Issue Brief on “Recent Threats to Strategic Stability in South Asia”

A number of developments have taken place recently in South Asia which further threaten the strategic stability of the region. The most recent development is India’s anti-satellite (ASAT) weapon test on March 27, 2019. This essentially militarizes space and now gives India an offensive capability in the fourth medium of warfare – space.

This, combined with India’s rapid military build-up, development of a triad of nuclear forces at land, air and sea, its purchase of 24 anti-submarine helicopters from the US and its purchase of missile defense systems like the S-400 further destabilize an already volatile region. This raises the threat levels for Pakistan which sees India as its main security threat.

India conducted its anti-satellite test in low earth orbit at 300 km altitude by destroying one of its own satellites. Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced the test named ”Mission Shakti’ in a televised address and declared India a space superpower. India is the fourth country to demonstrate such capability after US, Russia and China. Indian media and defense analysts are upbeat about the test. One analyst has gone as far as saying that India has sent a message to the subcontinent that it has the capability for space war.[1] This is clearly aimed at Pakistan as it comes just weeks after Indian airplanes violated the Line of Control to strike inside Pakistan post-Pulwama incident. It also comes less than two weeks ahead of Indian elections that are set to be held on April 11. The test is also aimed at raising Mr. Modi’s electoral popularity.

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