South Asia

1168 Items

A Goa coastal police ship patrols in the waters of Arabian Sea

AP/Manish Swarup

Analysis & Opinions - Project Syndicate

India and the Global Balance of Power

| June 30, 2023

Joseph Nye argues that official statements about India and America's "shared values" do not make an alliance. Following the basic logic of balance-of-power politics, India and the United States seem fated not for marriage but for a long-term partnership — one that might last only as long as both countries remain preoccupied with China.

Political activists wave the Pakistani national flag in front of the Martyrs' Memorial monument in Lahore on Sept. 6, 2020


Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

Did Pakistan Just Overhaul Its Nuclear Doctrine?

| June 19, 2023

As Pakistan celebrated the 25th anniversary of its first nuclear tests last month, it also appeared to share more details than usual about its current nuclear posture. Speaking at a seminar hosted by the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad on May 24, retired Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai provided new details of Pakistan’s otherwise ambiguous nuclear doctrine. What Kidwai says matters because he is currently an advisor to the country’s National Command Authority (NCA), which controls research and development and all other policy matters concerning nuclear weapons. He’s also the former director-general of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), which is responsible for formulating nuclear policy and strategy as well as the security of nuclear assets.

 the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Missouri (SSN 780) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled deployment in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility

Amanda R. Gray/U.S. Navy via AP

Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Elements of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Strategy

This primer provides a concise background of three major elements of the Biden administration’s Indo-Pacific Strategy: the Quad, a non-traditional multilateral grouping of India, Japan, Australia, and the U.S.; the AUKUS security pact between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.; and the Partners in the Blue Pacific, a multilateral initiative aimed at promoting greater alignment with the Pacific Island nations. 

Henry Kissinger

AP/Markus Schreiber

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

Solving the Mystery of Henry Kissinger's Reputation

| June 09, 2023

Stephen Walt critiques Henry Kissinger's professional life by dividing it into three parts: as an academic at Harvard; as national security advisor and secretary of state; and as an author, pundit, and sage, much of it conducted as the head of Kissinger Associates, the consulting firm he founded after leaving government.

Rafael Mariano Grossi, IAEA Director General, met Faizan Mansoor, Chairman, Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority during his official visit to the Agency headquarters in Vienna, Austria. 24 March 2023.


Journal Article - International Journal of Nuclear Security

Assessing Nuclear Security Risks in Pakistan

| June 2023

Pakistan’s nuclear program and perceived nuclear security concerns have attracted global attention. The varying concerns range from the potential theft of nuclear weapons or materials to the unauthorized use of a nuclear device to terrorist groups taking control of the Pakistani government. The enduring debate, however, has oscillated between these doomsday scenarios and some optimistic considerations, where various quarters have shared their satisfaction over Pakistan’s nuclear security regime and its ability to deal with the emerging challenges. To address the evolving nature of these threats, Pakistan is constantly improving its nuclear security infrastructure. It has established a comprehensive legislative and institutional structure, nuclear security systems, and has also undertaken various international obligations. To further improve nuclear security perceptions, Pakistan should adopt a more transparent approach and learn from international best practices.

A wide shot of a crowd watching two large video screen with Ukraine President Zelenskyy on them at the Munich Security Conference

AP Photo/Michael Probst

Center Nuclear Experts Highlight Escalating Risks at Munich Security Conference

| Spring 2023

The Project on Managing the Atom co-hosted a side event at the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in partnership with the Center for International Security of Berlin’s Hertie School. The event focused on nuclear threats and nuclear deterrence.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) successfully flight tested a New Generation Nuclear Capable Ballistic Missile Agni P from Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam island off the coast of Odisha, in Balasore on June 28, 2021.

Press Information Bureau on behalf of Ministry of Defence, Government of India

Analysis & Opinions - Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament

25 Years Since South Asia's Nuclear Tests

| May 23, 2023

Ruhee Neog

Assuming that nuclear weapons are going to be around for the foreseeable future, I hope to see more focus on managing India and Pakistan’s growing risk environment, particularly those risks that could increase the probability of nuclear use. For this, I would expect examinations of bilateral (and trilateral, to include China) nuclear dynamics to be contextualised in at least three broader trends. The first is geopolitical. We acknowledge, narrowly, that US nuclear developments have an impact on the Chinese capability build-up; China’s on Indian strategic thinking; and thereon on Pakistan’s nuclear trajectory. What our research lacks is an equal recognition of the role of geopolitics—such as US-China relations and its impact on regional security, or the Russia-Ukraine war—in shaping the nuclear strategies of states like India and Pakistan. The second is demystifying the emerging military applications of technologies and their ramifications for nuclear deterrence, as both India and Pakistan are engaged in multi-faceted technological development. The third broad trend is nuclear nationalism. Keeping an eye on how identity politics interfaces with the two other trends (geopolitics and emerging technologies) will be key to deciphering nuclear risk and assessing the demands of risk absorption in Southern Asia.


