As India makes advances in defence and security, Pakistan fears possible arms race

That Pakistan is going hyper on developments in spheres of defence and security in India is becoming increasingly noticeable.

There could be multiple reasons for this — one being a joint China-Pakistan strategy to hype the negatives of rising India, another being of Pakistan deflecting from her own black deeds of promoting terror and shifting focus of the public from selling away Pakistan to China.

But then there also appears to be some genuine fears that are freaking out the Pakistani establishment.

Making a policy statement in the Pakistani Senate on the deployment of nuclear-armed missiles on submarines in the Indian Ocean, Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to Nawaz Sharif on Foreign Affairs, said that India’s nuclear-armed missiles deployed on nuclear-powered submarines pose a threat to the maritime security of the Indian Ocean Region’s (IOR) 32 littoral states, besides upsetting the strategic balance in South Asia. He added that Pakistan was considering a proposal for tabling a resolution at the UN General Assembly session later this year, calling for making the Indian Ocean a nuclear-free zone.

This is truly laughable as Pakistan’s Shaheen-III nuclear missile itself covers areas of Middle East and West Asia, including Israel. Besides, Pakistan is going ahead with deploying tactical nuclear weapons (TNWs) on her naval vessels. Making Indian Ocean a nuclear-free zone is a poor joke of Sartaj Aziz. Is Pakistan going to tell Chinese nuclear submarines to leave the nukes at home before docking at Gwadar and Karachi?

 As India makes advances in defence and security, Pakistan fears possible arms race

Representational image. AFP.

Aziz also said, “We are planning to highlight the dangerous implications of India’s plans to nuclearise the Indian Ocean at all relevant international fora.” but what about Pakistan nuclearising terrorist outfits? Pakistan appears to be squirming because of India's recent nuclear-capable test of K-4 (SLBM) from INS Arihant, as part of the efforts to develop second-strike capability — a relevant reaction to Pakistan’s perpetual nuclear sabre rattling and first-strike nuclear policy. This was followed by India testing ‘Ashwin’, its advanced AD missile as part of the upcoming Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) system.

The Ashwin missile firing was conducted as part of developmental trials. The interceptor was launched nearly three minutes after the target mimicking an enemy missile was fired from a warship anchored in the Bay of Bengal. The missile successfully demonstrated its killing capability, this being the 12th test of Ashwin. The Pakistani media stated that it was not known what the capability of the tracking systems linked with the Indian BMD are, but that it was a cause for concern for Pakistan as an effective system would to a certain degree negate Pakistan’s strategic strike capability. It will compel the armed forces to counter it, a solution which would prove to be both expensive and time consuming, adding that India has once again contributed to an unhealthy arms race between the two countries.

Significantly, the F-16s are capable of carrying the B-83 nuclear bomb in toss bombing mode; entails pull up to a 45 degree climb angle 12 kms short of target, release the bomb and then roll off the top in the opposite direction for getaway — a fighter flying at tree-top height is almost impossible to intercept.

As per media reports, Pakistan has dumped the idea of getting F-16s from the USA now because of the costs involved, but it is reportedly considering buying ‘used’ F-16s from Jordan — this may be a first in the used fighter jets market, akin to used cars. That ISRO too is a major cause for Pakistan getting shivers is obvious. India's GSLV Mark III project aimed at carrying four ton payloads, including future manned missions, got a boost with ISRO successfully test-firing on ground CE-20, the first indigenous high-thrust cryogenic rocket engine for more than its full duration. The engine design was totally indigenous and the fabrication of major subsystems of the engine was carried out through Indian industries. GSLV-Mk III is expected to make its first flight by the end of 2016.

Indian scientific advances, particularly of this nature, are anathema to Pakistan that has been bristling with jealousy all these years. Pakistan has declined Prime Minister Modi’s offer to SAARC nations to benefit from NAVIC — India's satellite navigation system. It is amusing to note that Pakistan complained to the UN that India’s draft of the Geospatial Information Regulation Bill is a violation of UNSC resolution on Kashmir. But then Kashmir is not part of Pakistan by the latter’s own Constitution. But more importantly, the UN is aware that the entire state of J&K was acceded to India by the then ruler of J&K, Maharaja Hari Singh through an Instrument of Accession signed on 26 October, 1947, post massive Pakistan infiltration. Also, the Cease-fire Line (CFL) drawn under the 1949 Karachi Agreement was under aegis of the UN Commission. So, Pakistani objections have no basis.

Significantly, India did not object to Pakistan’s 2014 Mapping Law that also regulates geospatial data, although some digital activists had raised objections on the side. Pakistan’s ministry of foreign affairs issued a statement citing “serious concern” it expressed to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and the UNSC President about the proposed Indian law. India has already clarified that the draft Geospatial Information Regulation Bill is applicable to Indians.

The latest of course is Pakistan crying hoarse that India, if given the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) membership, will fuel an arms race, while China, mothering Pakistan, supports the Pakistani stand, saying it would touch a ‘raw nerve’ (Pakistan's) and start a nuclear arms race.

China, of course, is furious that India has become a member of MTCR, which has been denied to China. Besides, China must pay back gratitude to Pakistan for letting PLA deploy on Pakistani territory. The US has already snubbed Pakistan on the issue with State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner stating, “This is not about an arms race and it’s not about nuclear weapons. This is about the peaceful civil use of nuclear energy, and so we certainly hope that Pakistan understands that”.

But getting back to the main issue, as Indian economy flourishes and India makes R&D advances in defence, Pakistan is likely to go broke or trying to keep pace especially when China doesn’t dole out free lunches. The alternative of course is to become another Chinese province.

The author is veteran Lieutenant General.

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Updated Date: Jun 16, 2016 11:01:45 IST