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Dr. Zafar Jaspal |

India’ hysterical military stockpiling is alarming for the South Asian strategic environment. It made more than 10% of the global arms imports between 2000 and 2016. The upward trajectory in conventional and nuclear weapons is shaping the strategic behavior of India’s neighbors.

The terrifying reality about India’s weaponry is that it is entirely aimed at Pakistan. Though the deterrence stability exists between the belligerent neighbors, yet New Delhi’s weapon shopping spree and missile defense systems imports are perilous for existing strategic stability in the subcontinent.

Bharat Electronics wasted 3,600 crores (Indian currency) over the development of Akash.

The Indian ruling elite has been engaged in generating the impression that it would contain China. Therefore, New Delhi announced Indo-Pacific strategy in 2016. It has been participating enthusiastically in Malabar Naval exercises since 1994. It successfully conducted intermediate range Agni-V surface-to-surface ballistic missile test.

Read more: Pakistan-US ties: A reality check

Perhaps, Chinese are not ignoring these developments. Realistically, with the current military capability, India could not destabilize Chinese defensive fence. India’s improving military potential, however, does cause insecurity for other neighboring states.

Importantly, India’s indigenous missile defense program is encountering technological problems. Today, New Delhi immediate aim is to procure advanced missile systems from foreign suppliers to perfect its defensive missiles as well as advance Agni series. Precisely, New Delhi desires to restart its ballistic missile defense program on a firm foundation.

India’s hysterical military build-up is perilous for the regional security. Its colossal investment in the ballistic Missile Defence System could dent Pakistan’s deterrence arrangement.

It’s because of the Indian Comptroller and Auditor General in its report on July 28, 2017, exposed the limits or deficiencies of the Indian indigenous program “Make-In-India initiative”. The objective of the said initiative was to reduce India’s dependence on imported arms. The authors expressed dissatisfaction over the advancement of air defense system and development of missile shield.

Read more: 2017 Malabar naval exercise

The Comptroller and Auditor General report pointed out the failure of Akash a medium-range surface-to-air missile system designed to intercept enemy aircraft and missiles at a distance of 18-30 km. It reported, “The missiles fell short of the target, had lower than the required velocity, and there was malfunctioning of critical units.”

It means state-run Bharat Electronics wasted 3,600 crores (Indian currency) over the development of Akash. The Bharat Electronics also admitted the 30 percent failure rate of the missile. It was reported, the Indian air force is reluctant to deploy Akash due to its technical faults and pressuring to purchase systems from technologically advanced nations.

Indo-US defence cooperation received a boost during the last decade. In 2015, the NFA for the US-Indian Defence Relationship was renewed.

The report has not only exposed the downsides of the Indian defense industry’s scientific development but also undermine the hawkish leadership claims about the defensive fence of the country. The Defence Minister Arun Jaitley reacted immediately to prevent the political fallout of the Report. He assured the members of Lok Sabha, ‘the shortage in terms of arms and ammunition would be expeditiously made up.’

Read more: Indo-Pak nuclear race: Will things continue the same forever?

Ballistic missile technology and design trends are improving rapidly. India cannot modernize its ballistic missile without the external support. It has already approached Israel for assistance. Indian armed forces are already armed with Israel’s Green Pine radars and Arrow missile defense system batteries.

Currently, it is negotiating with Tel Aviv to purchase two more long-range Phalcon Airborne Warning And Control System (AWACS). Cabinet Committee on Security had approved a deal for additional AWACS in 2016. India and Israel also announced to develop a medium range surface-to-air missile (MR-SAM) system for Indian Army. The missile has a range of 50-70 km.

New Delhi had concluded a deal with Moscow to purchase the S-400, which is a robust anti-access & area-denial (A2/AD) asset.

New Delhi had concluded a deal with Moscow to purchase the S-400, which is a robust anti-access & area-denial (A2/AD) asset. It is a four-generation advanced air and missile defense system, designed to protect high-value military, political, and economic targets from ballistic and cruise missiles, and air strikes.

Read more: What halts India & Afghanistan from making peace with Pakistan?

According to the Russian defense sources, the S-400 deliveries to India are ‘likely’ to start by 2020. Despite cementing Indo-US strategic partnership, Moscow is using lucrative technology transfer and licensing options to protect its advantageous position in the Indian defense market.

The United States remains a giant in arms exports, globally. It holds the first place in military hardware exports to its allies. Washington is also striving to expand its military exports through new opportunities for sustaining its military industrial complex.

Therefore, today, India’s defense market is very attractive for the American defense contractors. On May 20, 2017, Premier Narendra Modi government announced to spend $250 billion on the modernization of its armed forces over the next decade. Nevertheless, today, ‘India has become one of the largest importers of U.S. arms’.

Read more: RAW fuels terrorists, Pakistan stays strong: Modi’s new strategies?

Indo-US defense cooperation received a boost during the last decade. In 2015, the New Framework Agreement (NFA) for the US-Indian Defence Relationship was renewed.

The report has not only exposed the downsides of the Indian defence industry’s scientific development but also undermine the hawkish leadership claims about the defensive fence of the country.

The NFA has ‘facilitated a growth in US.-Indian arms sales, joint exercises, and military interactions.’ the United States has been supporting indirectly India’s missile program. In 2004, India and United States signed an agreement on space cooperation.

Secondly, Israel cannot transfer missile material or technology to any other country without the prior approval of United States. Thirdly, United States facilitated India in securing the full membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime in 2016.

To conclude, India’s hysterical military build-up is perilous for the regional security. It’s colossal investment in the Ballistic Missile Defence System could dent Pakistan’s deterrence arrangement. It necessitates, therefore, Islamabad to advance its missile program to sustain the credibility of its credible minimum nuclear deterrent posture.

Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal is Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. He is also an advisor on Non-Proliferation to SASSI, London and a course coordinator at Foreign Services Academy for the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Email: jaspal_99@hotmail.com. This piece was first published in Pakistan Observer. It has been reprinted with permission. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.

Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal is Director & Associate Professor at the School of Politics and International Relations, Quaid-I-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan, where he teaches various aspects of Strategic Studies; International Security; Nuclear/Missile Proliferation; Terrorism including CBNR Terrorism and Countermeasures; Arms Control/Disarmament; Domestic and Foreign Policies of the country. He is an advisor on Non-Proliferation to SASSI, Islamabad/London and a Course Coordinator at Foreign Services Academy Ministry of Foreign Affairs Islamabad. Prior to joining the University, he had been a Research Fellow at ISSI, IPRI, Islamabad, Pakistan. Dr. Zafar, as a Guest Speaker/Visiting Lecturer, had delivered and still continues to deliver lectures at NATO School, Oberammergau, Germany; Center of Excellence: Defence against Terrorism, Ankara, Turkey; National Security & War Courses of Pakistan’s National Defence University; Intelligence Bureau Academy, Command and Staff College Quetta; Air War College, Karachi, and Foreign Service Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan. He holds Ph.D. and M. Phil in International Relations and M.A. in Political Science. He did advance Post Graduate Certificate courses in Peace and Conflict Studies, from European Peace University Stadtschlaining, Austria; Peace Research, International Relations and Foreign Policy Analysis from Oslo University, Norway. He also did CMC Training Course/ Cooperative Monitoring from Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, New Mexico, United States.

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