Pakistan has managed to bridge the conventional military disadvantage with respect to India by going nuclear. The Pakistani defence forces have around 120 nuclear warheads, the Indian military on the other hand has 100 nuclear warheads in its arsenal.
According to Stimson Center and Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (SCCEIP), US, Pakistan has built diverse nuke capabilities. Given the level of fissile material production, Pakistan can set up between 14 and 27 nuke weapons per year, while India can build between two and five per annum. Pakistan is outcompeting India in fissile material for nuclear weapons by about four to one, stated the report.
So in the next five to 10 years, Pakistan may have a nuke arsenal twice the size of India, placing it on third position behind the US and Russia. Many observers said Pakistan’s rate of fissile material production gives it the fastest-growing N-weapons stockpile.
“Pakistan is competing with—and in some respects outcompeting—India. It operates four plutonium production reactors, while India operates one. Pakistan has the capability to produce 20 nuclear warheads annually, while India appears to be producing five warheads annually,” stated a report by Toby Dalton and Michael Krepon for SCCEIP.
However, the authors said India has a larger economy and sizeable nuclear infrastructure, and can outcompete Pakistan in fissile material and warhead production if it chooses to do so. Pakistan has prepared for this eventuality, too, by investing in a large nuclear weapons production complex.
A New York Times editorial on April 6, 2015 stated the “Pakistani Army’s continuing obsession with India as the enemy” and “Pakistan’s determination to continue developing short-range tactical nuclear weapons whose only purpose is use on the battlefield in a war against India”. “Pakistan, with the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal, is unquestionably the biggest concern” in South Asia, it added.
“Whether New Delhi chooses to compete or not, it is a losing proposition for Pakistan to sustain, let alone expand, its current infrastructure. Just as the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal was of no help whatsoever for it, Pakistan’s nuclear weapons don’t address its internal challenges,” stated the report.
While India has entered into a civil nuclear deal with the US due to its track record in dealing with fissile material and better economic strength, Pakistan lacks both the commercial leverage and support for such a pact.
Both India and Pakistan declared themselves a nuclear power with a series of tests in May 1998. While India had conducted its first nuclear test in 1974, Pakistan has been helped by North Korea and China.
India after becoming a nuclear power declared that it will not use nuclear weapons in a war unless it is attacked by one, Pakistan has stated time and again that it will have no compulsions in using such weapons first.