Pakistan’s options after Trishul tests
By Khalid Hasan
WASHINGTON: India’s successful testing of the Trishul missile, though not a direct threat to Pakistan, does show a “significant technological step” towards its ability to defend itself against a possible Pakistani ballistic missile attack, which gives New Delhi an edge over Pakistan in defence capability, according to Stratfor, an online news and analysis service.
Pakistan, says Stratfor, therefore, has two choices: it can make even more missiles or it can expand nuclear cooperation with India. Islamabad is likely will do both. The Trishul launch took place on Wednesday, two days after India tested Akash, a surface to air missile, from the same test range on the Orissa coast.
Stratfor argues that should New Delhi be able to deploy anti-ballistic missiles around its strategic locations and defend against a Pakistani missile attack, Pakistan theoretically would be vulnerable to an Indian attack without the ability to inflict similar damage on India. This could raise the fear in Islamabad that the Indians could attack Pakistan without fear of a retaliatory strike. If one side believes it can defend against a retaliatory strike, it could be encouraged to launch a first strike. For this reason, the United States and the Soviet Union signed the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 1972.
According to the analysis, “In order to mitigate India’s missile defence capability, Pakistan could produce more missiles, or develop more sophisticated missiles with more capability to penetrate the Indian defences. In turn, India might be encouraged to counter with more missiles of its own or increase its defences. The result could very well be an accelerated nuclear arms race in South Asia. Pakistan also could respond by increasing the level of cooperation with New Delhi. Mechanisms already are in place to provide safeguards on nuclear tensions in the region.
Stratfor maintains that Pakistan’s defence technology base is much less developed than that of India. That being the case, Islamabad also will try to seek additional military hardware and press for the sharing of technology from the United States and Europe. Although Britain has expressed willingness to aid Pakistan, Islamabad is unlikely will receive any military technology, “given its unstable politics and the fact that al Qaeda headquarters are based in the country.”