Pakistan plans to add at least two dozen nuclear-capable, short-range missiles to its swelling arsenal this year, sources said in a revelation that indicates a growing ‘urge’ in the powerful security establishment to seek ‘strategic parity in the region’.
If the government successfully achieves its target, this would be the highest number of missiles Pakistan had ever produced in a year.
These air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles would be able to hit a target at a distance between 700 to 1,000 kilometres, which would put nearly all major Indian cities within their range.
Sources said the plan was in line with Pakistan’s official policy of having what is rhetorically called ‘maintaining a minimum deterrence’ especially against India.
They added that the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) — a high powered body that oversees Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal — was also supervising the production of new missiles.
The SPD works under the National Commands Authority (NCA) that is headed by the prime minister and has all services chiefs as its members.
Sources said it was in one of the recent NCA meetings that SPD briefed the authority about the plan that envisaged the production of highest number of missiles ever in a year.
The disclosure comes on the heels of reports earlier in the year that Pakistan was rapidly adding to its nuclear arsenal and the number of its warheads might have surpassed France.
Officials in Islamabad have denied those reports but insiders said Pakistan has been ‘watching closely with concern’ India’s increasing nuclear cooperation with the United States and France.
“That is the benchmark… if we see something happening in India on this front, naturally we react and we have to,” said one official.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2011.