Indian hardware advances, developments in Ballistic Missile Defences (BMD), and Multiple-Independent Re-entry Vehicles (MIRVs) has provided technical means for Indian leadership to execute splendid first strike. The leadership is on the edge to repeat the mistakes of the Cold War nuclear competition while engaging in costly arms race and relying on the policy of peacetime operational readiness. The dilemma is that International norms are driven by politics rather than morals; powerful states enjoy the lures of proliferation under legal emblem by virtue of powerful allies, while small states are bound by their commitments to non-proliferation. This essay is based on three parts, a first part discusses India’s proliferation record, Western Perspective and Indian Diaspora, second part discusses India’s hardware advances and third part discusses how these advances have compelled Pakistan for the development of Ababeel and Babur III and lastly what are the advantages to Pakistan for MIRVs development followed by a conclusion.

Indian Proliferation: A brief Overview,

In 2006 Institute of science and international security released two reports which light upon the proliferation record and activities of India. The reports says that hundred of tenders by means of newspapers and websites has been released, attracting companies to manufacture equipment without specifying the end user is a gas centrifuge program under Department of Atomic Energy.

The ISIS‘s 2008 report set up Indian illegal procurements of Tributyl Phosphate (TBP). Tributyl Phosphate is a dual use chemical which is used in nuclear programme to separate plutonium. India procured TBP secretly from Russian and German suppliers. The report further reveals that India’s tendering process also offers the Information of gas centrifuges information at the cost of 10$ and some of them contain details drawings and manufacturing instructions.

Similarly, India has a poorly managed export control system with a possibility of proliferation, accidents and nuclear thefts. The ISIS reports further highlights the dangers as once the imported items are re-exported it generates strong credentials for proliferation. India’s nuclear program is dependent on steady stream of heavy waters, despite India is a non NPT member state it managed Chinese, Soviet, German, Norwegian secret shipments to start Dhruva and Madras reactors in 1980s. In addition, India has eight of its reactors outside International Atomic Energy Safeguards.

Western Perspective and Indian Diaspora,

The emerging Indian economy provides the incentives of lucrative investment for the capitalist western society, which is one of the reasons behind the powerful Indian Diaspora in United States of America. Therefore, western literature predominantly talks about the inability of Pakistan to improve its credentials for non-proliferation.

1. In their view Pakistan should reduce or stop its fissile material production.

2. Ensuing to the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) assertion, the United States and Russia are keeping up marginally under 1,600 operational, 3720 deployed and 8990 stockpiled atomic warheads each.

3. Similarly, the United Kingdom has its arms stockpile to around 225 warheads and plans further cuts, while the quantity of Chinese and French weapons is steady at 250 and 300 weapons individually.

4. The Israeli atomic weapons program remains covered in secret—appraisals of the measure of its atomic arms stockpile range from 80 to 200 warheads. Similarly, in the year 2014 United States alone had the world largest defence allocation of $610 billion, India at $50 billion, Russia at $84 billion, Britain and France at $60 to 62 billion defence spending each. On the other hand Pakistan’s defence allocation was the lowest ($5.7 billion approximately.)

Hence, the above mentioned detail brings to light the proliferation record and defence spending of powerful states, where as Pakistan has the lowest defence budget among all which means Pakistan cannot afford relative arms race. However, it will continue on relying slow, steady and policy of indigenous development ensuring absolute gains to maintain balance of power and strategic stability in the region.

Indian Hardware Advances: Impacts on Pakistan,

In South Asia, India enjoys the lures of proliferation by the virtue of its powerful allies while middle states like Pakistan are bound by their commitment to the non proliferation. Indian missile race and desire to become regional hegemony has compelled Pakistan to maintain balance of power. India has fastest growing and world’s dangerous testing record, with canisters based missiles as Agni V, these are long range intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of targeting all parts of China. These are encapsulated and canisterized system in which warheads are pre-mated to delivery vehicle and can be launched on warning. Agni V Multiple Independent Re-entry vehicle technology is capable of penetrating East European missile defences. New Delhi has Joined Hague Code of Conduct (HCOC) and seeks a political and moral responsibility to restrain its nuclear missile proliferation but in reality it enjoys the support of its powerful allies to overrule moral and political responsibilities, and values of International Law.

