India’s Rogue Designs: From BrahMos Missile Firing to State Sponsored Cross-Border Terrorism

This week, the international community has been confronted with two significant developments.  Despite their seemingly disparate nature, deeper examination reveal a troubling pattern of behavior by India, suggesting a deliberate pivot towards rogue state conduct. The Guardian’s revelations of India’s Intelligence Agency’s direct involvement in extrajudicial killings across international borders starkly breach the principles of sovereignty and human rights, flagrantly exhibiting rogue state actions. Concurrently, the Indian Air Force’s admission of “human error” in a controversial missile launch incident, its first formal engagement with the judiciary on the matter, does not merely raise questions of accountability but rather points towards a deliberate act of firing.

These incidents collectively underscore a strategic orientation towards rogue behavior, heavily influenced by an aggressive, nationalistic ideology championed by the Modi government. This ideology not only drives India to flout international norms with increasing boldness but also suggests that the BrahMos missile incident was a deliberate manifestation of a broader, rouge policy.

The orchestration of extrajudicial killings, paired with the missile incident, reflects a pattern of actions that align with the characteristics of a rogue state, challenging the foundational principles of international law and raising serious concerns about regional stability and global peace. This emerging narrative of rogue state behavior, fueled by a rouge, aggressive nationalistic ideology, signals a troubling era of defiance against established norms, driven by geopolitical and strategic objectives that prioritize unilateral action over diplomatic engagement and international cooperation. Rogue behavior” in international relations typically refers to actions by a state that significantly deviate from the expected norms of conduct, often involving aggressive or unilateral actions that disregard international laws or norms. New Information Regarding the BrahMos The recent events within the Indian Air Force (IAF) have sparked a significant controversy surrounding the accidental launch of a nuclear-capable BrahMos missile. Wing Commander Abhinav Sharma has taken legal action against the IAF, alleging unfair blame and wrongful termination of service in connection with the incident. A court inquiry found Sharma and two others culpable for oversights that led to the missile launch. However, Sharma has contested these findings, arguing in court that he was unable to prevent the launch and attributing blame to higher-ranking officers for disregarding safety protocols. Despite Sharma’s assertions, the IAF has refuted his claims, maintaining that he was present during the actions that resulted in the missile launch. This incident underscores broader concerns regarding safety procedures and accountability within the IAF. Why Missile Less likely an Accident The crux of this incident was pinpointed to the failure of an Indian commander to sever combat connections prior to transport. In a decisive response, India leveraged the “President’s pleasure” clause to dismiss three officials from their duties. While this response underscores the apparent seriousness with which the Indian military addresses such breaches, it simultaneously prompts a reflection on the effectiveness of attributing blame to individuals in attempt to cover systemic flaws or intentional action. By focusing on a selected few, India risks oversimplifying a complex issue, potentially overlooking broader systemic deficiencies in the operations and management of its missile arsenal, or its attempt to hide its intentional actions. One must ponder the credibility of the IAF’s narrative regarding the missile launch. The incident sheds light on a multifaceted failure within the safety and procedural frameworks designed to safeguard missile operations. At the heart of this failure was the neglect to disconnect combat connectors from the junction box, pointing to significant lapses in physical safety measures and electronic locking systems. The importance of physical safety mechanisms, such as manual pins or switches, in preventing unauthorized missile launches cannot be overstated. Their underutilization raises questions about the effectiveness of these safeguards, hinting at either procedural negligence or deliberate circumvention. Furthermore, the potential for electronic locks—intended to require specific authentication codes to arm the missile—to be either overridden or improperly integrated with the missile’s control systems, signals a critical security vulnerability. This episode also casts a spotlight on the procedures and training of personnel involved in missile operations. The evident disregard for standard operating procedures (SOPs) concerning the disconnection of combat connections pre-launch suggests a possible lack of clarity in SOPs, or deficiencies in oversight and training. It appears there is a deeper issue within the operational culture that does not prioritize adherence to protocols. Moreover, the incident highlights a disconnect between the missile’s electronic safety systems and its physical components—a fundamental concern. Ideally, the control system of a missile would be capable of detecting unaddressed safety measures and halting the launch accordingly. The presence of such a gap or flaw in the system architecture that allows this level of safety integration failure is alarming. The event further reveals that the missile’s safety measures lack the necessary redundancy or fail-safes. Redundancy is the cornerstone of any reliable safety system, designed to avert undesired outcomes if one measure fails. The occurrence of an unintended launch, despite procedural missteps, indicates that the missile system’s safeguards were insufficient to counteract human or technological errors. Furthermore, violations at multiple levels of safety protocols might also suggest a deliberate act, though the official Indian stance deems the incident unintentional, now attributing it to human error. Opinion of Experts from Pakistan In 2022, Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Khalid Ahmed Kidwai, former Director General of the Strategic Plans Division of Pakistan, asserted that the launch of an Indian missile into Pakistan earlier this year was deliberate, contrary to Indian claims of it being an accident. Lt. Gen (retd) Kidwai argued that missile launches cannot happen accidentally and require extensive preparation, implying high-level approvals from the Indian government. Pakistan’s request for a joint probe was denied, and therefore, he criticized the Indian court of inquiry’s findings as inadequate. He attributed the incident to the aggressive nationalistic ideology of the Indian government, exacerbated by provocative statements from Indian ministers. Dr. Atia Ali Kazmi presented a comprehensive argument in her analytical article, challenging the notion of the accidental launch. Drawing upon the technical complexities of the BrahMos missile system, Dr. Kazmi emphasized the stringent safety measures and protocols inherent in its handling. She questioned the credibility of India’s claim of an accidental launch, pointing out inconsistencies in safety procedures and the revelation that the missile was transported in a ‘live state’ rather than inert during inspection. Highlighting