Recent statements made by Lieutenant General (Retired) Khalid Kidwai, the advisor to Pakistan’s National Command Authority, claiming that Pakistan’s ballistic missiles can defeat India’s Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD) Program, have raised eyebrows and drawn attention to the evolving security dynamics in the region. While these claims may be seen as a display of military prowess and strategic posturing, it is essential to analyze the realities behind such assertions.

One of the key missiles cited in Kidwai’s speech is the Ababeel, a surface-to-surface medium-range ballistic missile developed by Pakistan. The Ababeel is said to be equipped with Multiple Independently Targetable Re-entry Vehicle (MIRV) technology. MIRV enables a single missile to carry multiple warheads, each capable of targeting a different location independently. This technology has historically been associated with intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) carrying thermonuclear warheads.

However, the effectiveness of the Ababeel’s MIRV capability has been a subject of debate due to alleged failed tests and unresolved technical issues. MIRV technology is indeed challenging to perfect, and it is typically associated with ICBMs, which have ranges exceeding 5,500 kilometers. Medium-range ballistic missiles like the Ababeel may face limitations in carrying MIRV warheads effectively due to their relatively lower range.

Furthermore, possibility of internal sabotage of the missile program raises questions about the program’s reliability and effectiveness. Such allegations cast doubts on the credibility of the Ababeel missile as a formidable deterrent against India’s BMD system.

Moreover, Kidwai’s reference to the development of the Shaheen III, a long-range missile capable of reaching 2,750 kilometers, highlights Pakistan’s efforts to extend its missile reach. The objective of targeting the Andaman & Nicobar Islands, a strategic location for India, indicates the perceived significance of deterring India from basing nuclear weapons in the region.

On the other hand, India has been actively pursuing the development of its BMD system in two phases. While Phase-I deployment has begun, the effectiveness of the system remains to be seen. India’s efforts to strengthen its BMD capabilities are driven by its own strategic imperatives and regional security concerns.

However, it is crucial to understand that a BMD system is a complex and evolving technology, and its effectiveness is not solely determined by the capabilities of a single missile but by a network of sensors, interceptors, and decision-making mechanisms. India’s BMD program aims to provide a layered defense against incoming ballistic missile threats, and its development is an ongoing process.

The prospect of a nuclear triad, involving the use of submarine-launched ballistic missiles with tactical nuclear warheads, raises further concerns regarding regional stability. While Pakistan may view such capabilities as a means to deter India, it also underscores the need for clear communication and responsible use of nuclear weapons to avoid unintended escalations.

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