India with tactical nuclear weapons and Islamabad has on various occasions said that it would not hesitate to use them if Indian forces attempt to enter its territory. We spoke to Defence and strategic matters expert Major General PK Sehgal to get a better understanding about these weapons and how Pakistan intends to use them.

Major General Sehgal told OneIndia that Pakistan has developed tactical nuclear weapons primarily to deal with what is called as India’s cold start doctrine. He said that Pakistan cannot match up with India in conventional warfare and hence they have developed tactical nuclear weapons.

What are tactical nuclear weapons?

“Tactical nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons with low yield. They could be subkiloton or even upto 8-10 kiloton. These are meant to be used against field forces that threaten a nation’s integrity.

During cold war period, three countries had them deployed in a major way. The Americans, the French and the Russians.

Tactical nuclear weapons can be of several forms, they could in the form mines known as ADMs, they could be in the form of artillery shells, could be in the form of missiles, they could be in the form of bombs. They are meant to be used against advancing forces and not places. Tactical nuclear weapons are meant to be deployed essentially in the battle filed”.

Why has Pakistan developed tactical nuclear weapons?

“Pakistan developed tactical nuclear weapons primarily to deal with India’s cold start launch. The cold start doctrine is a plan to attack from several fronts concurrently which will break through the hinterland of Pakistan. Pakistan knows that conventional they cannot put up fight against India, so they have gone for the creation of tactical nuclear weapons. It is aimed at stopping Indian Armour onslaught in their own territory”.

What about the collateral damage?

“There will be collateral damaged, so they might use it in Rajasthan and Gujarat. If they decide to use them they might evacuate those areas so that collateral damage can be minimised”.

Does India have tactical nuclear weapons?

“We have not developed any tactical nuclear weapon for the simple reason that we do not feel that any country has the capacity to do what Pakistan visualises that India could do to them. India has never threatened any country historically, nor do we threaten Pakistan in any manner. If Pakistan provokes us, then India would react through cold start launch doctrine and Pakistan is worried about that. India does not have it to the best of my knowledge, because we do not need it”.

How India may respond if Pakistan uses them against Indian forces?

“These tactical nuclear weapons are very complex to manufacture. They are meant to be used against strike forces in the field as opposed to counter venue or other forms of strikes like attack on army headquarters etc. Pakistan has equipped it on missiles with range of around 60 kms. Any nuclear weapon is a weapon of deterrence and not a weapon of war.

But when you deploy them in such large numbers the political control over them diminishes. The decision to use a tactical nuclear weapon or for that matter any nuclear weapon always rests with the highest level, highest political decision-making level. In this case it is very difficult to do so. For example, should India be overrunning Pakistani formations, the formation commander there would be tempted to use them without referring to higher political leadership. Because it becomes a weapon of last resort for him.

India has made it very clear categorically that any use of nuclear weapons, tactical or otherwise, would be considered as a full-fledged nuclear attack and the response would be not tactical but strategic. India’s response would be very severe”.




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