Former defence secretary retired Lt Gen Naeem Khalid Lodhi has claimed that Pakistan possesses second strike capability against India. He was speaking at a seminar at Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), an Islamabad-based think-tank that works on strategic issues.
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The issue of second strike capability came up in the context of the conventional superiority enjoyed by India and the options for Pakistan.
The second strike provides a military the capability to hit back at an enemy in a situation where its land-based nuclear arsenal had been neutralized. The former defence secretary said that despite the growing conventional imbalance, Pakistan had certain strengths including the nuclear parity with India and credible nuclear deterrence. The nuclear deterrence, he said, had been augmented by the second strike capability, efficient delivery systems and effective command and control system. He did not explain any specifics about the second strike capability, which could be sea, air or land based.
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It is still unclear if Pakistan was any closer to the submarine based ‘assured second strike capability’ for stable deterrence, particularly at time when India has already made the moves towards it. Discussing Pakistan’s second strike capability, President SVI Dr Zafar Iqbal Cheema said that Pakistan had improved its second strike capability. Pakistan’s second strike capability, Dr Cheema said, has been augmented by deployment of Hatf-VII/Baber nuclear capable cruise missile that is launchable from aircrafts and conventional submarines. It is further fortified by the deployment of Hatf-VIII/Ra’ad air launched cruise missile, he added. Technically speaking, he maintained, the best mode of second strike capability is submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), which neither India nor Pakistan have deployed as yet.