In yet another ‘technological glitch’, India once again misfired three missiles during their annual firing exercise in the Jaisalmer region of Rajasthan on March 24, 2022. The missiles fell into neighboring villages this time in India, causing loud explosions and producing large craters in the fields. Taking into account Operation Brasstacks of 1984-1985, in which India amassed some 500,000 troops near Pakistan’s border under the guise of conducting its largest-ever military exercise,
India’s latest misadventure sent shockwaves to the entire region whose security fabric is already tampered with due to the highly volatile nuclear environment.
The moments of March 9, a year ago, flashed back when the BrahMos cruise missile landed 124 km deep into Pakistani territory traveling 3 minutes into Pakistani space. India attributed the accidental firing of a missile to a ‘technical malfunction’ during routine maintenance and later sacked three of its air force officers on account of violating Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) which led to the horrendous episode. The irresponsible firing of the missile while endangering human life and civilian property could have led to even more disastrous consequences as two airway routes were active with several commercial airlines operating in the area at that time. Pakistan had demonstrated exemplary restraint as a testament to its systemic maturity and unflinching commitment to peace as a responsible nuclear state but the egregious lack of technical prowess and procedural efficacy on the part of India is casting aspersions on an already festering security dilemma in the region.
From such accidental firings of nuclear-capable missiles to the theft and illegal smuggling of Uranium-The Diplomat reports that some 200 kg of nuclear and radioactive material has gone missing from Indian facilities in the last two decades alone-security and safety of India’s weapons systems and the credibility of its command-and-control system gravely becomes the question of concern and speculation for the entire region and hence international community. In February 2023 eight people including 2 Indians were apprehended in Nepal for illegally possessing Uranium that has been reportedly smuggled from India, stoking fears regarding the existence of nuclear black markets with transnational links in India. Smuggling of this sort, if continued unhindered might end at the hands of militants which would consequently mean becoming the tool of terrorism and hence a final blow to any successes in the war against terrorism. It is the need of time and requisite of peace, therefore that India addresses concerns regarding its security protocols and technical safeguards against all such incidents to avoid any strategic misadventure in the highly volatile nuclear environment of the region.
India’s Animus Dominandi is festering Security Dilemma in the region
India, specifically under the RSS-lead BJP regime is leaving no stone unturned to satisfy its insatiable desire for power (animus dominandi). Even if such aforementioned gestures are looked over as India’s callousness and inaptitude, such Indian offensives as that of the Balakot Strike (2019)- in which it confidently breached Pakistan’s territorial integrity sending some 12 Mirage-2000 fighters with Spice 2000 and Crystal Maze missiles into Pakistani airspace, to its own detriment-is emblematic of both the state’s hawkish policies and practice and also its utter disregard to the peace, security, and development of the region. It is also reflective of the structural, technological, and administrative loopholes and technical inefficacy daunting the entire Indian defense system. In the subsequent one-on-one air combat revered as Operation Swift Retort, not only Russian-available SU-30 AND Mig-21 were downed but India’s Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman had also been captured.
Pakistan, in the spirit of traversing the path of peace later released the captured pilot back to India but it is not possible for any one state to uphold its International Obligations concerning peace and regionalism specifically when others are continuously detracting to the course of hostility and belligerence.
Not only India but the entire world must acknowledge this today that any such misadventures might result in haphazard consequences for the entire region and the world, a result, as Pakistan reserves all the rights to act proportionately, specifically in instances where it is unaware of the payload that might follow such ‘technical glitches’ let alone the intentions of the transgressor. There is a need, therefore, that the International community to respond to the gravity of the situation accordingly, to tend to the volatility of the region, hindering peace and prosperity of the entire world.
The author is a graduate of International Relations. With the experience of working with two top-notch Think Tanks, namely IPRI and SDPI, she has in her credit Research Papers and a number of articles on various national and International platforms. She tweets @sana_hamid_here