Pak flexes muscles on Kashmir, to test nuclear capable ballistic missile
Islamabad will test a ballistic missile on Thursday as it continues its efforts to internationalise the Kashmir issue and raise the spectre of a nuclear war between India and Pakistan. Pakistan prime Minister Imran Khan hinted at a nuclear confrontation a week ago in an interview to the New York Times and repeated it on August 26 in a televised address.
Interestingly, it was on August 26 that Islamabad informed New Delhi about the test in Sindh, in keeping with the provisions of the Confidence Building Measures announced by the two countries in 2005 that mandates three-days prior notice on missile tests.
According to diplomats and missile scientists, the test of the surface-to-surface ballistic missile, perhaps the Ghaznavi (with a 300 km range) will be conducted on Thursday. According to inputs, the missile will be launched from command post (59) and site 888 in Sonmiani flight test range in Balochistan and will be tracked at Nooribad and Goth Piaro in Sindh by National Development Complex (NDC) ground control station, located at a 220 kilometre distance from the range. NDC is Pakistan’s missile developer headquartered in Fatehjang, Punjab (Pakistan).
In light of this testing, three routes of Karachi airspace have been closed from August 28 to 31. According to a NOTAM (notice to airmen, alerting pilots on routes) and naval warning issued by Pakistan, the Sonmiani Flight Test Range has been activated with an upper ceiling of 26000 feet with impact in sea. The warning has asked all ships to be cleared from the area due to incoming missile.
The Modi government, the diplomats said, isn’t perturbed by the missile test; Pakistan watchers in India are clear that the test is being done deliberately to attract attention of the international community over the possibility of a nuclear conflict if Kashmir issue is not resolved the way Islamabad wants it to be. The test is also partly aimed to satisfy the blood thirst of jihadi groups in Pakistan, which are now seeking retribution against India for repealing article 370 and 35 A in Jammu and Kashmir. “ The ballistic missile test is aimed at the domestic audience with opposition political parties slamming PM Khan for so-called letting Kashmir slip out of Pakistan’s grasp under his watch. The test is just a political message to drive home the nuclear flashpoint theory,” said a senior Indian diplomat.
Pakistan, and its Prime Minister have sounded near-hysterical in their efforts to internationalise the issue after India on August 5 and 6 passed resolutions and laws to bifurcate the state of Jammu & Kashmir into two union territories and scrapped constitutional provisions giving the state special ststua and its permanent residents, special privileges. India has consistently maintained that this is an internal issue.
The Ghaznavi is a short range missile. Islamabad also has the Ghauri and Shaheen series of medium range ballistic missiles in its inventory with 2,750 kilometre being the longest range of the Shaheen III, and battlefield range missiles in its arsenal.
Both Nooribad and Goth Piaro are near the port city of Karachi and the Sonmiani rocket launch facility is operated by Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission and also used by Pakistan atomic energy commission.