Patriot missile fired from a mobile launching pad: Neutering the
Pakistani Generals as US Agrees to Sell Patriot Missiles to India
Syed Saleem Shahzad
Special to the South Asia Tribune
February 20: Panic has almost broken out in the Strategic and
Planning Division of Pakistan Army’s General Headquarters
(GHQ) in Rawalpindi as in the next 24 hours a top level team of
US technical experts will land in New Delhi to brief Indian defence
experts on US Patriot Advanced Capability-2 Anti-Ballistic Missile
System which could shoot down any of the Pakistani nuclear missiles.
New Delhi made its first request to the US for this defence system
in November 2002 and it is now that Pentagon has decided to begin
the sale process in what the Pakistani GHQ believes would bring
a virtual end to the Pakistani nuclear deterrence and tilt the
power balance in India’s favor, despite Pakistan’s
The Army strategists do not believe Musharraf’s closest
ally and friend in the War against Terror, US President George
W. Bush, could be doing such a devastating thing to Pakistan.
“If India gets the Patriot anti-missile defence system,
where do we go, because it would be almost impossible to penetrate
with the indigenous Ghauris and Hataf missiles
that we have,” one worried analyst said.
Indian Defence Ministry has confirmed that a four-member team,
led by Edward Ross of the Defence Security Cooperation Agency
(DSCA), will be in New Delhi from February 20 to 24 to discuss
the missile defence system.
team will present a technical brief to the International Security
division of the Ministry of External Affairs and Ministry of Defence.
Ross is second in command to General Koffler at the DSCA in Pentagon.
Indian media reports say the Pentagon team will interact with
officers of the Indian armed forces and the Defence Research and
Development Organization (DRDO) during their four-day stay.
Bush administration gave clearance for a classified technical
presentation of PAC-2 system as part of the Next Step in Strategic
Partnership (NSSP) agreement signed between India and the US last
General Musharraf or his Generals have not yet raised any hue
and cry in Washington about this escalation of the arms race in
the sub-continent but once the General gets out of his slumber,
he is going to make noise like a skeleton on a hot tin roof, according
first indication that Washington was willing to share technical
data came after Indian Ambassador to US, Ronnen Sen, flew to New
Delhi last November to discuss the missile defence issue with
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee.
It was then that the government gave clearance to Sen to proceed
the Indian defence establishment is keen to have a look at the
PAC-2 system, it has its eyes on the future because this opens
the way to PAC-3, the latest upgrade of the anti-missile system
developed by US defence majors Raytheon and Lockheed Martin.
is a long-range, all altitude and all weather air defence system
to counter tactical ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and advanced
aircraft. The range of the missile is 70 km and it can climb to
an altitude greater than 24 km. The minimum flight time —
time needed to arm a missile — is less than three seconds
and maximum flight time is just three-and-half minutes.
were first put to use by the Israelis in the first Gulf War when
Iraqi missiles fired at Israel were intercepted during flight
and destroyed. Ever since much advanced versions have been developed.
Till date, Washington has shared this technology, updated in 1991,
with key allies, including Israel, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia
was seen in action in Operation Iraqi Freedom and has a kill rate
of more than 95 per cent. Neither China nor Pakistan have this
type of anti-ballistic missile capability and the geo-strategic
location of Pakistani missiles makes the Patriots more effective
as any Pakistani missile could be intercepted in the air while
in Pakistani air space or much before it could reach any major
Analysts are still not sure why Washington would go for such an
escalation but many believe it has lot to do with the intrinsic
lack of trust in General Musharraf and his Army Generals, specially
their double games and cover ups of the Dr AQ Khan nuclear sales
defence managers have been claiming over the last few years that
a level of deterrence had been achieved with the development of
nuclear-capable long and short range missiles and it was this
deterrence which prevented India and Pakistan from going to war
during the 8-month long armed stand off of troops during the Vajpayee
concede that lack of spare parts and non-supply of new aircraft
had left the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) almost crippled with just
a few F-16 fighters after most of them were cannibalized. The
US has consistently refused to consider Pakistani requests for
new F-16 fighters, although Pakistan has been declared a Non-NATO
ally and military sales have resumed to Islamabad.
sales have so far been all on US terms and the latest goods in
the pipeline worth $1.2 billion are basically 8 P-3C Orion reconnaissance
aircraft which, many experts believe, Pakistan hardly needs in
preference to strike capability F-16s or equivalent aircraft.
while the official Pakistani media is spinning yarn about the
latest CBMs with India and opening of a Bus Service to Srinagar,
the GHQ strategists are in a state of semi-shock as all their
levers vis-à-vis India have been neutralized and now Washington
is willing to provide the Indians with the capacity to neutralize
the nuclear deterrent as well.
defence experts believe the Pakistanis lost much of their bargaining
power in Kashmir when General Musharraf agreed to a ceasefire
in Kashmir, allowed India to build the fence on the Line of Control
and when India installed the latest and effective monitoring devices
which almost completely stopped the infiltration of Jihadis from
the Pakistani side.
India was satisfied that Pakistan was no longer capable of keeping
the pot boiling inside Kashmir, it launched the political and
diplomatic moves to ease tensions and allow more room to Kashmiris.
It also announced symbolic withdrawal of Indian troops from Kashmir
and agreed to the Bus Service, even dropping the condition of
passports for Kashmiris.
within India there is a strong section of defence experts who
do not want to acquire the Patriot Missile System from the US.
“There are disarmament fundamentalists who object to missile
defence on the basis of obsolete Kissingerian arguments that missile
defence will unleash an arms race. There are self-reliance fundamentalists
who assert that India can develop its own missile defence technology
and therefore does not need any US inputs. Thirdly, there are
still veteran cold warriors who cannot forget the Enterprise mission
of 1971 and continuing US support to Army-led Pakistani regime,”
known defence writer K Subrahmanyam said in an article recently.
But he wrote: “If we act on our own ancient wisdom, in this
globalizing and post-Cold War world, mindful of our own national
interest and security, we should exploit every opportunity to
particularly needs missile defence because we have adopted a ‘‘no-first-use’’
doctrine in respect of nuclear weapons. Therefore, a missile defence
for our national decision-making center and some part of our retaliatory
forces would make our ‘‘no-first-use’’
posture more credible. It would enhance the uncertainties of our
potential adversary and act as a disincentive to his ready resort
to nuclear weapons.”
he wrote: “Pakistan is not in a position to engage in such
an arms race without technological inputs from countries like
China and North Korea and large scale financial help from Saudi
Arabia. In the present international strategic environment, the
probability of these developments taking place is not high.”
“The US willingness to share information on the missile
defence under NSSP is an indication of America’s recognition
of the realities of the globalizing world and India’s role
in it…The US is well aware that neither in civilian commerce
nor in arms purchases can Pakistan compete with India. The US-Indian
technology bridge has no analogue in respect of Pakistan.”
this tightening noose around the neck, the GHQ in Rawalpindi is
depending wholly on the personal rapport and skills of General
Musharraf and looking up to him whether he would be able to persuade
President Bush not to create the huge imbalance in the sub-continent.
Musharraf fails, there would be a lot of angry and depressed faces
in the GHQ and Musharraf will have to double his own personal
security and cut down inter-action with many of his brothers in
uniform. He will have to spend more time ensuring his survival,"
according to an analyst.
writer is Pakistan Bureau Chief of Asia Times Online. He wrote
this piece specially for the South Asia Tribune. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org