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Prospects of India’s BMD Program and Strategic Implications for South Asia

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Strategic stability in South Asia has stayed delicate due to plethora of variables. Three fundamental threats to strategic stability in South Asia have been discerned as arms race, crisis instability and escalation risk between two nuclear rivals, India and Pakistan.[i] Security pandits have articulated that the increasing security dilemmas among India and Pakistan show a sterling test to South Asia’s strategic stability and to the deterrence symmetry. Induction of advanced conventional and non-conventional weapons with modern capabilities for instance, precision guided missiles with high level of readiness, sophisticated hypersonic and supersonic missiles, and ballistic missile defense system which can wreak havoc on rival’s countervalue and counterforce targets, is an eternal destabilizing threat for the region. India is struggling to acquire adequate Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) system since 1990s. The Nuclear Agreement in 2005 between India and the US, was eager achievement for New Delhi to obtain its augmented desires of nuclear arrangement. The United States permitted New Delhi to use nuclear related material for the sake of peaceful purposes, India did defy not only to use material for nuclear triad (missiles, aircrafts, submarines) but also gradually operationalized the defense missile system to ameliorate its strategic position in the region. The India’s Ministry of Defense stated that New Delhi has excessively achieved its supreme milestone in building strategic capabilities to intensify security against incoming missiles of rival state.[ii]

However, Pakistan has worked on the development of dual-use of missiles, soothing offensive and defensive moods, which inadvertantly exposed Indian vulnerabilities to pre-emption and retaliation of Islamabad. Therefore, suitable convergence of nuclearization conjoined with ballistic and cruise missiles have favored Pakistan’s deterrence potential and credibility, which has compelled its rival state India to ensure the consideration of balance of terror in the region and distend its strategy in the purview of environment.[iii]

Meanwhile, New Delhi’s continuous arms struggles, in particular, advancements of its defense capabilities are deliberately making uneasiness for Pakistan. Therefore, the South Asian nuclear states are moving towards an unending arms race, which will categorically undermine the deterrence and stability of the region.

India’s Ballistic Missile Defense System

Since 2006, India has conducted ten tests of ballistic missile defense (BMD), it was successful in seven tests. In 2017, it conducted the test of high altitude interceptor missile with ambition to enhance ‘kill’ capacity in protect with endo and exo atmosphere against enemy’s incoming ballistic missile.[iv] New Delhi officials have stated that this intercepting system would safeguard major cities i.e. Delhi and Mumbai. On contrary, Islamabad officials have declared that development and acquisition of BMD system may give false sense of security to India and this would put the region into abyss of arms race and instability in the region is inevitable.

India’s development of defense shield forces is an effort to acquire more avid BMD system but unfortunately this offensive posture and inductance of sophisticated weapons are threatening strategic stability of South Asia. This adapted posture of India is in contention with Pakistan’s credibility of deterrence scale. Besides this, New Delhi has acquired two-tiered missile defense shield to protect its metropolitan cities. First tier is Prithvi Air Defense (PAD), this can intercept the enemy’s missile at high altitude of 80 km with the range of up to 2000 km. Second tier is Advanced Air Defense (AAD), this can hit enemy’s missile at lower altitude of 30 km. [v]In October 2016, India and Russia had signed an inter-governmental agreement over the supply of S-400 missile system, during the BRICS Summit. After two years, a formal agreement of $5.47 billion deal signed on October 5, 2018. The Asian News International reported on September 9, 2019 that Russia would deliver five S-400 Triumph missile systems to India within 18 to 19 months. The like, Indian news agency reported that delivery of S-400 might not be possible before the end 2021 due to the COVID-19 engagement.[vi]

New Delhi is trying to acquire multi-layered BMD system and enormous shield against China and Pakistan’s incoming missiles to shield its cities,[vii] and hinder foreign forces against pre-empted. India gives alienated arguments to justify its BMD program. One, it would curtail and impact the speedy Chinese military influence, and the other is, in distint sequence of events i.e. peace time, war time, post-incursion, defense program would formidably impact Pakistan’s counter and retaliatory measures. Instead other contentious factors are, for instance, power projection, prestige, geo-strategic, and geo-political ambitions to enlarge its approach in the region. Implausibly, India is going to be one of the five nations with operationalized BMD program.

The Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO)’s insufficiency in engineering BMD high technology, New Delhi is working together with states like Russia, the US, France and Israel to get support in technology sector related effective missile defense system, according to Indian Politician Ashok Sharma.[viii] Moreover, increasing strategic cooperation and excessive partnership between India and the US gave deceitful opportunity to India to get membership of Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR)[ix] and Wessenaar Arrangement (WA).[x] Besides this, kind contract to acquire dual use material like space technology, missile related high-tech, and augmented BMD system. According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) report of 2017, Indian imports of defense sector was ascent by 43% from 2007-2016.[xi] The Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 20, 2017, declared that the government of India would spend $250 billion in the next ten years on its military modernization.[xii]

What India Believes?

According to Indian security scholars, BMD program is an appropriate option to protect itself from Pakistan’s retaliatory action and has an efficacy to protect from Pakistan’s ambiguous nuclear posture or the last resort option to use nuclear weapons against India. In other words, belligerent development of BMD program is the ability to attack Islamabad’s counterforce targets with cognition that there would be no risk from Pakistan to retaliate against India—in war time there would be no option of retaliation with Pakistan because Indian BMD will completely obliterate incoming ballistic missiles of the opponent.

Why else Might India’s BMD Program exist? What other purposes might it Serve?

Indian mannerism regarding its contentious perception is that its BMD program could destine to protect countervalue and counterforce targets from any hostile nuclear terrorist attack, there are greater chances of attack from either Pakistan or China.[xiii] Likewise, a research associate at University of Oxford and expert in South Asian nuclear studies, Rajesh Basrur asserted that India’s development and acquisition of defense missile system could reduce aforementioned vulnerabilities with certainity, if not completely banish it.[xiv] On the contrary, Pakistan takes on Indian silly argument with the assertion that its nuclear warheads are in safe hands, its national command and control program is meticulous, powerful and satisfied in standard with international community obligations. It is less confident to ruminate over Pakistan’s nuclear program and its use against New Delhi because warheads are confidential and unsought discovery for terrorists.

Indian strategic pandits argue that development of defense shield forces could help India to lower its offensive warheads and capabilities, the process will lead to encourage arms control mechanism among two nuclear states. As President Reagon estimated that development of American BMD program “could pave the way for arms control measures to eliminate the weapons themselves.”[xv]

The proponents of New Delhi’s installing of BMD system emphasize that its deployment would motivate the strategic stability in South Asia and would lead to unequivocal non-proliferation of ballistic and cruise missiles from South Asia.[xvi] Theoretically, Indian BMD deployment would slow the production of missiles in the region.

Insofar, Pakistan gives paramount argument that Indian BMD system would boost India’s trust in its ability to strike first with the cognition that it would protect itself during war situation.

India’s BMD and Strategic Implications

Hypothetically, Indian BMD program has a defensive inclination, however it is a basic proportion of offensive intending to direct pre-emptive or preventive nuclear strikes without risk of Pakistan’s retaliatory nuclear strikes. It is an endeavor to mark the balance of terror, which is causing deterrence stability among New Delhi and Islamabad. Without a doubt, deterrence stability between the opponent neighbors is essential for enduring the strategic stability in South Asia.

India’s BMD program is to guard against missile strikes from Pakistan, the BMD programs likewise fortify the Indian air defense system. After fruitful development and organization of PAD and AAD, India managed dealt with Russia over S-400 missile system.[xvii] Henceforth, the BMD installing subverts the balance of strategic nuclear deterrence between nuclear-armed India and Pakistan. The ramification is that BMD program may give the Indians a false sense of   security;[xviii] encouraging the Indian hawks to overlook the Pakistani ballistic and cruise missile defiances and effectively oppose confidence-building measures or endeavors to persevere through strategic stability in South Asia. India’s BMD program could have the following destabilizing results:

The defensive weapons, especially BMD, could sabotage the feasibility and efficacy of ballistic missiles. The trade off of the offensive strikes dents the validity of the retaliatory strikes, which deter the enemy from hostility. The likelihood of retaining a rival’s retaliatory strike in a crisis situation, which subverts the deterrence ability of a state wanting to dissuade the enemy with its ballistic missile capacity. Nonetheless, the BMD destabilizes the deterrence stability.[xix] The deterrence instability sabotages the strategic stability between the strategic rivals.

