Rethinking the Kargil conflict: What did Pakistan learn from a nuclear crisis?



Sannia Abdullah, CISAC, Stanford University

Date and Time

April 19, 2018 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305

Abstract: In November 1998, ‘mujahideen’ warriors climbed the heights above Kargil in Indian held Kashmir, crossed the Line of Control, and occupied Indian military posts. These ‘mujahideens’ were really Pakistani soldiers clad in civilian garb on a secret mission. This was the beginning of the war in Kargil between two nuclear neighbors (India and Pakistan). This study critically evaluates the relationship between ‘learning’ and risk-prone behavior of Pakistan in the midst of technological maturation. Should we be confident and rely on nuclear deterrence and believe that Kargil-like crisis will never happen again? This talk will explain the story of Kargil from a theoretical lens of nuclear learning, demonstrating how difficult it has been for Pakistan to learn appropriate lessons given the firewalls of convictions, cover-ups, and confirmation biases. 

Speaker bio: Sannia Abdullah is a political scientist. Her doctoral thesis is on nuclear learning in South Asia with special reference to India-Pakistan crisis behavior. She is associated with Quaid-i-Azam University in the Department of Defense and Strategic Studies as a permanent faculty member. At CISAC, she is working on her book manuscript focusing on the evolution of Pakistan's nuclear behavior and its deterrence logic. Prior to joining CISAC, she was a visiting research scholar at Cooperative Monitory Center, Sandia National Labs (NM) where her research focuses primarily nonproliferation issues in South Asia. In 2016, she presented her research at Atlantic Council on Pakistan’s pursuit of full spectrum deterrence strategy and posture, conceptual nuances, and implied ramifications and at ISAC-ISSS, Annual Conference, University of Notre Dame. She was invited to deliver lectures at the USAFA on Pakistan’s deterrence stability and maturing force posture. She expressed her academic views at different forums including Pentagon, Lawrence Livermore National Labs, Congressional Budget Office and in some Think Tanks in Washington D.C. She had been a Nonproliferation Fellow at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS), in Monterey and a SWAMOS alumni of Columbia University (2011). Since 2010, Dr. Abdullah has been part of several Track-II dialogues and had an opportunity to learn decision-making trends through her regular participations in Table Top Exercises exploring escalation control and deterrence stability in South Asia.


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