Living the legacy of the Cold War and treading the block-centric constructs, the idea of a “security dialogue” was mooted by the Japanese prime minister in 2007. In 2017, the US, India, Australia and Japan agreed to formally constitute the Quadrilateral Security Dialogueor QSD, also called the QUAD. Though it was meant for “peace and security in the Indo-Pacific,” it had all anti-China markers. By 2021, the QUAD claimed to realize a “free and open Indo-Pacific” and “rules-based maritime order in East and South China Seas.” This was a clear reference to conflict with the Chinese maritime claims, particularly in the South China Sea. Several meetings had been held under the auspices of QUAD that apparently had been ineffective in conveying strategic messaging to China. Realizing the rise of the Chinese economy and strengthening of its military, the US felt compelled to figure something else. Hence, the emergence of AUKUS.This September, the US, the UK and Australia decided to constitute a new security alliance, awkwardly named as AUKUS, i.e., a security architecture consisting of Australia, the UK and the US. AUKUS kicked off on a controversial footing as the first post-AUKUS inauguration act came from Australia that scrapped the submarine deal with France. The US authorized as part of AUKUS to “sell” nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN) to Australia; possibly carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles. India was entirely ignored in the arrangement while France was asked to “pack up the submarine deal” from Australia.AUKUS reflects, in many ways, the clear pointers of the Cold War “containment psyche,” as it gives a message to China to “remain” within the South China Sea or to “abandon the maritime claims” on Paracel and Spratly Islands. AUKUS is expected to increase Sino-US rivalry and may result in straining regional stability. The proliferation of nuclear submarines and their regular patrols would force China to deploy its submarines to maintain the strategic balance, ushering into a New Cold War. So far, China has shown a visible tilt towards trade and commerce, as the figures of trade continue to rise between China and several countries around the world, especially India ($ 100 Billion) and Australia ($ 245 Billion). AUKUS reflects the clear pointers of the Cold War “containment psyche,” as it gives a message to China to “remain” within the South China Sea. At such time, bringing in AUKUS just means hitting the Chinese economy, compelling it to reduce trade or redirecting financial efforts to an arms race.India, though not a direct partner of AUKUS, is likely to take leverage under QUAD and may pursue the US for the transfer of nuclear submarine technology. On other hand, as Yogdesh Joshi at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute notes, India would have greater “strategic autonomy” after being left out of AUKUS, which could mean the application of military options at sea against China or Pakistan. Joshi suggests the US change of focus from “power of norms” to “norms of power” is a sordid disregard to NPT and other nuclear proliferation regimes. Contrary to NPT 1968 and IAEA statutes, AUKUS enables nuclear-armed states to divert fissile material away from the IAEA inspection if it is used for peaceful pursuits, including submarine propulsion. The naval reactor (used onboard the submarines) is a loophole to the NPT and IAEA safeguards whereby a Non-Nuclear Weapons State (NNWS) could divert materials from naval reactors and potentially use that material for weapons production. The NPT does not prohibit NNWS from non-explosive military uses of nuclear material and obviously, the naval reactor is an example. This ‘loophole’ in the NPT would be greatly exploited by AUKUS for a long time to come.The NPT-loophole would embolden India to seek nuclear technology as it would claim to ‘contain China’ in the greater Indian Ocean, particularly in the Arabian Sea. This proposition could convince Washington to extend the US SSN technology to India for the pursuance of its “counter-China” design. Supporting India to become a reckonable threat to China will create multiple threat centres making it difficult for China to concentrate on all, thereby losing the strategic advantage of being a “regional player.” This is exactly what the US did to the erstwhile Soviet Union during the Cold War by creating NATO and installing ICBMs in Japan and Turkey. Multiple threat foci divided the USSR’s focus and resulted in an arms race that wrecked the Russian economy paving way for the disintegration of the socialist states. The flipside of AUKUS could provide an opportunity for both France and India to get closer and may begin their bilateral nuclear technology transfer program. Since the SSN sale to Australia has unmasked the NPT-loophole, it may not stop France and India from getting into this kind of arrangement easing the nuclear technology transfer. In the Nuclear Supplier Group’s Vienna meeting in 2008, India was granted a waiver to undertake nuclear trade without being subjected to IAEA’s safeguards. AUKUS would, indirectly, legitimize Indian plans to acquire fissile material and other sensitive technology making it possible for India to upgrade its nuclear warfighting capability. In turn, this will help start an irretrievable arms race in the region.Changing the situation in both Indian and the Indo-Pacific leaves Pakistan with not many options but to strengthen its Sea-based deterrence capability, this could ONLY come from a nuclear-powered submarine. India becoming an operator of “ballistic missile carrying nuclear-powered submarine” or in short SSBN, and with two operational aircraft carriers means a pronounced escalation in coercion against Pakistan, in about two to three years from now. This strategic reality cannot be long ignored. Pakistan may not have “equal punch” but it must have an “equivalent punch” to maintain strategic parity in and around the Arabian Sea. Fragile military equilibrium incentivizes India to adopt aggression and may choose a morphed form of “surgical strike” to establish a newer kind of “New Normal” as it gets its nuclear submarines to sea. The writer is an independent researcher and tweets at @SohailAzmie.