the precision and sophistication of the BrahMos system, Dr. Kazmi argued that an accidental launch is highly improbable under normal circumstances. Instead, she suggested that the incident might have been deliberate, implicating the Indian Air Force in predetermined targeting. This intentional firing narrative is further strengthen by the fact that India is exhibiting a behavior which shows that it does not follow the accepted  norm and incline towards adopting more aggressive posture as shown in its extra judicial killing. India’s State Sponsored Cross Border Terrorism Guardian reported that India’s foreign intelligence agency, RAW, allegedly carried out nearly 20 assassinations in Pakistan since 2020. The operations were purportedly orchestrated by RAW sleeper cells primarily based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). According to the article, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is seeking a third term in office, is implicated directly in the alleged operations. RAW, India’s foreign intelligence agency, is said to be directly controlled by the Prime Minister’s office. This suggests that the alleged targeted killings in Pakistan were carried out under the authority of the Indian government, with approval from the highest levels of government, including Narendra Modi himself. Indian Defense Minister’s Confirmation The Guardian report reveals that India’s Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh, appeared to confirm India’s involvement in extrajudicial killings in Pakistan. Intelligence officials from both countries allege that  RAW, has conducted up to 20 assassinations in Pakistan since 2020, targeting convicted terrorists associated with Islamist militant groups. Singh stated that if terrorists escape to Pakistan, India will pursue and kill them there, echoing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support for such actions. This acknowledgment marks the first time India has admitted to such operations on foreign soil. It also confirm the BJP’s political tool kit to attract Hindu radical vote bank, even at the cost of India’s descent into rouge state. Pattern of India Rouge Rogue Behavior Inference in Sri Lankan Election  In 2015, Sri Lanka expelled the Colombo station chief of India’s intelligence agency, according to political and intelligence sources. They alleged that he aided the opposition in removing President Mahinda Rajapaksa from office. Allegations of Involvement in Easter Bombing in Sri Lanka Former Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena alleged that India was responsible for the devastating Easter Sunday attacks in 2019, which resulted in numerous casualties from bombings at churches and hotels. As reported by the Sunday Times, Sirisena informed Sri Lanka’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) that an Indian diplomat acknowledged Delhi’s role in the bombings. He further claimed that the diplomat admitted to orchestrating the attacks due to perceived lack of cooperation from Sri Lanka in granting India projects such as the Mattala Mahinda Rajapaksa International Airport and similar initiatives. This attack killed 250 people. Extra-Judicial Cross-Continent Killings in Canada On 18 June 2023, Nijjar was shot and killed in his pickup truck by two masked gunmen in the parking lot of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey, British Columbia. He walked out of the gurdwara that evening and was gunned down approximately two minutes later, in his Dodge Ram. He was hit by 34 bullets. Canadian Prime said that it has substantial proof that India is behind these killings. Attempt of Extra-Judicial Cross-Continent Killing in the US In November 2023, the US revealed, it thwarted an alleged plot to assassinate a Sikh separatist advocate in New York. An Indian national, Nikhil Gupta, is accused of attempting to hire a hitman, who turned out to be an undercover federal agent. Gupta, directed by an unnamed Indian government official, faces extradition from the Czech Republic. The White House raised concerns with India, prompting investigations, amid allegations of Indian involvement in the plot. BJP’S Problem: Fascist Rogue Manifesto & Agenda The statistics regarding extrajudicial killings in India reveal a concerning trend that suggests an alarming mindset/thought process within the governance framework of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). An increase in such incidents, particularly notable in Uttar Pradesh and Assam during BJP tenure, indicates a disregard for due process and human rights. The BJP’s rule saw a surge in extrajudicial killings, with numbers skyrocketing in Uttar Pradesh by more than fourfold between March 2017 and September 2023, and a notable increase in Assam from May to September 2021. These figures highlight a distressing pattern of governance, suggesting a rogue mentality within the BJP that prioritizes force over justice and accountability. This patterns of behavior exhibited by the Indian state in recent times, especially concerning extrajudicial killings and the contentious launch of a BrahMos missile into Pakistani territory, have raised serious questions about its adherence to international norms and the principles underpinning responsible state conduct. This narrative, woven from a series of incidents that span the aggressive deployment of military capabilities to covert operations abroad, reflects a departure from the expected comportment of a state committed to the rule of law, both domestically and in the international arena. The convergence of these actions underlines a strategy that seems to prioritize unilateral assertiveness over diplomatic dialogue and international cooperation, nudging India’s image closer to what is traditionally understood as rogue behavior Extrajudicial Killings: A Manifestation of Rogue Mindset & Behavior Extrajudicial killings, by their very nature, starkly contravene the fundamental tenets of human rights and the principles of sovereignty and non-interference that anchor international relations. The alleged orchestration of nearly 20 assassinations in Pakistan since 2020, as reported by The Guardian, implicates India’s foreign intelligence agency, RAW, in actions that blatantly disregard the sanctity of state sovereignty. Moreover, the involvement of India’s top political leadership in sanctioning these operations, as suggested by the direct control of RAW by the Prime Minister’s office and the Defence Minister’s public statements, underscores a systemic endorsement of these activities. This alignment of state apparatus towards executing or endorsing actions that violate international law exemplifies rogue behavior, reflecting a deliberate disregard for the norms that govern state interactions in favor of pursuing geopolitical and strategic objectives through any means necessary. The article on “Espionage and Assassinations: India in Global Politics” published in Strategic Forecast also highlight India’s involvement in extra-judicial killings in Canada. BrahMos Missile Launch: An Extension of Rogue Policy The incident involving the launch of a nuclear-capable BrahMos missile into Pakistani territory further compounds the perception of India’s tilt towards a rogue policy orientation. The explanation of the event as a “human error” juxtaposed against detailed accounts of procedural lapses and systemic failures in missile safety protocols suggests a complexity that goes beyond simple oversight.

