Pakistan on April 19, 2011 successfully tested its ‘Hatf IX’, the Short Range Ballistic Missile capable of carrying nuclear warhead as well as conventional ones. This invention is also termed as the ‘world’s smartest nuclear device’ and is named by Pakistan army with an Arabic word NASR (to help or to assist). This article describes the salient features of NASR.
However, the advent of nuclear weapons in South Asia in 1998 changed the security environment of the whole region; the Balance of Power (BoP) was abruptly replaced by ‘Balance of Terror’ and a credible nuclear deterrence laid strategic stability in the region to a great extent. This unprecedented development restrained both states to engage in any full-fledged war despite confronting each other in a low-intensity conflict of Kargil, eyeball-to-eyeball military stand-offs following the terrorist attack on Indian parliament on December 13, 2001 and 26/11 Mumbai mayhem, only due to the prospects of ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ (MAD) in case if any outbreak of war would have crossed the threshold level on either side. On the above-mentioned occasions when both sides were literally at the brink of ‘Total War’, it was actually the nuclear deterrence which forced both states to think rationally as nuclear exchange could have unbearable consequences for both sides. This credible deterrence ensured Pakistan’s security and integrity against external threats. Then, however, some very recent steps by India seem to have real potential to inflict severe damage to deterrence stability in South Asia. Out of those all, some very critical developments are as follows;
shockingly swift and lightening strikes inside Pakistan’s territory within 72 hours of the first strike in case any Mumbai-like incident is repeated. Cold Start strategy is actually aimed at initiating rapid military incursions into Pakistan to punish it, taking limited amounts of territory, and then using it as bargaining chip to negotiate thus compelling Islamabad to bridle the militant groups that are directed against India, without really crossing Pakistan’s nuclear threshold. Though this doctrine has countless flaws in itself but the fact remains that it has clear prospects of destabilizing the existing nuclear deterrence between both the nuclear belligerents.
Secondly, India’s expeditious work on building Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) System, which according to several reports is in its final phase. If India acquires this system, the implication for deterrence stability would be pernicious and any miscalculation or over or under estimation would lead to total annihilation of both the nations.
Thirdly, the most controversial Indo-US nuclear agreement which is apparently meant for the transfer of civilian nuclear technology to India, but as many defence experts opine vociferously that this deal would eventually widen the already existing gulf of nuclear imbalance between both South Asian neighbours.
India completed and successfully tested its Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM) named as Sagarika/K-15, on Feb. 26, 2008 (The Hindu: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2008). This ballistic missile is manufactured to launch nuclear or conventional warheads from inside the sea through submarines. Thus this development gave India relative superiority over Pakistan by completing its nuclear triad.
It can hit its target within the range of 60 km from surface to surface;
So it is for the use of tactical level in the battle field;
In a nutshell, NASR is really a significant and awe-inspiring addition to Pakistan’s conventional and non-conventional apparatus. The Director General of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD), Lieutenant General (Retired) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai stated that ‘the test was a very important milestone in consolidating Pakistan’s strategic deterrence capability at all levels of the threat spectrum.’ He added that ‘in the hierarchy of military operations, the NASR Weapon System now provides Pakistan with short-range missile capability in addition to the already available medium and long range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles in its inventory.’ The creation of NASR, on one hand, would play its crucial role for deterrence stability in South Asia and on the other hand this invention has revealed to the world, Pakistan’s innovative abilities in scientific research.