Second, the defense missiles deployment is a risk to nuclear deterrent stability involving strategic instability. It is destabilizing in light of the fact that it escalates a nuclear weapons contest among India and Pakistan. Many security scholars persuaded that BMD changes the nuclear order and reshape strategic stability, and can urge Indian leadership to take part in offensive activities or first strike, on the reason that they are safe to Pakistani strategic forces retaliation. That is the reason; the Indian ruling elite threatened to direct surgical strikes to demolish Pakistan’s nuclear weapons ability. On October 5, 2017, the Indian Air Force Chief Marshal, B. S. Dhanoa, had guaranteed that the Indian Air Force (IAF) could focus on Pakistan’s nuclear sites and could extend the surgical operations.[xx] The gravest risk presently is that India and Pakistan will jump into a stand-off that is neither in light of a legitimate concern for New Delhi nor Islamabad.

Third, India’s 2003 ‘nuclear draft depends on a counterforce strategy in India.’[xxi] The BMD arrangement expands the Indian hawkish leadership enticement for counterforce surgical conventional attacks on Pakistan’s nuclear facilities to end the nuclear threat. Advocates of this course accept the Indian missile shield and threat of further heightening by India would dissuade Pakistan from reacting militarily to a limited first strike.[xxii]Perhaps, expanding confidence in the operational steadfast of the Indian BMD system can urge Indian hawks to execute enunciated strategy “jaw for a tooth” to bow-down Pakistani armed forces. Curiously, Islamabad will respond with its supposed tit for tat strategy, if there is a surgical strike on Pakistani soil.

Fourth and final, there are greater chances of pre-emption from both nuclear weapon states, if India deployed the BMD system. Chances of uncertainty will obviously be increased and commanders from both sides will perceive imminent threat from each other, in such case they will opt the option of launching nuclear missiles.[xxiii] That’s the situation where Thomas Shelling has called it “the reciprocal fear of surprise attack.”[xxiv] This puzzling situation rambles Pakistan to enhance the credibility and efficacy of its ballistic and cruise missiles to fix tit-for-tat against Indian BMD program before India attacks first. Curiously, Islamabad’s advancements of modernization of offensive forces makes Indian defense shield ineffective. Hence, many securitists and analysts have debated vis-à-vis concluded that America has spent billions of dollars to ornate missile sites with modern technology weapons but it still has not shoot down North Korean missiles. On the whole, Indian so-called defense shield encouraging the risks of war anda larger portion of GDP spendings are proposed to spend on defense sector.

Pakistan`s Response to India’s BMD System

The acquisition of Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) by New Delhi in South Asian strategic architecture, clearly, intensifies Islamabad’s security dilemma clueless. Pakistan should act as intentional charlatan and must counter Indian BMD with intelligence. For this reason, Pakistan refurbishes its military posture, particularly nuclear posture, if India crosses the defined threshold of Islamabad, it would not hesitate to wipe out Delhi’s military threat.[xxv] Definitely, it is the time for Pakistan’s current policy makers that they neither avoid the economic circumstances nor compromise deterrence credibility. Whereas, the arms race with Delhi is not in favor of Islamabad. Pakistan can only win this race with viable option of ‘refusing’ to run in the race, even so, it cannot disdain the factor of India’s BMD program, but it can modernize its offensive weapons, do dual-use of these missiles, increase the size and speed of weapons, and increase its efficacy to penetrate Indian BMD program.[xxvi]

Although, Islamabad’s ‘Full Spectrum Deterrence’ nuclear posture has evidently deterred the state from Delhi’s coercive blackmailing of conventional and non-conventional threats.[xxvii]As Jeffrey Lewis has pointed out, “An enemy who can be deterred will be deterred by the prospect of a counterattack, even if it consists of only a few nuclear weapons. Beyond that minimum threshold, nuclear weapons provide little additional deterrent benefit.”[xxviii]Thus, Pakistan burnishes its offensive missiles with relative engineering to increase its efficacy in penetrating to defy enemy’s BMD system.

