After the successful test of Pakistan's short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile Nasr last week, its Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa had made a strange remark. He said, "Nasr has put cold water on cold start".
Nasr is a tactical nuclear weapon aimed to inflict damage on incoming forces at a short notice. It is not like those long range nuclear warhead carrying ballistic missiles which are fired thousands of kilometres away with pre-designated target and carry massive warheads.
Tactical nuclear weapons are for battlefield situation mainly aimed at thwarting incoming forces which are already at the borders and pushing to enter the enemy territory.
The Hatf IX Nasr is a ballistic missile which carries a sub-kiloton tactical nuclear weapon out to a range of 60 km. The damage caused by would be limited and can be accurately targeted at incoming forces so that damage radius is far less compared to conventional nuclear missiles.
Moreover, Pakistan cannot risk the lives of its own citizens by detonating a massive nuclear bomb which would put lives of their citizens at risk.
What is a tactical nuclear weapon?
A tactical nuclear weapon (TNW) or non-strategic nuclear weapon is a nuclear weapon which is designed to be used on a battlefield in military situations, mostly with friendly forces in proximity and perhaps even on contested friendly territory.
This is opposed to strategic nuclear weapons which are designed to be mostly targeted in the enemy interior away from the war front against military bases, cities, towns, arms industries, and other hardened or larger-area targets to damage the enemy's ability to wage war.
What is Cold Start doctrine:
It is widely believed that India has something called at a 'Cold start doctrine' which took shape after the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001. In response to the terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament in 2001, India initiated a full mobilisation.
The doctrine, which was never confirmed by officials sources, aims to mobilse forces to border area in quick time and take on Pakistan without giving them an opportunity to reataliate or even use their nuclear arsenal.
The development of this doctrine represents a significant change in Indian defence planning. Exercises aimed at reducing mobilisation time and improved network-centric warfare capabilities have contributed to the development of the Cold Start doctrine. Despite the advances, this doctrine remains in the experimental stage.
In the aftermath of Parliament attack, India tried to swiftly move troops to the border.
But, it took almost three week to get forces in place. The long duration needed to mobilize the strike corps prevented strategic surprise, allowed Pakistan plenty of time to counter-mobilize.
Reports sat that the doctrine is still in place and can be invoked if border situation exacerbate.
But the fact is that Pakistan is prepared for it and the element of surprise is lost.