Pakistan boasts of ‘credible deterrence’ on 21st anniversary of nuclear tests

Pakistan boasts of ‘credible deterrence’ on 21st anniversary of nuclear tests
In this file photo, a Pakistan-made Ghaznavi missile, capable of carrying nuclear warheads, is seen being rolled down on a trailer during a military parade to mark Pakistan's Republic Day in Islamabad, Pakistan, on March 23, 2016. (AP)
Updated 28 May 2019

Pakistan boasts of ‘credible deterrence’ on 21st anniversary of nuclear tests

Pakistan boasts of ‘credible deterrence’ on 21st anniversary of nuclear tests
  • “Not about possession of strategic capability alone … we are a responsible confident state,” army spokesman tweets
  • India and Pakistan have been developing missiles of varying ranges since they conducted tests in May 1998

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday marked the 21st anniversary of the day in 1998 when it responded to India's nuclear tests with six underground nuclear tests of its own on May 28.
The nuclear-armed neighbors have fought three wars since independence from Britain in 1947. Both nations have been developing missiles of varying ranges since they conducted nuclear tests in May 1998.
Pakistan has always maintained it was forced to take the decision to test in self-defence to nuclear tests and accompanying hostile posturing by its neighbour.
“It’s not about possession of strategic capability alone, it’s about confidence of the state in its strategic capability,” Pakistan’s military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted on Tuesday. “We are a responsible confident state with a credible deterrence.”
In a statement last year, the Pakistani foreign office said nuclear tests by both countries had “unfortunately put an end to the prospect of keeping South Asia free of nuclear weapons - an objective which Pakistan had actively pursued.”
In January this year, Pakistan fired its first submarine-launched cruise missile as a deterrent against India. New Delhi had successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable, submarine-launched missile in 2008 and tested a submarine-launched cruise missile in 2013.
In 2018, Pakistan said it was “seriously concerned” by India’s test of anti-ballistic missiles which media reports said could intercept incoming nuclear weapons.
According to media reports, on May 15 India tested a locally designed Anti-Ballistic Missile system which could in theory intercept a nuclear-carrying ballistic missile.
In February this year, a conflict between India and Pakistan, which involved airstrikes in each other’s territories for the first time, sparked fears of a nuclear confrontation.
India has much stronger conventional armed forces than Pakistan, but both countries have comparable nuclear arsenals.
Pakistan has 140-150 nuclear warheads compared to India’s 130-140 warheads, according to a 2018 report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Pakistan has longer-range nuclear weapons, such as the Shaheen 3 missile that can reach India’s Andaman Islands near Southeast Asia. India is developing long-range ballistic missiles able to strike targets across China.
They are comparable in the sense that both have the capability to strike each other’s territories and cause immense damage and massive loss of life.
India has a “no first use” policy, meaning it has pledged to not strike first. It aims to make retaliatory strikes so powerful that an opponent would be unable to strike back. Pakistan has not stated a “no first use” policy and there is little known about its nuclear doctrine.