India is the new-found darling of the US and old ‘lorette’of the former USSR (now Russian Federation). These three countries have long mired the stability of the South Asian region by inking arms deals. Presently, the ever-growing interest of the USA in the South Asian region is creating instability in the region. Whereas both countries advocate for nuclear non-proliferation, they are constantly exporting arms to India. The recent Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile (SAM) deal with India is a case in point. India is grabbing every opportunity with both hands.
There is a clear need to comprehend the theory behind S-400 Triumph Air Defence Missile System’s development and the timing of launch of this technology. How this technology would pose a threat to the world at large? How it would play the role in the dynamic nature of the New World Order? What are the challenges associated in introducing this system to South Asia. There is a drastic need to address these concerns as the procurement of S-400 and its expansion in the region is greatly upping the ante in the stability and security situation of South Asia.
There is no denying the fact that the deal would pose a new threat to South Asian stability in general and Pakistan in particular. The S-400, widely considered the most advanced long range surface-to-air missile system in the world, primarily developed in 1990’s by Almaz Central Design Bureau as the upgrade of the S-300 family, has been in service with the Russian Armed Forces since 2007. It initially came into global media spotlight when Turkey shot down the Russian SU-24 Fencer near the Syria border.
India and Russia have recently formally inked the $5.2 billion deal of 5 regiments of Russian made Alamz-Antei S-400. It is considered the most expensive air defence system ever bought by India. India measures this newly acquired technology as a “game changer” in the balance of power between India and Pakistan. However, there exists a variance in opinion about the effectiveness of this new weapon system. Nonetheless, it would remain a challenging system to affect Pakistan’s deterrence capability while enhancing India’s capability. The world needs to understand this evolving security dimension where an unstable South Asia could be detrimental for world peace.
The weapon’s 400 km range when deploying highly precise 40 N6 hypersonic missiles, in particular poses a considerable threat to Pakistani aircraft deep inside the country’s territory. If deployed at Hamachal Pradesh, the S-400 will give India an access to the entire Kashmir and if installed at Jalandhar, it will allow Indian military to shoot down jets much deeper inside Pakistan’s terrority.
Pakistan lacks staretegic depth which automatically gives an advantage to India. This clearly indicates that both USA and Russia are not serious in curbing an arms race, even though the security architecture in South Asia depends on the sound policies of aforesaid powers. Infact, USA in its desire to use India as a counter-weight to China is ignoring security of the smaller countires of South Asia. A hegemon India can prove to be a Hindutva extremist state and a threat to the peace of the entire region.
The need of the hour for the countires of South Asia is to comprehend this new security challenge posed by India and work under the umbrella of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). They must focus all their energies to improve the overall condition of their peoples and enhance peace prospects by collaborating with each other, than to waste precious resources on unproductive arms procurement. This would not only bring stability in South Asian region but would help in boosting both countries’ economies. More than half of the population of India is living below poverty line. There is a dire need that India comprehends this notion that adding to its military arsenal would not serve its long term interests. This is also the time for other South Asian countires to gear up to disapprove this Indian hegemonic agenda. If stern measures are not pursued, peace and prosperity in the South Asian region will remain an illusion in the coming decades.
The writer is pursuing MPhil in International Relations from National Defence University, Islamabad.
E-mail: [email protected], Twitter: @MaryumMaqsood.
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