by Muhammad Rizwan

Pakistan’s foreign minister recently states that India has deployed BrahMos missiles in occupied Kashmir region and planning to do some adventure in Pakistani administrated Kashmir. Indian authorities will take this action to divert media attention from the riots that started after authorities have passed controversial citizenship law.

Qureshi said that he has informed the United Nations security council about the emerging crisis between two nuclear-armed neighbours. This statement by Pakistani foreign minister is the depiction of the actual ground situation in the South Asian region. That can escalate anytime if slight misadventure was done by any is also among series of statements given by an official of both states in recent weeks. As Indian former Army chief and current chief of defence staff, Bipin Rawat recently stated that situation at LOC can escalate at any time.

BrahMos is a supersonic cruise missile with stealth technology and are a permanent part of Indian armed forces. Development of BrahMos is a joint venture of India and Russia. The name BrahMos is extracted from the name of two rivers Brahmaputra which is present in India while Moskva present in Russia. Initially, they were developed to support the Indian Navy in carrying out its operation but later they were also included in Indian ground forces. Originally it was developed to engage target up to the range of 290 KM with high precision. Nevertheless, many improvements have been inducted and now it can engage target within range of 500 KM and it can also be launched from the air by Sukhoi-30MKI. Its stealth technology, high precision, and extraordinary speed categories it amongst the most lethal weapons in the world.

Deployment of these missiles in Indian occupied Kashmir region illustrates a new policy in Indian strategic thinking. Since 1998 nuclear tests by both India and Pakistan overall stability is present in South Asian region due to nuclear deterrence. But India always tried to punish Pakistan under the nuclear umbrella because it claimed that Pakistan is creating issues in Indian occupied Kashmir at the sub-conventional level. Initially, it tried to materialise its program of punishing Pakistan through Cold Start Doctrine. But soon it was neutralised after Pakistan has developed a tactical nuclear weapon. In September 2016 Indian claimed that it has carried out a surgical operation inside Pakistan administrated Kashmir and had killed many terrorists. Though this was not independently verified.

The latest and most important development in this regard occurred in February 2019 When Indian jet fighter intruded inside Pakistan territory. Though during this attack no causalities happened and Pakistan has lost only few palm trees. But Pakistan think that Indian take away will be that they have found the way through which they can punish Pakistan even in the presence of nuclear weapons. Therefore after a couple of days, Pakistan attacked target inside Indian occupied Kashmir and during fighting Indian lost their one jet and its pilot captured by Pakistan. Though no major confrontation occurred those were high tension days when two nuclear-armed neighbours were on brink of war.

Although historically India only wants to punish Pakistan because it claimed that Pakistan is supporting a sub-conventional war In Indian Occupied Kashmir. However, the situation has now changed dramatically. India has abrogated the special constitutional status of Occupied Kashmir and they now even threatened Pakistan to take Pakistan administrated Kashmir.

Pakistan has always used nuclear deterrence as a shield to counter huge conventional military disparity between two states. Even when Indian jet fighters attacked inside Pakistan, Pakistan responded within two days though it lost only a few trees. But the point was that Pakistan responded to demonstrate its resolve and to maintain the balance of power in the region. Pakistan was not willing to give India a space where it can attack Pakistan even Under Nuclear Umbrella. 

Now India has deployed BrahMos cruise missile and threatened to capture Pakistani administrated Kashmir. However, the above example shows that Pakistan already displayed its resolve that it will not allow any kind of threat to its sovereignty even it may lead to war. Therefore any Indian adventure in Pakistani administrated Kashmir (even it will be to divert the attention of people from Indian internal situation which developed after controversial citizenship law) might end in disaster. Pakistan will respond with force because it did not want to give India any space to fight a limited war. Definitely, it will invite more responses from the Indian side and it may escalate into nuclear with no time. Then this conflict will not only be limited to Pakistan and India but it will be hazardous for the whole world. As Pakistan’s Prime Minister in his recent speech at United Nation General Assembly said that, “when a nuclear-armed country fights to the end it will have consequences far beyond the borders, it will have consequences for the world.”

Muhammad Rizwan is a research scholar of MS International Relations at COMSATS University Islamabad