Indo-Pakistan, Opinion

Debating the Ballistic Missiles Development in South Asia

The definition of minimum credible deterrence has evolved since 1998 when South Asia went nuclear. Governments of both Pakistan and India resolved to have minimum credible deterrence, but as the time passes, the stress on minimum can be seen vanishing. Today, India and Pakistan are trying to purse relation with each other on credible deterrence policy.

After seventeen years, many powerful institutions form an important part of both India and Pakistan’s formal structure. Both counties have highly advanced nuclear weapon delivery mechanisms and with that, the competition between both states cannot be seen as slackening.

Although, competition among superpowers can be highly dangerous but the nuclear rivalry presiding in subcontinent can turn into far worse situation. The reason is not only lack of professionalism of the people who are at the helm of affairs but to the non existing relationship between the two heavily armed nuclear neighbors. Another variable, is the rhetoric of hardliners of both countries that do an can disrupt the normalization of relations at any time.

Currently, Pakistan is improving the deployment and the development of short range missiles having war heads with low nuclear yield. For Pakistan, it is one way to deter any conventional attack from Indian side. Similarly, Pakistan is also putting its efforts in the field of longer range of ballistic missiles and also their deployment.

Pakistan’s Shaheen III missile whose range is 2,759 km is the longest range ballistic missile and was first test in the year 2015. Shaheen III can reportedly reach till bay of Bengal which is the Indian controlled island and also the mainland of Indian Territory. On the other hand, Pakistan is also testing many other missiles in Shaheen series.

It’s a fact that there exists no match between India and Pakistan’s conventional and nuclear capability, the growing asymmetry in nuclear terms is always been a concern especially by the recent launch of Indian ballistic missile. Fired from a mobile launcher, the Prithvi-II has again put subcontinent in a tense environment of arms race.

India is actively pursuing its aggressive police of preemption against Pakistan. Although, the tests conducted were a failed one but it did add quite a threatening effect irrespective of the fact that it was just to add another modification. Assertively, Indians choose this missile randomly from their production stockpile.

Notwithstanding these aspects, the rigorous development and modernization of Indian military is significantly disturbing balance of power within the region of South Asia. India’s quest which is aimed at gaining the ballistic missile defense (BMD) system has significantly undermined the already existing paradigm of strategic equilibrium. The BMD shield system can help India in a way that it would make them believe that it can successfully carry out a nuclear strike against Pakistan while defending itself against any possible retaliation.

With these facts, it quite evident for Pakistan now to seek vital strategic partners who in turn could help Pakistan reduce such asymmetry and also provide it with a balanced counter move. This indeed has also put Pakistan in great pressure as to develop such missiles along with their delivery systems which can counter the harsh realities of India’s BMD. India now having the shield system of BMD can now initiate a conventional military attack on Pakistan through the cold start doctrine.

Although Pakistan had, quite a time initiated steps and dialogue with India to reduce the nuclear arms race in South Asia, India always rejected such proposals and leaned towards creating more instability in the region. Further adding to the complexity, Indian leaders, irrespective of which party they belong to, do not seem to be willing to improve relations with the neighbors especially Pakistan.

Even if Pakistan tries to take coordinated actions to improve relations with India, they are snubbed either by the democratic leaders of India or by non-state entities prevailing within Indian governmental structure. Pakistani leaders are accused of not moving beyond the issue of Kashmir in their talks with India which for Pakistan is the core demand and solving Kashmir issue will naturally move the mutual relations of India and Pakistan forward.

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