Last month, India announced a missile test that had capabilities to reach Beijing and Shanghai. The country’s reason for the missile test, according to Indian defense, was to build a credible minimum deterrence with no hostile effects. In likely response, Pakistan conducted the first test of its Shaheen 1-A intermediate-range ballistic missile less than a week after India. And even more recently, Pakistan has planned to test fire a brand new-capable missile by the end of May. The ‘Nasr’ missile has over a 110 mile target range and is also said to have a high degree of accuracy. Most missiles that have been developed by Pakistan these past few years have been made with the assistance of China.
These nuclear pursuits are stimulating a lot of debate and worrisome attention across the international arena. Hosts of nuclear weapons programs in Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, and India are definitely on the forefront of global issues. However, in reference to India, its role is critical because of how it wishes to assert itself on the world stage. Its reason behind testing does not seem to be to compete with its neighbor, China, in a race to regional dominance, but to gain more power internationally. However, the further pursuit of nuclear missiles testing is not a smart choice to obtain any sort of power because of the dire consequences and tension it may provoke.
Fortunately, China responded calmly to India’s testing, saying it does not want to build up any sort of tension and that they are not rivals, but partners. Whether China and India are working on bilateral relations is not the question, however. It can be asserted that India and China are actually more cooperative than confrontational. India has aligned itself more with China at the U.N. Security Council and, in turn, has voted against many U.S. resolutions even though America backs India’s membership at the Security Council. India’s role as a breakout nation has been proven successful. Its economy is growing stronger. It plays an important role regionally in diplomacy and economic partnership. The responsibility of the country has increased immensely over the years. This is why it is not such a good idea for India to partake in these tests. Whether India knows it or not, it’s already achieved power, in the right way. Continuing in the same path is what will determine its further race to the top.
The world is seeing the beginning of an Asian arms race with global implications. India could have chosen to test this missile anytime, but it appears that India is trying to reflect its emergence onto the world stage and show everyone that its strength is equal to that of its neighbor — not necessarily competing with China — but proving itself. The timing seems to indicate this, especially since China has had such an assertive role in world politics these past few years. India wants more than anything to become a world power, but the way to do that is not through its nuclear pursuits.
What is difficult now is that India’s testing happened at a time that is inconvenient given the situation in Iran and North Korea. It is going to be even more difficult to impose a big stick policy or condemn the actions of the rogue states when India is doing the exact same thing. Whatever move India makes, it must do so responsibly because its footprint is clearly present, and its actions have strong consequences not only regionally, but more than ever before around the world.