Conférence du général Khalid Kidwai à Londres sur la politique nucléaire pakistanaise, 6 février 2020

Dans une rare apparition publique, le général Kidwai, l’homme clé de la politique nucléaire pakistanaise pendant vingt ans, et réputé encore influent – il reste « conseiller auprès de la SPD » –s’est exprimé à l’IISS le 6 février 2020.Keynote Address and Discussion Session with Lieutenant General (Retd) Khalid Kidwai,7TH IISS–CISS South Asian Strategic Stability: Deterrence, Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control Workshop, IISS, 6 février 2020.

Sur la crise de Balakot (février 2019), le général Kidwai a précisé le récit pakistanais selon lequel la réaction mesurée d’Islamabad à l’ombre de la dissuasion nucléaire a permis de tenir en échec les forces armées indiennes : « Strategic stability was restored and no new normal was allowed to prevail. (..) That India chose not to proceed further in February is a testimony to not only the humiliation it suffered at the hands of the Pakistan Air Force, but also the cold calculation that nuclear weapons could come into play sooner rather than later ».

Cette crise aurait illustré la politique d’escalade délibérée mais limitée (“Quid Pro Quo Plus”) du Pakistan face à un tel scénario: « I said very clearly that Pakistan's policy in a limited conflict - I am not talking of outright war, in a limited conflict, or in limited attacks by India, look at the types that we saw last year – Pakistan’s stated policy is ‘Quid pro Quo Plus’, which amplifies very clearly that we will not take it lying down, and we will get right back, plus a bit ».

Le général Kidwai a confirmé la doctrine pakistanaise, mais il a semblé, davantage qu’à l’accoutumée, se référer au seuil nucléaire comme étant celui d’une « agression territoriale de grande ampleur contre le territoire principal du Pakistan ». Cette précision est d’importance : l’expression mainland Pakistan exclut généralement le Cachemire. « Pakistan has ensured seamless integration between nuclear strategy and conventional military strategy, in order to achieve the desired outcomes in the realms of peacetime deterrence, pre-war deterrence, as also in intra-war deterrence, if the adversary, having drawn the wrong conclusions, challenges the very foundations of the deterrence theory. [...] Pakistan’s nuclear capability operationalised under the well-articulated policy of Full Spectrum Deterrence comprises of a large variety of strategic, operational and tactical nuclear weapons, on land, air and sea, which are designed to comprehensively deter large-scale aggression against mainland Pakistan. […] Nuclear Pakistan’s resolve to defend its sovereignty and territorial integrity, including Azad Jammu and Kashmir, must never be tested ».

De même, le général Kidwai a-t-il confirmé l’intention pakistanaise de se doter d’une capacité maritime de frappe en second : « The moment you show a strategic gap, for example, the absence of sea-based or submarine-based weapons, there is at least theoretically an incentive for the other side to take out your first-strike options, and therefore survival of the nuclear capability demands that there be a reliable second-strike capability, just in case that kind of an incentive is available to the adversary, and that is the logic ».

Enfin le général Kidwai s’est payé le luxe – non sans quelque argument – d’une inversion accusatoire, reprochant à l’Inde :

  • de mentir sur sa doctrine : « Mr Modi said that he would not preserve India’s nuclear weapons for the fireworks night of the Hindu festival of Diwali, implying in the most casual of manners their first use against Pakistan. This statement alone turned India’s much trumpeted policy of No First Use (NFU) on its head ».
  • de donner trop d’autonomie à ses militaires : « Arihant, which had earlier claimed running deterrence patrols in a fanfare ceremony presided over by the Prime Minister, was certainly carrying cannisterised ready-to-go nuclear missiles. Since there were no credible reports of India’s first-strike weapons based on land and air being readied, one wonders whether India contemplated the use of nuclear weapons from a second-strike platform even before its first-strike options. Third, with reference to the concept of institutionalised command and control of nuclear weapons, which institutional forum authorised the deployment of a second-strike platform carrying nuclear weapons? Was there a debate in a secret meeting of India’s National Command Authority, because none was announced formally, as it was in Pakistan? Or was this too decided in a cavalier fashion between the Prime Minister and his Naval Chief? Or worse still, was the Indian Navy also given a free hand, as Prime Minister Modi claimed to have given to his other military commanders. With what sense of political responsibility would a Prime Minister of a nuclear state, single-handedly delegate authority to deploy nuclear platforms and nuclear weapons to military commanders? »
  • d’être sous l’emprise des extremistes religieux : « One finds it intriguing on the contrary that today in India, and for the last six years, while extremists and religious fanatics of the RSS and BJP are the real time state and the government, at the Centre, and in a large number of provinces, and in firm control of India’s nuclear weapons, with a track record of strategic recklessness and irresponsibility, in words and in deed, and one does not hear a word of concern from the same international community, which had sleepless nights about an imagined extremist takeover in Pakistan ».

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