Mis­siles have re­placed pi­geons in the world of mod­ern war­fare and the two nu­clear neigh­bors of South Asia are be­com­ing quite adept in adopt­ing the new tech­nol­ogy.

Southasia - - Front page - By Syed Moaz­zam Hashmi

Pak­istan has be­come quite adept at send­ing out diplo­matic mes­sages through its mil­i­tary ad­vance­ment.

Pak­istan sent a mes­sage of de­ter­rence across the re­gion, as it test-fired short-range nu­clear war­head ca­pa­ble bal­lis­tic mis­siles Hatf-VII or Babur on Fe­bru­ary 10, in line with the tra­di­tional war­riors’ prac­tice of yore, who used to post mes­sages by shoot­ing an arrow into the en­emy camps.

There could be var­i­ous rea­sons for get­ting into the race to ac­quire an edge over the re­gional forces. The fol­low­ing top the essen­tial­ity list: First, a mes­sage of de­ter­rence to ri­val play­ers in the re­gion, specif­i­cally In­dia. Sec­ond is to check and im­prove the ac­cu­racy and con­sis­tency of the weapons. Third, ad­dress the do­mes­tic au­di­ence by serv­ing as a morale booster and as a reg­u­lar part of the ex­er­cise. And, to tell the world par­tic­u­larly the United States, that de­spite be­ing the top nonNATO ally in its war on ter­ror and deep in­volve­ment in the en­tire mess, Pak­istan would never com­pro­mise its prin­ci­pled stand on Kashmir and would fight back if the need arises.

Pak­istan was dragged into mis­sile buildup in the 80s mainly due to pro­longed de­lay in de­liv­ery of the F-16s by the U.S., ac­ces­si­bil­ity of Chinese mis­sile tech­nol­ogy and In­dia’s am­bi­tious mis­sile pro­gram.

The Pak­istani mis­sile pro­gram was not just an at­tempt to be at par with In­dia but was deep rooted in the coun­try’s in­her­ited ge­o­graph­i­cal strate­gic depth. The coun­try has tried to fur­ther lever­age its con­ven­tional war ca­pa­bil­ity through its mis­siles pro­gram, and also have the abil­ity to de­liver its nu­clear war­heads ac­cu­rately at long-dis­tance tar­gets, deep into en­emy ter­ri­tory.

In­dia’s com­pre­hen­sive, In­te­grated Guided Mis­sile De­vel­op­ment Pro­gram (IGMDP) was started in 1983, en­vis­ag­ing a si­mul­ta­ne­ous five-mis­sile pro­gram to shield the ‘Ma­hab­harata’ with an all-em­brac­ing shield. It in­cludes Tr­ishul, Akaash, Nag,

Prithvi and Agni.

Pak­istan’s Hatf mis­siles com­prise a va­ri­ety rang­ing from Hatf-I to VII, both liq­uid and user-friendly solid fuel op­er­ated with a wide range of pay­off load and ranges. These weapons were named af­ter var­i­ous Mus­lim con­querors who ruled the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent over the past millennium. So far Ghauri, Sha­heen and Tar­muk have been tested and other ver­sions, in­clud­ing Tipu and Haider, are also re­ported to be in the works.

Hatf-VII sup­ple­ments the heavy arse­nal of the Pak­istani mil­i­tary with a range of 600 kilo­me­ters.

The low fly­ing Hatf-VII also pos­sesses stealth ca­pa­bil­i­ties and is named af­ter the 16th cen­tury founder of the Mughal dy­nasty, Em­peror Za­heerud­din Babur. It can also be fired from naval frigates.

Hatf-VII’s ter­rain-hug­ging, high ma­neu­ver­abil­ity, pin-point ac­cu­racy and radar avoid­ance fea­tures make it spe­cial. Hatf-VII also in­cor­po­rates mod­ern cruise mis­sile tech­nol­ogy such as Ter­rain Con­tour Match­ing (TERCOM) and Dig­i­tal Scene Match­ing and Area Co-re­la­tion (DSMAC), ac­cord­ing to Pak­istan mil­i­tary spokesman Ma­jor Gen­eral Athar Ab­bas.

Pak­istan tested a medium range nu­clear war­head with a 1,300 km range bal­lis­tic mis­sile Hatf-V in De­cem­ber 2010. In July, Sha­heen-I with a range of 650 km and Ghaz­navi hav­ing a range of 290 km were also tested. This was part of the ‘Azm-eNau-III’ mil­i­tary ex­er­cises that com­menced in April 2010 along Pak­istan’s east­ern bor­der with In­dia. The ex­er­cise was the largest ever war games Pak­istan has con­ducted since ‘Zarb-e-Momin’ in 1989.

