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Pakistan Thursday (Nov 8) expressed concern over Indian nuclear submarine patrol.

Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, said on Monday (Nov 5) the INS Arihant was a “fitting response to those who indulge in nuclear blackmail”.

Foreign Office Spokesperson, Dr Mohammad Faisal, said Pakistan has taken notice of a first “deterrence patrol” of an Indian nuclear submarine and subsequent “self-congratulatory messages in India.”

“The development marks the first actual deployment of ready-to-fire nuclear warheads in South Asia which is a matter of concern not only for the Indian Ocean littoral states but also for the international community at large,” Dr. Faisal said.

“Amid an increase in the number of nuclear weapons in our surroundings, a credible nuclear deterrence is extremely important for our country’s security,” Indian Prime Minister told the crew of the submarine in a speech televised nationwide. “Arihant is an open warning for the country’s enemies, for the foes of peace: don’t try any misadventure against India.”

“The bellicose language employed by the top Indian leadership highlights the threats to strategic stability in South Asia and raises questions about responsible nuclear stewardship in India,” the Foreign Office spokesperson said on Thursday.

Dr Faisal said the increased frequency of missile tests by India, aggressive posturing and deployment of nuclear weapons calls for an assessment of the non-proliferation benefits resulting from Indian membership of the Missile Technology Control Regime.

“Pakistan is committed to the objective of strategic stability in South Asia and believes that the only way forward for both countries is to agree on measures for nuclear and missile restraint,” he said adding:

“At the same time no one should be in doubt about Pakistan’s resolve and capabilities to meet the challenges posed by the latest developments both in the nuclear and conventional realms in South Asia.”

NDTV of India said India’s first nuclear ballistic missile submarine, INS Arihant, has become fully operational, completing the country’s nuclear triad. With the 6,000-tonne submarine in its arsenal, India will be able to strike deep inside China’s territory, which otherwise cannot be reached by short-ranged land-based missile.

Indian Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman wrote on Twitter that India joined the elite club of countries that can design, construct and operate nuclear submarines.

Pakistan has solutions to India’s ballistic missile defense system

In another development, Adviser to the National Command Authority (NCA) Lt General (retired) Khalid Kidwai said Wednesday that  Pakistan has “cost effective solutions” to India’s latest ballistic missile defense system and would also find a counter to its nuclear capable submarine.

Addressing a conference on ‘Nuclear Deterrence and Strategic Stability in South Asia’ hosted by the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Lt General Khalid Kidwai also said that Pakistan will remain unfazed as it has adequate response options that would disallow any disturbance of the strategic balance or strategic stability.

“The history of our strategic force development clearly indicates that Pakistan has never allowed this (strategic) balance to be disturbed to our disadvantage; we have always found effective solutions to redress induced imbalances from time to time,” Gen Kidwai was quoted as saying in by Dawn newspaper.

He said Pakistan would not follow India in developing a defense system against ballistic missiles because it found little value in such systems, but would continue to seek to redress the imbalances caused by India’s moves.

“Pakistan remains unfazed and as before, we have adequate response options which will disallow any disturbance of the strategic balance or strategic stability. That fundamental policy will prevail,” he said.

Talking in the context of India-Russia deal for S-400 missile systems, he said India had been working on the development of a multi-layer ballistic missile defense (BMD) system for over a decade now. Besides the S-400 deal, India has large-scale cooperation with Israel for the development of the BMD.

“Much hype has been created around this particular technology induction and some have gone to the extent of calling it a game changer for South Asia,” he said, adding that “this was wrong”.

Lt Gen Kidwai said Pakistan had already possessed “cost-effective solutions” to take care of India’s BMD in the shape of MIRV (multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle) capability and four categories of cruise missiles.

He said India’s BMD only had symbolic value and “Pakistan’s answer (to it) is available today”.

Pakistan says second strike capability attained

In March this year, Pakistan carried out another successful test of the nuclear-capable Submarine Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM) Babur and claimed to have attained ‘Credible Second Strike Capability’.

In a media release army said the 450-km-range Babur missile was test-fired from “an underwater dynamic platform, which successfully engaged its target with precise accuracy, meeting all the flight parameters”.

SLCM Babur III was originally tested in January 2017 and it is a sea-based variant of ground-launched cruise missile Babur-II, which was successfully tested in December 2016.

The military had at the time of Babur-III’s first test said the second strike capability.

The second strike capability, which is believed to be the peak of deterrence strategy, means the possession of the ability to retaliate to a nuclear attack even after a country’s nuclear arsenal has been neutralized. It has long been a goal of Pakistan’s nuclear planners. But, attaining the assured or credible capability was even a bigger challenge. The armed forces now say that they have attained a ‘credible second strike capability’ and in doing so they strengthened “the existing deterrence regime”.

The second strike deterrent is normally placed on a nuclear submarine, but since Pakistan does not have one it is generally believed that the missile would be deployed on Agosta 90-B/Khalid Class diesel-electric submarines. Israeli had earlier done the same.

“The missile is capable of delivering various types of payloads and incorporates state of the art technologies including underwater controlled propulsion, advanced guidance and navigation features,” the army said adding:

“Development of this capability also reflects Pakistan’s response to provocative nuclear strategies and posture being pursued in the neighborhood through induction of nuclear submarines and ship-borne nuclear missiles, leading to nuclearization of Indian Ocean Region.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Chief Editor of the Journal of America (www.journalofamerica.net) email: sghazali2911 (@) gmail.com

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