Small Is Scary

Aserious new complication has emerged in India’s battle plans against Pakistan. As strategists at the army headquarters in New Delhi grappled with various war scenarios and options last week, a fresh and hitherto unexplored factor—of Pakistan using a TNW or a tactical nuclear weapon with limited destructive power on military targets—has begun to play on the minds of the army top brass. In two separate briefings, senior officers told Outlook that the concern was real. “We know that Pakistan will use a tactical nuclear weapon if it finds itself cornered. Our current strategies are being worked out after taking into account this possibility,” says a serving general.

According to him, the size, shape and the delivery system Pakistan is likely to use in the launch of a TNW will depend upon the “opportunity and timing” during the conflict. “We have intelligence inputs and field reports that indicate Pakistan has clandestinely acquired highly sophisticated miniaturised tactical nuclear weapons which could be launched even from field artillery guns or aircraft,” the general said.