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Global Voices Online: India, Pakistan Missile Launches: Game Changers or Mere Posturing?
May 8, 2012 – Aparna Ray
On April 19, 2012, India successfully test-fired its Agni V inter-continental ballistic missile (IBCM). With a range of over 5,000 kilometres, the Agni V places India’s missile capabilities increasingly in line with the United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and China. The following week, neighboring Pakistan successfully test-launched its nuclear capable ballistic missile, the Shaheen 1-A.
These back-to-back missile tests received widespread coverage and comment on mainstream and social media outlets. In particular, netizens have been engaging in lively online discussions regarding the escalating arms race in South Asia and its impact on the overall security of the region.
While many netizens across India and Pakistan, fuelled with nationalistic fervor, engaged in hyperbole regarding the respective missile launches, there has been some strong criticism in the Pakistani blogosphere regarding the United States’ response to India's missile launch. Labeling it as “double standards”, Yasmeen Ali, a university professor based in Lahore, wrote on Pakpotpourri2's blog:
However, a section of netizens felt that these missile tests were not going to escalate security tensions among India, China and Pakistan. On his blog Chaturanga, Jaideep Prabhu pointed out that India's policy was to acquire a ‘minimum credible deterrent' and not to escalate an arms race, as was being loosely discussed in a section of the media.
On the blog Rolan San Juan, Rajesh Basrur, a Senior Fellow and the Coordinator of the South Asia Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), argued that the Agni-V launch was “inconsequential” in that it would not change India's “deterrence game vis-à-vis China.
In his post on The Christian Science Monitor, Scott Baldauf referred to the chain of events as ‘ritual aggression' between India and Pakistan, a posturing more out of habit than actual security concerns, especially given that the two countries were currently trying to develop closer ties.
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