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Indian Space Program And Its Implication On Pakistan

Info: 5279 words (21 pages) Essay
Published: 1st Jan 2015 in History

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Kissinger argued in his famous book ‘The Nuclear Weapon and Foreign Policy’ that balance of power rests upon tow fundamental changes in the regional or international power calculus. First Technological advancement and the other political revolution. Unless these both factors remain constant the power balance will ensure the peace. Technological advance is directly proportional to the change in the balance of power and which can create a situation where war is possible between rivals.

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The picture of power balance between India and Pakistan is much different from that of Cold War rivals. India enjoys a clear-cut superiority over Pakistan as far as the conventional military balance is concerned. Geographically having the less strategic depth due to its linear shape Pakistan is on the down side and as a result of this have the less survivability of its conventional and strategic forces. On the other hand India having very deep strategic depth is in good position to fight a conventional war and have more redundant conventional and strategic forces. So geography gives the advantage to India over Pakistan.

India has also a clear-cut advantage over Pakistan in almost all military categories. In tanks India has an advantage of three to one and in air craft six to one over Pakistan. This advantage is in both spheres, quantitative as well as qualitative. In the fields of real time information and surveillance India has much better capabilities as I will farther discuss below over Pakistan, these superiorities will help the Indian forces in the event of war.

So the balance of power between both nuclear capable rivals in the military spheres is not very much satisfied as far as the regional stability is concerned.

The scope of this study is to investigate that how much ahead really India is from that of Pakistan in the fields of space technologies and how it will effect the Pakistan in limited war as far as the targeting, early warning, surveillance, situational awareness and communication between command and ground troops is concerned within the feasibility of confidence building measures and how much Pakistani conventional forces are survivable in the event of an Indian conventional attack. Second I will analyze that how the development of Indian space program will affect Pakistani strategic forces and what would happen at ground if war occur at any front. Third How a space race is developing between India and Pakistan and what would be the economical rational in relation to the international domain and what are the potential worries of west about this race.

The aim of the study revolves around two objectives. First the importance of space technologies in the present geopolitical environment and second its feasibility and importance for Pakistan.

Indian Space Program

The evolution of Indian space program can be dated back to setting up the Tumba Equatorial Rocket Launching Station in 1963, the department of space was established by the government in 1972 to develop the space technologies for national objectives. [1] Under the leadership of Dr. Vikram Sarabhai the first president Indian Space Research Orgnization (ISRO a wing of DOS) raised up and enjoyed full support of political government. From the that time to present day India has launched a large numbers of satellites for civilian and economical purposes. But most of them are dual used, and can be used for military navigational and surveillance purposes. India is pursuing its space program for military purposes since 1980’s and now it have its satellites in both LEO and GEO. Having this now India is researching on the disrupting and destroying the enemies satellites in war time situation. [2] 

India has made a rocket by name of Avatar which is capable of taking the military and civilian satellites into orbit. This project was completed by the Defense Research and Development organization and Indian Space research Organization in 2001. Apart this India has made Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle and Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mk III to launch satellites in geostationary orbits. Till date India has sent almost 55 satellites into space and about 11 are under plan. [3] From launched satellites 20 are the earth observation satellites for navigational and surveillance purposes, 24 are geostationary, 4 space mission and 4 are experimental small satellites. [4] India has been also researching on the space laser technologies since mid 1990’s. The Indian Air Force, S. Krishnaswamy, in 2003 reported saying that India is working for the development of space based laser technologies. [5] June 18 2008 Asia Times reported that India has established a space cell, which will be used for counter offensive and offensive purposes and will be manned by the three forces of Indian army with the help of ISRO. The Indian defense minister was reportedly saying that this cell is for “Offensive counter-space systems like anti-satellite weaponry, new classes of heavy-lift and small boosters and an improved array of military space systems have emerged in neighborhood”. [6] India’s remote sensing center is located near to Hyderabad which is very critical area for Pakistan because it is very near to the Rahim yar Khan border, geo-strategically a very weak point of Pakistan because of very short strategic depth. So India is investing a lot in the field of space technology specially for the military purposes. In 2010 India’s budget only for space program is almost 100 million US dollars which is a big amount with an increase of 35% from 2009. [7] This investment can start a space militarization race between India and Pakistan and also is very dangerous for the security of the region.