Missile Defence has always been divisive among nuclear nations. It can be employed on greater expense only in a condition when it ensures state security and guarantees a complete protection. In 1983, India started its first Integrated Guided Missile Development Program (IGMDP). Lieutenant General Balraj Nagal (retired) in his essay titled India and Ballistic Missile Defence: Furthering a Defensive Deterrent published at Carnegie argued that the cost of Indian Ballistic Missile Defence is around Rs.50, 000 crores to Rs 250,000 crores and even this confounding level of expenditure will not ensure the complete protection. In order to penetrate Indian missile defences and balance Indian MIRVs technology, Pakistan has developed Indigenous MIRVs technology, it has successfully tested Ababeel a land based missile ranges up to 22,00 kilometres on 24th of January 2017.

Similarly in November 2016 Indian Navy, in order to fulfil its miscreant objective was deploying submarines inside Pakistani waters; however Pakistani Navy says it prevented Indian Submarine from entering Pakistani waters. In response to the offensive Indian activities at sea and Indian Naval build ups (developments in sea based ballistic missiles) as Dhanush, K-15, K-4, Pakistan has developed Babur 3 Submarine Launched Cruise Missile, having capability underwater controlled propulsions and advanced guidance navigation features, train hugging and sea skimming features enables enemy radar unable to detect. Babur-3 SLCM in land-attack mode is capable of delivering various types of payloads and will provide Pakistan with credible second strike capability.

Advantages to Pakistan for achieving MIRVs capability,

According to Department of Defence Washington D.C declassified documents dated Dec 8, 2000. The Sea based missile shield requires cost of $310 billion to $ 423 billion; this means that middle states like Pakistan with defence allocation of approximately $7 billion (year 2016) cannot afford such expensive and inaccurate technologies. Therefore, the country has to rely on cheaper and more reliable means (MIRVs) of defeating ballistic missile defences of India. For this reason, Pakistan has tested a surface to surface ballistic missile capable of carrying multiple nuclear warheads and can target with precision as far as 22, 00 kilometres. Yesterday, DG Inter Services Public Relations, Major General Asif Ghafoor announced the maiden flight test of Ababeel.

Pakistan’s MIRVs technology serves several purposes; first MIRVs with each missile deliver several warheads on different targets at the same time. It traps warheads which may be fired with genuine warheads as deception strategy. Similarly, manoeuvring warheads dodge enemy defences, while stealth technologies of warheads will make enemy’s radar difficult to detect. Lastly changing the warheads thermal signatures can easily confuse and deceive the enemy’s infrared seekers. This indigenous development will help Pakistan’s ballistic missiles to penetrate through Indian BMD. Pakistan is a middle state with less GDP, territory and resources when compared to India, its efforts are based to maintain regional balance of power, security and strategic stability in South Asia. In addition, the United States can play vital role in preventing costly and dangerous arms race in South Asia to cuts that defence cooperation and arms agreements with India.


Indian hardware advances has given the false sense of security and poised decision makers to consider costly options as splendid first strike. This is why India on 18th of November deployed its nuclear submarines inside territorial waters of Pakistan. Earlier, India openly confessed that a ‘morning’ surgical strike was conducted against terrorist outfits inside Pakistan. On the system level analysis, the country enjoys the blessings of powerful states. India has eight of its reactors out of International Atomic Energy Safeguards even then it enjoys blessings of nuclear deals and waivers. The dilemma is that such assertion poses serious threats to the norms of nuclear non proliferation. In addition, in order to achieve credible deterrence and strategic stability in South Asia, Pakistan has developed Sea based Second Strike (Babur 3) and Land based MIRVs capability (Ababeel).

Syed Sabir Muhammad

Syed Sabir Muhammad

is currently serving as a Lecturer at Peshawar University.

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