Indian Military Advancements and Strategic Stability of South Asia

South Asia is one of the most instable regions in the world because of the ever growing hostility between Pakistan and India. Since partition India has always tried to dominate the region due to its conventional superiority over Pakistan. The bilateral relations of Pakistan and India are based on distrust and uncertainty. Consequently, Pakistan’s major security threat perceptions are always inclined towards its Eastern border i.e. India.

The current Indian military developments and intention to purchase advanced weaponry have disturbed the existing strategic stability of the region. These developments include induction of 05 Dhanush artillery guns (indigenous) and launch of Electronic Management Intelligence Satellite ‘EMISAT’. Moreover, according to a media report, India has also recently ordered 240 Spike medium range Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) and 12 launchers as an emergency purchase from Israel in wake of the recent military escalation with Pakistan. Spike is a medium range multipurpose weapon, having a capability to hit and completely destroy the heavy military armored vehicles. It has a fire and forget mode which enables it to lock on to the target before it fires instead of acquiring it once the missile is in the air.The missile can be launched from anywhere i.e. air, land or sea.  India Army has a requirement around 68, 000 anti-tank guided missiles and 850 launchers of various types. In February 2019 crisis, Indian response showed that it lacks in terms of advanced military weaponry and efficient response capabilities. In this scenario, the emergency purchase ATGM is significant and somehow it immediately fulfills the operational requirements of Indian offensive military capabilities.

Likewise, India developed indigenously Dhanush artillery guns with the intention to deploy along the Pakistani border, have the capability of day and night operations.  India places the order of 114 Dhanush guns, out of which first five guns were handed over to Indian Military on 26th March 2019. Acquiring these artillery guns will enable India to launch swift action against Pakistan in pursuit of its Cold Start Doctrine (CSD). Dhanush gun and anti-tank guided missile will boost the military fire power capability of India against adversary forces which is also the requirement of Indian offensive military doctrine.

On April 1, 2019 India has launched its  electronic management intelligence satellite ‘EMISAT’ focused to monitoring the movements of adversary state i.e. Pakistan. The timing of launch of EMISAT is also very significant as it comes shortly after Indian Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile test on March 27 with code named as ‘Mission Shakti’. ASAT is designed to destroy enemy satellites and to disrupt the Remote Sensing (RS) systems. But contrary, EMISAT is a low earth orbit surveillance satellite which allows India to keep a watch over enemy activities and to provide information about the radar sites of adversary state. These new developments provide New Delhi a space based platform reconnaissance against the adversary states. It would strong the IRS system of India which is an important requirement for the successful implementation of swift offensive military actions under CSD.New Delhi’s advancement in space will not only escalate the ongoing tensions between India and Pakistan but also provokes an arms race in space. The biased attitude of International Community especially the US towards India and the ongoing cooperation would bring South Asia region at an edge of instability and insecurity.

These above mentioned developments show that India is on course to advance its military capabilities in pursuit of its doctrinal ambitions.The February 2019 military crisis between India and Pakistan shows absence of efficient response capability and lack of sophisticated weaponry from India. Though India is conventionally superior from Pakistan, butit might take years to operationalize its Cold Start Doctrine. These new developments will create challenges for Pakistan security and push it to take necessary measures to assure the strategic stability of the South Asian region. It is evident that, Pakistan due to its financial constraints faces difficulties to respond to the recent Indian high tech developments and maintain the existing balance of power in South Asia. Pakistan as a responsible state has always taken necessary steps to maintain peace in the South Asian region.

Syeda Saiqa Bukhari
Syeda Saiqa Bukhari
Research associate at Strategic Vision Institute Islamabad.