‘Cold Start’ is a military strategy thought to be developed for fighting Pakistan. It essentially means to mobilize troops very quickly.
It is part of the army’s attempt to develop a useable, conventional retaliatory option that punishes Pakistan for terrorist attacks against India without triggering wider conventional or nuclear escalation.
In its more aggressive formulations, it was believed the aim was to create division-sized formations that could rapidly mobilise and carry out short-notice, retaliatory offensives of limited duration to quickly seize and hold Pakistani territory, while simultaneously pursuing narrow enough objectives to deny Islamabad a justification to escalate the conflict by opening additional conventional fronts or to employ nuclear weapons.
The perceived failure to mobilise the army’s Strike Corps in a timely fashion after the December 2001 attacks on Parliament was the impetus for Cold Start.
Its official status has been the subject of extensive debate and controversy since it was first discussed in 2004.
The idea originated with the army, but it has never been formally accepted by the Indian government, which has repeatedly denied its existence.