India’s muscle power

India’s muscle power

South Asia’s security does not depend only on South Asian countries because China comes in the picture. The impact of Indo-Sino war of 1962 looms large in India’s security strategy.

India assesses its security concerns in the light of Chinese military strength, and Pakistan defines its security position against India’s position. This has manifested in arms and missile race in South Asia.

Both India and Pakistan have intensified in manufacturing missile capabilities not only as defence strategy but also as symbol of power and prestige. Both India and Pakistan are capable of striking any part of each other’s territory with missiles.

It is reported by the Arms Control Association, a US weapons research organisation, India has between 45 and 95 nuclear bombs, while Pakistan, 30 and 50 and China has 300.

According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, the India’s Defence Ministry has earmarked US$ 2 billion annually to build 300 to 400 nuclear weapons over the next 5 to 7 years.

Both India and Pakistan have been investing money to improve the range and mobility of their missile systems for delivering nuclear warheads.

India tested Agni -3 missile (16 metres long and weighs 48 tonnes) that has a range of beyond 3,000 kilometres and can easily hit not only Pakistan but also China.

Under the US-India nuclear deal, India will receive nuclear fuel and technology and will be much more capable to enlarge its nuclear arsenal. The deal is likely to set in motion arms race as China and Pakistan watch with deep concern and they will not sit idle with India’s increased defence capabilities.

India has large army (1.3 million as compared to Pakistan 6,25000 ) and possesses conventional sophisticated weapons. It has a strong military presence in the Indian Ocean and its naval bases in far off islands, Andaman and Lakshadeep and Nicobar, are getting stronger day by day, to meet future challenges on the sea.

India has also undertaken a number of naval and air projects including military reconnaissance centre in the Maldives and Sri Lanka. In 2005, India has begun constructing a 37,500-tonne aircraft carrier that will fly MiG-29 fighters, joining only with navies of big powers in such capabilities. It also plans to lease two nuclear submarines from Russia. The US has openly discussed the sale of naval vessels, comband helicopters to India.

Pakistan is also building with Chinese support the Gwadar naval base in Balochistan to counter India’s supremacy in the Indian Ocean. China has a naval base in Myanmar’s off-shore Coco islands to have its presence felt in the Indian Ocean.

Why do India and Pakistan seek to develop missile capability?

First, recent events in world politics have not only highlighted the indispensability of military capability, they have accentuated the military-strategic allure of missiles.

Second, both India and Pakistan have decided to rely on ballistic missiles as a critical element of their deterrent strategy against each other. In the case of Pakistan, it has comparatively less strategic depth. More significantly, all Pakistani airbases and nuclear and ballistic missile research and deployment sites are extremely vulnerable to India’s pre-emptive air strikes. Missile capability has its effectiveness due to its speed and assured penetration together with its deterrent value.

Third Indian plans to acquire theatre missile defence system (TMD) from Israel and Russia as part of its efforts to effectively neutralise Pakistan’s missile capabilities. The introduction of anti-tactical ballistic missile (ATBM) capability into South Asia by India, according to Pakistani defence analysts, will have cascading effect on Pakistan by generating pressures for a bigger missile force as a countermeasure. Pakistan worries that India’s defensive systems would be able to neutralize a nuclear strike by Pakistan, thus allowing India to engage in a conventional war with large army without fear of nuclear retaliation from Pakistan.

Fourth, missile defence systems could help alleviate some of the instability associated with the region’s poor command and control and the possibility of the accidental of the accidental or unauthorized launch of nuclear weapons.

Fifth, Pakistan claims, India has been pursuing its security strategy that seeks to nullify the Pakistani threat through Indian threat of a second strike option.


Many strategists say that military superiority of India would not bring peace and stability between them or in the region. Both countries must proceed to negotiate how to reduce mistrust among them by resolving the Kashmir dispute.

Military strength does not necessarily give a country the power to influence another country politically as the world politics involves global processes in an increasingly complex world.

During the Cold War, an absence of armed conflicts was considered a success. At the end of the Cold War, there is a different definition of success. It is judged by interactions within the regional countries to collectively utilize their resources to enhance their economic gains in a globalised competitive world.

By Barrister Harun ur Rashid
Former Bangladesh Ambassador to the UN, Geneva

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