Source: Indian Space Research Organization www.isro.org

Pakistan Space Program

As far as the Pakistan’s space program is concerned it is still in the infancy. Pakistan has not yet succeeded to make her indigenous satellite launch vehicle. What are the reasons is not a topic of concern here in this paper, but the problem is that Pakistan is far behind then India in this field with out realizing that what would be the consequences if war broke out at any front. Pakistan will launch its fourth indigenous satellite code name “Badar” in the next year. But the Space technology gap that has created by the immense technological advancement by India in the last three decades in this particular field, has badly affected the strategic stability and nuclear deterrence in this region. Pakistan space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO) is the Pakistan’s national space agency, which was established in 1961 and was given the status of commission in 1981. This agency is responsible for research in the field of space technologies and its applications fir peaceful purposes to uplift the economy of Pakistan. [8] Badar-1 was the Pakistan’s first indigenous satellite launched from the Xichang launch site in China on July 16, 1990 because Pakistan has not yet made its satellite launch vehicle. Badar-B was the Pakistan’s second earth observing satellite launched on December 10, 2001 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome Kazakhstan. [9] The third one Paksat-1 the first geostationary satellite was made by Boeing and launched in February 1, 1996, and it will be replaced by the Paksat-IR in near future. [10] So Pakistan did not make any satellite individually and it is acquiring either satellite or information at the cost of a huge economical payment. So India is far ahead from us in the field of space technology and is in the better position as far as the situational awareness is concerned in the event of a conventional war.

Badar-1 of Pakistan Sourcehttp://www.google.com.pk/images?client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&hl=en&source=imghp&q=badar-1&gbv=2&aq=f&aqi=&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=.

So comparatively India has the advantage in the battle field information and awareness because of its 20 earth observing satellites in the space and Pakistan is on the downside though it claims that it acquire data from the foreign satellites. But will it be reliable in the time of a war? This is the question difficult to answer. India has the advantage in the satellite based surveillance and reconnaissance because of its SBS (Satellite based Surveillance and Reconnaissance) system. This system can easily observe the troops movement, missile silos, military installations, and airbases of Pakistan. Cartosat-1 and Cartosat-ii satellites are the essential part of this system. [11] The DIAPAC (Defense Imagery Processing and analysis Center) system installed in Delhi which is connected with a satellite control facility in Bhopal the India has some additional operational control like shutter-control over satellite. Farther more the spy satellite of India like TES (Technology Experiment Satellite) is capable of one-meter resolution ‘image feed’, which is a clear cut advantage over Pakistan as far as the ground surveillance and reconnaissance is concerned. [12] Because of this lead in the intelligence and information sphere The Pakistani forces are now more vulnerable to Indian surgical strikes.

So in the event of a small scale conventional war Pakistani forces are to much vulnerable than India because of Indian’s lead in the space based surveillance and reconnaissance system and its small spy satellites who will give the exact information about the ground troops movement, missile sites and military installations of Pakistan. Especially the movement of logistics in the war time has become more vulnerable than before and is highly susceptible to Indian air attack. Now India is in the better position to look after her posts in the Kashmir region which it evacuate in the snow fall season and can get early warning before any intrusion. In the battle field the thing which is more considerable than any thing else is the missile launch sites. These sites have become vulnerable to Indian surgical strikes by its cruise missile which is a guided missile, and its guidance system is based upon the information given by the spy satellites. But if we look from another aspect these things can only help India in the event of a conventional war. As India will destroy the Pakistan forces, logistics and installations, early the Pakistan will jump to using of its strategic assets, which India does not want at all. I mean to say that this technological advancement by India has lowered the thresholds of Pakistan as far as the use of nuclear weapons is concerned. But this thing has raised the feasibility of small scale conventional war for India under the nuclear threshold. Now India can pursue its ‘Cold Start’ doctrine with full confidence due to the situational awareness of the alert level of adversary.

