With the world’s attention firmly fixated on North Korea, the greatest possibility of nuclear war is in fact on the other side of Asia. That place is what could be called the nuclear triangle of Pakistan, India, and China.
At the heart of this conflict, of course, is the territorial dispute over the northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir, the latter part of which Pakistan lays claim to.
Also, key to the nuclear dimension of the conflict is the fact that India’s conventional capabilities are vastly superior to Pakistan’s. Consequently, Islamabad has adopted a nuclear doctrine of using tactical nuclear weapons against Indian forces to offset the latter’s conventional superiority.
At an event at the Stimson Center in Washington this week, Feroz Khan, a former brigadier in the Pakistan Army and author of one of the best books on the country’s nuclear program, said that Pakistani military leaders explicitly based their nuclear doctrine on NATO’s Cold War strategy.
Here What Could Happen if India and Pakistan Wage a Nuclear War
If India and Pakistan fought a war detonating 100 nuclear warheads (around half of their combined arsenal), each equivalent to a 15-kiloton Hiroshima bomb, more than 21m people will be directly killed, about half the world’s protective ozone layer would be destroyed, and a “nuclear winter” would cripple the monsoons and agriculture worldwide.
As the Indian Army reports striking terrorist camps across the border, and a member of Parliament (MP) of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) urges a nuclear attack and the Pakistan
On September 23, BJP Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy said if 100m Indians died in a Pakistani nuclear attack, India’s retaliation would wipe out Pakistan.
But the real costs would be higher and not just in India and Pakistan, where the first 21m people–half the death toll of World War II–would perish within the first week from blast effects, burns and acute radiation.
This death toll would be 2,221 times the number of civilians and security forces killed by terrorists in India over nine years to 2015, according to an IndiaSpend analysis of South Asia Terrorism Portal data.
Another 2bn people worldwide would face risks of severe starvation due to the climatic effects of the nuclear-weapon use in the subcontinent, according to this 2013 assessment by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, a global federation of physicians.
Pakistan has an estimated 110 to 130 nuclear warheads as of 2015–an increase from an estimated 90 to 110 warheads in 2011–according to this report from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. India is estimated to have 110 to 120 nuclear warheads.