S-400 Deal: Implications for South Asia

Finally, the contentious deal of an air defence missile system (S-400) between India and Russia has been signed by the President Viladmir Putin and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on October 5, 2018. Almaz Central Design Bureau of Russia developed S-400 Triumph. Air defence systems S-300P and S-200 of the Russian Army have been replaced by the new system. The S-400 Triumph system is a next-generation mobile air defence system, which is capable of destroying aerial targets at an extremely long range of up to 400 kilometres.

It is pertinent to mention that India is creating alarming situation in region by signing the deal and its efforts for the S-400 deal would surely be proved detrimental for the region. Induction of S-400 in Indian defence structure will cause severe threats to the strategic stability in the region. Why India was so much ambitious for achieving this deal? Because India is following the track of offensive strategy in order to gain at least regional supremacy. However, in pursuance of such offensive tracks it is not possible to achieve peace at regional level and it would also become impossible to maintain stability of the region. The S-400 Triumph system under India’s command will contest Pakistan’s capability to conduct Air defence or Air offense operations in its airspace. It will also augment India’s ability to counter Pakistan’s aerial pre-eminence. Pakistan will be forced to invest in technologies to counter or develop comparable systems to highlight weaknesses in India’s air defences to uphold regional balance.

Following the May 1998 nuclear tests by both sides, Pakistan had proposed a Strategic Restraint Regime in the region, advocating against the acquisition of BMD systems due to their destabilizing effect. Furthermore, Pakistan retreats its commitment with policy of maintaining credible minimum deterrence and maintaining strategic balance in the future as well. Whereas, India is acting contrary to it and finalized the deal of S-400 without considering the fact that such deal would create the atmosphere of insecurity in the region and encourages the neighbouring states to act in the same or more intensified manner.

Acquisition of an air defence missile system(S-400) by India has also much potential to trigger arms race in the region. Whereas, Pakistan at various forums raised the voice that arms race should not be followed, as it would be proved disadvantageous for the peace of entire region. Few days ago President of Pakistan Arif Alvi said that country has no intention of joining any arms race and nuclear deterrent is only meant to maintain a strategic balance in the region. But, India’s role and furtherance in domain of strategic weapons may trigger an arms race in the region. India is continuously trying to disturb the existing pattern of deterrence without keeping in view that repercussions would be dire for the whole region. Such actions of India are becoming burning point of concern not only for the whole region but also for the entire globe. Pakistan doesn’t want to involve itself in dire and unending race but behaviour of Indian strategists, government and decision makers is compelling Pakistan with full force to react accordingly.

It seems India is not as much sincere to its own population as it should be, because the way India is spending its tax payer’s money on defence sector clearly depicts that it does not care for the well being of its own population and its only focus is to attain regional supremacy. Considering the investment of $5 billion, which India is spending for the acquisition of S-400 there are many other sectors in India which are severely lacking only due to inappropriate care and shortage of funds e.g. education, skill development, urbanization, transparency, health, sanitation and water scarcity etc.

International community should not remain silent on this development. Because silence of international community will encourage India to move further for such kind of advancements. Resultantly, it would become imperative for the competitors of India in the region to acquire at least same or may be upgraded kind of weaponry in order to maintain equal capabilities. Moreover, international community should also be mindful of the fact that Pakistan is only state in region, which is fighting against terrorism not only for its own sake but to ensure the peace at global level. Considering the precious sacrifices that have been given by Pakistan in war against terrorism, the international community should take such measures to refrain India from committing irresponsible actions against Pakistan that could be disastrous to the security and stability of the region.

Ali Raza
Ali Raza
Ali Raza is a visiting faculty member at Air University, Islamabad. He holds master’s degree in Strategic and Nuclear Studies (S&NS) from National Defense University, Islamabad. His area of research includes Strategic Stability, Arms control and disarmament and Non-Proliferation. His opinion articles appear in national and international newspapers, blogs and websites. He can be reached at razaali566[at]gmail.com