The second question of my paper is so difficult to answer that what would happen if the war broke out at any front and how much vulnerable the Pakistani strategic forces are in the backdrop of Indian excessive advancement in the space technologies. To test the vulnerability of Pakistani forces we have to look at the mechanism which Pakistan has installed for the survivability of its nuclear missiles and delivery means. Peter Lavoy claims that Pakistan is maintaining “an adequate stockpile of nuclear weapons and delivery systems to provide for an assured second strike; a survivable strategic force capable of withstanding sabotage, conventional military attacks, and at least one enemy nuclear strike” [13] Does Pakistan has effected mechanism for a redundant nuclear forces for a second strike capability? This question is difficult to answer because there is very less data available on this topic in written form. All that I can guess is based upon the different statements given by the different persons of Pakistani nuclear establishment.

For the effected survivability of nuclear weapons three things are important, first you have to store your strategic assets in underground well protected silos and second you have to keep them mobilize as the former soviet union had the mobile launchers which gave her the assure second strike capability and third you should have the submarine launched nuclear forces which are difficult to locate even with the high resolution ground surveillance satellites. The first two requirements for the survivability of nuclear forces have been metalized by the Pakistani authorities and Pakistan have the under ground missile silos and mobile launchers but it does not have the submarine based nuclear forces. According to US intelligence reports Pakistan is building a large number of mobile launchers and missile sites near Sargodha air base with the help of china. [14] 

But Pakistan can be in the difficult position in the time of war because it has to mobilize its strategic forces from one place to another. So while moving from one place to another especially towards border (hataf-1 due to short range) these missiles can be easily detected by the Indian spy satellites because of very short strategic depth of Pakistan. In the event of rapid occupation of Pakistan’s territory by Indian ground troops Pakistan will likely move its strategic forces to avoid counter of its nuclear assets with Indian forces. So because of less strategic depth Pakistan cannot move too far back its strategic forces, this will give Indians an operational superiority over Pakistan.

Infect India’s excessive development in space technologies has jeopardized the survivability of Pakistani strategic forces. Especially India’s ambition to develop a space based offensive laser program has made the missile sites and air bases of Pakistan more vulnerable then ever before. Along with this the Indian acquisition of nuclear submarine have complete their triad capability and now India has the assured second strike capability.

In a ground attack on Pakistan at any front will be so massive and mechanized that the survivability of Pakistan’s nuclear and conventional forces will be at high risk.

Suppose, we war game here on the basis of available data about the strategic capabilities of both sides at any front and try to evaluate the possible victory of any one on the basis of technical sophistication, quantitatively and qualitatively.

India has produced almost up to 100 warheads and Pakistan is somewhere in-between 70 to 90 warheads. [15] The delivery means that India is holding now are about 513 with longest range without refueling is 6200 km; on the other side Pakistan have almost 93 nuclear capable aircrafts with longest range almost 850 km without refueling. [16] The numbers of missile launchers that India and Pakistan has are almost 100 and 18 respectively. [17] India has almost up to 50 satellites in the space; most of them are for civilian purposes but can be used for military surveillance and reconnaissance if needed. While on the other hand Pakistan has only three or four satellites in space and mostly is dependent on the foreign satellites for information. The two or three satellites Pakistan has are much vulnerable to the Indian Durga (directionally unrestricted ray-gun array)

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As well as to the “Kinetic attack loitering interceptor” known as Kali which are near to come on surface. Especially Kali has the potential role as an offensive weapon and its development is equally worrying the China as like Pakistan, because with the development of this dangerous weapon nuclear deterrence of both countries will be compromised because both countries are heavily dependent on the missiles as a delivery mean to deliver nuclear weapons and missile guidance system is totally build upon the GPS technology.

In the event of a nuclear exchange the India satellites will give the more accurate information about the counter force targets in the Pakistan and it will be able to carry a de-captitative strike to destroy the command and control infrastructure of Pakistan. Indians ground satellite center will totally jam the information coming from the foreign satellites, Pakistan will loose command over nuclear weapons and because all of its missile forces are dependent on the satellite guidance system so they would be useless, Pakistan have to rely on the aircrafts which would be more vulnerable to Indian missiles. But few strikes can be possible and they will be caused enough damage to India.