Hypothetically, there are three viables options to baffle and penetrate enemy’s BMD program:

First, the Indian BMD shield can be overpowered by a storm of ballistic missiles using the multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) technology to convey multiple conventional and non-conventional warheads. With MIRV the weapons can be propelled to various targets, can likewise be directed to one target to penetrate a missile defense system of the enemy. MIRV capability empowers Pakistan’s strategic forces to take on multiple targets with complacent of precision by a couple of missiles. It can also upset and destroys the radars of Delhi defense system. Military commanders have believed that MIRV is exceptionally viable against the enemy’s ballistic missile defense system.[xxix] On January 24, 2017, Islamabad successfully tested the medium-range, ballistic missile Ababeel, which has the capability to deliver multiple decoys and warheads. The range of Ababeel is almost 2,200 km — it can easily reach to major cities of India — it can storm multiple targets and it would be exceptionally lethal for the India’s defense shield. Michael Krepon and Travis Wheeler appropriately brought up that If New Delhi chooses to retain the expenses of ballistic missile defenses for high-value targets, alongside the radars to track and detect the enemy missiles, these costs will be futile.[xxx]Briefly, Ababeel is a ballistic missile to ‘kill’ India’s BMD shield.

Second, while using fighting aircraft with high speed to strike deeply and launch nuclear attack on enemy country, in that case, enemy’s defense system technologically will not resist the attack.[xxxi] Finally, attacking the enemy state and penetrating its BMD system with supersonic cruise missiles flying at low-altitude is possibly a vibrant option to defy enemy’s BMD system.[xxxii]The like,in December, 2016, Islamabad conducted the successful test of medium-range missile called Babur-2.

Pakistan can additionally improve the adequacy of its missiles by advancing and commissioning decoys, chaff, jamming, thermal shielding, warheads with exceptionally low infrared induction and Multiple Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs) to storm multiple warheads over incoming targets. Subsequently, Pakistan’s qualitative and quantitative improvement in its nuclearized cruise and ballistic forces have posed a daunting challenge to the Indian BMD program.

Notwithstanding, Pakistan would need to build up a BMD system to ensure its significant cities’ protection, even so, it is not advisable option for Islamabad due to high cost. Altogether, India hopes to go for MIRV advancement and extending the ranges of Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM) and land-based missiles for counterforce targets against enemy. Pakistan have various choices of changing its ballistic missiles into MIRV high-tech when it felt necessary. The prime applicants with Pakistan are the Shaheen-II and Shaheen-III missiles, with the range of 2,000 km and 2,750 km, respectively, these offensive forces can approach any city of India within few minutes. Intensifying tactical and strategic weapons (i.e. Nasr, Ababeel)with upgraded version and validity would credibly enough to penetrate and destroy adversary’s deployed BMD program, no worries, how the devastating BMD system might be.[xxxiii]

Conclusion

To sum up, today indigenous BMD program for Islamabad is neither advisable option nor executable because it will lead to unending arms race – a destabilizing factor for South Asian strategic stability. In this manner, Pakistan’s missile program reveals that its ballistic and cruise missiles are becoming more flexible, mobile, survivable, reliable, and accurate. Pakistan is solely dependent upon offensive ballistic and cruise missiles rather than moving towards defense program, yet the proceeding of nuclear deterrence among Pakistan and India guarantees the strategic stability in the region.

Indian induction of defense programs like AAD, PAD and the S-400 missile system to its ballistic missile defense (BMD) system, would be an effort to acquire more avid system but unfortunately this would put the region into abyss of arms race and instability. Admittedly, it is known to the world that New Delhi is trying to acquire multi layered BMD program which is intensifying arms race inevitable in the region. The development and acquisition of defense system may give false sense of security to India. In the exchange of fighting with enemy, Pakistan has dedicated faith that it will take care of incoming missiles of India. Therefore, in a conflict it would be impossible for India to have such a system that can intercept short range missiles flying with low-altitude like Ghaznavi, Nasr, and Babur, insofar, it is a leverage for Pakistan to ensure efficacy over Indian BMD system. It has been the Indian attitude which compelled Islamabad to enter into vertical arms race, and develop cruise and ballistic missiles like Raad and Ababeel equipped with MIRV capability. To counter India’s vulnerability to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons, the main path is to quantitative and qualitative advancement in Pakistan’s tactical and strategic weapons. It is critical to note that Pakistan isn’t looking for parity with India yet just keeping up the balance of terror to keep up peace and stability in region. This is the Indian offensive posture and inductance of sophisticated weapons which is threatening strategic stability of South Asia.

References


[i] Asma Khalid, ”India’s Balistic Missile Defense System: Strategic Implications,” Modern Diplomacy, Sep. 29, 2018 (https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2018/09/29/indias-ballistic-missile-defense-system-strategic-implications/), accessed date July 25, 2020.

