The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
Since 1998, both Pakistan and India have operationalized their nuclear capabilities and are in the process of completing their respective nuclear triads. Triggered by the dismemberment of the country in the 1971 war with India, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program has been aimed at addressing an acute security threat, exacerbated by a growing imbalance in national power and military capabilities. Although Pakistan continues to invest in capabilities to ensure the credibility of its deterrent posture the growing imbalance in conventional and strategic military capabilities in South Asia is likely to contribute to crisis instability and could result in a failure of deterrence and the loss of escalation control during a future conflict with India. This seminar will examine the dynamics and trajectory of Pakistan’s emerging nuclear posture in terms of: the political and organizational sources of Pakistan’s strategic program; the perceived threat posed by India’s conventional and strategic force modernization coupled with a potential shift in its declaratory doctrine and development of counterforce capabilities; asymmetries in defense spending, and the growing gap in stockpiles of fissile material, the capacity to produce it, and the impact on Pakistan’s deficit on its force goals; the impact of India’s pursuit of ballistic missile defenses and space-based ISR capabilities, MIRVs, and nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines; and the prospects for bilateral CBMs and nuclear and conventional force reductions and arms control in the region.