So it is obvious that India have a great lead in the both strategic and conventional forces along with the intelligence, surveillance and in reconnaissance. So Pakistan’s strategic forces have become more vulnerable due to the excessive Indian development in the field of space technologies.

Space Race, Economical Rationale, and Worries of West

Is there exist any space race between India and Pakistan or not? If yes then to what extent, does Pakistan have the potential to compete with India in this so expensive game. What is the economical rationale behind this race and who is competing with whom? Why the West is so worry about the Space militarization by Asian countries? These are some critical questions which demand for comprehensive and detailed answers.

When ever a state; living in the international structure jumps on to the technological advancement, this advancement tends to be difficult to digest by other regional and international rivals. In the response these regional and international players try to pull down the same course to restore the balance of power. So it is an action reaction phenomenon, and by following the lines, nations often get into an unending arms race. For this race countries must have a huge economical resources and technological base. As far as the space race between India and Pakistan is concerned India has taken a huge lead in this field and now it is difficult for Pakistan to compete it. Here comes the priorities of the states, India wants to be a regional or global power where as Pakistan does not have the same ambitions as India. Pakistan only wants to insure its safety and security at minimum cost that it can afford. So there isn’t any question of space race between India and Pakistan. India could have the economical rationale behind its agenda. May be in future India might have succeed to export the space technology and by command over the space it might have get the status of a regional power. India has launched its first unmanned mission Chandrayaan-1 in October 2001 for the replacement of fossil fuel and for the exploration of Helium, the element that can be used as fuel in the nuclear power reactors for energy purposes. [18] In the moon race the main contenders with India are Japan and China who also have sent the same kind of mission to the moon. On this issue Pakistan has deep concerns because of farther production of fissile material by India will farther imbalance the strategic balance between both courtiers.

The main competitor of India in the space arena is China, Which is defeating the India on the commercial and military domain of space race. China is offering the space services to west and other Asian countries at less cost and in better quality as compare to India. [19] China astonished the World by shooting down an aged weather satellite by a medium range ballistic missile in 2007 and following this test Defense Minister of India Anthony gave a statement that India is fully capable of guarding its space assets. [20] The Anthony statement shows that the Chinese space capabilities are a potential treat to the Indian space assets and India is much worried about that. Farther more cyber attacks by Chinese on the Indian space assets are the big challenges which India is facing now. China is on the upper side than that of India in the field of computer science, and information technology and has the better capability to attack on the Indian as well as global computer systems and networks.

Infect the try to make a space based offensive laser system first by the US was the real cause behind this space race, they started and as a result China and Russia are also trying to pull down the same course. Because India is the main adversary of China in South Asia, so she is also trying to follow the pursuit and because of India Pakistan has to maintain the power balance. So any thing add to the power calculus of US have its effects on the global power balance. The military industrial complexes in US are the real cause of arms races in the whole World; they shape the power structure of the World as they wanted it to be. For example national missile defense program of US, when it started again in 2002 by Bush administration have its negative impacts on the security of Pakistan because of a chain response by China and India to also acquire the same technology to keep the balance. In the recent years Indian acquisition of Arrows (Anti Ballistics Missiles) from Israel and S-300 from Russia have putted the Pakistani decision makers into a dilemma that whether they should increase the number of their nuclear arsenals or they should opt for the acquisition of same weapon system.

So Indian massive enhancements in the space technology have the bad impacts on the security of Pakistan and it has to do some thing to mitigate the lead.

What are the potential worries of west about the ongoing space arm race in Asia either for the civilian purposes or to enhance their military might. In the response of Chinese test of offensive anti satellite weapon in 2007 the US also brought down the same course and shot apart a crippled spy satellite over the pacific on February 20, 2008 by an anti ballistic missile named SAM-3, which is designed to hit warheads from medium range missiles at high altitude. [21] The shot has started a space race not only between two powers but also between the relatively small powers attached with the international power structure. West have deep concerned over these kinds of developments due to economic and strategic reasons. Australia has got into a deal with US to acquire this SAM-3 ABM system and China has deep concerns on that. In South Asia China as a strategic allay of Pakistan will sell its technology to her if it needed against India. The west is in worry because their commercial and military satellites have become vulnerable now to Chinese and US missiles. The US “Shot” following the Chinese proposal for an agreement to keep the space without weapons reveals that US does not want to halt this race which is booming on now.

