Thursday, January 6, 2000,
Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

India warns Pak on N-threat
Fernandes foresees ‘limited wars’
Tribune News Service

NEW DELHI, Jan 5 — India today warned Pakistan against holding a nuclear threat towards it in its continued delusion about wresting Kashmir from India without facing any challenge.

Defence Minister George Fernandes said Pakistan was continuously holding a nuclear threat against India. “They held out a nuclear threat to us on May 31, 1999, and again yesterday without absorbing the real meaning of nuclearisation that it can only deter the use of nuclear weapons, but not a conventional war,” he said.

The Defence Minister made a reference to the statement of Pakistan’s Chief Executive and military ruler yesterday that Pakistan would use nuclear weapons if threatened and said, “Musharraf’s intentions have not percolated down even to the people of Pakistan.”

Mr George Fernandes was talking to the media after inaugurating a national seminar on “Challenges of Limited War”. He said after the nuclear test in May 1998, Pakistan’s elite had started believing that India would be deterred from fighting back in any war.

“There is a perception in Pakistan that the nuclear status has ensured that the covert war will continue and aggression across the LoC (Line of Control) can be carried out and India will be deterred by the nuclear factor,” he said.

Terming this as the worst error of judgement by Pakistan, Mr Fernandes drew the attention of Pakistani rulers to similar states — during the 1969 bitter Ussuri river border clashes.

“So the issue is not that war has been made obsolete by nuclear weapons and that covert war by proxy is the only option, but that conventional war remains feasible, but with definite limitations if escalation across the nuclear threshold is to be avoided,” Mr Fernandes said.

He said Pakistan’s continued role in breeding terrorism was bringing it near to being declared a “rogue state” and this was being increasingly noticed by the international community.

The Defence Minister said India would also mobilise world opinion to get Pakistan declared a terrorist state. He was of the opinion that the USA was overlooking Pakistan’s support to terrorism and not declaring it a “terrorist state”.

When it comes to Bin Laden, the USA fires not one but scores of missiles with the high precision technology that it possesses. What the USA and the world need to realise is that terrorism understands no country borders.”

“Therefore to aim at Bin Laden and overlook what is happening in India at the hands of Pakistan is not addressing the question,”.

Emphasising that future wars would be “limited wars” unlike total wars like World War I and World War II, the Defence Minister said countries like China had in their military doctrine been projecting that future wars would be “local border wars”.

He said India’s success and grasp of “limited war” was due to the ability of its defence forces to fight and win such a war at a time, ground and means of fighting chosen by the aggressor.

“If India can beat a professional military force equipped with modern firepower at the ground (with Pakistani forces at dominating heights) and time of Pakistan’s choice with initiative also in their hands, India can beat Pakistan anytime, anywhere,” Mr Fernandes said.

Stressing on the nature of conflicts the defence forces may have to face, the Defence Minister said the type of military forces that India had should be able to meet new challenges that might be thrown up.

He said the most important reason for this was the nuclearisation of security environment. “We need, therefore to ensure that a conventional war, if imposed on us in future, is kept below the nuclear threshold. This will require close examination of our doctrine, defence strategy and forces structure.”

Mr Fernandes said India would require to have a requisite deterrence strategy at the conventional as well as nuclear level and efforts for continued attention to the issue.

Presiding over the inaugural session of the seminar organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analysis attended by the naval and air chiefs and other top services brass, Mr K Subramanyam, a defence expert, cautioned that the time had come to recognise the fact that India was in a “long war with Pakistan since 1947”.

“Incidents like Kargil, the recent hijacking, the continuous terrorism in Kashmir and Punjab are all part of this long war,” he said.


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