Issue Brief on “India’s “Accidental” Missile Launch: Implications and Challenges Ahead”

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On March 9, 2022, an Indian missile flying at supersonic speed landed near Mian Channu, in the Pakistani province of Punjab. It was a BrahMos cruise missile, which flew a total of 6 minutes and 46 seconds, out of which 3 minutes and 46 seconds was inside Pakistani airspace (124km). Pakistan exercised restraint and did not retaliate. However, it took India almost two days to acknowledge that a missile had been fired due to a technical malfunction while the international community did not show any reaction to the incident. The incident might have passed as insignificant. However, it is of great significance since this is the first-ever accidental launch between two nuclear-armed adversaries. It raises several questions regarding India’s intentions, its technical expertise and its nuclear command and control. Pakistan also needs to take a deeper look into what it means. The possibility cannot be overlooked that this could very well have been a deliberately launched, nuclear-armed missile launch. What would have been Pakistan’s options in that case? Or if it was a failure of command and control on the part of India, what could have been Pakistan’s response. If it was a technical malfunction then what are its implications for Pakistan.

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