Edited by: S. Sadia Kazmi
STRATEGIC VISION INSTITUTE (SVI), ISLAMABAD
Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) organized an In-house seminar on “Ballistic and Cruise Missile Development in South Asia: Challenges for Pakistan” on September 25, 2018.
The proceedings started with Lt. Gen. (R) Syed M. Owais welcoming theguest speakers and general audience. He highlighted significance of the topic mentioning ballistic and cruise missile development by India in the South Asian region and its repercussions and challenges for Pakistan. He stated that it is a big challenge not only for Pakistan but also a challenge for the world and the peace makers. It is constantly disturbing the regional peace and security along with stirring a never ending arms race. Indian arsenal development comes with several new dimensions and introduction of new delivery systems. He opined that it requires a statesman’s approach on both sides i.e. India and Pakistan and for the rest of the world to put an end to this dangerous trend of arms stockpiling in South Asia. Lt. Gen. (R) M. Owais mentioned the seventeen tests India carried out last year and four high magnitude tests this year. He highlighted the direct implications of the development of tactical nuclear weapons for Pakistan and that the recent statement by Indian COAS General Bipin Rawat can’t be ignored where he stated only two days ago on 22nd September 2018 that “it is now time to give back to Pakistan in the same coin”. Such aggressive rhetoric cannot and should not be over looked by Pakistan. Gen. Owais pointed out another significant development becoming more visible on the international front i.e. the Indo-Israel-US (IIU) nexus as most disturbing development and most dangerous too. He called it a dangerous triangle which if not addressed or paid serious attention to, would pose serious risk for this region. The purpose of this seminar according to him was to make the young generation aware of the current trends so that they will be able to understand the magnitude of threats. Ms. Tanzeel Khalil ( Senior IR Analyst, ACDA, SPD), Rear Admiral (R) Saleem Akhtar HI (M) (Former Pro-Rector and Director General, Bahria University, Islamabad Campus), and Dr. Zafar Khan (Assistant Professor, National Defence University, Islamabad) were among the honorable speakers. After giving his introductory comments about the recent Indian missile development issue Lt. General (R) M. Owais asked Ms. Tanzeela Kahlil to dilate on trends in Indian missile developments.
Ms. Khalil started with words of thanks to the SVI for providing an opportunity to share her thoughts on “Trends in India’s Missile Development, Probable Induction of AGNI-V and Nuclear Deterrence in South Asia”. She informed that India has recently tested eight new missiles of strategic significance and currently possesses wide range of delivery systems. According to her, India is qualitatively and quantitatively improving its land, air and sea forces. However, there is a high focus on land and sea forces in the region. There is an increasing mismatch in the posture and declaratory doctrines of India. She identified six major trends. According to her, the first trend is the shift from liquid to solid fuel missiles. This development in short range missiles indicates higher level of preparedness and intent to review the response time. Another trend according to her is the introduction of gel propellants which will make liquid and solid fuel missiles debate irrelevant. This trend is going to be greatly influential with the inclusion of India into MTCR. Third trend she mentioned is the diverse ranges of Indian missiles. India is simultaneously preparing long and short-range missiles to counter force and counter value targeting options. It has developed missile with a range as less as 17 km i.e. Pragati and as long as 5,000 km i.e. Agni V. India also plans to develop missiles of even higher ranges such as Agni VI which will have a striking range of 8,000 km to 12,000 km. Missiles with such ranges will definitely raise global concerns and would essentially enter into the threat calculus of NATO in future although India does not pose a threat to the NATO at the moment. Fourth trend identified by her is the canisterization which is another feature of Indian missile modernization. It allows the possessor to have nuclear warheads and delivery system ready to use. This becomes increasingly worrisome in the South Asian setting where the warning time of missile threats are too less and the crises are quite frequent. Lately, there have been reports regarding possible induction of Agni V. The latest test of Agni V was conducted by the Strategic Force Command on 4th June 2018 which holds special significance as it is an indication that this missile might be inducted into Indian nuclear weaponry. This is quite in line with the DRDO Chief Avinash Chandar’s statement in which he told about reducing the response time. Any such induction will lead towards delegation of command via giving less importance to civilian command over the use of nuclear weaponry. Such command and control system would have deadly consequences in case of failure. The fifth trend is MIRVing of missiles which is probably a counter to the Chinese BMD in future if and when it is operationalized. However, MIRV appears to be less relevant for Pakistan in the absence of any ballistic missile defence system in Pakistan. Until few last days, MIRV was supposed to be concerned with Agni V and Agni VI only. The press release of Indian testing of Prahar missile last week indicates that the missile has the capability to simultaneously engage multiple targets. Ms. Tanzeela Khalil also indicated that this particular information can have different implications