South Asian Cold War: Pakistan’s sea-based missiles

South Asian Cold War: Pakistan’s sea-based missiles
-Dr. Abdul Ruff

Pakistan is being destabilized by the US led terror and a long civil
war.  People are suffering on account of many problems. Pakistan is
undergoing political turmoil, but its military is busy developing new
missiles obviously with specific targets.  Washington eyes on
Pakistani nukes.
Pakistani instability was underscored this month, as anti-government
protests in the capital asking Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to quit
appeared to push Sharif’s government to the brink of collapse. Sharif
has not yet relented. One has no idea about the immediate future of

However, Pakistani military establishment seems to know the dangers
Islamabad is facing from outside Pakistan. In order mainly to outsmart
its rival nuke power India, Pakistan, like Russia, is developing
sea-based missiles and expanding its interest in tactical nuclear
warheads to give it a second-strike capability if a catastrophic
nuclear attack destroyed its entire land-based weapon system.

Instead of working to enhance the range of its missiles, Pakistan is
developing shorter-range cruise missiles that fly lower to the ground
and can evade ballistic missile defenses. In a sign of a big strategic
ambition, Pakistan in 2012 created the Naval Strategic Force command,
which is similar to the air force and army commands that oversee
nuclear weapons.

Pakistan has repeatedly tested its indigenously produced,
nuclear-capable, Babur cruise missile, which has a range of 640 km and
can strike targets at land and sea, military officials said. In 2011
and last year, Pakistan also tested a new tactical, nuclear-capable,
battlefield missile that has a range of just 60 km. This is the
miniaturisation of warheads, according to Pakistani strategic experts.

Western experts, for example, are divided over whether Pakistan has
the ability to shrink warheads enough for use with tactical or
launched weapons. Maria Sultan, chairwoman of the Islamabad-based
South Asian Strategic Stability Institute, an organisation with close
links to Pakistani military and intelligence wings, said the
short-range missile is designed as a signal to India’s military. “We
are saying, ‘We have target acquisition for very small targets as
well, so it’s really not a great idea to come attack us’?” Sultan
said. “Before, we only had big weapons, so there was a gap in our
deterrence, which is why we have gone for tactical nuclear weapons and
cruise missiles.

The next step of Pakistan’s strategy includes an effort to develop
nuclear warheads suitable for deployment from the Indian Ocean, either
from warships or from one of the country’s five diesel-powered Navy
submarines. Shireen M. Mazari, a nuclear expert and the former
director of the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad, a hawkish
Pakistani government-funded think-tank said Pakistan is on its way,
and ‘my own hunch is within a year or so, we should be developing our
second-strike capability,” he asserted.  .

The development of nuclear missiles that could be fired from a Navy
ship or submarine would give Pakistan “second-strike” capability if a
catastrophic nuclear exchange destroyed all land-based weapons.

Pakistan’s nuclear push comes amid heightened tension with US
intelligence and congressional officials over the security of the
country’s nuclear weapons and materials.
US media had reported in September 2013 that US intelligence officials
had increased surveillance of Pakistan in part because of concerns
that nuclear materials could fall into the hands of “terrorists”- the
usual US gimmick  employed to tactfully take away the nuke arsenals. .

For more than a decade, Pakistan has sent signals that it’s
attempting to bolster its nuclear arsenal with “tactical” weapons –
short-range missiles that carry a smaller warhead and are easier to
transport. Over the past two years, Pakistan has conducted at least
eight tests of various land-based ballistic or cruise missiles that it
says are capable of delivering nuclear warheads. It is unclear how
much direct knowledge the government has about the country’s nuclear
weapons and missile-development programmes, which are controlled by
the powerful military’s Strategic Planning Directorate

The acceleration of Pakistan’s nuclear and missile programmes is
renewing US and international concern about the vulnerability of those
weapons in a country home to more than two dozen “Islamist extremist
groups”. The US strategists argue that the assurances Pakistan has
given the world about the safety of its nuclear programme will be
severely tested with short-range and sea-based systems, but they are

US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, when asked if the US was
concerned about a sea-launched Pakistani weapon, said it was up to
Pakistan to discuss its programmes and plans. But, she said Washington
would continue to urge all nuclear-capable states to exercise
restraint regarding nuclear and missile capabilities. “We continue to
encourage efforts to promote confidence-building and stability and
discourage actions that might destabilise the region.”

