Pakistan alleged on Thursday that India was pursuing conventional nuclear and missile development programmes which can lead to nuclearisation of the Indian Ocean and can disturb the “balance of power” in the region.
Speaking on India’s reported successful testing of a ballistic missile defence system on May 15, Sartaj Aziz, adviser to prime minister on foreign affairs, said that apart from this air defence system, India has also recently conducted tests of nuclear capable, submarine-based K4 Ballistic Missiles.
“Simultaneously large nuclear powered submarines are being built to carry these nuclear armed missile as a part of its second strike nuclear capability,” Aziz alleged, while making a statement in the Senate, the Upper House of Parliament.
“These two developments are part of the massive conventional nuclear and missile development programmes being pursued by India, which are now leading to nuclearisation of Indian Ocean,” he said, adding Pakistan will take “all necessary measures” to augment its defence capabilities.
The row over the missile test is likely to heighten the long-running tension between the nuclear-armed neighbours who have fought three wars since being split amid violence at the end of the British colonial rule in 1947.
Aziz said that the development of a ballistic missile defence system and nuclear-powered submarines by India will upset the strategic balance in South Asia and affect the maritime security of all the 32 littoral states around the Indian Ocean.
Raising questions over the effectiveness of these missile defence systems, Aziz said the development of Anti-Ballistic Missile system (ABMs) may give India a false sense of security, leading to unexpected complications.
“We are not oblivious to our defence needs and will have to upgrade our defensive capabilities through suitable technologies without entering into an arms race,” he said.
Pakistan is also considering to move a resolution in the next session of the UN General Assembly in September to declare the Indian Ocean a “nuclear-free zone” and will approach all the 32 littoral states that straddle the Indian Ocean to co-sponsor this resolution, he added.
Meanwhile, foreign office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said at his weekly briefing that Pakistan has serious concerns over India’s supersonic interceptor missile testing.
“Pakistan has serious concerns over India’s interceptor missile test and will take all necessary measures to augment its defence capabilities,” he said.
He said that Indian actions were against the spirit of a peaceful and friendly neighbourhood.
“We have sensitised the US and other members of the Conference on Disarment in Geneva about Pakistan’s concerns about India’s missile programme,” he added.
Both nations have been developing missiles of varying ranges since they conducted nuclear tests in May 1998.
Indian officials have in the past also voiced concerns about Pakistan’s various missile tests.
US President Barack Obama in October urged Pakistan to avoid developments in its nuclear weapons programme that could increase risks and instability.
Washington has been concerned about Pakistan’s development of new nuclear weapons systems, including small tactical nuclear weapons, and has been trying to persuade Pakistan to make a unilateral declaration of “restraint.”
But Pakistani officials have said Islamabad will not accept limits to its weapons programme and argue that smaller tactical nuclear weapons are needed to deter a sudden attack by India.