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How India’s Misguided Missile Could Have Sparked a Nuclear War

SaadH

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India is lucky Pak military is smart and not impulsive like the Americans ..


If it were the Americans india would been lit up like a Christmas tree
On the contrary India is lucky because Pak Army is led by high incompetent buffoons who are only interested in preserving their real estate holdings and overthrowing civilian gov'ts in the process...
 
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On March 10, 2020, the director-general of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) held a press briefing and announced that a day earlier, on March 9, 2022, a supersonic projectile that originated in India had traveled 124 kilometers at 40,000 feet into Pakistani airspace and crashed near the city of Mian Channu, Khanewal District, Pakistan. Two days later, India’s Ministry of Defence officially confirmed the incident, stating that a missile was “accidentally” fired during routine maintenance. The statement further asserted that the government had “taken a serious view and ordered a high-level Court of Enquiry” into the incident.


While the incident’s specific details will come to the surface after thorough forensic analysis and investigation, the news of India “accidentally” firing a supersonic cruise missile at Pakistan, its nuclear-armed adversary, shocked many policymakers who are cognizant of the potential consequences of such an incident. Pakistan’s immediate response is being lauded as “mature” and “responsible”; however, Islamabad has demanded a joint investigation as it could have led to far more serious consequences.


First and foremost, the timing is suspicious: just a week after the Pakistani Navy detected an Indian Navy submarine in its Exclusive Economic Zone, an Indian missile crashes inside Pakistan. This raises serious concerns about the intentions of India’s military leadership. It is fair to say that no system is 100 percent reliable, and accidents may happen due to unforeseen reasons, but the Indian government’s overall handling of this issue has been highly irresponsible. The very fact that Indian authorities did not use the self-destruct option after the “accidental” launch and did not even bother to inform the Pakistani side immediately has raised questions about India’s command and control system, its strategic culture, and its ability to handle such sensitive technology.

India’s official statement has not shared any information about the type of rogue missile, but the available information matches the flight profile of India’s BrahMos cruise surface-to-surface missile. While India has classified BrahMos as a conventional missile (primarily to avoid being labeled a violator of the Missile Technology Control Regime guidelines), it is capable of carrying a nuclear payload as well. Regardless of the stated classification, any incoming missile is likely to be interpreted as nuclear in a charged security environment because it is impossible to distinguish which payload an incoming missile is carrying. With India lately tempering its No First Use pledge and toying with the idea of preemptive counterforce targeting—where the Brahmos is likely to be the weapon of choice for this strategy—Pakistan could have viewed this missile as New Delhi’s preemptive strike, especially in view of the current bilateral relationship.


It is imperative to determine whether this incident was the result of a safety failure or a security gap. According to initial reports, the Pakistan Air Force’s Air Defense Operation Center tracked the missile’s flight in its initial phase. Reportedly, it was launched from an Indian Air Force base under Western Air Command in Sirsa district, Haryana. The missile was detected at an altitude of 40,000 feet, suggesting it could have been launched from the air. It is, however, unlikely to be a test of an aerial version of Brahmos that went wrong, as no Notice to Air Missions (NOTAM) was issued and the site is not known for missile tests. Indian missile tests are mostly conducted at the Pokhran test range in Rajasthan or Integrated Test Range (ITR), Chandipur, off the coast of Odisha on the Bay of Bengal. The nature of the incident raises concern about this claim of an accidental launch during maintenance and hints at potential complacency or massive violations of safety protocols by the concerned authorities.


The missile’s firing also posed a serious threat to civil aviation, as many commercial flights, such as Qatar and Saudi Airways, were flying on that route at the time of the missile launch. The Indian government could have issued an emergency NOTAM to the incoming aircraft to avoid a potential air disaster.

The incident also puts a question mark on the strength and scope of existing Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) between India and Pakistan. The 2004 hotline agreement was created for this very purpose—to inform one another of any emergency situation that may lead to any inadvertent crisis—but this necessary action was not taken by India. India and Pakistan have also agreed to pre-notification of flight testing of ballistic missiles as well. In 2005, Pakistan proposed including pre-notification of cruise missile tests also, but India did not accept. While a ballistic missile test notification is meant to avoid inadvertent escalation as the ballistic trajectory of a missile can be misinterpreted as a preemptive strike by an adversary, cruise missile notification does not serve this purpose as the missile remains at low-flying trajectories and is difficult to track anyway. It is important to highlight that India acted against the spirit of this mutually agreed CBM as it did not notify Pakistan about its ballistic missile tests from undersea platforms as it considers the 2005 agreement to be meant only for surface-launched missiles only. Given such lacunas, it is important to consider expanding the scope of the Pak-India missile test agreement.


Nuclear responsibility is premised on the element of rationality. Given India’s post-2019 Balakot strike and subsequent jingoism by BJP’s Hindutva leadership, Pakistan has all the more reason to worry about this element of rationality slipping away from the Indian side. After downing an Indian aircraft in an air skirmish with Pakistan in February 2019, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi threatened to unleash “a night of massacre” if Pakistan had not returned the detained pilot. Therefore, it is very likely that this might not be an accident after all and could have been an intentional act by some overzealous Hindutva commander. The Indian military has a history of being involved in terrorist activities with the aim to implicate Pakistan. A case in point is the involvement of Lt. Colonel Shrikant Prasad Purohit, who helped in carrying out terrorist attacks like the Samjhauta Express blast (2007) and Malegaon bomb blast (2008).

