Pakistan's has fielded mostly Soviet era SCUD systems supplied by either China or North Korea
by Babar Khan Bozdar
The world’s most dangerous arms race is not to be found in Moscow and Washington, or in East Asia, where pressures are high in the Western Pacific between Beijing and the United States. Nor it is to be found in the Middle East, a region in turmoil where the two powers of Iran and Saudi Arabia are occupied with intermediary fighting in a few hot spots. The world’s most dangerous arms race lies in South Asia and the progressing contention between India and Pakistan.
The Indian-Pakistani challenge is a worldwide issue well on the way to delivering a huge scale war between two major, powerful countries and the result in the deployment of nuclear weapons while the rate of new developments in this arms race is an alarming situation for regional peace and prosperity.
The dominant factor in the continuity of Indo-Pakistan rivalry lies in the support that the US, Russia, and China along with other arms exporter have extended the regional challenges involved in regional disputes. India was supported by Former the Soviet Union while China continuously helped Pakistan. The US has played double policy in this regard. Sometimes it has supported Pakistan and sometimes imposed sanctions. In the meantime, India has benefited from Russia. So, the arms race history of South Asia is not so prolonged, but it has made the rivalry prolonged.
In recent developments, both countries have tested missiles and redefined systems for deployments. The Indian aggressive posture is to kill two birds with one stone. On one side it deters China and on another it is threatening Pakistan. Moreover, India as it considers China as the enemy, thus it deploys new ballistic missiles. Pakistan is developing a new delivery system in the light of developments in India. As a result, there is a continuous rise in the arms race.
Pakistan launched a sea-based cruise missile Babur-3 capable of nuclear warheads in the response of India’s sea-based nuclear deterrent and advance ballistic missile defense system. It is the variant of a ground-launched Babur-2 cruise missile with an estimated range of 450 km. It gives Islamabad a credible second strike capability.
The K-4 is an intermediate-range ballistic missile assessed to have a range of approximately 3,500 kilometers, as opposed to the K-15, which has a range of approximately 750 kilometers. The K-15 reportedly was tested twice in March 2016 and is now in production. In the response, Pakistan tested Babur-3 to counter Indian missile hegemony.
Recently, India completed its nuclear triad with the commissioning of INS Arihant Submarine as part of Indian Navy, which is believed to be operational and capable of launching nuclear warheads. This can carry India’s nuclear capable K-4 or K-15 ballistic missiles. Simultaneously India claiming no first uses policy while it is strengthening military muscles too by successful testing of missile like Agni series.
India also added nuclear capable aircraft including Dassault Mirage-2000H and Dassault Rafale etc. Mirage-2000H is the part of Indian Air force since 1985 and their number grew time to time, while Rafale deal was materialized in 2016. It signifies Indian military capability and growing interest toward armament, which pose a serious threat to the peace and prosperity in the region.
This has made Pakistan thoroughly consider her nuclear arms stockpile and retaliatory potential in such unverifiable terms with India, because of Pakistan’s India-Specific Nuclear tenet. Pakistan has officially developed Naval Strategic Force Command (NSFC) in later past. However, Pakistan has not yet set up her entire, solid sea-based missile setup.
Moreover, Pakistan does not have an active nuclear triad but Pakistan have several missiles to maintain sovereignty in case of any Indian offense and I think it is necessary for its survival and to maintain the balance of power with India.
In fact, both states are trying to enjoy leverage over one another, thus there is serious competition between two rivals.
Meanwhile, it is believed that both countries have separated their warheads from missiles. Until when will such an unattractive scenario not be developed? If any terrorist group developed a scenario either in Pakistan or India, both countries would not let them deploy missiles. As it is now, this rivalry runs counter to creating a peaceful environment.
Insecurity is at the heart of every rivalry and the element of insecurity is heightened day by day between the two. They claim to follow no-first-use doctrine, but at the same time, both are aggressive enough to deny no-first-use policy with a cause of each other’s existence as rivals, with some external gamers playing their efficient role in escalating this rivalry in pursuit of their own regional interests and retaining their strategic influence.
The region of third world countries is surrounded by numerous social issues. Defense is being given more priority instead of nontraditional security threats. These Nontraditional threats are more dangerous than traditional threats and have server implications in future. More than 41 percent of Population is living below the new international poverty line in India and near of it in Pakistan. This shows bad governance and mismanagement in both countries.
It is a fact that, wherever arms flow, violence follows. Missiles replace ballots as the solution to political dispute. Therefore it is our prime responsibility to raise our voice for complete disarmament in the region and resolve our all issues by other means.
The writer is a Research Affiliate at Strategic Vision Institute Islamabad and he can be reached at email@example.com/ firstname.lastname@example.org