My answer to What Would Have Happen (sic) If Pakistan Would Have Nukes During Indo-Pak War Of 1971?
Answer by Vishu Menon:
Frankly, I have too many friends – intellectuals, engineers, architects, executives, singers, ordinary people and their wives and children in Pakistan or from Pakistan to visualize such a scenario
It is possible that a nutcase general in Pakistan would have used the nuke if Pak had one then. Yahya Khan, who boasted about the length of a lock of hair at the back of his head when war was at the door was in charge; he would certainly have used the nuke. Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was breathing fire against India because Mujibur Rehman won the majority in Pakistan. He would definitely have goaded him to use it.
If you are old enough, you’d recall that in 1971 every car and truck in Pakistan carried stickers on the windshield and rear glass exhorting : “Crush India”. The idea was that the two wings of Pakistan would break up India like a nut cracker cracks a walnut. How could they do that so easily? Argument went thus: If India was six times stronger in population than Pakistan, every Pakistani Muslim was equal to seven Hindus. So the human advantage, it was believed, lay with Pakistan. Americans were close allies, and so were the Chinese, both would come to the rescue.
In the event, Nixon did send seventh fleet to the Bay of Bengal but, frightened of a Russian retaliation, beat a hasty retreat. Within six days after the war started, the Eastern arm of the nut-cracker broke away. Officers under AAK Niazi, too accustomed to comforts under a military rule, surrendered meekly while many ordinary soldiers were prepared to fight on till death. (I was there). Yahya Khan, the great tormentor of the Bengalies, lived incarcerated (so that he wouldn’t be stoned to death by the people whom he once ruled with an iron hand) till he died from alcohol misuse. Bhutto was hanged by a ‘grateful’ Zia-Ul-Haq whom the former had elevated earlier.
To guess what could have happened if Pakistan had a nuke, you need to model the situation on what obtains today. I am coming to it at the end of this reply.
The mindset behind the question is : India is committed to “No first use”. So if Pakistan makes a massive all-out attack at the same time with nuclear bombs, India would be pulverized (including an Islamic population nearly equal to Pakistan’s) out of existence.
Imagine this : A bomb of the power of Czar Bomba would destroy and kill most within a radius of 7 kilometres – that is some 160 sq. kilometres – less than 10% of land area of Delhi. Forget 1971, even today Pakistan with its pirated technology and lack of access to fissile materials does not have a nuke of that power. Pakistan tested its first bombs in 1998 – 27 years after the war. In 1971 AQ Khan, a metallurgy engineer from Delhi University, was working as an underling in Physics Dynamics Research Laboratory in. India certainly had a nuke on the anvil at that time – Indira Gandhi decided to test it only 3 years later to assert her power over her detractors, not over a defeated Pakistan that was still suffering from the ignominy of the recently released 90,000 prisoners of war. .
Unfortunately, Pakistani generals are not very good at mathematics. The only one good scientist they had, Abdus Salam, a true Pakistani patriot, was sent into exile because he was an Ahmediya! They had been boasting about their nuclear capability, and everyone knows how many they have and where the bombs are to be found. Like a small Dachshund barking at the sight of a Great Dane, its defence minister has been threatening India with a nuclear attack. Going by the available accounts, the technology available is what was brought to Pakistan in mid 199os. India has home-grown technology in nuclear, missile and satellite technology – all of which will be needed in a nuclear war. Pakistan doesn’t. Targetting the science institute in Bangalore was a feeble, futile and stupid attempt at thwarting that capability. On the other hand, AQ Khan, an engineer and not a scientist, was no longer welcome for conducting piracy abroad. It is well established that nations that are good at ‘assembly technology’ are no good at design technology. So what Pakistan has, if at all, are a 100 or more assembly-line clone-bombs that are nowhere near Russia’s Czar Bomba that was tested in 1961. Even assuming they are, the effective killing range is something like 7 kms radius, which amounts to a coverage area of 160 km.sq; a fraction of Delhi land area. Even if you equally space those bombs along the land area of India (an impossibility), only 1/15,000 of India’s land area could be destroyed with terrible fall-out effect on Pakistan- assuming that somehow the bombs respect the borders. One will have to assume that the Pakistan attack will have to pinpoint India’s nuclear warehouses – which, unlike those of Pakistan, are not easily known. It would be stupid not to expect a retaliation
Another seemingly positive expectation on the part of Pakistan could be that China would come to help. North Korea is an ideological brother of China; The United States was not able to neutralize North Korea on account of its fear of China. However, a nuclear sabre-rattling Kim Jong-Un has alienated China. Pakistan enjoys no such ideological camaraderie with China. The friendship of China with Pakistan is one of strategic and commercial advantage – to China. China would sell its missiles and even let Pakistan assemble its design against a price. This is largely because of an unnecessarily unfriendly posture by India against China as was the case in India-US relations earlier. Atheistic China and fiercely theocratic Pakistan don’t make permanent friends, not at the risk of China entering into a nuclear fray with India while both the US and the Russians are vying for its friendship.
Osama Bin Laden, whom Pakistan kept secure in its military bosom has permanently destroyed US-Pak friendship. Americans could not have forgotten Musharraff’s speech on the night of 9/11 citing the example of the Prophet being friendly with Jews for six years to destroy pagans, then for six years with pagans to destroy Jews. Nor would the analysts in China. Pakistan is surrounded by a theocratic rival (ready to go to war with Saudi Arabia to protect a Shia president in Syria) in Iran; political rival in Afghanistan, and only a friend of convenience in China. United States shows no qualms about sending its drones deep in Pakistan territory to kill its citizens, about which the latter can do nothing but sending its own drones and army in the same areas to kill its own citizens.
Forget those ground realities and assume that Pakistan uses a nuke today. Like all suicide individual bombing instances, it would have ended in national suicide. In the first flush, some 10 to 20% of a city in India would have been destroyed. A fierce and unbridled retaliation is bound to follow. A few parts on the borders of Iran, Afghanistan and Indian side of Punjab and Rajasthan could have suffered from radiation fallout. Sadly a lot of good people from Pakistan would have perished along with the rest of that unfortunate nation, but happily, ISI, Taliban, and the following would have gone to heaven to be allotted 8,000 slaves and 72 virgins each by Allah.
- (HuA, presently known as )
- (HuM, previously known as )
- Al Barq
- Al Jehad
- Jammu & Kashir National Liberation Army
- People’s League
Ten years later when the air is cleared , the children that survived (including girls who were shut away till before the war) would feel safe going to school. Girls would be able to take part in sports in comfortable clothes without shrouding themselves in black. There would exist no Madrasas to indoctrinate them with poisonous ideals.
A new Pakistan free of religious bellicosity would emerge, just as prosperous and peaceful Hiroshima and Nagasaki did after the second world war.
However, since such a world peace is not Pakistan’s national aim, don’t try it. Tell that to Khwaja Asif.