The Ghaz­navi mis­sile is named af­ter the 11th cen­tury Turk Mus­lim con­queror Mah­moud of Ghazna (Cen­tral Asia), who was known as an idol de­stroyer, as he razed most of the prom­i­nent Hindu idols in the sub-con­ti­nent dur­ing his 17 at­tacks on In­dia.

Pak­istan caught the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity’s at­ten­tion for the tech­ni­cally ad­vanced na­ture of the mis­sile it test-fired on Au­gust 2005. It tested an up­graded ver­sion of Babur cruise mis­sile on March 22, 2007 and, a few months later, on July 26, it car­ried out two more tests to show that Babur could also be fired from the air. The Pak­istan Air Force al­ready had an air-launched cruise mis­sile Ra’ad in its arse­nal.

The se­rial pro­duc­tion of Babur started in 2005. It is re­port­edly said to be based on the BGM-109 Tom­a­hawk cruise mis­sile. Six of the Tom­a­hawk cruise mis­siles landed in Pak­istani ter­ri­tory dur­ing a U.S.-launched air strike in 1998 on al­leged Al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan near the Pak­istani bor­der,

It is also said that the Pak­istan Air Force is flex­ing its mus­cles to test airto-sur­face mis­siles.

Ac­cord­ing to a BBC re­port, in March 2010, the Pak­istan Navy suc­cess­fully tested a se­ries of mis­siles and tor­pe­does in what it is called, “a mes­sage of de­ter­rence to any­one har­bor­ing ne­far­i­ous de­signs” against the coun­try. The Pak­istani nation was en­thralled when it suc­cess­fully test-fired ‘Ghauri’ on April 6, 1998 with a range of 1,500 km and a pay­load of 700 kg. A model of the in­dige­nously built mis­sile was placed in the cen­ter of al­most ev­ery big city in the coun­try.

This mis­sile was named af­ter the 12th cen­tury Afghan King Sha­habud­din Ghauri who con­quered the west­ern and north­ern parts of In­dia, de­feat­ing Prithvi Raj Chauhan in 1192. The name ‘Prithvi’ of the In­dian short-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles was as sym­bolic as Ghauri but the lat­ter has a longer range.

In­dia tested Agni-II on April 11, 1999 to in­cite Pak­istani re­sponse of Ghauri-II just three days later on April 14, 2010. The Ghauri range of mis­siles is be­lieved to be a de­riv­a­tive of the North Korean Nodong mis­sile.

All this trig­gered a new mis­sile race be­tween the ri­val nu­clear neigh­bors that share a long 1,280 kilo­me­ter bor­der and have fought three full scale wars (1947-48, 1965 and 1971), a lim­ited war in 1999 and nu­mer­ous in­ci­dents of eye-ball-to-eye-ball con­fronta­tion.

Both have also had sev­eral skir­mishes over the Si­achen glacier, the high­est war zone in the world. Both pos­sess hard­ware and tech­no­log­i­cal dis­ad­van­tages that they are dili­gently try­ing to catch up with. How­ever, in the pres­ence of In­dia’s “no-firs­tuse” and Pak­istan’s “to go first” pol­icy (in case of, In­dia’s con­ven­tional at­tack), the key fac­tor is who draws first blood.

De­spite de­nials from Pak­istani top brass about the real ob­jec­tives of mas­sive mil­i­tary ex­er­cises and top grade mil­i­tary weapons test­ing, an­a­lysts be­lieve that the real ob­jec­tive is to keep at par with mil­i­tary de­vel­op­ments in In­dia in an ef­fec­tive man­ner.

“Pak­istan’s re­solve and com­mit­ment to con­tinue its strate­gic pro­gram will re­main para­mount,” said Chair­man Joint Chiefs of Staff Com­mit­tee, Gen­eral Khalid Shamim Wyne on the oc­ca­sion of Hatf-VII’s test­ing.

Pak­istan, the front­line U.S. ally in the war against ter­ror is fight­ing an in­sur­gency in its tribal ar­eas bor­der­ing Afghanistan on its north­west, but is keep­ing a vigil over In­dia to pre­vent it from tak­ing ad­van­tage of its vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tion. The coun­try’s over half a mil­lion mil­i­tary strength is ter­ri­bly stretched be­tween its east­ern and north­west­ern borders and ris­ing terrorism at home. It cer­tainly needs to send a mes­sage across its east­ern bor­der that while it is a peace­ful nation, it is fully pre­pared to take on the en­emy. The writer is a po­lit­i­cal and se­cu­rity an­a­lyst, se­nior jour­nal­ist and for­mer Po­lit­i­cal Af­fairs Ad­vi­sor to the U.S. Con­sulate Gen­eral in Karachi.

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