Nuclear deterrence arguably has prevented the outbreak of major conflict in South Asia. Yet, conflict escalation during militarized crises in 2016 and 2019, which featured Indian cross-border strikes and in the 2019 case a Pakistani reprisal, raise fears that a future crisis might turn nuclear. What are the implications of Indian and Pakistani use of airpower during the 2019 crisis for the existence of thresholds at which escalation can be halted? Is there a shared understanding among Indian and Pakistani security professionals about crisis redlines and when nuclear weapons might come into play? Do experts outside the region exaggerate the risks of nuclear escalation, or are South Asian experts too sanguine about them? And how are advances in military technology changing this equation?
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