Pakistan successfully tested its short range surface to surface ballistic missile ‘Nasr’ on January 24, 28 and 31 as part of a Army Strategic Forces Command training exercise. The exercise included quad salvo on January 24 and single shots on January 28 and 31. Quad salvo means that the four missiles were fired together from an AR1A/A100-E Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) to enhance the operational efficiency of Army Strategic force Command. While single shots means one missile was fired from the vehicle. These exercises were meant to test the system’s inflight maneuverability, including end flight maneuverability. Nasr has shoot and scoot attributes which mean that the system is capable of firing and moving away quickly to avoid counter targeting, which would contribute to the weapon’s survivability. The speed and low apogee of the Hatf-IX missile would make it difficult to intercept by the India’s existing Ballistic Missile Defence system and could defeat the S-400 air defence system.Though the hostility between India and Pakistan continues, nuclear weapons have brought stability to a great extent. As India decided to take the nuclear weapons route, Pakistan followed because it was only through nuclear weapons that Pakistan could successfully neutralize India’s conventional superiority. The competition between India and Pakistan in South Asia has been characterised by an action-reaction spiral. Pakistan took the nuclear route in order to create a balance against militarily superior India. In 2004, India adopted an aggressive military doctrine, Pakistan responded by developing the Short Range Ballistic Missile Nasr which further strengthened the existing deterrence equation of the region.Pakistan has no desire to indulge in an expensive arms race, and is only reacting to those Indian developments which are threatening its sovereigntyThe purpose of the development of Nasr is defensive because Pakistan would use it to secure its border from Indian conventional aggression. Pakistan’s Short Range Ballistic Missile Nasr has been criticised by the international community, which believes that it would intensify the arms race in South Asia. However, Pakistan only developed Nasr to overcome the growing threats from India. The Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) forces Pakistan to increase its dependence on its nuclear arsenal. General Bipin acknowledged CSD in 2017, which was followed by Pakistan’s Nasr test. Before official acknowledgement of CSD, Pakistan did not conduct any training tests on Nasr. Pakistan inducted the Nasr missile into its strategic arsenal in 2017 and its first training launch was held in July 2017 after the official acknowledgment of CSD from the Indian side. Pakistan has no desire to indulge in an expensive arms race, and is only reacting to those Indian developments which are threatening its sovereignty. This weapon system has augmented Pakistan’s Full Spectrum Deterrence in line with Credible Minimum Deterrence, which means that Pakistan would deter conventional forces (India) by employing nuclear deterrence. Pakistan adopted assertive command and control system on Nasr which means it is centrally controlled which minimises the chances of accidental or unauthorised use.The latest series of Nasr training tests were a response to a statement made by General Bipin on January 10. He had announced that the Indian military would be launching war games next month to test ‘structures geared towards sudden and swift offensives into enemy territory by Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs). These new structures will be “validated” in military exercises on the ground in May 2019. IBGs are central to India’s offensive military doctrine, which involves initiating rapid military offence from multiple fronts by exploiting the element of surprise and leaving Pakistan with neither the time to respond nor the defensive resources to stop those multiple attacks. Nasr tests are in response to this Indian military announcement as Pakistan solely developed this Short Range Ballistic Missile system to deter India from initiating a conventional conflict. The recent Nasr tests have frightened Indian commanders because of its capability to defeat all Indian existing Ballistic Missile Defence systems and S-400 air defence systems. Deterrence is often in the minds of the adversary. As long as Indian leaders continue to be deterred by Nasr, it will continue to be effective.Writer is Research Associate at Strategic Vision InstitutePublished in Daily Times, February 15th 2019.