[ii] Zafar Khan, “India’s Ballistic Missile Defense: Implications for South Asian Deterrence Stability,” The Washington Quarterly, 40:3 (October 2017): 188.

[iii]Dr Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, “Ballistic Missile Defense: Implications for India-Pakistan Strategic Environment,” NDU Journal, 25 (2011): 3.

[iv]Zafar Khan, “India’s Ballistic Missile Defense: Implications for South Asian Deterrence Stability,” The Washington Quarterly, 40:3 (October 2017): 187.

[v] Franz-Stefan Gady, “Report: India’s Homemade Anti-Ballistic Missile Shield Ready,” The Diplomat, Jan. 08, 2020 (https://thediplomat.com/2020/01/report-indias-homemade-anti-ballistic), accessed date July 24, 2020. 

[vi] Air Cdre Jamal Hussain, “India’s Acquisition of S-400 Air Defence System: Implications For the PAF,” Strafasia, Feb 13, 2020 (https://strafasia.com/indias-acquisition-of-s-400-air-defence-system-implications-for-the-paf/), accessed date July 23, 2020.

[vii] Zafar Khan, “India’s Ballistic Missile Defense: Implications for South Asian Deterrence Stability,” The Washington Quarterly, 40:3 (October 2017): 190.

[viii]AshokSharma, India’s Missile Defense Programme: Threat Perceptions and Technological Evolution,Manekshaw Paper15 (New Delhi: Centre for Land Warfare Studies, 2009), 15.

[ix] “The Missile Technology Control Regime at a Glance,” Arms Control Association, July 2017 (https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/mtcr), accessed date July 21, 2020.

[x] “What is the Wassenaar Arrangement?” Wassenaar Arrangement, https://www.wassenaar.org/, accessed date July 23, 2020.

[xi] “Trends in International Arms Transfers, 2016,” SIPRI Fact Sheet, February, 2017 (https://www.sipri.org/sites/default/files/Trends-in-international-arms-transfers-2016.pdf), accessed date July 22, 2020.

[xii]“Rigid rule trip Modi’s $250 billion plan to modernise India’s defense,” The Economic Tmes, July 13, 2018 (https://m.economictimes.com/news/defence/rigid-rules-trip-modis-250-billion-plan-to-modernise-indias-defence/articleshow/60370605.cms), accessed date July 22, 2020.

[xiii] Mehtab Ali Bhatti, “Indian BMD and the Prospects for South Asian Strategic Architecture,” STRAFASIA, August 04, 2019 (https://strafasia.com/indian-bmd-and-the-prospects-for-south-asian-strategic-architecture/), accessed date July 25, 2020.

[xiv] Ibid.

[xv] Ibid.

[xvi]Manpreet Sethi, “Nuclear Arms Control and India: A Relationship Explored,” Arms Control Association, September, 2010 (https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010-09/nuclear-arms-control-india-relationship-explored), accessed date July 23, 2020.

[xvii] Nitin J Ticku, “S-400s A Game-Changer For India; Indigenous Missile Defense Systems Useless: Chinese Expert,” The Eurasian Times, May 07, 2020 (https://eurasiantimes.com/s-400s-a-game-changer-for-india-indigenous-missile-defense-systems-useless-chinese-expert/), accessed date July 24, 2020.

[xviii] Hasan Ehtisham, “Indian BMD will offer false sense of security,”  The Express Tribune, Sept. 12, 2017 (https://tribune.com.pk/story/1503613/indian-bmd-will-offer-false-sense-security#:~:text=India%20is%20geographically%20vulnerable%20in,route%20but%20an%20offensive%20strategy.), accessed date July 24, 2020.

[xix]“Russia’ssale of S-400 missiles to India may destabilise region: FO,” Dawn, Oct. 20, 2018 (https://www.dawn.com/news/1440164), accessed date July 23, 2020.

[xx]Vishnu Som, “We Were Ready to Strike Pak Army Brigades Day After Balakot: Ex- Air Chief BS Dhanoa,” NDTV, Dec. 15, 2019 (https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/bs-dhanoa-ex-indian-air-force-iaf-chief-were-ready-to-strike-pakistan-army-brigades-day-after-balako-2148986), accessed date July 24, 2020.

