BrahMos misadventure: accidental or deliberate?

As a wayward projectile made its way into Pakistani airspace from across the divide, it was a reality check of our security conscience. Though India came up with an apologetic statement terming it a malfunction of its defence gear, it has raised serious questions on its credibility, supervision and safety of military command and control, as well as its arsenal.

To look into its trajectory, on 9th March, 2022, a high-speed flying object breached the international borders of Pakistan and remained in the airspace of Pakistan for more than 3mins and 44 seconds before crashing inside Pakistan. The object covered a distance of approximately 124 km in the territory of Pakistan. DG ISPR Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar confirmed that it was a supersonic Indian BrahMos missile, claimed to be one of the fastest cruise missiles in the world.

Indian BrahMos crashing in Pakistan's territory, after an extended period of flight, is alarming and must be analysed from every angle. There could be two possible explanations related to this event: technical malfunction or deliberate design.

India, belatedly however, came up with an official statement, saying it was due to 'accidental firing' caused by 'a technical malfunction' in the 'course of routine maintenance'.

Even if it was a technical malfunction, it raises many questions on the Indian competence to handle high-end weapons, which are nuclear capable. Similar concerns were also raised by NSA Moeed Yusuf. In the nuclearised environment of South Asia, an accidental firing of nuclear capable BrahMos is highly risky since it is technically difficult for any available detection system to ascertain whether the incoming missile is armed with a payload or not. Moreover, with such high-speed missiles, it is highly challenging to intercept such projectiles in air. So, the missile being out of control of its handlers could have prompted Pakistan to interpret it as a nuclear attack, resulting in catastrophe, if Pakistan had decided to respond while the missile was still in air. However, being a responsible nuclear state, Pakistan demonstrated commendable caution and restraint.

In a stark contrast to Indian media and institutions, Pakistan took due time to assess the situation before making it public and did not resort to war hysteria and jingoism towards India. Moreover, as stated in The Express Tribune...

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