By Zakir Ullah*
To obtain the military power and securing the territorial boundaries is the aspiration of every state but sometimes, it could be precarious and a serious concern for other states.
The military modernization of India is changing the strategic dynamics of South Asia and it causing the conventional disparity in the region. The rapid Indian military up-gradation is led to create a security dilemma in South Asia, especially for Pakistan.
The hysteria of arms development of India by spending $54 billion annually is forcing Pakistan and other regional powers to increase its reliance on nuclear weapons to follow some preventive measures to deter India.
Ultimately this will trigger a nuclear arms race to destabilize the security situation in the region. India has always tried to revamp its military capabilities by importing advanced armaments and manufacturing the conventional weaponry for regional dominance and to find a prominent position in the international arena to counter China, North Korea, Pakistan and Russia.
In the 21st century, India has emerged as a major regional power in the Asian continent, it has been changing strategic interests with the evolving geopolitical framework by modernizing the military building capacities. Defence analysts believed that Indian Strategic thinking and its military advancement are always projected to Pakistan but some perceived that “Indian military build-up is a response to deter China, which is a serious threat for India in the Asian continent.”
Indian government confessed that we are economically well sufficient and able to purchase the most advanced arsenals for building military capacity to strengthen the armed forces and to attain geostrategic interests. At the one hand, the major challenge for India is to refurb outdated weaponry by recapitalization of armed forces.
Contrarily, Pakistan is swiftly striving to fill this conventional rift by testing new weapons to maintain the balance of power. Indian allocation of massive budget for defence will be alarming for Pakistan to deter them. Pakistan has stated that any enhancement or military action of India will be responded with the same intensity to counter Indian doctrinal strategies. Despite preventive and countermeasures, still, there are serious implications for Pakistan’s national security.
In 2017, Indian armed forces have disclosed a Joint Warfare Doctrine to integrate the Indian Army, Air Force and Navy into a centralized network. The gradual move for acquiring network-centric capabilities and combined assistance of Indian armed forces will help them out to conduct some defensive and offensive operations against the opposition’s aggression. A large scale commitment of tackling regional security issues will assist Indian troops to maintain the strategic dominance over the region.
Moreover, India is working to establish new ammunition industries to mitigate the financial burden of armament imports. Indian security forces are motivated for military enhancement due to perceiving Pakistan and China as an external threat for her national suzerainty. Procurement of power and regional hegemony in the region is also another geopolitical ambition of Modi’s government.
The rapid nuclearization in South Asia has increases the chances of conventional war between Pakistan and India. Defence analysts explicated that Indian strategic thinking is based on intense, quick operations to counter regional opponents. In 2018, the Indian Army launched New Land Warfare Doctrine for quick and intense limited incursion along with advanced Integrated Battle Groups to conduct Intelligence-based operations against enemies.
Pakistan and India both have nuclear weapons technologies, which would obviously refrain both states to carry out any limited incursion to deter one another. Still, India might lack the capability to operationalize any aggressive doctrine either it’s Cold Start Doctrine or Land Warfare Doctrine to attack against Pakistan but modernization will assist India to get this opportunity. Indian Military is also working on projects like; Future Infantry Soldier, the Battlefield Management System and equipping the troops with offensive and defensive gadgets.
Another ambition of Indian force is to connect infantry personal with Network Centric Capabilities to enhance coordination and integration between soldiers for smooth conduction of operations to avoid any serious damage in the battlefield. The Indian military considered T-90 Battle Tank with upgraded night-vision capabilities as a major development for offensive operations, which are operating near the Pakistan border for specific purposes. This tank has outstanding specifications like having anti-tank guided missiles, night vision capabilities, high explosive guns which make this weapon more lethal for destruction and strong manoeuvrability against Pakistan or someone else. Indian Military has also signed several defence agreements with major powers like Russia, USA, France, Germany etc and started work on manufacturing advanced artillery.
The sophisticated Indian artillery arsenals will be a crucial challenge for Pakistan armed forces to counter them by developing strong weaponry. Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System is also another advanced long-range artillery gun with high accuracy of the target which would be a greater push for the Indian army.
In addition, S-400 a Long-range surface-to-air defence system which is another dangerous threat for regional countries having the capability of engaging 36 targets simultaneously at a time. India and Russia have signed a deal of S-400, which would definitely create a strategic disparity in South Asia.
If India gets operationalized the S-400 defence system, it will revamp the Indian military with the ability to detect any aircraft or missile at the distance of about 600 km and destroy them at 400 km, that’s the reason Pakistan armed forces would be highly vulnerable against this highly advanced air defence system. In 2017, India has signed a contract with Isreal for another air defence system known as Barak-8, this provides protection against short-range missiles and aircraft. It’s a highly sophisticated system which creates a protective shield over defence network to prevent them from destructions.