[xxi] Zafar Khan, “India’s Ballistic Missile Defense: Implications for South Asian Deterrence Stability,”* p.193.

[xxii] Asma Khalid, “India’s Balistic Missile Defense System: Strategic Implications,”*accessed date July 25, 2020.

[xxiii]Manpreet Sethi, “Nuclear Arms Control and India: A Relationship Explored,” Arms Control Association, September, 2010 (https://www.armscontrol.org/act/2010-09/nuclear-arms-control-india-relationship-explored), accessed date July 23, 2020.

[xxiv] Schelling, Thomas, “The Reciprocal Fear of Surprise Attack. Santa Monica,”CA: RAND Corporation, 1958 (https://www.rand.org/pubs/papers/P1342.html), accessed date July 24, 2020.

[xxv] “Pakistan has Cost-effective soultion to India’s latest ballistic missile defence system: Report,” The Economic Times, Nov. 07, 2018 (https://m.economictimes.com/news/defence/pakistan-has-cost-effective-solution-to-indias-latest-ballistic-missile-defence-system-report/articleshow/66535188.cms), accessed date July 22, 2020.

[xxvi] Mansoor Ahmed, “Pakistan’s Tactical Nuclear Weapons and Their Impact on Stability,” Carnegie Endowment For International Peace, June 30, 2016 (https://carnegieendowment.org/2016/06/30/pakistan-s-tactical-nuclear-weapons-and-their-impact-on-stability-pub-63911), accessed date July 24, 2020.

[xxvii] Sannia Abdullah, “Pakistan’s Full-Spectrum Deterrence: Trends and Trajectories,” South Asian Voices, Dec. 14, 2018 (https://southasianvoices.org/pakistan-full-spectrum-deterrence-trends-trajectories/), accessed date July 23, 2020.

[xxviii] Jeffrey Lewis, “Minimum Deterrence,” Arms Control Wonk, June 30, 2008 (https://www.armscontrolwonk.com/archive/201936/minimum-deterrence/), accessed date July 22, 2020.

[xxix]“Pakistan has Cost-effective soultion to India’s latest ballistic missile defence system: Report,” The Economic Times, Nov. 07, 2018 (https://m.economictimes.com/news/defence/pakistan-has-cost-effective-solution-to-indias-latest-ballistic-missile-defence-system-report/articleshow/66535188.cms), accessed date July 22, 2020.

[xxx] Michael Krepon, “The Second Coming of MIRVs,” STIMSON, Jan. 26 2017 (https://www.stimson.org/2017/second-coming-mirvs-0/), accessed date July 25, 2020.

[xxxi] Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, “Countering Indian Ballistic Missile Defense & strategic stability in South Asia,” 2018 (https://ndu.edu.pk/issra/issra_pub/articles/margalla-paper/Margalla-Papers-2018/02-Countering-Indian-BMD.pdf), accessed date July 24, 2020.

[xxxii] Ibid.

[xxxiii] Saba Hanif, “Indian BMD program: Strategic Response of Pakistan,” Modern Diplomacy, April 19, 2020 (https://moderndiplomacy.eu/2020/04/19/indian-bmd-program-strategic-response-of-pakistan/), accessed date July 25, 2020.

Mehtab Ali Bhatti is pursuing degree of strategic studies from the National Defence University, Islamabad. His major areas of interest include political science, international affairs and security studies.

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The Proxy War of Libya: Unravelling the Complexities

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The African continent has been infamous for its desolate conditions and impoverished lifestyle for years. The violence has not spared the region either since the extremely unstable Middle-East has set the vendetta throughout the region, verging Africa in the east. Whether it comes to the spreading influence of ISIS under the flag of Boko Haram; a terrorist organisation operating in Chad and North-eastern Nigeria, or the rampant corruption scandals and ream of military cops in Zimbabwe, the region rivals the instability of its eastern neighbour. However, one conflict stands out in Northern Africa, in terms of high-stake involvement of foreign powers and policies that have riven the country, not unlike Syria in the Middle-East. Libya is one instance in Africa that has faced the civil war for almost a decade yet involves not only local powers but is also a focal point that has caused the NATO powers to be at odds.

