Likelihood of Pakistan using n-weapons increasing: Shivshankar Menon

New Delhi, Nov 19 (IANS) With his new book “Choices: Inside the Making of India’s Foreign Policy” hitting the bookstands, former Foreign Secretary Shivshankar Menon has said that the likelihood of Pakistan using tactical nuclear weapons has increased.

In an interview to “To The Point” programme that will be aired on Saturday night, Menon says that the tactical nuclear weapons developed by Pakistan will be devolved to lower ranking officers at the battlefield level, who will be “younger officers in an army that is increasingly religiously motivated and less and less professional and that has consistently produced rogue officers and staged coups against its own leaders”.

This, according to him, means that the likelihood of such tactical nuclear weapons being used against India has increased.

Tactical nuclear weapons are nuclear weapons which are designed to be used on a battlefield in military situations.

This, says Menon, means that there is an increased possibility of an all-out nuclear war when India retaliates against tactical nuclear weapons with massive retaliation of its own.

Stating that the Indian Defence Minister does not have the right to voice his personal opinion on nuclear policy in public particularly when it contradicts the official policy, he says Manohar Parrikar’s suggestion that India should give up its no first use policy would not be in India’s interest both in terms of the strategic deterrent role of nuclear weapons as well as their role as weapons of war.

Menon, who also served as National Security Advisor, says that India’s nuclear weapons are no guard and no deterrent against Pakistani terror.

Threatening a nuclear response to a terrorist attack from Pakistan “would be like threatening to kill a mosquito with a shotgun and would be unlikely to be understood by India’s own people let alone the international community”, he says.

Stating that New Delhi’s relationship with Islamabad was “one of the few major failures of Indian foreign policy”, the former Foreign Secretary says India’s Pakistan policy has not always related with reality.

Speaking about the 26/11 terror attacks in Mumbai, Menon says that he “pressed at that time for immediate visible retaliation of some sort, either against the LeT (Lashkar-Toiba) in Murdike or their camps in Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir or against the ISI, which was clearly complicit”.

He says at the time he believed retaliation would be “emotionally satisfying” and would also go “some way toward erasing the shame of the incompetence that India’s police and security agencies displayed in the glare of the world’s television lights for three full days”. In other words, India’s honour, he believed at that time, required a military response.

As Foreign Secretary, he says he advised then Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh that India should retaliate and be seen to do so.

Mukherjee, he says, “seemed to agree with me”. He does not reveal Manmohan Singh’s response but in the end India didn’t retaliate militarily.

According to Menon, following the cross-border terror attack on an army camp in Uri this year, the surgical strikes across the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir on September 29 were inevitable.

But at the same time, he disputes whether the term surgical strikes is the right one.

He seems to suggest they should be called limited retaliatory action.

The Foreign Secretary also believes that there is no foreseeable end to cross border terror from Pakistan.

“India must be prepared for the long struggle to continue without decisive military solutions. Temporarily silencing the cross-border terrorists is the best we can hope for,” he says.

Menon believes that Pakistan actually cannot control terror. He says “terrorism is hard-wired into Pakistan’s society and polity.”

“I am not so sure that it’s any longer within Pakistan’s capacity to stop terrorism,” he states.

Menon’s new book will be officially launched by Manmohan Singh on December 2.

–IANS

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