though not conclusive. India refrains from labeling Prahar missile as nuclear capable, yet its nuclear capability is obvious as it is going to replace Prithvi which is a nuclear capable missile. This would further endorse the idea that India is moving towards counter force targeting. Hence, there is ambiguity whether Prahar is a tactical weapon or not. The final trend is the growing focus on naval nuclear developments. In this regard, submarine launched missile is very important. India appears to have accelerated naval nuclear weapons development. She further highlighted the significance of K-4 and K-17 tests. These nuclear based missiles would essentially provide Indian forces a global reach. Ashley Tallis quoted several Indians arguing that a greater naval control would provide India with weapons at sea. Furthermore, Indian naval Admiral Vijay Shankar who was also the Commander in Chief of Strategic Force Command stated that Indian navy lacks adequate control over weapons at the sea. She pointed out that the impact of such developments is very dangerous for deterrence stability between India and Pakistan. Ms. Tanzeela Khalil concluded by saying that India is mastering the technique of reducing response time, employing MIRV technology, and shifting from liquid to solid fuel missile inventory. All these developments and technological advancements are an indication of ready arsenal not in line with India’s declaratory policy of having control over its nuclear arsenal. She maintained that there is a mismatch in the posture and declaration. India has always used its space programme as a tool to enhance its missile capability which is essential to increase accuracy of its missiles, improving ranges and the capability to carry multiple payloads to a single vehicle. This temptation of modernizing weaponry is going to increase its BMD capabilities which would be an aggressive posture from the Indian side as it would minimize deterrence stability. The US and the West seem to be comfortable with such developments as the US is already working on countering China in this region. Pakistan has compelling choices to stabilize deterrence. She concluded with the information that the total number of tests conducted by Pakistan since 1998 till date is seventy seven while that of India is one hundred and sixty three which alone shows a huge difference in the respective quantitative capabilities. The missile test ratio between India and Pakistan is 1:2.3 which shows that Pakistan is following restraint when it comes to missile development and nuclear weapon testing which is not the case with India.
The next speaker Rear Admiral (R) Saleem Akhtar presented his thoughts on the “Nuclearization of Indian Ocean and India’s Launch of three sub-launched K-15 (B-05) Short Range Ballistic Missiles”. He was of the view that the future arena of contest and cooperation in the twenty-first century would be maritime domain with Asia Pivot at its heart. In this context, Indian Ocean is of immense importance because pacific regions are dependent on it for their economic and defence interests along with freedom of navigation that has become a common heritage of mankind. International and regional powers are also in the race to project their political and military clout over the other states in the region. He opined that the importance of this region can also be measured from the strategic foresight of Rear Admiral Alfred Mahan who maintains that Indian Ocean is to be the hub of economic and strategic dynamics of the 21st Century. Currently almost 65% of the world oil and 35% natural gas pass through this area.
Furthermore, owing to huge volume of world trade, it is the need of the hour to keep the freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean safe and secure from non-traditional cum asymmetrical challenges such as piracy, maritime terrorism, narco-trafficking, human and arms smuggling.
Indian Ocean is also heavily nuclearized by India and Pakistan. After the conclusion of Indo-US nuclear deal in 2005 and the induction of nuclear sub-marine by India in 2011, the delicate but strategic balance of power started tilting in favour of India in the South Asian region which resultantly increased the deterrence gap between India and Pakistan. India took the position that its arms build-up is China specific but Pakistan had many reasons to worry about.He asserted that in order to counter the ever-growing Indian arms build-up, China anchored in the Indian Ocean at Gwadar under the banner of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). This project is designed to connect different regions via Indian Ocean. This development became a bone of contention for Indo-US strategic stalwarts and they signed multiple security and strategic agreements with each other. Some of the major agreements were Logistic Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), Communication and Information Security Memorandum of Agreement (CISMO) and the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA). These agreements were meant for strategic intelligence, supplies, spare parts and services from each other’s land ports and air facilities. He concluded that two regional and two international nuclear powers have their stakes and strategic interests in this region. India and the US are quite critical about the Chinese flagship projects like the string of pearls and the CPEC. However, Pakistan being the major partner in these projects does not have the sufficient naval capacity to defend its collective interests. Hence it needs to upgrade its area of influence in the seas to protect its trade and deterrent value. In addition, an advanced nuclear sub-marine with cutting edge missile technology has become the need of the hour.