The intentional circumvention of physical safety measures, the underutilization of electronic locking systems intended to prevent unauthorized launches, and the pointed dismissal of three officials under the “President’s pleasure” clause raise substantial doubts about the accidental nature of the launch. These elements, coupled with the lack of immediate and transparent communication with Pakistan post-launch, signify a departure from the protocols expected to be followed in the aftermath of such incidents, especially between nuclear-armed neighbors. This act, viewed in conjunction with the pattern of extrajudicial killings, underscores a strategic orientation that is not averse to flexing military muscle, even at the cost of escalating regional tensions and undermining established international norms.

 The Confluence of Rogue Actions and Intentions The synthesis of extrajudicial killings with the controversial missile launch reveals a broader policy stance that leans towards aggressive unilateralism, often characteristic of states labeled as rogue. This stance is further amplified by the Hindutva ideological underpinnings of the current Indian government, which appears to champion a nationalistic fervor that prioritizes India’s strategic and geopolitical dominance. The refusal to engage in a joint investigation with Pakistan over the missile incident, the aggressive posturing in the face of international critique, and the leveraging of such actions for domestic political gain illustrate a calculated approach to statecraft that places minimal value on diplomatic engagement or the repercussions of flouting international law.  Implications of Rogue Behavior India’s trajectory towards what can be classified as rogue behavior holds significant implications for regional stability and global peace. The willingness to engage in or endorse extrajudicial killings, the apparent readiness to utilize military capabilities in a manner that disrupts regional security architectures, and the overt defiance of international norms and expectations set a concerning precedent. Such actions not only erode the trust and mechanisms of cooperation painstakingly built among states, especially in a region as volatile as South Asia, but they also embolden other states to flout international norms, potentially leading to a cascade of unilateral aggressive actions that could destabilize the international order. Furthermore, India enhances its military capabilities with technologies such as ICBMs, canisterization, and Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs), the broader consequences of the BrahMos incident assume greater importance. The reach of Indian missiles extends to nations far beyond its immediate neighbor, including the United States and Canada, underscoring a global threat. Moreover, India’s exploration of artificial intelligence for military strategy amplifies concerns over algorithmic errors and vulnerability to cyberattacks Way Forward
  1. Pakistan should urge global accountability for India’s alleged rogue behavior, highlighting concerns at international platforms like the United Nations, while recognizing India’s importance for Western countries.
  2. Through strengthening strategic alliances with like-minded nations, Pakistan must exert collective pressure on India to uphold international norms.
  3. Prioritizing peaceful conflict resolution mechanisms, Pakistan should advocate for dialogue with India to address grievances and demonstrates commitment to regional stability.
  4. A “Regional Crisis Management Center,” should be established through regional agreement to reduce the probabilities of nuclear escalation and accidental war.
  5. Proposing bilateral confidence-building measures, Pakistan seeks to reduce tensions and enhance trust with India.
  6. Moreover, Pakistan may call for international oversight of India’s actions, particularly regarding India’s state sponsored terrorism, extrajudicial killings and military provocations, to ensure peace through transparency and accountability.

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