Islamabad: A majority of panellists discussing “India’s ‘accidental’ missile launch: implications and challenges” observed that India’s unarmed missile landing at Mian Channu February last was a deliberate launch.

The panel discussion was organised by Institute of Strategic Studies (ISS) here Tuesday. The panellists included ex-diplomat Tariq Osman Hyder, Dr Adil Sultan from Air University, Zamir Akram, Advisor to SPD, and Ghazala Yasmin Jalil from ISS.

The panellists opined that India is not a naïve state especially when there are many prerequisites for a missile launch. All missile launches in India must be authorised by the political leadership Moreover, India is aspiring for first-strike capability, counterforce strategy and escalation dominance. Therefore, under the cover of an accidental launch, India may be gauging Pakistan’s command and control configuration, operational readiness and political will to respond. However, the probability of failure of Indian command & control should also not be excluded. Panellists said that internal bureaucratic dynamics keep the Indian army outside the loop regarding missile protocols resulting in a lack of coordination.

On the issue of response from Pakistan, panellists said that there is a difference between war and peacetime protocols that determine the timings of response. Few panellists were of the view that the absence of a kinetic response reflected seriously on Pakistan which should have at least shown a strong response at the political and diplomatic levels.

However, other panellists cautioned against the use of kinetic force. The conventional response is part of Pakistan’s full spectrum deterrence posture, the stressed adding that not every event merits a strategic response, especially when the attack and the response time in the case of India and Pakistan is very short.

They emphasised that Pakistan should carefully analyse Indian doctrinal shifts and inclination towards pre-emptive first strike and explore the spectrum of kinetic response in case any such event occurs in future.