Vol. 2 No. 1 (2014): CISS Insight Quarterly News & Views, March 2014

Full Spectrum Deterrence: Pakistan’s Strategic Compulsion

Ms. Farzana Siddique
Research Officer at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS)
CISS Insight Journal 2014
Published March 20, 2014
How to Cite
Ms. Farzana Siddique. (2014). Full Spectrum Deterrence: Pakistan’s Strategic Compulsion. CISS Insight Journal, 2(1), P01-10. Retrieved from https://journal.ciss.org.pk/index.php/ciss-insight/article/view/186


Operationalization of deterrence theory in South Asia can be traced to the period before India and Pakistan became overtly nuclear in May, 1998. Prior to the nuclear tests by both the countries varying degrees of ambiguity existed regarding their nuclear capabilities. There was little doubt whether India had this capability after its 1974 nuclear test. But whether it had developed nuclear weapons remained a subject of debate in certain quarters. Greater ambiguity however, prevailed about Pakistan’s nuclear program as its nuclear programme was wrapped in secrecy before 1998 tests. Both India and Pakistan believed that the other had developed nuclear weapons in 1990. Roots of South Asian deterrence therefore could be traced to this period, when the two major South Asia states, with their inherent rivalries, were deterred from taking undue military risks.

Deterrence has transformed the force postures and altered the threat perceptions of the two major South Asian nations. Once prevalent threat of total war has been reduced to the level of low intensity conflicts after the induction of nuclear weapons in their arsenals. But this perception was complicated by developing ballistic missile systems by both states and their increasing quantities and improving quality. The situation was further complicated by increasing asymmetry in the conventional force ratio of the two adversaries leading to development of Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) (Proactive Strategy) by India. In order to counter Indian CSD Pakistan has added short range nuclear weapons in its deterrent force.