While, ignoring the Israeli nukes, the western officials have been
concerned about Pakistan’s nuclear programme since it first tested an
atomic device in 1998 to counter the real threat posed by Indian
atomic bomb. Those fears have deepened over the past decade amid
political tumult, terror attacks and tensions with India.

Analysts say much about Pakistan’s programme remains a mystery. The
prime minister is the chairman of Pakistan’s National Command
Authority, a group of civilian and military officials who would decide
whether to launch a nuclear weapon. Pakistani military officials
declined to comment on the nuclear programme.

Pakistan is also, like India, testifies missiles  very often and very
recently, Pakistan successfully test-fired short range
surface-to-surface missile ‘Hatf IX’ that has a range of 60 kilometres
and can cover parts of India. The test of the missile also called Nasr
was conducted with successive launches of four missiles from a
state-of-the-art Multi Tube Launcher with Salvo Mode.
Hatf with in-flight manoeuvre capability is a quick response system,
with shoot and scoot attributes. It contributes to the full spectrum
deterrence against the prevailing threat spectrum.

The successful test launch was warmly appreciated by Pakistan
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Chairman of
Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Rashad Mahmood congratulated
the scientists and engineers on achieving yet another milestone
towards Pakistan’s deterrence capability. He appreciated the
professional attributes of all concerned which made possible the
successful launch of the weapon system. Mahmood showed his full
confidence over the Strategic Command and Control System and the
capability of Pakistan’s armed forces to safeguard the security of the

Apart from nukes and Kashmir, water issue also poses trouble for
Indo-Pakistan peaceful bilateral ties.  A project 120-MW Miyar
hydropower project near Udaipur town is being commissioned by private
firm Moser Baer in the Miyar Valley on a tributary of the Chandrabhaga
River.  A three-member Pakistani delegation will inspect the 120-MW
Miyar hydropower project near Udaipur town in bordering tribal
district of Lahaul-Spiti on September 28 Monday. The purpose of the
Pakistani team’s visit is to ascertain whether any diversion has been
made in the original flow of the Chandrabhaga, which later enters
Jammu and Kashmir and merges into Chenab River. “We are hopeful that
India will show some flexibility on (Pakistan’s) reservations over the
building of new dams in India.”
The delegation led by Pakistan’s Indus Waters Commissioner Mirza Asif
Beg, reached Manali in Himachal Pradesh this afternoon and would leave
for Lahaul and Spiti. The Indian team comprising Water Commissioner K
Vohra and senior joint commissioner PK Saxena would also accompany the
Pakistani delegation to the site.

The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960 with the support of the
World Bank to settle water issues between the two neighbouring
countries provided that India and Pakistan can inspect sites of
development works such as projects or dams to check that no diversion
has been created to the river flow, which could deny it the unhindered

During the five-day trip, the delegation will also visit four
“controversial sites” on the Chenab River where New Delhi is planning
to construct new dams, said the paper. Reiterating that Pakistan’s
objections over the design of Kishanganga dam were logical, Baig told
the daily that some serious doubts pertaining to the controversial
project – particularly regarding the Neelum distributary point – and
other dams on the Chenab river have already been allayed.

The delegation would try its best to resolve all issues during their
stay in India. But at the same time, he admitted that Islamabad would
have no choice but to approach the International Court of Justice if
New Delhi did not entertain their “fair” demands.

Such cross border water problem remains a major irritant between them
as Pakistan is the victim of this anomaly. As Pakistan does not get
enough water from rivers running from India or get over flooded when
it rains heavily in Indian side.

Though it is not like US-USSR era cold war, Indo-Pakistan cold war has
negative impact on the people of Kashmir.


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