All these developments are taking place when India is consistently increasing its alert level, especially in the missile domain. In order to reduce its launch time, India has been steadily doing away with different steps that may slow down a launch especially during a crisis, such as the canisterization of missiles, thereby increasing the risk of accidental or inadvertent launch. With a problematic strategic culture and the absence of a strong command and control system, such developments are a recipe for disaster for regional peace.


Regardless of whether the missile launch was accidental or intentional, this incident is a stark reminder that South Asia remains a nuclear flashpoint with any Broken Arrow potentially turning into a NucFlash. It also exposes the disproportionate focus on Pakistan alone and stark negligence of India’s poor nuclear safety and security record by Western scholars and governments alike. One hopes that this incident leads to some introspection in Washington, and the Indian security establishment and government is willing to answer some hard questions.

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johncliu88

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Will Pak shoot a blank missile with candies inside back to India and say: thanks for the unexpected gift, I sent one to you too. Just kidding.
 

blain2

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Fear mongering. Pak was informed immediately after the incident. No retalliation expected by either side, these things happen. US has launched plenty of missiles into mexico accidentally, US launched one into pak as well. Pak itself has sunk own ships with accidental missile launch, so its no biggie.
No, Pakistan was not informed until the next day. There was nothing communicated to Pakistan from the Indian side within the day.

Also, this issue is not one of retaliation being expected. This time it wasn't retaliated, next time we may not be so lucky. It is unheard of for a bloody missile projectile to leave one country and land in another and specially for two who are nuclear adversaries. So your point about this being a "no biggie" is rather casual and misplaced.

India is not the US so let's not even try that angle.

Lastly, which ship of ours was sunk by our own missiles? Unless you are confusing IN's own mishaps let's not spread misplaced tripe.
 

PradoTLC

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On the contrary India is lucky because Pak Army is led by high incompetent buffoons who are only interested in preserving their real estate holdings and overthrowing civilian gov'ts in the process...
non sense
 

SaadH

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non sense
Please name one strategic win PA has been able to accomplish over their Indian counterparts.

I can name at least 9 that India has, that Pakistan has not been able to respond to in scale nor effectiveness:

1. Kashmir invasion and occupation of 1948
2. Preventing two fronts in 1962
3. Invasion and secession of E. Pakistan
4. Siachin Occupation
5. Co-opting of Khalistan freedom struggle of the 80's
6. Co-opting and complete marginalization of Kashmir freedom struggle of the 90's/00's
7. Co-opting of the Kargil offensive
8. Terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
9. Balochistan insurgency.
 

PradoTLC

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Please name one strategic win PA has been able to accomplish over their Indian counterparts.

I can name at least 9 that India has, that Pakistan has not been able to respond to in scale nor effectiveness:

1. Kashmir invasion and occupation of 1948
2. Preventing two fronts in 1962
3. Invasion and secession of E. Pakistan
4. Siachin Occupation
5. Co-opting of Khalistan freedom struggle of the 80's
6. Co-opting and complete marginalization of Kashmir freedom struggle of the 90's/00's
7. Co-opting of the Kargil offensive
8. Terrorist attacks in Pakistan.
9. Balochistan insurgency.

India has lost the strategic war via Pakistan…

- isolate Pakistan- fail
- de nuke Pakistan - fail
- make Pakistan a vessel state like BD - fail
- curtail Pakistan missile program- fail
- destabilize Pakistan via terrorism - fail
- blind believing of India’s false narrative ie 5 gen war- fail
- military coercion of Pakistan- fail


There is much more but clearly you are one of those types that love to see the glass half full


What is worse for India today is 99% of Pakistanis are fiercely anti- Indian. I grew up in a time as india was not hated.

That is perhaps India’s biggest failure.. congrats
 

SaadH

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India has lost the strategic war via Pakistan…

- isolate Pakistan- fail
- de nuke Pakistan - fail
- make Pakistan a vessel state like BD - fail
- curtail Pakistan missile program- fail
- destabilize Pakistan via terrorism - fail
- blind believing of India’s false narrative ie 5 gen war- fail
- military coercion of Pakistan- fail


There is much more but clearly you are one of those types that love to see the glass half full


What is worse for India today is 99% of Pakistanis are fiercely anti- Indian. I grew up in a time as india was not hated.

That is perhaps India’s biggest failure.. congrats
All those have zero affect on the ground and are only wins in abstract, it didn't cause India to lose any territory, capability, economy, influence nor global positioning.
 
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Kashmir invasion and occupation of 1948
Anything that happened till 1949 or 1950 doesn't count. The South Asian countries were newly independent. They were under the influence of the departing ex-colonizers. Many agents of foreign countries held crucial positions in the newly established governments. Early policies, decisions and actions attributed to the newly born nations were actually dictated by British or Soviets.
 

araz

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Pak missed a big chance to eliminate modi along with his dozens of hindutva terrorist followers in reply of that missile mishap , babur cruise missile could kill these terrorist in new delhi , no one can put finger at Pakistan after the brahmos landed in Pakistan
A nuke war is a Zero sum game one in which Pakistan or India will not indulge in unless as a last resort. Much as I hate myself for writing this there is no way PA air defence would have watched it happen without calling a response if they did not know before hand the missile was unarmed.
Should not deter Pak from maligning India at all public opinion fora and asking for joint investigations. There is some political mileage in it.
But beyond that I do not think it was considered a serious threat. A serious threat would have garnered a response within minutes/hours.
A
 

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