In a recent event, Pakistan conducted a test on its ballistic missile “Ghaznavi” on 29th August 2019. The news was conveyed to the country and the world through a tweet made by Major General Asif Gafoor who is the official spokesperson for Pakistan’s Army. The Ghaznavi missile was ground to a ground missile which can carry multiple types of warheads up to 290 km. On Wednesday, Pakistan closed three aviation routes of Karachi airspace till August 31. After the announcement of the news, it was being connected with the closure of Air Space by Pakistan.

India Already Knew About the test.

However, as described by Indian Officials, India already knew about the launch and test of the missile, even before it was conducted. They claim that Pakistan themselves told the Indian Government about the launch window.

As explained by Foreign Ministry spokesman Ravish Kumar, Pakistan had already informed Indian government about the test of the ballistic missile. But how is this possible? Pakistan is considered as a threat and an enemy neighbour. So why would they inform in advance about the test of the missile to India? The roots go way back in the early 2000s.

Agreement on Pre-notification of Flight Testing of Ballistic Missiles & What is a Ballistic Missile

An agreement was signed between India and Pakistan on 3rd October 2005 where the 2 nations agreed upon pre-informing about the test launch of ballistic missiles. The agreement was signed in Islamabad by Mr Manmohan Singh, the then PM of India. But what made the two nations agree upon the idea of pre-notifying of the missile test even though there is a good chance that the missile tests are being conducted to be used on each other only.

Well, the answer lies in the missile itself. A ballistic missile is not like another missile. There are several types of missile but ballistic missile pose a serious threat for any enemy. A missile is not a bomb itself but it is a carrier of the bomb. A normal canon can launch a bomb to a definite distance only. Hence, to detonate a bomb after a certain range or distance, then you need a missile. A missile can carry bombs to long distances. For E.g. a cruise missile can carry bombs to long distances, such as Nirbhaya Missile of India can carry bombs to 1500 km of distance. But the problem with a cruise missile is that it can only they have to be controlled all the way and they are relatively slow, which increases their chances of being caught on the radar of the enemy. This is where a ballistic missile comes into play.

Ballistic missiles are lightweight, small and move very fast in the air. They require a very less amount of engine power and fuel. Once the engine gets ignited, it pushes the missile in the sky so high and then the engine turns off. Afterwards, the missile comes down at such a high speed that it is hard for any missile defence system’s radar to detect the missile. This is the reason that the ballistic missile is considered very dangerous and threatening.

History of Agreement

Hence, if a nation conducts a test of a ballistic missile, then the enemy or neighbour nation may get a wrong hint that they have launched an attack. This kind of misunderstanding can result in a war. To avoid this situation, Mr Atal Bihar Vajpayee took the topic to the Pakistani Government when he was India’s Prime Minister 1999. Hence, on February 21, 1999, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between India & Pakistan where both countries promised to enter into a treaty. The agreement was signed in the year 2005 when Manmohan Singh was PM of India and Natwar Singh was then foreign minister.

Conditions to be Followed under Treaty

The agreement consisted of provisions in 11 paragraphs. The agreement suggests that if any country is about to conduct a test, then they will have to inform the other nation about it, at least 72 hours before the launch window. The information will be given in the form of a notice through the respective country’s High Commission. The notice will be treated as confidential by both countries. Further, the countries will have to issue necessary guidelines for air traffic before missile tests.

Apart from this, the missile’s launch location shall be at least 40 km away from the International Border and the landing site of the missile shall be at least 70 km away from the international border. At no times, during its areal journey, the missile shall not cross LOC/International Border and maintain a distance of at least 40 km. The treaty is applicable in case of ballistic missile operating from Land to Land or sea to sea.

Amidst the growing tensions between the two countries, this missile test conducted by Pakistan is also being considered as a display of power by Pakistan. The test has been conducted after the abrogation of Article 370 from the Indian Constitution by the President of India, which gave special status to the state of Jammu & Kashmir and divided the state into two union territories viz Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh UT. 

The test of the missile was one of the many actions taken by Pakistan in response to Article 370 revocation. The country has also expelled the Indian High Commission, downgraded its diplomatic ties with India, suspended trade relations with India, stopped Buses and trains moving between the two countries and did several other things to protest the Indian Government’s actions. The world government and India has however asked Pakistan to understand that the matter is related to India’s internal issues and that Pakistan has no say and hence should not react in this regard.

Apart from this, Pakistan also conducted a successful training launch of Shaheen-II in May 2019, which is a surface-to-surface ballistic missile. Further, Pakistan successfully launched the tactical ballistic missile Nasr in January stating it as a part of the Army Strategic Forces Command training exercise.

However, as per the reports of the officials, the missile testing it is just general testing conducted by the nation and has nothing to do with the matter.