Libya, officially recognised as the ‘State of Libya’, is a war-torn country in the Northern periphery of the African continent. The country is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea in the North, Egypt lies to its East and Sudan and Tunisia border in the Southeast and Northwest respectively. Apparent from the topography, Libya stands as an epicentre to the countries ridden with conflicts, stands the ground that was the central root of the infamous Arab Spring uprisings taking a rebellious storm right off its borders in Tunisia back in 2011. While the NATO-led campaign garnered success in overthrowing the notorious dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, and thus bringing the draconian regime to an end, it failed to account for the brewing rebels and militias in pockets throughout the state of Libya.

Over the following years, weaponry and ammunition was widely pervaded across the region in spite of strict embargo placed. The pilling artillery and unregulated rebels cycled the instability in the country leading to the successive governments to fail and eventually split the country in two dominant positions: The UN-recognised Government National Accord (GNA), led by Tripoli-based leader and prime minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, and the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by the tailing ally and successor to Gaddafi, General Khalifa Haftar.

While both GNA and LNA vied for the control on Libya, foreign powers involved rather similar to the labyrinth of stakes in Syria, each state split over the side supporting their part of the story and ultimately serving their arching purpose of interference in the region. Despite of the ruling regime of Al-Sarraj since the controversial election win of GNA in 2016, Haftar-led LNA controls an expansive territory and has been launching offensive attacks against the GNA alliance. GNA enjoys the support of US, Turkey, Qatar and Italy; each serving either ideological support or military backing to secure the elected government of Libya. Meanwhile, LNA is backed by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France. While the western powers see GNA as an economically stabilising solution to the Libyan crisis, Russia and France eye Haftar as a key ally to expand influence in the African region and reap control of the oil-rich resources under control of Haftar’s troops in the oil-crescent territory.

The Turkish regime, on the other hand, eye Libya as a direct answer to the Russian influence in the Syrian war that has been pushing the Kurdish alliance stronger along and within the southern borders of Turkey. This has led to recent clashes and direct escalation in the proxy war waged in Syria. Turkey plans to incentivise the leveraging position against Russia in Libya by deploying military advisory to Tripoli to strengthen their position against the Russian-backed Haftar to ultimately deter the alliance from spreading far in the African region.

The power split in Libya was exacerbated in 2017 following the Gulf crisis that led to the boycott of Qatar by the Arab quartet led by Saudi Arabia. Libya stood as a battle ground for both strategic and military positions to one up the other alliance in external power games while the internal matters of Libya are long forgotten and population left clueless and desperate for welfare. Since then, the vested interests in Libya have side-lined yet the peace process has been encouraged by both UN and Merkel-led ‘Berlin process’ in support to the UN efforts to restore peace in Libya. However, the strained relations and foreign demarcation is still apparent even though no escalation has been in action for months.

Now the ceasefires have been in talks for a while and except for a few skirmishes, the powers have been curbed since June 2020. The silence could imply room for diplomatic efforts to push a much-awaited resolve to this complex proxy war. With the recent turn of events in the global political canvas, wheels of the betterment might turn in favour of Libya. Saudi Arabia has recently joined hands with Qatar, opening all borders to the estranged ally and resuming diplomatic relations. Turkey is eying the coveted spot in the European Union since the UK exit. The US in redefining its policies under the revitalising administration of Joseph Biden while Russia deals with the tensed relations with the Gulf since the oil price war shattered the mutual understanding shared for years. The core players of the Libyan Proxy war are dormant and may remain passive due to external complexities to handle. Yet, with regional powers like Egypt threatening invasions in Libya and both GNA and LNA showing no interest in negotiation, a conclusive end to the Libyan crisis is still farfetched.

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Pakistan Army’s Ranking improved

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According to data issued by the group on its official website, Pakistan Army has been ranked the 10th most powerful in the world out of 133 countries on the Global Firepower index 2021.Especially the Special Services Group (SSG) is among the best in the world.  Just behind; 1- United States PwrIndx: 0.0721,  2- Russia PwrIndx: 0.0796, 3- China PwrIndx: 0.0858, 4- India PwrIndx: 0.1214, 5- Japan PwrIndx: 0.1435, 6- South Korea PwrIndx: 0.1621, 7- France PwrIndx: 0.1691, 8- United Kingdom PwrIndx: 0.2008, 9- Brazil PwrIndx: 0.2037, 10- Pakistan PwrIndx: 0.2083.

Global Firepower (GFP) list relies on more than 50 factors to determine a nation’s Power Index (‘PwrIndx’) score with categories ranging from military might and financials to logistical capability and geography.