Next guest speaker Dr. Zafar Khan presented his findings about “Pakistan’s Ballistic and Cruise Missile Capabilities: Enforcing Deterrence Equilibrium”. To explain the intentions behind the tit for tat policy of Pakistan vis-à-vis India, he explained that the core concepts of the classical security dilemma such as anarchy, fear, uncertainty, mistrust, unknown intentions and lack of cooperation are required to be revisited keeping in view the action-reaction syndrome in the South Asian region. The speaker pointed out the major proponent that has contributed in the development of Security Dilemma theory named as Herbert Butterfield, John Herz, Robert Jervis, Charles L. Glaser, Glenn Snyder, Ken Booth and Nicholas Wheeler, Berry Buzan, Shiping Tang, and John Mearsheimer.
As per Dr. Khan’s views, every aforementioned political philosopher agrees that an increase of one state’s security would decrease security of the other especially when both the states are rival to each other. He further categorized the states into two categories: defensive realist state as that of Pakistan and offensive realist state such as India. Under the security dilemma spiral, a defensive realist state has three options to pursue: First, try to meet the minimum credible deterrent through a stock pile of latest weapons acquired through self-help. Second, opt for international alliances formation to protect its interests and sovereignty in the region. Third, convince the offensive realist state to start negotiations for the resolution of every outstanding issue that prevails between them.
He opined that in order to ensure deterrence stability in South Asia, Pakistan has to opt for action-reaction strategy. Every initiative on part of Indian government is to be closely monitored by Pakistan for an effective response. While concluding he maintained that a defensive realist state in case of Pakistan employs defensive measures to safeguard itself from the rival offensive state (India) without becoming offensive in terms of intentions and capabilities unless extraordinary circumstances knock. Since it is hard to define extreme circumstances which seems a deliberate attempt on part of defensive realist state, therefore, there is always a room for miscalculation and misperception about each other’s intentions in a realist way.
The talks were followed by general discussion and question answer session. One of the guests voiced his opinion about the nuclearization of Indian Ocean stating that Indian nuclear weaponry in Indian Ocean is the third largest nuclear force that is deployed in the Indian Ocean. The scale and size of cruise and ballistic missile submarine field which India is aspiring for, just needs to be seen in the context of it being ambitious. This would be the third largest nuclear force being deployed under sea anticipated within next 5 to 10 years. Pakistan doesn’t have the resources but is wise enough because its deterrence is cost effective deterrence. Nuclear deterrence compensates for Pakistan’s conventional military. It is aimed at keeping India from imposing any type of war on Pakistan. In that context whatever statements have come from Indian military leadership need to be taken seriously. He quoted DG ISPR where he mentioned that we have all sorts of capabilities. Rational and responsible state must consider all sorts of capabilities which it has. US balancing of China through India is an effective strategy. The annual volume of China-Indian trade is more than entire Chinese investment in the CPEC. When India tested the nuclear weapons there was neither Chinese threat nor any provocation. That is why the international community should take notice of Indian strategies against Pakistan.
Lt General (R) M. Owais rightly pointed out the depleting situation of Pakistani shipyard which requires major repairs and renovations. He stated that Pakistan has been struggling for second shipyard since last 4-5 years; even Bangladesh has constructed 22 shipyards since 1971. He stressed upon the fact that Pakistan needs to develop industrially because all those nations that focused on the development of the industry eventually were able to develop militarily, the area in which Pakistan is lagging. Pakistan needs national resolve and national comprehensive policy.
Another guest talked about Pakistan’s Full Spectrum Deterrence aimed at deterring India in response to the Cold Start Doctrine. It is a fact that Pakistan cannot match one to one with India but can at least find ways to counter it. Similarly it is now wise to get into an arms race despite all the provocative antics by India. Primarily, Pakistan is aiming at functional economy which will complement its military and defence requirements.
Among the audience a member highlighted that Full Spectrum is the full spectrum of threat not the spectrum of capability which has to be understood accordingly.
Lastly, the proceedings ended with some important recommendations made by the participants which are:
1. The era is indicating electronic warfare so Pakistan must make massive progress in this field to counter India.
2. Technology is essential in modern day world. So, this should be taken seriously to balance Indian strategies.
3. Pakistan also needs to improve its naval capabilities rather than just looking at Indian naval developments at sea.
4. Broader approach is pre-requisite for Pakistan including space area
5. Revival and up-gradation of industrial sector is very important
6. The need of the hour is the awareness about navy, maritime security and other related areas.
At the end of the Seminar Lt. Gen (R) Syed M. Owais thanked the guests, scholars and participants for their kind participation.