ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Pakistan and the Nasr Missile

Searching for a Method in the Madness

Pakistan's nuclear planners have sought to develop and plan deployment of the short-range Nasr tactical missile to deliver nuclear weapons against advancing Indian armoured forces. This article explores the limited utility of the use of tactical nuclear weapons which could still prove to be catastrophic by triggering the escalation of a conventional conflict into nuclear war. An alternative could be that Pakistan and India revive the idea first proposed by India in 1949 and 1950 of a No-War Agreement. The actions forbidden could include support for cross-border militancy and military incursions across the border, as well as subversion, blockades, and disruption of river waters. 

Pakistan’s military planners have for a long time determined that they need to be prepared to escalate a military conflict with India into a nuclear war through the first use of nuclear weapons. Over the past decade, this has included preparing for using nuclear weapons on the battlefield against Indian armed forces crossing the border. They seem to believe that a credible threat to use nuclear weapons in this manner will deter such an attack.

In this article we explore briefly how Pakistan’s generals have thought about the role of nuclear weapons in the conflict with India and how some of their Indian counterparts have anticipated possible use by Pakistan of such weapons on the battlefield. The article then looks at some of the issues surrounding the limited utility of such tactical nuclear weapons against advancing Indian armoured forces and the most recent means Pakistan’s nuclear planners have sought to achieve this goal: the development and deployment of the new short-range Nasr tactical missile that had its first reported successful test launch on 19 April 2011 and is declared to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons at ranges of up to 60 km (Inter-Services Public Relations 2011).

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