SSII Press Release: March 30th 2017
Strategic Studies Institute Islamabad (SSII) organised a round table discussion titled “After Prithvi, Ashvin & Ababeel: Prospects for Missile Stability in South Asia,” on 30th March 2017. The roundtable discussion was attended by representatives from various think tanks and journalists from different media houses.
Chairing the talk, DG SSII and Member National Assembly (MNA) Dr Shireen M Mazari said that missile development race in South Asia is endangering the region. Dr Mazari highlighted that during 2016 and 2017 India and Pakistan conducted 13 and 6 missile tests respectively. She stressed that India has conducted more than twice the number of missile tests as Pakistan as did since 2016. Both countries have added different types of missiles to their respective arsenals. However, the pattern and types of missile tests suggest different purposes. India is widening its missile programme while Pakistan is enhancing its missile stability equation vis-à-vis India.
Dr. Mazari explained that India has been working on the development of its two-layered Ballistic Missile Defence system since 1990s. The country’s BMD system is aimed at providing an effective missile shield against incoming enemy ballistic and nuclear missiles. The system’s first interceptor test was carried out in 2006. Since then, the interceptor missiles have been tested more than 10 times. She said that India’s BMD system was negatively affecting the deterrence stability in the region. In order to ensure the survivability of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles, the country conducted first flight test of its surface-to-surface ballistic missile, Ababeel, on January 24, 2017. With a range of 2,200 kilometres, Ababeel is capable of delivering multiple warheads using Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology.
While in the domain of sea-based ballistic missiles, Dr. Mazari said that India successfully test-fired an intermediate-range nuclear-capable Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM), K-4 on March 31, 2016. The missile with the dummy payload was fired from the Indian Navy’s indigenously built nuclear submarine, the INS Arihant. She explained that K-4 missiles with the range of 3500 kilometres can carry a payload weighing up to 2000 kg. With this successful test, she argued that India has brought the nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean to the Pakistani waters. In response, Dr Mazari noted that Pakistan tested Babur 3 (SLCM) to ensure its deterrence by attaining second strike capability.
She said that India’s successful tests of Agni 5 in December 2016 and Agni 4 in January 2017 indicates that India want to flex its global power. She also pointed out that India conducted an enhanced version of the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile with an extended range of 400 kilometres in March 2017. However, she stressed that India has failed in successfully launching its nuclear capable Nirbhay, Land Attack Cruise Missile (LACM).
In her concluding remarks, Dr Mazari said that since both the countries have limited resources, therefore they would have to put restraint on their nuclear and missile programme and instead engage each other in a strategic dialogue.