Sitara Noor

Since the overt nuclearization in 1998, both India and Pakistan have come a long way in their nuclear learning process. Although heavily influenced by the Cold War experiences of the United States and the former Soviet Union, the nuclear learning process of New Delhi and Islamabad was not linear and carried both positive and negative aspects. Over the past 25 years, both nuclear rivals have gradually increased the number of nuclear weapons, diversified their delivery means, established command and control systems, and consolidated their nuclear policies to a greater extent. Nonetheless, they have largely gone against the contention of nuclear revolution theory that mutual vulnerability created by nuclear weapons will significantly alter the state behaviour leading to more cooperation among states to stabilize deterrence.  Unlike the Cold War model, India and Pakistan have failed to achieve strategic stability or establish some bilateral risk reduction measures. On the contrary, the recent Pulwama/Balakot crisis indicated a higher threshold for risk acceptance by both states.

Going forward, this behaviour indicates a precarious future where any miscalculation may lead to a serious crisis. In the next 25 years, South Asia is likely to witness a competitive nuclear approach that is already manifesting in the form of attempts to acquire nuclear superiority through the development of missile defence system, adoption of counterforce doctrines, the revival of limited nuclear war pursuits as well as the willingness to fight a conventional war under the nuclear overhang.

In the absence of meaningful political dialogue to resolve bilateral issues including Kashmir and alleged terrorism against one another and lack of effective communication channels to reduce the chance of inadvertent war,  the risk of any future crisis escalating to the nuclear level remains high.

The Ghauri–I (first on right) display at the IDEAS exhibition held in Karachi, mounted in its TEL launch mechanism. c. 2008.

Wikimedia Commons

Journal Article - International Affairs

Book Review: Pakistan's pathway to the bomb: ambitions, politics, and rivalries

| May 02, 2023

Pakistan's nuclear weapons programme has largely remained shrouded in mystery, despite numerous scholars’ efforts to uncover various aspects of the country's nuclear odyssey. In the absence of complete and credible information, such as declassified official documents on the programme's various dimensions, most of the available literature offers an incomplete picture. Indeed, the existing narratives lack a detailed explanation of the competing motives of the various personalities, and the role of the organizations that shaped the country's nuclear trajectory. In this context, Mansoor Ahmed's Pakistan's pathway to the bomb offers a riveting new account that puts together some of the missing pieces in Pakistan's nuclear journey. Based on untapped primary sources, namely an interview with Munir Ahmed Khan, the long-serving chair of the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC), Ahmed's work provides a compelling counter-narrative to various popular yet inaccurate beliefs.

Panelists from left to right: Erika Mouynes, P. Michael Mckinley, and Negah Angha

Benn Craig

Analysis & Opinions - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs

EVENT DEBRIEF: The Geopolitics of Latin America Amid the War in Ukraine and China-U.S. Tensions

| Apr. 10, 2023

The following is an event write-up about the recent Future of Diplomacy Project (FDP) seminar on “The Geopolitics of Latin America amid the War in Ukraine and China-U.S. Tensions” moderated by Negah Angha, Fellow at the Institute of Politics, on March 29, 2023.

Students at left watch as student activists take positions in the Cathedral of Learning

AP/Keith Srakocic

Journal Article - Environmental Politics

Fossil Fuel Divestment and Public Climate Change Policy Preferences: An Experimental Test in Three Countries

| 2023

Divestment is a prominent strategy championed by activists to induce positive social change. For example, the current fossil fuel divestment movement includes over 1,500 institutions that control $40 trillion in assets. A primary pathway through which divestment is theorized to be effective is by influencing public beliefs and policy preferences, thus pressuring policymakers to take action. However, prior research only tests this argument via qualitative case studies. The authors assess the impact of exposure to information about fossil fuel divestment on public opinion through the use of national survey experiments in three major greenhouse gas emitters: the U.S., India, and South Africa.