ISLAMABAD: For the first time since 2005, New Delhi has violated a bilateral agreement by leaking to the media news about Pakistan launching a long-range ballistic missile. Pakistan and India normally notify each other seven days in advance if they are to test launch a long-range ballistic missile.
In the recent case when on Wednesday Pakistan tested its Hatf IV missile, part of its Shaheen I series, it notified India of the test.However, it was surprising to read on Wednesday reports from New Delhi that Pakistan was to test a long-range missile in the Indian Ocean. Someone from the government leaked the information to the Indian media well before Pakistan carried out the test on Wednesday.
The Pakistani officials are not ready, for now at least, to comment publicly except to say that India leaked the news and violated the 2005 bilateral agreement. The spin that India wanted to put on the leaked report was to imply that Pakistan’s test was a reaction to the Indian Agni ICBM test and India was only given a day’s notice. It is well known in security circles that it takes months to plan and carry out a test and it is not done whimsically at the drop of a hat.
While the media insists that Wednesday’s test involved a long range missile, Shireen M Mazari (PTI Central VP In-charge Foreign & Security Policy and CEO STR) says that in fact this was an intermediate range missile test - the Shaheen I solid fuelled series - and had a range of about 600-700 km and this new test was to try out an expanded range, but still within the 1000 km intermediate category.
The launch comes days after India announced that it had successfully test-launched a new nuclear-capable, long-range missile. The Agni-V has a range of 5,000 kilometres.India’s missile test last week brought a muted international response, with China downplaying its significance, insisting the countries were partners not rivals, and Washington calling for “restraint” among nuclear powers.
This was in sharp contrast to the widespread fury and condemnation that greeted North Korea’s unsuccessful test launch of a long-range rocket on April 13.“The range of this intermediate range missile and the fact that it is not simply surface-to-surface is really a very important development for Pakistan. All countries including Pakistan have to constantly test and update their technical parameters, which is why tests are required. And the successful test of this expanded range was done”, Mazari told The News.
She added that it is also significant that the missile tested had its throwback in water - so it was not a surface-to-surface missile but what one can see as a beginning of the development of a second strike capability.
“As had been pointed out earlier by me in a number of statements, the need for the intermediate range missile was felt to provide a complete spectrum of strategic options to Pakistan so it was not left with a simple one-rung escalation choice, which in the context of India’s doctrine of Cold Start and Limited War was not a credible option. Now Pakistan has plugged in this gap with its intermediate range missiles. As for ICBMs Pakistan has no need of them within its limited strategic doctrine, which does not see nuclear capability in terms of great power projection”, she added.