By Anaya Shahid
On March 14, India test-fired an indigenously built nuclear-capable Agni-I ballistic missile that has a 700 km range. Likewise, on March 7, India conducted a flight test of nuclear capable submarine launch-able ballistic missile K-4 that has a range of 3500 km. These successful missile tests did not make the news in the West because India has a fat purse and is the West’s darling as it is mis-perceived as a potential counter-weight to China. However, the Indians are arming to themselves to the teeth and the Frankenstein that the West is feeding shall soon become a security threat to its masters.
This creates serious concerns in Pakistan as India is not only quantitatively expanding its nuclear and conventional capabilities, but is also widening the qualitatively asymmetries against Islamabad. Thanks to the Indian human resource and monetary investment in the West, it has opened the technological military hardware’s flood gates for India.
India’s unprecedented development of ballistic missiles in one of the world’s most volatile regions has taken the risks of escalation to a new level. The latest addition to this exacerbating security dilemma is India’s naval nuclear capability, especially the development of SLBMs like the K-4 and K-5 that will ultimately have intercontinental range. Alarmingly, the Indian military establishment has also been working on its ballistic missile defense (BMD) program. Although BMD does not even provide reliable defense, it gives a psychological lullaby of security that could lead to a pre-emptory nuclear strikes by Indian military establishment.
The rapid nuclear advancements by India in a fragile region, which is locked up in several conflicts and disputes that have resulted in three deadliest wars, sets a dangerous precedent. India had secretly test-fired the nuclear-capable K-4 missile from a submerged pontoon. It is worth noting that India has a bilateral agreement with Pakistan in which both countries give prior notification of ballistic missiles tests. Missiles fired from under-water platforms are not covered by the treaty. But K-4’s test violates the spirit of the agreement as such a test can be mistaken for a nuclear strike and provokes a reaction. Since India is on a high-horse owing to Western support, it does not mind such safety measures.
This West-supported proliferation of nuclear and conventional capabilities vitiates Pakistan’s security considerations. The country is facing a severe strategic and conventional imbalance vis-à-vis India. Interestingly, the balance that Pakistan continually strives to attain against India’s spiking military capabilities is criticized, which is a perfect case of Western duplicity.
The West is failing to address rising imbalance in South Asia and is in fact fueling the fire, which will be consequential. In fact, the West should seek guarantees from India that none of its hardware and technologies will be used against Pakistan as the latter is instrumental in fighting global war against terrorism.
India is the world’s largest arms importer. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India’s military equipment accounts for some 15 percent of all such international imports. The report also says India’s share in global imports has increased by 140 percent over the previous five-year and imports were three times larger than those of either of its regional powers China and Pakistan.
Instead of genuinely contributing to eradicating terrorism from South Asia, India provides lip-service, blames Pakistan for its internal problems and in fact uses subversion and terrorism as an instrument of its policy to destabilize Pakistan. It is no secret that some mainstream Pakistani political parties have admitted that they have received financial and material support from Indian spy agency RAW to foment instability in Pakistan. Such revelations have numbed the West, which has bent over backwards in its infatuation with the Machiavellian India.
In evolving strategic environment, Pakistan has to tread very carefully. It needs to keep an eye on India’s nuclear and conventional modernization besides its sub-conventional warfare. Although, India’s rapid nuclear increasing odds against Pakistan, latter should develop credible means to address all spectrum of threats.
*Anaya Shahid, is a freelance writer, graduated from Defense & Diplomatic Studies, Fatima Jinnah Women University Rawalpindi.