Why has Pakistan deployed LY-80 missiles near the India border?

Pakistan wants to fulfill several objects by placing LY-80 missiles near Indian borders, writes Jai Kumar Verma for South Asia Monitor

Jai Kumar Verma May 01, 2020

The government of Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has miserably failed in all spheres. The economy is in shambles, unemployment is skyrocketed, and the country is unable to pay its debts. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) which sponsors policies to combat financial crimes including terrorist financing, money laundering, etc. is about to downgrade Pakistan from ‘grey list’ to ‘black list’. Imran Khan’s problems are multiplied because of spread of coronavirus. 

Most of the countries in the world took precautions and enforced lockdown and congregational prayers were suspended. Even Saudi Arabia banned congregational prayers in mosques, but fanatic clerics of Pakistan refused to obey government orders and insisted that prayers will be held in mosques. The holy month of Ramadan began from 24 April and during the month there will be more assemblies in mosques and more get-togethers for Shari and Iftar. There are fights between security forces and worshippers near the mosques in Karachi and other places, as police were trying to stop mass prayers and were forcing to lock the mosques. In these events, distance cannot be maintained, and it may result in the spread of the pandemic. 

Pakistan's government raises the Kashmir issue to gain support from the masses. Here the Imran Khan government failed miserably as India defanged Article 370 and transformed Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir into two independent Union territories. The Indian government passed the Amended Citizenship Act 2019, under which Indian citizenship was offered to few tormented religions minorities, excluding Muslims, from three Islamic countries including Pakistan. The long-pending Ayodhya temple-mosque case was also resolved. Although all these issues are the internal matter of India, the Pakistani government always interfered with these issues. 

Islamabad took Kashmir issue to different international forums but most of the countries made it clear that it is an internal matter of India. The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) made futile attempts to carry out terrorist activities in J&K but failed as the Indian security forces eliminated a large number of terrorists under Operation All Out and Operation Cordon and Search. As the vigil on the border was considerably enhanced it became difficult to infiltrate the terrorists. India’s foreign reserve was growing and was producing more defence items under Make in India while Pakistan was going down and now reached on the verge of bankruptcy.

In view of its failure at almost all fields and impending danger of more reverses because of escalating coronavirus, the  Imran Khan government has deployed LY-80 missiles on the outskirts of Lahore, which is less than 23 km from the India-Pakistan border.  LY-80, or HQ16A, is a medium-range surface-to-air defence missile system (SAM). It was produced by China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp (CASC) and introduced in Chinese armed forces in September 2011.  The LY-80 can be used from mobile ground vehicles as well as by ships and it can engage aerial targets at high altitude. The mid-range LY-80 can also intercept very low-flying targets at a distance of up to 40 km. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) mentioned that three units of LY-80 were delivered to Pakistan in 2015-2016 and it was inducted in the Pakistan Army on March 12, 2017. Pakistan Army conducted its first live firing test during exercise Al Bayza-2019. The missile is also equipped with six firing missile containers locked in two rows of three and it can shoot at a speed of 600 mph or more. 

In the past Pakistan also alleged that India has deployed medium-range supersonic cruise Brahmos missiles in Kashmir and there was extraordinary military movement and India may attack Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (POK). Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi stated in December 2019 that he wrote to United Nations Security Council (UNSC) that it should task UN observer mission in India and Pakistan to conduct an inquiry and put all facts to UNSC for its consideration. 

Pakistan also claimed that India deployed missiles just to divert international attention from its latest moves in Kashmir. Pakistan and India have already fought three wars and India submitted several irrefutable proof that Pakistan has launched a low-intensity war against India and infiltrates terrorists in the country to carry out terrorist activities. 

Pakistan wants to fulfill several objects by placing LY-80 missiles near Indian borders. First of all, it wants to win over the support of Pakistani masses by saying that country is in danger and India can attack Pakistan; hence all must support the government, and the public should not care about the day-to-day difficulties they are facing. Secondly, the Imran Khan government wants to keep the Kashmir issue alive in national as well as the international field. 

Pakistan did 646 ceasefire violations in January and February 2020 and alleged that Indian forces violated ceasefire 708 times in 2020. 

Thirdly, Pakistan also claims that both India and Pakistan are nuclear powers and a war between them will be disastrous not only for the region but for the whole world; hence international powers must interfere and settle the Kashmir issue. The deployment of missiles is intimidating as well as a threatening gesture to India. However, there will be no war as Pakistan is aware it cannot match India in a conventional war. 

(The author is a New Delhi-based strategic analyst and member of USI and IDSA. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at jai_pushpa@hotmail.com)

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