Early Tuesday morning, Pakistan and India entered a chilling war of nuclear-capable missile tests, fueling tensions in the already war-like relations between the two neighbors.
The news comes amid Pakistan’s threats to use all of its weapons, including nuclear weapons, to defend itself against any aggression from India. Pakistan and India, which have fought three deadly wars since their independence from Britain in 1947, are exchanging chilling war signals with their latest missile race.
On Tuesday, Pakistan successfully tested its surface-to-surface ballistic nuclear-capable missile Ababeel, according to a statement issued by the media wing of Pakistan’s military.
Inter Services Public Relations said the Ababeel, which is Pakistan’s second nuclear-capable missile test this month, can reach enemy targets at a range of 2,200 kilometers, which is over three times the distance between Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, and New Delhi, the capital of its number one nemesis, India.
The ISPR added that the development of the Ababeel is aimed to “enforce deterrence” and “ensure survivability” of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles. The advanced missile is said to be capable of delivering multiple warheads and evading radar detection.
The fact that this is Pakistan’s second nuclear-capable missile test this month further intensifies the boiling conflict with India.
India and Pakistan fuel nuclear tensions
But Indians aren’t scratching their heads over what to do with the Ababeel, as hours after Pakistan’s missile test on Tuesday, India tested its own guided Pinaka multi-barrel launcher. While escalation of the long-standing conflict between Pakistan and India to war remains very likely – especially after Pakistan threatened on Monday to use nuclear weapons against India – the neighbors are engaged in furious testing of ballistic missiles.
Tests of advanced military equipment between two neighboring rivals – particularly tests of nuclear-capable missile and when the tests take place just hundreds kilometers away from the enemy’s border – are always chilling news.
India’s test of the 214 mm caliber Pinaka rocket from its launch pad in Chandipur on the eastern coast turned out to be successful. Indian scientists say the Pinaka, which is guided by a combination of inertial navigation systems, will replace the Russia-made SMERCH rocket.
Pakistan and India are playing dangerous nuclear games
With the development of the guided Pinaka, India has shown its capability of converting unguided systems into precision weapons, something that could give it an edge in the event of a war against Pakistan. Indian scientists managed to significantly improve the Pinaka multi-barrel rocket system, which originally had a firing range of only 38 kilometers. The newly-tested Pinaka has been enhanced to 65+ kilometers and equipped with the multiplier effect in battlefield. In other words, each individual rocket on the Pinaka is guided separately, and its target can be altered every 20 microseconds.
The latest missile tests by India and Pakistan are expected to create even more tensions in their relations. On January 10, Pakistan successfully tested its first-ever submarine-launched cruise missile.
In 2016, India reportedly tested an anti-ballistic missile system that is so powerful it can intercept a nuclear-carrying ballistic missile. The reports triggered a furious response in Islamabad, with Pakistani Foreign Minister Sartaj Aziz warning that India’s anti-ballistic missile testing could lead to the “nuclearisation” of the Indian Ocean.
Islamabad and New Delhi have regularly tested ballistic missiles since becoming nuclear-capable in 1998.
How deadly is Pak and India’s nuclear force?
There is a reason the world should be closely watching the developments of relations between Pakistan and India, and it’s not because they have fought three wars already and are on the brink of their fourth. It’s because of their massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons. Islamabad and New Delhi have about 120-140 nuclear weapons each.
But what’s more worrisome is that Pakistan and India are two of only three nations in the world that never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty. India aims to increase its weapons arsenal, as New Delhi has purchased $34 billion worth of military equipment between 2008 and 2015. That’s more than any country in the world except Saudi Arabia, according to IAS Parliament.
India also could boost its nuclear arsenal further soon, as it aims to get membership in the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in order to obtain full atomic trading privilege. Pakistan wants to become a NSG member too.
Pakistan threatens nuclear war to stop India’s Cold Start
The news comes amid India’s reported plans to deploy 460 advanced battle tanks along its border with Pakistan, a move that would mark the start of implementation of its much-talked about Cold Start military strategy.
The Cold Start military doctrine and having a sizable military force along its border with Pakistan would allow India to launch a rapid military attack against its neighbor almost immediately. In fact, such a rapid attack wouldn’t give Pakistan enough time to respond with retaliatory nuclear strikes.
The Cold Start strategy, the existence of which has long been denied by the Indian government, seems to be becoming a reality. After it was reported that India plans to deploy the high-tech battle tanks closer to the border with Pakistan, an anonymous Pakistani official threatened that Islamabad would use “all of its weapons,” including nuclear weapons, if India becomes aggressive.
“If ever our national security is threatened by advancing foreign forces, Pakistan will use all of its weapons — and I mean all of our weapons — to defend our country,” the official told the Financial Times.
Pakistan to become the world’s fifth largest nuclear power by 2025
Pak isn’t resting peacefully as India increases its military and nuclear arsenals. Islamabad continues to strengthen its nuclear capabilities by diversifying its weapons and accumulating fissile material.
With its four fully-operational plutonium production reactors in Khushab, which is in the northern part of Pakistan, Islamabad is capable of making at least 40 kilos of weapons-grade plutonium annually. Pakistan, which has an estimated nuclear arsenal of 130-140 nukes, also aspires to enhance its uranium enrichment capabilities, according to The News.
While many experts argue that Pakistan could add about 100 more nuclear warheads to its stockpile and become the world’s fifth largest nuclear power by 2025, the country’s enhancement of nuclear capabilities depends on the magnitude of expansion of India’s nuclear program.