Our unique, in-house formula allows for smaller, more technologically-advanced, nations to compete with larger, lesser-developed ones. In the form of bonuses and penalties, special modifiers are applied to further refine the annual list. Color arrows indicate a year-over-year trend comparison.

The geopolitical environment, especially the regional security situation, is quite hostile. Pakistan is bordering India, a typical adversary and has not accepted Pakistan’s independence from the core of heart, and always trying to damage Pakistan. The Kashmir issue is a long standing issue between the two rivals. On the other hand, the Afghan situation is a permanent security threat for Pakistan. Bordering Iran means always facing a danger of aggression from the US or Israel on Iran, resulting in vulnerabilities in Pakistan. The Middle East is a hot burning region and posing instability in the region. The growing tension between China and the US is also a source of a major headache for Pakistan.

Under such a scenario, Pakistan has to be very conscious regarding its security and sovereignty. Although Pakistan’s ailing economy is not supporting its defense needs, it may not compromise strategic issues for its survival. Pakistan focuses on the quality of its forces instead of quantity. The tough training makes a real difference—the utilization of Science and Technology-enabled Pakistan to maintain its supremacy.

Pakistan is situated at a crucial location – the entrance point to the oil-rich Arabian Gulf is just on the major trading route for energy. Pakistan is at the conjunction of Africa, Europe, Eurasia, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and China. Pakistan is a pivotal state and always focus of world powers.

During the cold war era, Pakistan sided with the US and protected the region’s American interests. The US military establishment knows well that as long as Pakistan stands with the US, it can achieve all its strategic goals in the region. However, It was the American choice to give more importance to India and ignore Pakistan.

Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and struggling for the promotion of peace globally. Pakistan always raises its voice at the UN and other international forums for oppressed ones and against any injustice. Pakistan. In the history of seven decades, Pakistan was never involved in any aggression against any country. Pakistan’s official stance is, “We are partner for peace with any country, any nation, or individuals.” Pakistan is a partner and supporter of any peace-initiative in any part of the world. 

However, Pakistan is always prepared to protect its territorial integrity and will not allow any aggressor to harm our sovereignty at any cost. Pakistan is determined for its independence and geographical integrity.

Pakistan is no threat to any country or nation. Neither have any intention of expansion. But always ready to give a tough time to any aggressor.

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Defense

Israel continues its air strikes against Syria after Biden’s inauguration: What’s next?

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A family of four, including two children, died as a result of an alleged Israeli air strike on Hama in northwestern Syria on Friday, January 22, Syrian media said. In addition, four people were injured and three civilian houses were destroyed.

According to a military source quoted by Syrian outlets, Israel launched an air strike at 4 a.m. on Friday from the direction of Lebanese city of Tripoli against some targets on the outskirts of Hama city.

“Syrian air defense systems confronted an Israeli air aggression and shot down most of the hostile missiles,” the source said.

The Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported that there were loud sounds of explosions in the area.

In turn, the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on alleged strikes resulted in the death of Syrian citizens.

Over the past time, Israel significantly stepped up its aerial bombardment. This incident was the fifth in a series of Israeli air attacks on targets in Syria in the past month and the first after the inauguration of the U.S. President Joe Biden. Foreign analysts and military experts said that Tel Aviv intensified air strikes on Syria, taking advantage of the vacuum of power in the United States on the eve of Biden taking office as president.

While the Donald Trump administration turned a blind eye on such aggression, a change of power in the United States could remarkably limit Israel in conducting of military operations against Syria and Iran-affiliated armed groups located there. As it was stated during his presidential campaign, Joe Biden intends to pursue a more conciliatory foreign policy towards Iran. In particular, he unequivocally advocated the resumption of the nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In this regard, Tel Aviv’s unilateral actions against Iranian interests in Syria could harm Washington’s plans to reduce tensions with Tehran.

By continuing air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, Israel obviously sent a massage to the United States that Tel Aviv will consistently run anti-Iran policy, even if it will be in conflict with the interests of the Joe Biden administration. On the other hand, such Israeli behavior threatens to worsen relations with the United States, its main ally.

In the nearest future, the US reaction on the Israeli belligerent approach toward Iran will likely determine whether the relations between Tehran, Tel Aviv and Washington will get better or the escalation will continue.

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