Asymmetric Warfare in South Asia

The Causes and Consequences of the Kargil Conflict

Asymmetric Warfare in South Asia

The 1999 conflict between India and Pakistan near the town of Kargil in contested Kashmir was the first military clash between two nuclear-armed powers since the 1969 Sino-Soviet war. Kargil was a landmark event not because of its duration or casualties, but because it contained a very real risk of nuclear escalation. Until the Kargil conflict, academic and policy debates over nuclear deterrence and proliferation occurred largely on the theoretical level. This deep analysis of the conflict offers scholars and policymakers a rare account of how nuclear-armed states interact during military crisis. Written by analysts from India, Pakistan, and the United States, this unique book draws extensively on primary sources, including unprecedented access to Indian, Pakistani, and U.S. government officials and military officers who were actively involved in the conflict. This is the first rigorous and objective account of the causes, conduct, and consequences of the Kargil conflict.


“Unlike most discussions of conflict between the nuclear-armed nations of South Asia, this combines contributions from experts in both of those countries, as well as American perspectives. It is especially comprehensive and balanced and blends theory and policy analysis in the best way.”
Richard K. Betts, Director, Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies, Columbia University

“The 1999 Kargil War was a rare and dangerous moment in history when two nuclear powers and two democracies went to war despite the risks of nuclear escalation. This excellent book explains, in more detail and depth that ever before, the crucial decisions made in Islamabad, New Delhi, and in the mountain peaks of Kashmir that led to the Kargil conflict and led to its eventual resolution.”
Scott D. Sagan, Professor of Political Science and Co-Director of the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), Stanford University

“The ugly stability in South Asia, unfortunately, will continue to be periodically disrupted by different kinds of limited wars. Peter Lavoy’s Asymmetric Warfare in South Asia deserves wide reading because it is a meticulous examination of the first, but perhaps not the last, limited war to occur in the Indian subcontinent under the shadow of nuclear weaponry. Both academics and policymakers alike will be informed—and sobered—by this excellent work.”
Ashley J. Tellis, Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

'This volume is required reading for anyone who wishes to understand Pakistan's military decision-making or the half-war in Kargil in 1999, just a year after India and Pakistan tested nuclear weapons. Peter Lavoy, long a scholar of South Asian military affairs, assembled a first-rate team from Pakistan, India and the United States to examine the causes, conduct and impact of the Kargil conflict, based in part on an astonishing number of interviews with high-level participants from both sides. … a book that combines many important insights and a welcome readability.' Survival

'… the book has much depth, and will be useful for students, academics and policy-makers interested in South Asian issues … Asymmetric Warfare in South Asia is a comprehensive independent research study that offers rigorous analysis of primary source interviews.' Punam Pandey, Contemporary South Asia