From the bloodshed that claimed thousands of innocent Muslim lives at the hands of Hindus and Sikhs during our independence, to the most recent cross border firing, we have always struggled to find space for peace with India.

It is important to briefly delve into the history of the two nations to understand their strategic culture. Because the strategic culture of both countries has been shaped by their religious identity, their cultural norms, and their past experiences vis-à-vis each other, which have been used to justify our current relationship, military developments and use of force in both countries including India’s pro-active military doctrine and Pakistan’s development of tactical nuclear weapons as a response to that doctrine.

There is a fear and feeling of insecurity that India has designs to disintegrate Pakistan. These fears are justified given our historical experience with India during the 1948, 1965, and 1971 wars.

India’s first nuclear explosion was in 1974; a mere three years after it had successfully attacked and split a sovereign Pakistan in half.

This was an alarming development and created a massive security dilemma for us. Following India’s nuclear explosion, Former Prime Minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto in an address to the world community declared that our country would not be held hostage to nuclear threat from India, and we would pursue an atomic bomb program of our own.

Bhutto did not want to repeat the 1971 experience or risk further disintegration of the country to this new Indian nuclear threat. The fear at the time was that India would blackmail us into giving up our claim on Kashmir, and thus Bhutto made it his mission to develop a nuclear weapon for the sole purpose of deterring India’s nuclear aggression.

In 1986, twelve-years after their first nuclear explosion, India conducted Operation Brass Tacks, showing the first real sign of their new pro-active military doctrine, often referred to as Cold Start.

India deployed almost half their army to our border near Sindh. It was the largest deployment of troops in the history of the subcontinent. The exercise clearly displayed India’s willingness to overpower us with its larger conventional force. We would not forget this experience.

Taking into account the conventional asymmetry that exists between the two countries and the history of three major wars fought, when India chose to explode their nuclear bombs on May 11, 1998, we felt that we had very little choice but to respond, and on May 28, 1998 we did, with a series of our own nuclear explosions. If we had not we would have risked further Indian belligerence, and possibly another major war.

In nearly a year after the nuclear tests, we were confident that the atomic bomb had deterred India from the possibility of going to full scale war that we decided to finally respond to an earlier Indian operation codenamed Meghdoot, which resulted in the illegal occupation of the Siachen Glacier and over 1,000 square miles of territory. We launched a similar military operation to Meghdoot to take control of various abandoned posts in Kargil.

These actions led to a limited conflict in 1999, and proved that there was still space for conventional war despite being nuclear weapon states. Both countries walked away from Kargil with a new understanding that the threshold of nuclear war was too high and as long as military operations did not threaten the existence of either country, nuclear weapons would not be used.

India would test this theory following the failure of Operation Parakram. In 2001, India placed a massive concentration of their troops on our border following a tragic attack on the their parliament, for which they wrongfully held us responsible.

The problem with Operation Parakram was that by the time they managed to deploy a large number of troops to our border, we had already taken strong defensive positions. This forced them to revise their policy for troop deployment.

Revisiting their experience of Operation Brass Tacks, the Indian military decided to refocus their energy on developing a more efficient pro-active military doctrine that would guarantee rapid mobilization of troops to our border in case of a need to deliver quick thrusts into our territory to carry out a limited military operation, without escalating the conflict to the nuclear level.

In response to the new threat of rapid mobilization of Indian troops to our borders we chose to develop Nasr, a short-range battlefield ready nuclear missile, which lowered the nuclear threshold, thereby deterring India from engaging us in a limited conflict or violating our territorial sovereignty.

The reason we chose to develop a tactical nuclear weapon was simple economics. Pakistan does not have the financial or military resources to respond to the Indian threat of sub-conventional warfare with conventional weapons, so we chose to develop a tactical nuclear weapon to counter their conventional threat.

By developing Nasr we have managed to create stability and a kind of fragile peace. We have managed to do this without having operationalized Nasr, and avoiding some of the dangers associated with deploying tactical nuclear weapons.

Our political leaders understand that we have a unique opportunity to now resolve the issue of Kashmir and improve ties with India through diplomatic engagement, and turn this fragile peace into a lasting peace. Unfortunately, leaders in India have clearly failed to understand this, given the fact that they have now twice called off diplomatic meetings.

India must realize that it is now time to redefine our relationship. They need to understand that war is no longer an option. If India wants to ease our fears of an imminent threat to our existence, and at the same time continue to grow their military capability without creating a security dilemma for us, or engaging us in an arms competition, then diplomacy is the only answer. They must stop creating hurdles to a permanent peace, and open up diplomatic lines of communication.