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Pakistani Missile Seen as Response to India's "Cold Start" Strategy

Observers believe a new Pakistani tactical missile is intended to counter India's assumed "Cold Start" armed forces posture that foresees fast, precise attacks by Indian troops into its neighbor's territory in a potential new round of clashes, the Economic Times reported on Wednesday (see GSN, April 19).

The Pakistani military declared a Tuesday trial launch of the nuclear-capable Hatf 9 system a success. The missile has a range of 37 miles and reportedly can deliver "nuclear warheads of appropriate yield with high accuracy," according to Islamabad.

The Hatf 9 is to be fielded on a firing platform that has "shoot and scoot attributes" that enable it to be quickly moved after shooting a missile.

The Indian military has developed a military response posture focused on army units containing infantry and armored personnel carriers that could conduct rapid incursions into Pakistan, experts said. The Indian military publicly rejects reports of a Cold Start doctrine.

India and Pakistan have already gone to war three times. While nuclear-armed India holds a conventional military edge over its neighbor, Islamabad has striven to maintain parity with New Delhi by rapidly building up its nuclear arsenal, according to experts and U.S. officials (see GSN, Feb. 18).

Military insiders told the Express Tribune that the Hatf 9 would serve as a "low-yield battlefield deterrent" that could mete out damage to enemy mechanized units. Given the rapid mobility of the launch system, "Indian planners will now be deterred from considering options of limited war," the sources said.

The short-range missile is viewed as a significant advancement in efforts to reduce the size of nuclear warheads that can be fielded on missiles, according to the Dawn newspaper.

An expert told the Press Trust of India that the Hatf 9 reduced the likelihood of a "limited war" between the two nuclear-armed nations.

The expert noted, though, that firing the Hatf 9 in Pakistani territory to counter an Indian invasion could produce significant atomic fallout for the surrounding area (Economic Times, April 20).

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