Nasr Missile and Deterrence Stability of South Asia – South Asia Journal


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Image credit: The Express Tribune

Syeda Saiqa Bukhari    13 February 2019

Pakistan has conducted
successful test of short range surface to surface ballistic missile ‘Nasr’ on
January 24th , 28th  and 31st  respectively, as part of the Army Strategic
Forces Command training exercise, which included quad salvo on 24 January and
single shots on 28 & 31 January, 2019. Quad salvo means that the four
missiles were fired together from AR1A/A100-E Multiple Launch Rocket System
(MLRS) to enhance the operational efficiency of Army Strategic force Command.
While single shots means one missile was fired from the vehicle. The aimed of letter
tests were for testing inflight maneuverability, including the end flight
maneuverability. Nasr has shoot and scoot attributes which mean that the system
has a capability of firing and moving away quickly to avoid counter targeting
which would be contributing to the weapon’s survivability. The speed and low apogee
of the Hatf-IX missile would make it difficult to intercept by all the Indian
existing Ballistic Missile Defence system and could defeat S-400 air defence
system which is in process.

As South Asia region is
consider unstable because of ongoing hostility between India and Pakistan.
Though hostility between both states is unending but nuclear weapons have
brought stability to a great extent. As India decided to take the nuclear
weapons route, Pakistan followed because through nuclear weapons Pakistan
successfully neutralized Indian conventional superiority.

In South Asia, security
competition between India and Pakistan has been characterised by an
action-reaction spiral. Pakistan took the path of nuclear weapons development
in order to create balance against militarily superior India. In 2004, India
adopted aggressive military doctrine, Pakistan rationally responded by
developing Short Range Ballistic Missile Nasr which further strengthen the
existing deterrence equation of the region. As Pakistan is not able
economically to compete India conventionally, so it always took necessitating reactionary
steps to maintain deterrence stability of South Asia.

The purpose of the development of Nasr is defensive because Pakistan
would use it to secure its border from Indian conventional aggression. Pakistan
Short Range Ballistic Missile Nasr has been criticized by international
community that it would increase arms race in South Asia.  But Pakistan developed Nasr to overcome the
growing threats from the Indian offensive military doctrine. Cold Start
Doctrine forces Pakistan to increase its dependence on nuclear arsenals.
General Bipin acknowledged CSD in 2017, was followed by Pakistan’s Nasr test by
improving its range from 60 to 70 km which puts cold water on Cold Start. Before
official acknowledgement of CSD, Pakistan did not conduct any training tests of
Nasr. Pakistan inducted the Nasr missile in its strategic arsenal in 2017 and
its first training launch was held in July 2017 after the official
acknowledgment of CSD from Indian side, 
shows that Pakistan developed Nasr only to deter India from initiating a
conventional assault against Pakistan. Pakistan does not want to indulge in an
arms race rather react to those Indian developments which are threatening its
sovereignty. This weapon system has augmented Full Spectrum Deterrence in line
with Credible Minimum Deterrence, which means that Pakistan would deter
conventional forces (India) by employing nuclear deterrence. Pakistan adopted
assertive command and control system on Nasr which means it is centrally
controlled which minimize the chances of accidental or unauthorized use.

The latest series of Nasr training tests were response to General Bipin 10th
January 2019, statement, that the military is launching war games next month to
test ‘structures geared towards sudden and swift offensives into enemy
territory by Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs). These new structures will be
“validated” in military exercises on the ground in May, 2019. As IBGs are the
center of Indian offensive military doctrine, which involves initiating rapid
military offence from multiple fronts by exploiting the element of surprise and
leaving Pakistan with neither the time to respond nor the defensive resources
to stop those multiple attacks. Nasr tests are in response to this Indian
military announcement as Pakistan solely developed Short Range Ballistic
Missile Nasr to deter India from initiating conventional conflict. The recent
Nasr tests have frightened Indian commanders because of its capability to
defeat all Indian existing Ballistic Missile Defence systems and S-400 air
defence system. Hence, deterrence is often in the minds of adversary. As long
as Indian leaders continue to be deterred by Nasr, it will continue to be
effective.





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