Rudradev you have not stated who started the war. If we start a two front war our aims have to be different from a situation in which a China-Pakistan combination starts a two front war due to some complex reasons. Your option 1 suggests that it is the latter. Problem is that if it is the latter we have to know what they might hope to achieve. Punishing and humiliating the adversary is a fundamental requirement in all war.
I should have mentioned it explicitly, but as you've noted, it is implied that China and Pakistan start the war.
Why exactly they start the war is OT for this thread. Many plausible political scenarios have been discussed on the Strat forum, and probably many more will be.
What might they hope to achieve? Well, it's quite certain they will not telegraph their intentions before hostilities begin. We will probably have some degree of intel about their visible preparations, which are sure to be mixed up with many decoys and feints. They would want to keep us guessing what exactly they are planning to do until the last possible moment. Broadly, we can expect that they will launch some kind of territorial grab, most likely in J&K or Tawang or both, but we can't know for sure what their specific intentions are beforehand. Knowing this is not a luxury we would likely have in the real world.
The point of this discussion is not to consider what the TSP-PRC war aims are likely to be, and then to formulate a reactive strategy to that. In the real world, we would probably achieve certainty about their specific war plans only in hindsight. Rather, the point of this discussion is to determine how WE can most optimally commit our limited resources, assets and time in formulating our own war aims, even without any sure knowledge of the enemy's war aims.
Of course, any plan we make would include some flexibility to respond to whatever we calculate the most likely enemy actions would be; that is covered under all options of the poll. However, the purpose of offering options 2-7 in the poll is to explore the question: if confronted with such a war, would India be able to seize ANY degree of initiative to secure her own interests? Can a two-front war imposed on us by Pakistan and China be viewed as a potential strategic opportunity, apart from the threat and the danger it very obviously represents? Is there anything we can realistically aim to do in such a situation, apart from being purely reactive to enemy actions (Option 1?) Can we have our own game plan independent of the enemy's game plan, or is our game plan restricted only to countering the enemy's game plan blow for blow?
IMO the only way a war can be kept short is by applying overwhelming force and achieving spectacular gains - especially territorial, combined with a simultaneous paralysing of the enemy's ability to mount a conventional military response. That would bring nukes into the equation. So how far would the Chinese and Pakistani leadership be ready to use their nukes in case they start losing?
I'm not sure about this. Force will have to be overwhelming, but very tightly focused on achieving well-defined gains. For example, parts of J&K and/or Arunachal that the enemy feels confident of seizing and holding within a specific time window; this time window being the period in which the enemy believes that all prevailing factors will compel India to accept a ceasefire. Gains will have to be substantial enough to justify the risk and effort of going to war, but will likewise be limited to whatever the enemy is confident of seizing and holding for the duration of that time window. "Spectacular" is too subjective a term to use in this context.
The enemy, of course, takes a certain risk that India will react with nukes, or that India will simply offer a longer (duration) and tougher conventional response than they had calculated. But this whole scenario assumes that China and Pakistan have considered that quantum of risk, and decided that India cannot or will not react in those ways for certain reasons... and that hence, nukes will not enter the picture. If China and/or Pakistan think that there is a better-than-negligible chance of nukes entering the picture as a result of their proposed action, then they will not take that action, and there will be no two-front war.
If humiliation puts the personal power and influence of leaders who started the war at risk inside their own nations - like bringing down the communist regime, they will need to escalate to nuclear war to regain some respect. But if they lose cities then they may lose what little respect they had.
This assumes that India, in the 2012-2014 period, will have the capacity to humiliate the enemy to such an extent that the enemy regime's survival would be jeopardized... and that India can achieve this without first-use of nukes, and within the time-window stipulated above. Again, if the Chinese/Pakis believe India is capable of this feat, they won't start a two-front war with India. But all said and done, I don't think their starting a two-front war with India is unthinkable.
So conventional war must ideally be started when the aim is to be able to punish India in conventional war knowing that India will not react with nuclear weapons.
Agreed. Of course the enemy has no way of "knowing" so they would calculate a probability based on the estimated capabilities and time-windows referenced above; and act according to their confidence in this probability.
If India can avoid that punishment the war aims are thwarted. If India punishes he aggressors, the aggressor will have to be ready to escalate to nukes.
Definitely, there is some degree of uncertainty around these questions that the aggressors would have to factor in before starting a two-front war with India. However, our question for this thread is, once the aggressors have decided to launch a two-front war... how can India best punish the aggressors for maximum gain while herself limiting the possibility of nuclear escalation, and limiting the window to an optimal length of time (3 weeks is the figure I've suggested)?