. Both China and Pakistan have territorial disputes with India, which naturally makes them strategic partners. Given the possibility for collusion between India’s two military adversaries, recently, prominent defence analysts have averred that India cannot fight a two-front war, and therefore, should not plan for one. They further advance the prescription that for India to avoid a two-front war, Indian diplomacy bears direct responsibility for preventing it. After all, as opposed to war, diplomacy is a cost effective means of reconciling interests and resolving complex disputes. Another well-known analyst argues, New Delhi “abandoning the idea of waging a two-front” war because it lacks global interests, a potent defence-industrial military base, outstanding centres on warfare and defence, New Delhi cannot make acquisitions based on capabilities. Instead, India ought to acquire military capabilities based on threats. Elaborating further, a case is made that New Delhi concentrate effort on threat based planning involving strengthening capabilities for peacetime deterrence rather than warfighting. Consequently, New Delhi ought to jettison all possibilities of fighting two adversaries at the same time.
avoiding a two-front war is not just India’s choice, regardless of how active and dexterous New Delhi’s diplomacy is in preventing it. It is as much about what China and Pakistan do in response to what India does both on the military and diplomatic fronts and they may initiate military action, independently of what India does. Further, the expansion of Indian military capabilities will be shaped by threats, as they will be by scenarios on which to base future acquisitions. Peacetime deterrence also requires a defence effort in the form of capabilities, which makes it doubly disturbing to accept the crude representation that New Delhi give up capability-based planning. The real divide within the larger defence debates is over what the scope of the capabilities should be. If peacetime deterrence were to collapse, warfighting is inevitable. Indeed, deterrence failure occurs for the same basic reason that states go to war — motivation.
civilian leaders tend to display a greater comfort with uncertainty, which is not the case with military professionals who generally place a high or at least higher premium on certainty demanding maximum capabilities, which governments, including the current Modi government, short of an acute crisis, will resist as they have other priorities. Uncertainty cuts the other way also, Beijing and Rawalpindi too have to contend with it against India.