Why Pakistan Can Never Use Nuclear Weapons against India

With Tensions between India and Pakistan at an all-time high after Pulwama Attack and further Air Engagements between the two nations, one thing that kept the world on it toes was how the two Nuclear Armed nations will sort out this blunder.

While India dealt with the situation logically, Pakistani Ministers and political leaders kept threatening India with a nuclear attack which is not new. Pakistan successfully tested its nuclear weapon in 1998 and ever since then, Pakistan has always been threatening India of a nuclear attack if India tries to take offensive action against them.

Mirage -2000 Balakot

It is a well known and understood fact amongst Indians as well as Pakistanis that Pakistan cannot win a regular war against India no matter what. India’s Defence budget stood at 63.9 Billion in 2018 whereas Pakistan’s defence budget was mere 9.6 Billion USD. Due to such constraints, Pakistan has always used its Nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to threaten India on an official and unofficial level. Many of Indians do actually take this threat seriously but this is something India should never be worried about.

What Platforms Can Pakistan Use To Attack India With?

Pakistan has its options limited when it comes to using nuclear weapons. Pakistan’s Babur-3 SLBM (Submarine-launched Ballistic Missile) has a range of just 450 Kms and with no Nuclear Powered Submarine, Pakistan has to get really close to India if it wants to attack it from the sea. Coming to Airpower, Pakistan only has three Aircraft capable of nuclear delivery and these are JF17, Mirage 5 and F-16.Pakistani F-16’s can only be used for a defensive role and this leaves them with only 2 Aircraft both having a limited range of just 1350 and 1250 km and payload capacity of 3800kgs and 4000 kgs respectively. This limits their Nuclear Strike Capability to Missiles which have a maximum range of 2750 km making it the only capable platform to attack India with.

Pakistani Mirage 5 and JF 17
PAF’s JF-17 and Mirage 5


Though chances of Pakistan using its Nuclear Arsenal is very low, If Pakistan did, however, fire its Nuclear Missile against India, it would be easily intercepted by Indian Ballistic Missile Defence Systems (BMD). Not many people are aware of it but India has a Multilayered Air Defence System specifically placed to counter Pakistani Nuclear and Non-Nuclear Ballistic Missiles. This system consists of two-tier Land-based and Sea based Interceptor Missiles for intercepting targets at different altitudes

Indian AIr Defence System Nuclear
Prithvi and AAD System

The two-tier system is intended to destroy an incoming missile, at a higher altitude, in the exo-atmosphere and if that miscarries, an endo-atmospheric interception will take place. It can intercept incoming missiles at exo-atmospheric altitudes of 150km and endo-atmospheric altitudes of 80km.

The BMD system consists of a Prithvi Air Defence (PAD) missile and an Advanced Air Defence (AAD) Missile for high and low altitude interception. The PAD intercepts missiles at altitudes between 50km-80km and the AAD missile destroys them at altitudes of 15km-30km.


DRDO also plans to develop two new ballistic missiles, namely AD-1 and AD-2, in phase 2 of the missile shield development. The AD-1 and AD-2 interceptors can engage intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) / intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) both of which Pakistan lacks.

Prithavi and AAD
Prithvi and AAD

Aside from developing and deploying Indigenous Ballistic Missile Defence Systems, India also has MRSAM and SRSAM developed by a joint team from India and Isreal, designed to defend India against any type of airborne threat including aircraft, helicopters, anti-ship missiles, UAVs as well as ballistic missiles and cruise missiles.MRSAM and SRSAM can be deployed from both lands as well as sea. For a short-range interception, India also has  Aakash SAM which is also capable of intercepting any airborne target be it Aircraft or Missile.

If that’s not all, India is also purchasing S-400 Air Defence system from Russia and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System-II (NASAMS) from the United States under G2G deal.

India recently placed orders for S-400( Russia) and National Advanced Surface-to-Air Missile System-II (US)

All these Air defence systems ensure the enemy Missile is destroyed before it touches Indian soil.

But What If Somehow Pakistani Missile Escape Our Defences And Hit India?

Intercepting incoming missile is no joke and it has been seen in recent engagements as well that many sophisticated Air Defence Systems have failed to intercept enemy missiles like the Saudi patriot’s and so there is still a possibility of a Pakistani Missile escaping our defences and hitting India. So what will happen next?

Range of Pakistani Ballistic Missiles
Range of Pakistani Ballistic Missiles

Even if Pakistan manages to use its weapon which is rare since it will face international sanctions, loose diplomatic support and financial assistance from World which Pakistan desperately needs, Pakistan at best will able to hit 3 Indian Cities before India realizes what is going on and decides to retaliate.


India is a  Big Country and so, it can take some nuclear missile hits and not become a wasteland. Due to its size, population and distribution of resources, India won’t fall into a state of chaos, will not suffer a financial crisis and won’t crumble in itself. India’s constitution allows it to be both Unitary as well as Federal.

