Pakistan is pursuing Full Spectrum Deterrence (FSD) as part of its broader Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD) philosophy. This is aimed at safeguarding against possible gaps in the country’s deterrence capability. What it is not directed at is seeking parity with India on the nuclear front. The National Command Authority, back in September 2013, gave full approval to the FSD. This is the civilian authority charged with overseeing research, development, production, use and security of the country’s nuclear programme. The main function of the FSD remains as a responsive deterrent to India’s Cold Start Doctrine, which may be best described as a limited war strategy designed to seize Pakistan’s territory swiftly and without, in theory at least, risking a nuclear conflict. Thus FSD capability represents a range of options available to the decision-making bodies. And at its core is the development of nuclear capability aimed at bringing all Indian targets into Pakistan’s striking range. The net effect of this has been the taking off the table of full-scale conventional war. For this no longer a viable option for either side — given the conceptual reality of mutually assured destruction (MAD). Yet this doesn’t mean that there is no threat of conflict. There is. Noticeably, India has adopted sub-conventional warfare to achieve regional supremacy; thereby plunging South Asia into a sort of Cold War era of its own. Thus we have seen New Delhi’s hand in an ongoing proxy war along the Indo-Pak border areas. It is the same story when it comes to the western border with Afghanistan.This focusing on sub-conventional warfare has allowed India to turn to the issue of terrorism to try and destabilise Pakistan. This, despite it being the former that is conducting continuous surgical strikes along the LoC; possibly in a bid to provoke Islamabad. Thus we may begin to see Cold Start in the following terms: a warmongering strategy whereby New Delhi directs conventional forces to perform holding attacks ahead of international intervention or else nuclear retaliation from Islamabad. Thus this blueprint for proactive aggression, in reality, poses a far more dangerous threat to regional peace and security. It also undermines the Indian commitment to its policy of no-first use of nuclear weapons. For trying to incite the other side to strike first — is a violation of the aforementioned.And it is one which threatens Pakistan’s conventional asymmetric advantage. Bluntly put, this country must begin preparing for the possibility of an Indian reversal of the no-first use; especially given that such hardliners as Manohar Parrikar, Ajit Davol and Sushma Sawraj are at the helm when it comes to dictating the country’s future nuclear direction. Not only that, but such belligerence on the part of New Delhi gives the impression to the international community that the entire South Asia region is permanently shackled in conflict.And this, combined with India’s weaponry expansion as well as military enlargement, explains in real terms just how Pakistan came to actively move towards FSD. For how else is this country expected to respond to such threats at both at the tactical and counter-force level?The answer is that it needs to cover all levels of risk. This is why Pakistan refers to its nukes as Weapons of Peace; meaning that these reduce the threat and probability of all-out war. Moreover, it must be recognised that strategic stability in South Asia does not exclusively hinge on Islamabad and New Delhi — it also involves both China and the US as external regional players.Proactive Indian aggression undermines New Delhi’s commitment to its policy of no-first use of nuclear weapons. For trying to incite the other side to strike first — is a violation of the aforementioned policyAdviser to the National Command Authority, Lt Gen (rtd) Khalid Ahmed Kidwani, has highlighted the salient features of the Pakistan’s FSD policy. At the beginning of this month, he put it like this: “it envisages possession of a full range of nuclear weapons that could reach every part of India, having enough yield and numbers to deter rival from its policy of massive retaliation and having liberty of picking targets including counter-value, counter-force and battlefield”.Meanwhile, India’s increasing efforts to secure membership to all the export control cartels — especially its recent admission into the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) as well as talk of it entering into the Wassenaar Arrangement (WA) — could very well disturb the strategic balance in the region. While potentially triggering an arms competition in the Indian Ocean, too. Therefore, reassurance of Pakistan’s Full Spectrum Deterrence is non-negotiable; while simultaneously observing Indian nuclear ‘political rhetoric’ regarding the introduction of new and advanced technologies, and sophisticated nukes. The writer is associated with the Strategic Vision Institute and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.orgPublished in Daily Times, December 17th 2017.