India’s ‘Cold Start Doctrine’ was conceived about 2 decades back when the Indian parliament was attacked in 2001. India outrightly blamed Pakistan for the incident and mobilized about 1 million troops to Pakistan’s eastern border. Just a few years after this episode ensued, in 2004, India’s then Army Chief coined the ‘Cold Start Strategy’.
This strategy encompasses an abrupt entry of the Indian ground forces inside the Pakistani territory once Pakistan is not expecting any such eventuality. The charm of this strategy is to take Pakistan off guard taking control of its major land routes. As per the Indian strategists, India would resort to such an action only when Pakistan commits any hostility against it.
Wary of its adversary’s designs, Pakistan sought to formulate a counter strategy as soon as it could. India’s lust for executing the ‘Cold Start Strategy’ in 2008, after the Mumbai attacks necessitated countermeasures from Pakistan’s side. Pakistan in return resorted to developing its tactical nuclear weapons. It developed these weapons on an emergency basis since India was quite confident of its newly evolved CSD and its conventional military edge over Pakistan.
Pakistan’s tactical weapons are actually low yield nuclear weapons meant to annihilate the enemy on a limited scale. The range of these weapons varies from a few hundred to less than a mere one hundred kilometers. They are designed to erase garrison size enemy troops once they enter the Pakistani territory. The recently developed Hataf and Nasar missile systems are designed to deliver the very task.
In layman’s words, ” These are nuclear weapons of a limited destruction power used on one’s own territory once the enemy breaches it.”
Fortunately, the development of these weapons served as a coup-de-grace to India’s CSD. It was only once India came to know of Pakistan’s tactical weapons that it had to shelf its much-touted CSD eventually. But, the possibilities of unexpected improvisations in India’s Cold Start Doctrine are ripe as always. Pakistan has to stay alert for any unforeseen eventuality.