I am not quite done with this yet.
Irrespective of whether there was any test of any cruise missile at all. I want to make absolutely sure that the crux of my post has gone through and I would like Pillai and Syed Yusuf to confirm that they atleast have have understood what I was saying.
For the benifit of all concerned.
What is the real risk in the missile test?
The only risk in this test is Pakistani propaganda that this is a nuclear tipped submarine launched cruise missile. This indicates a desire on part of Pakistan's Army top brass to mate nuclear missiles with their warheads. That imo is the only risk.
So what is the problem?
The stability of the deterrence regime to a rogue launch cannot be guarenteed if missiles are mated to warheads. From the Jihad perspective this poses two major problems:
1) The rationality of the pro-Jihad factions is not known. If there is an Islamist takeover in Pakistan and nukes are mated to missiles, the inability to predict the rationality of a Jihadi regime in Pakistan will provoke a period of extreme instability in the India-Pakistan deterrence scheme.
2) It is well accepted that Pakistan's nuclear strategic community has often relied on making threats of smuggling nukes onto foreign soil and carrying out nuclear attacks. It is simply too risky to smuggle an entire nuke into a foreign country at a time of high tension. A more reliable approach is to over time smuggle a nuke in kit form and assemble it inside the target city. Such a nuke would be ineffective until the core had been mated to it and until a sufficiently committed person, a Jihadi suicide attacker was put next to it awaiting a launch code. The presence of a Jihadi next to a fully weaponized nuke poses an unmanageable risk.
Ah... nukes in my cities?Are you out of your mind?
Yes - in 1983 - Abdul Qadeer Khan alluded to the presence of such weapons in Indian cities. At the time he also suggested that if India made any move to attack Pakistan - major cities "would be hit in five minutes".
In 2001 - two incidents occured that were of interest. Firstly a Pakistani was caught trying to cross from Jordan into Israel with something that was variously described as "a dirty bomb" or "a backpack nuke". And the Pakistanis picked up a Jihadi for interrogation in Karachi and a report of the interrogation submitted to the American FBI by the ISI stated that the Jihadi claimed that atleast one nuclear bomb had been smuggled by Osama Bin Laden into the continental US.
Pakistanis resident in Britain even after the tragic events of 7/7 continued to talk in overt terms about the possibility of smuggling a nuke into London and detonating it there. Everyone knows who these Pakistanis are and their association with the LeT and the LeT's association with the Pakistani government.
A US Congressional committee containg leading lights of Pak-friendly type on the hill in the late 90s repeatedly pointed to the possibility of a nuke being smuggled into the US.
What if it is a mind game? what if they have no nukes in cities?
We do not know if this threat is verifiable - but the Pakistanis were keen in both cases to ensure that this possiblity register on the minds of both American, Indian and Israeli policy planners. This to me indicates a desire to project this threat into the minds of all concerned.
The Pakistanis continue to play on this theme today. The thing about mind games and political theatre is that if you slip up for one second, you look very very bad.
Okay so now what?
The first thing is to understand that there is no way to distinguish between Pakistani intentions on the JDAM issue and their intentions on their missile based deterrence ideas, so when you talk to them you have to keep both of those possibilities in mind.
The second thing, India has a stated No First Use doctrine, Pakistan has a first use doctrine. Extending India's "No First Use" statement to imply "we will be nuked first" is incorrect. Ultimately these are simply things nations say but saying this at a time when the Pakistanis are unsure of what they want to do - incentivizes nasty behavior on their part. If you don't want to do that - then one should just keep quiet.