Pakistan must have to develop a long-range artillery gun with efficient firepower to counter Indian developments. Pakistan should have also work to manufacture an indigenous radar system for targeting and detecting these modern armaments in any hostile situation. The Indian air force is the fourth largest in the world having 200,000 men and operating from more than fifty airbases. Currently, there are bulk of combat aircrafts, special mission aircrafts, logistics and refuelling aircrafts which are working in IAF. Defence Ministry has also proposed a plan for adding about 400 aircraft in future to get conventional superiority in the region.
The Backbone of IAF is SU-30MKI aircraft with an accurate range of 3,000 Km, which has the capability to perform multiple missions at once. SU-30MKI could deliver different types of warheads. Most interestingly, India also signed an agreement with France to get 36 Rafael aircraft in the coming years. Rafael equipped with most terrible missiles and having the capability of hitting the target in a very short precision, which gives an edge to IAF to conduct any kind of short or long-range missions against any regional country. Rafael is further fitted with two firing pods to fire 2500 round in one minute, which make the aircraft more dangerous for superior manoeuvrability.
Recently, India has signed a deal to acquire the fifteen highly sophisticated Chinook helicopters. The Chinooks are multi-dimensional helicopters, which are functional in specialised operations, logistic transportation, ammunition and supplies even in harsh weathers. The swiftness and greater agility of these helicopters will help IAF to achieve the required objectives in limited wars. Apache Helicopter is another destructive machine to execute the military doctrines like CSD and LWD. The Apache is equipped with night vision capabilities, outrageous missiles, rockets and automatic guns which increase the credibility of IAF to take out conventional or limited wars.
India is also working to improve its naval strength to fill the strategic gap of maritime dominance. The major spheres of influence for the Indian navy are the Arabian Sea, Indian Ocean and Bay of Bengal. India has established three central naval commands for maritime fighting capabilities and geostrategic interests at sea routes. India carried out 90 per cent of their multilateral trade through the Indian Ocean.
Defence analysts elucidated that the dominance over the Indian Ocean will be a bone of contention and there would be a geostrategic Indo-Sino Competition. The Cooperative approach of Pakistan and China is a prominent geopolitical challenge for India. Furthermore, India is the only South Asian country having an aircraft carrier and they are intended to get three more aircraft carriers in coming years to ensure the leverage on the maritime region. India has also planning to develop nuclear submarines which would assure the Second Strike Capability. The successful manufacturing of hypersonic Brahmos cruise missiles will help India to target the underground warehouses of ammunition.
India has inducted short and long-range Battlefield Surveillance Radar Systems to detect and destroy multiple targets. India also installed and extensively using various Weapons locating radars at LoC to detect and locate Pakistan’s artillery and ammunition sites within 50 Km range. These radar systems are interconnected with central commands and electronic warfare capabilities to subvert the strategic position of Pakistan and other neighbouring countries.
In 2017, Indian armed forces opted Airborne Early Warning Control System to detect incoming fires missiles and aircrafts at 250 km, to destroy them before hitting any premium network sites. This system will able India to follow some preventive measures to avoid any serious damage. Indian Military also operationalized spying satellites to maintain 24/7 vigilance on Pakistan. These developments are directly linked to undermine Pakistan sovereignty. Indian Naval command installed a battlefield surveillance system known as GSAT-7 to use space for strategic and national security-based objectives.
Since last two decades, India has been increasing its defence budget to modernize military building capacity. This will adversely impact regional stability and will rise serious agitation for Pakistan and China as well. The aggressive approach of New Dehli is reducing peace and stability by modernizing military muscles, which is a reason for the conventional disparity in this region. Indian experts have already been reiterated that China is a major security challenge for us and we have the right to improve our defence network against any adversary.
Strategists believed that the long-range ballistic missiles are supposed to build for countering china from any aggression. The intervention of the US administration is to help India against China creates a negative perception for regional peace and stability. China perceived the joint military cooperation of India and the US as a direct threat to its national integrity and regional hegemony Investment of billion dollars on weapons enforced Pakistan and China to boost their defence expenditures, this will increase the arms race in the region to cause security dilemma.
In addition, Deterrence for South Asia is extremely imperative for geopolitical stability and this arms progression will be calamitous for deterrence. Moreover, India is violating ceasefire agreement by killing innocent Kashmiris which is further escalating the armed conflict between Pakistan and India. International defence think tanks acknowledged that Pakistan has been developing the tactical weapons and their rigorous efforts for sophisticated nuclear arsenal is a result of Indian military modernization, which is explicitly a threat for conventional conflict.
Furthermore, the arms race in South Asia diverted the priorities of countries to ensure their territorial sovereignty. Rampant inflation, economic distress, absence of basic necessities, political domestic and regional instability are the outcomes of the arms race.