The way government bodies are divided means that despite losing its Major Cities to nuclear attack, the Indian government can still function at both central and state level to assist the victims but also to plan next course of action. Major Indian cities are densely packed but are situated in open places with small towns and villages surrounding it. The distance between major cities in India is also too big for nuclear fallout to affect other metropolitan cities.

Nuclear Explosion Delhi
Effect of 100 Kiloton Nuclear Explosion in Delhi with Radioactive Fallout

India also has friendly ties with almost all countries in the world and so International assistance won’t be a problem for India with Immediate assistance coming from its neighbours like Sri Lanka, Nepal, Myanmar, Afghanistan etc. Overall, it is safe to say that India can be nuked and still get up, brush itself off and continue to develop and grow.

What Will Happen to Pakistan After India Retaliates and Fires Its Missile?

There are speculation and unconfirmed report that Pakistan might possess short range to medium range anti-ballistic missiles though officially, Pakistan has claimed of not developing an anti-ballistic missile system. They do have Chinese HQ-9  systems but these systems are not dedicated interception system. Even if Pakistan has these systems, India has MIRV which will be difficult to counter by Pakistan and so the question arises as to what will happen to Pakistan when Indian Nuclear Missile is fired against it? To understand it, we have to consider the demographics of Pakistan.

Pakistan Air Defence System Nuclear
Chinese HQ-9 is a medium- to long-range, active radar homing surface-to-air defence system similar to the Russian S-300 or US’s patriot with an operational range of 200 km

Pakistan is relatively a small country compared to India with a population less than that of the state of Uttar Pradesh. If Indian uses just bare minimum amount of nuclear weapons, Pakistan will collapse in itself financially, economically and politically. Pakistan has its resources accumulated in a very confined area with its major cities like Peshawar, Islamabad, Rawalpindi etc relatively close to each other. Most of its cities and Political Hubs are located North East close to China and just 2 Nuclear Weapons would cause widespread devastation and bring Pakistan to its knees.

Population density in Pakistan.

As of this moment itself, Pakistan is struggling to remain afloat due to its debts which is growing by the second. Pakistan will have to pay back $100 billion to China by 2024 alone(GDP of Pakistan as of 2017 is 305 Billion USD).Pakistan’s current debt is USD 228,000,0000,000 or ₨ 21,500,000,000,000.What these figures mean is that when hit with a Nuclear Missile, Pakistan will not have any borrowing capacity to get monetary assistance to rebuild and thus it will be impossible for it to recover from such an event.

It is a well-known fact that Pakistan has several terrorist groups working within its territory many of whom are armed, supported and trained by Pakistani intelligence agencies. Many of these groups are pro-government while many are anti-government responsible for terrorist attacks within Pakistan. When Pakistan is hit with Indian Nuclear weapons, the state will run into total chaos and these rogue terrorist groups, as well as friendly terrorist groups, will make best of the situation and try to take over the country for sure. With most of Pakistan’s government’s top brass gone, it a no brainer that these terrorist groups will clash with each other as well as with Pakistani Forces while each of them tries to maintain their supremacy and take as much land as possible.

Nuclear Explosion pakistan
Effect of 100 Kiloton Nuclear Explosion in Islamabad with Radioactive Fallout

Since using Nuclear weapons is Prohibited internationally and is seen as a last resort, Pakistan will certainly face international sanctions and will lose its stand completely. Pakistan will not be able to provide food and basic medical assistance to survivors and radioactive fallout will only make the matters worse. Pakistan already has very little support in the international community and so except humanitarian groups, not much Foreign Government Assistance will be provided for setting up a government.

Indian Ballistic Missiles and ICBM
Range of Indian Ballistic Missiles

Pakistan is also unfriendly with all of its neighbours except China and will very unlikely receive immediate assistance from any other country except China. Cleaning up of radioactive fallout will take forever. Radiations from Nuclear Explosion will affect centuries and so Pakistan will have to take care of Millions of people for centuries to come. Pakistan will for hundreds of years has to spend billions on medical treatment of the affected, their deformed kids and future generations.

Won’t India face Sanctions if it uses Nuclear Weapons against Pakistan?

India is not an Aggressor and is considered to be a Peaceful and Responsible nation Internationally. India has a No First Use Policy which means it will never use its Nuclear Arsenal first. What this means is that When Pakistan uses its nuclear missile and India retaliates, India won’t face any sanctions (though there might be few) will certainly gain Diplomatic Assistance and Financial Aid as well. India’s actions will also be seen as justifiable and strong against an aggressor.

Even if the first nuclear missile is intercepted by India, it will still be considered a nuclear attack and India will most certainly retaliate which simply means that Pakistan will be struggling to clean Nuclear Radiation 500 years after the attack without even achieving its objective

Pakistani top Level officials are well aware of these facts and only threaten to use weapons against India but deep down are well aware that they never will.

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