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Pakistan has carried out another test firing of its Ababeel missile, capable of carrying several nuclear warheads. This test comes after a long pause since the last test in 2017, underlining the importance of this weapon in the regional strategic context.
The Ababeel missile: a strategic deterrent
The Ababeel is a missile designed to carry several nuclear warheads, each capable of striking a different target. According to 2017 statements by Inter Services Public Relations Pakistan (the army’s media arm), the Ababeel has a range of 2,200 kilometers, or around 1,367 miles.
The main aim of the recent test was to revalidate the missile’s various design and performance parameters, while reinforcing deterrence and strategic stability in the region. Although the Strategic Plans Division, responsible for nuclear deterrence in Pakistan, did not provide details of the test, the main objective is clearly to ensure the reliability and performance of the Ababeel.
The strategic context: strengthening nuclear deterrence against India
The break between tests
Mansoor Ahmed, a specialist in Pakistan’s nuclear program, suggests that the long period between tests is probably due to efforts to improve the missile’s technical and performance parameters.
Survivability in the face of regional countermeasures
The main reason for creating Ababeel is to ensure the “survivability” of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles in a region where state actors are stepping up their countermeasures. Ahmed describes Ababeel as “the most important engineering milestone for Pakistan’s nuclear triad in nearly two decades”.
A definite strategic advantage
Naeem Salik, a former Pakistani army officer, points out that the Ababeel “increases Pakistan’s targeting options”. It offers the advantage of being able to engage several targets simultaneously, thus complicating the task of Indian missile defense.
Implications and consequences for the region
An arms race
The Ababeel test can be seen as a response to developments in Indian missile defense. In a tense regional context, it reinforces the need for dialogue between the two nuclear powers to avoid escalation.
The question of strategic stability
While Pakistan sees Ababeel as a means of ensuring its nuclear deterrence, it remains to be seen how India will react. This could lead to an arms race, calling into question the region’s strategic stability.
Pakistan’s testing of the Ababeel missile is part of a wider strategic context of nuclear deterrence against India. While this missile strengthens Pakistan’s deterrent capability, it also raises questions about the stability of the region. Dialogue between the two nations is essential to ensure lasting peace.
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