World War 3 warning: Why nuclear-armed Pakistan ‘poses bigger threat to India than China’

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Tensions are soaring between India and China at their disputed Himalayan border and between India and Pakistan in the volatile Kashmir region. India’s attempts to keep up with China in a regional arms race have caused alarm in Islamabad and experts believe Pakistan might try to steal a march on its Indian neighbours while New Delhi focuses its military resources on the remote mountain border to the far northeast.

India would have no place to hide

Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai

And, suggesting Pakistan is currently more of a threat to India than China right now, one analyst said: “India’s quest for deterrence stability with China — the ability to have a secure second-strike option against that country — has created crisis instability with Pakistan.”

Additionally, Pakistan is one of the nine countries to have developed nuclear weapons and holds a unique strategic advantage over India as, unlike China, it has no clearly defined “no first use” policy, so the threat to potential aggressors is always there.

And while Pakistan’s nuclear capacity may be no match for China’s, its array of tactical weapons perfectly suits its needs.

Islamabad’s arsenal of non-strategic nuclear weapons – low-yield weapons weighing less than 10 kilotons – is specifically designed to eliminate military targets on the battlefield such as troop formations, supply dumps and headquarters units.

And the country’s Strategic Plans Division Force (SPD) warned its “Full Spectrum Deterrence” policy aimed to bring “every Indian target into Pakistan’s striking range”.

SPD director Lieutenant General Khalid Kidwai said: “Pakistan has the full spectrum of nuclear weapons in all three categories — strategic, operational and tactical, with full range coverage of the large Indian landmass and its outlying territories.

“India would have no place to hide.”

Defence analysts said the Indian army was much larger than Pakistan’s and boasts superior equipment but acknowledged Pakistan’s tactical nuclear weapons and its lack of a no first use policy would offset its neighbour’s military advantage in a conventional war.

Tensions over Kashmir have soared since India moved to take total control over large swathes of the disputed border region more than 12 months ago.

Pakistan’s envoy to the United Nations warned last month that the possibility of a war remained high.

Munir Akram said: “I think the risk is real and present of a possible war between India and Pakistan.

“For Pakistan’s part, we have acted with restraint.”

Mr Akram said the human rights situation was “grave and has become worse over the past year” since India revoked the special semi-autonomous status of India-administered Kashmir and ordered a military crackdown to quell unrest in the country’s only majority-Muslim state.

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The two sides have fought three wars over the territory since 1947 each accuse the other of constantly breaking peace accords.

Mr Akram said last year alone his government registered 3,000 ceasefire violations on India’s part and had already recorded more than 2,000 this year.

He said: “It is obvious that things could escalate at any moment, so there is an ever-present danger of war between Pakistan and India.

“Until Indian officials rescind the unilateral actions that they’ve taken, restore the status of Kashmir to what it was before and agree to a natural dialogue where we can explore the possibility of a compromise solution, we don’t see any, any movement in space or for bilateral dialogue.”

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