Similarly, resource deprivation, security conditions, lacking human development opportunities often leads to extremism and militancy. If we specifically talk about India, mostly the human resources and the economy is utilizing over defence budget which is leaving the country with unprecedented poverty ratio and socioeconomic issues. Similarly, the conflicts between Pakistan and India have imbalanced their bilateral relations in various domains which are disturbing overall economic and political situation of South Asia. The military expansion and its up-gradation will surge a strategic competition between China and India to make this fragile region more vulnerable. Kashmir conflict and Indo-Sino territorial disputes have a gloomy impact over the regional stability, which should be negotiated with the help of mediators to bring tranquillity in the region.
Expanding defence budget of Indian in order to modernize armaments is a serious challenge for Pakistan national security. Acquiring a sophisticated weapon system will be beneficial for Indian to use them against Pakistan on plain terrain but the countermeasures for advanced conventional military capabilities by Pakistan armed forces couldn’t be denied. The Indian heavy investment on satellites, radar systems, surveillance and reconnaissance to produce new technology to keep check across the border will jeopardize the geostrategic position of Pakistan but it would be an inferno to increase the conventional and unconventional arms race in the region. The military doctrines of India and expansion plan to influence the regional powers are based on imperialistic design to get hegemonic aspirations, Pakistan security institutions will be affected but pre-emptive measures would refrain India to opt any aggression.
The Indian government has also engaged Afghanistan, Nepal, and Bhutan economically and militarily to pursue their national interest, it will further deteriorate the security situation of the region. India is actively involved in Afghanistan to monitor Pakistan military activities and troop movements around the border, which dates back to the major threat for Pakistan security forces. It’s quite scoffing that Indian has one-third population is living below the Poverty line, India is indulged to grant aids to other countries like Afghanistan.
This obviously seems challenging for Pakistan to keep updated through surveillance and reconnaissance network. Defence experts analyzed these developments would be a threat for Pakistan national Security. If Pakistan armed forces didn’t deter the Indian aggression then the chances of peace would remain a dream. Deployment of spy satellites, weapon locating radar networks will facilitate Indian command to keep vigilance on Pakistan to detect the premier weapons and troop movements along Line of Control, it would enable India to get the advantage over Pakistan’s disposition and deployment.
The current economic scenarios, revamping Indian military buildup and doctrinal transformation of Indian forces are directly threatening the national security, Pakistan must have to focus on indigenous superior strategies to counter the conventional disparity with India. Improving the night vision capabilities, long-range ballistic missiles, Unmanned Aerial vehicles will enhance the manoeuvrability of Pakistan defence network. Its is indispensable for Pakistan to induct a second strike capability with the help of strong air defence system around strategic locations and deep underground tunnels for nuclear deterrence to decrease the conventional asymmetrical developments.
Furthermore, its extremely important for Pakistan to robust the central command system for swift movements of weaponry, firing power, target precision to counter the emanating threats of India for national security.
The hybrid warfare, rising conventional security dilemma, growing disparities and limited war will escalate the full-scale aggressive war in South Asia but It must be remembered that the nuclear capabilities of Pakistan would be a crucial option which would deter India to think before any military aggression. Proxy wars, non-state actors growing influence of extremism, ethnoreligious problems to interrupt national integrity is another challenge for security agencies.
The Pakistan defence authority should have to work on hybrid warfare strategy to counter the conventional disparity. In addition, The nature of wars is evolving into limited and swift military action against opponents because of developing unconventional armaments like nuclear and tactical weapons. It’s also substantial for defence strategies to centralized and synergized security forces to give a sufficient counter-response against any aggression. Pakistan acquired tactical nuclear weapons to deter Indian military limited conventional war in any proactive operations. Pakistan armed forces must initiate regular joint military exercises to learn a new tactical approach to get the advantage in modern warfare scenarios to preserve the national security of the country.
Recent Indian expanding defence budget and military modernization have created a hostile security dilemma in the region especially for Pakistan. The aggressive induction of doctrines by Indian authority is also subverting the conventional deterrence stability, which is a serious concern for Pakistan national security to implement some counter-strategies.
Similarly, rampant conventional and asymmetrical rift built by the Indian military in the various domains like ICBMs, SLBMs, UAVs, long-range air defence system, network-centric capabilities and surveillance radar systems would be quite arduous for Pakistan to manage this overwhelming buildup. South Asia as the most fragile region in the world is facing crucial socioeconomic problems, the diverging shift of countries from social development into expanding defence budget is also alarming which would further deteriorate the political stability of the region.
Pakistan could tackle and mitigate Indian massive military buildup with the help of nuclear armaments. The future outlook of South Asia is quite strained which may bring instability and political turmoil due to military buildup drive. India should think that using hard power is not just an option for regional hegemony and political stability. Both countries must have to negotiate to resolve their problems, otherwise, the region would be nothing more than a battlefield.
*Zakir Ullah, Student of International Relations, Islamabad, Pakistan