The academic debate on the South Asian nuclear arms race, mainly consisting of India-Pakistan strategic competition, has become a subject of considerable scholarly attention in the contemporary world because the protracted conflict between the pair of nuclear weapon states has greater implications for South Asian regional and international power politics. The existing patterns of literature on the India-Pakistan conflicted multi-layered interaction have created a complex regional security environment in which the scope of peace and stability has been degraded by several factors, mainly associated with New Delhi’s regional hegemonic aspirations and Islamabad’s quest for acquiring counterbalancing potential against it.

Indian regionally dominating strategic ambitions dragged the attention of international academic communities towards South Asia in the post-1998 scenario, and a wide range of literature emerged from diverse directions on the India-Pakistan conflict under the nuclear shadows. In this debate, a few books considered the appreciable intellectual insights of certain authors concerning the changing patterns of New Delhi-Islamabad rivalry in a nuclearised regional political order internationally.

The book under review is one of the interesting readings regarding the latest developments of South Asian regional nuclear politics and its persistently changing characteristics cemented in an intense arms race between a pair of nuclear weapon states.

The book is written by Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, an Islamabad-based academician and an imminent scholar with a deep understanding of international power politics and its impacts on the South Asian regional politics where the New Delhi-Islamabad strategic competition has created a complex security environment in the region.

Professor Jaspal has an extensive background in the field of international relations and an exclusive emphasis on the issues of traditional and non-traditional security threats. He has vast experience sharing his intellectual insights at various academic and policy debates at national and international levels.

The intellectual insight of the author has made him a prominent figure in the international academic debates on the issues of arms control and disarmament. In this way, the book under review is a reflection of Professor Jaspal’s ideas on the issues of South Asian strategic stability and its relevance with the India-Pakistan protracted conflict.

The book’s main theme is divided into eleven main chapters under the three main sections explaining the Politics, Postures, and Practices of the South Asian nuclear arms race. After introducing the main theme and structure of the book in a few introductory pages, the first section provides the philosophical perspectives of global nuclear politics. The philosophical debate in the first chapter enhanced the validity of the author’s arguments in the subsequent chapters.

The second chapter describes the ongoing patterns of international nuclear politics and its association with the changing power dynamics of great power politics. The termination of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Force Treaty in 2019 is treated in the book as a major development in the evolving strategic competition of the great powers (p. 25). The second section comprises the fourth, fifth, and sixth chapters, emphasising the South Asian version of deterrence and its major challenges originating from the India-Pakistan arms race, whereas the third chapter describes the theoretical conceptualisation of deterrence and its evolution in world politics.

The third section of five chapters briefly articulated the theoretical perspectives of the nuclear arms race and its different phases during the Cold War crisis between Washington and Moscow. The book’s last three chapters focus on the changing dynamics of South Asian nuclear politics and the nature of India-Pakistan’s conflicted politics, mainly concerning nuclear arms control issues.

In the end, the concluding part of the book underlined certain benefits of the proposed regional arms control treaty between India and Pakistan (p. 310). The book has several interesting arguments related to the recent developments in the India-Pakistan strategic competition, such as the role of modern warfare technologies and New Delhi’s increasing strategic engagements in the world.

The book’s overall debate consists of different theoretically strong and conceptually convincing arguments concerning the historical contexts of India-Pakistan nuclear politics, their current doctrines, and contrasting strategic postures against each other.

The framework of the book mainly tries to answer four critical questions related to the philosophical constructions of nuclear weapons proliferation and nuclear arms control, the impacts of international nuclear politics on the decision-making processes of India and Pakistan, the transforming features of India-Pakistan nuclear doctrines and postures, and the practical responses to nuclear arms control (p. xxii).

In this way, the book is a praiseworthy academic endeavour to provide a fresh look at the New Delhi-Islamabad strategic competition and the South Asian directions of international arms control efforts. The role of strategic engagement of extra-regional powers, such as the United States, has been treated in the book as the intervening factor hampering the scope of South Asian peace and stability due to its deepening strategic collaboration with India. In this way, this book is a comprehensive analysis framework related to the emerging challenges of arms control in the South Asian complex regional security environment and the changing dynamics of India-Pakistan regional power politics.

While exploring certain theoretical and empirical aspects of international nuclear weapon politics and its South Asian directions, the book contributes to understanding the evolving complications of nuclear deterrence and arms race in the enduring New Delhi-Islamabad rivalry. Therefore, this book could be considered an appropriate reading for people interested in understanding the changing nature of South Asian nuclear politics.

Moreover, students of Politics, International Relations, Defence and Strategic Studies, and Peace Studies could find this book an interesting set of arguments evolving around the South Asian dimensions of the international arms control agenda and its relevance with formal strategic postures of New Delhi and Islamabad against each other.

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