What is the economical rationale behind the Indian space ambitions and what India wants to get out of these massive developments in the space technologies? To answer this question we should go back to the statement of Vikram Sarabahi the true initiator of Indian space once said that “A civilian program with focus on with application of space technology as tool for socio economic development of the country” [22] Indian space program is essentially based upon the three main pillars, which define the main rationale behind the massive development in this field for communication, meteorology and foe exploration of natural resources either in space or at the earth. The elite technologies like this are very charming and fascinating to the potential powers like India which has the futuristic agenda beyond their territorial boundaries or in the other words the powers who want to be hegemone in their respective regions. What space technology can contribute towards enhancement of national power? First it enhances the communication capabilities of a state in every field from telecommunication to strategic communication. The GPS system today is used in almost every aspect of human life related to communication like in mobile phone, map-making, land surveying, commerce, scientific uses, and hobbies such as geocaching. Also, the precise time reference is used in many applications including the scientific study of earthquakes. GPS is also a required key synchronization resource of cellular networks, such as the Qualcomm CDMA air interface used by many wireless carriers in a multitude of countries. [23] Above all of this our whole banking system, cash transactions, visa cards commercial flights about every thing is dependent on this technology. So having this technology you can easily rope in the massive investment in your country as India is doing today. India having large territorial area and population is a big market for the foreign investors and these kinds of developments can easily boost up the investment and in the other words country’s economy. The hegemonic ambitions that India has can only be fulfilled by getting the economical power. India now a day is rapidly growing economical power and the back bone of this growing power is its space technology. The second economical rational is meteorology, which is used to observe weather patterns and changes in atmosphere and weather forecasting. It is very important navigational aspect as far as the commercial flights and sea travelling is concerned. It is very important for the execution of military plans and strategies because weather matters a lot in military operations. The sea trade ships are more dependent on the satellite navigation than any other thing and the country like India whose most trade is dependant on the sea rout have to develop such technologies on its own for the early navigation of sea weather pattern. Exploration of natural resources through space navigation is very important factor and economical rational behind the Indian space program. Third the exploration of natural resources in space as well as at the earth by using space technologies. There are large reserves of natural resources in the form of different metals which can be used to produce energy. For example Helium; this is excessively available at moon and can be used in nuclear reactors as fuel to produce energy. India has sent its moon mission Chandrayaan to moon especially for the exploration of Helium. With this china and Japan has also sent there experimental satellites to moon for the exploration of natural resources. So there is a moon race to explore natural resources between these Asian countries. S Chandrashekar, an erstwhile scientist at ISRO claims in an interview with Tejas a leading economic journal of India that “If I assess the program on the economic front, I think it has arguably demonstrated that it has significantly contributed to national development. The payoffs that we are getting today far exceed the investments we have made in the program”. [24] Antrix is marketing instrument of ISRO and is used to rope in the global customers to share the space services in return of huge foreign exchange. Only in 2000 Antrix has given a business of i.36 billion US dollars from leasing transponders selling remote sensing images and launching of foreign satellites on the same vehicle. [25] Space technology is a big source to enhance your area of influence and exploitation of the natural resources beyond the territorial boundaries of your country. That’s what Great powers of the region and external players are doing in Afghanistan. US satellites are doing continuous geological surveys in Afghanistan and according to a recent report of New York Times US has identified huge reserves of iron, copper, cobalt, gold and critical industrial metals like lithium including so many minerals that are essential to modern industry. These reserves are almost of 1 trillion $ and some have said that Afghanistan will be the Saudi Arabia of lithium in future. [26] Lithium has the most significant role because it is used in the electronic chips that are used in the missile guidance system. India, Russia and US along its allies are so hungry to exploit these large reserves of a poor country and they are playing their games over there.


Pakistan relatively a small and poor country has no potential to compete India in the space technologies because these technologies demand for a huge investment and a very solid and comprehensive scientific and research base. Space technologies now a days have deepimpact on the economic and startegic aspects of a country. These are the modern technologies


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