Pakistan on Tuesday claimed to have successfully conducted the first flight test of the newly developed short range surface-to-surface multi-tube ballistic missile ‘Hatf IX' (NASR).

Viewed by some strategic analysts as Pakistan's answer to India's Cold Start Doctrine, NASR has a range of 60 km and “shoot-and-scoot'' nuclear delivery capability.

The Inter-Services Public Relations said NASR's quick response system addressed need to deter evolving threats. Addressing a gathering at the undisclosed site of the test, Director-General of the Strategic Plans Division Khalid Ahmed Kidwai said the successful flight marked a milestone in consolidating Pakistan's strategic deterrence capability at all levels of the threat spectrum.

Lt. Gen (retd.) Kidwai pointed out that in the hierarchy of military operations, NASR provided Pakistan with short range missile capability in addition to the already available medium and long range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles in its inventory.

Welcoming the test, security analyst Shireen Mazari said in a statement that Pakistan had now acquired tactical nuclear capability with a low yield that could be used in the battlefield. “It will act as a deterrent against use of mechanised conventional land forces. This was essential in the wake of India's adventurist war-fighting doctrine formulations, which envisaged the use of rapid deployment of armed brigades and divisions in surprise and rapid attacks.''

Referring to India's Cold Start Doctrine, Ms. Mazari said, “India has always felt that Pakistan had a loophole in terms of lacking short range battlefield nuclear weapons, which it could exploit on the assumption that it made little sense for Pakistan to respond to such conventional attacks with strategic nuclear weapons. With NASR, Pakistan has plugged that loophole. Indian dreams of a limited war against Pakistan through its Cold Start strategy have been laid to rest. This will allow for a reassertion of a stable nuclear deterrence in the region.''

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