PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND PRITHVIS
Strategic Weapons Behavior in South Asia
SOUTH ASIAN SECURITY SCHOLARSHIP has overwhelmingly focused on the causes and consequences of India's and Pakistan's nuclearization. Insufficient attention has been paid to the other components of these states' strategic weapons decisions, a portrait of which may reveal a richer understanding of the motivations driving them. The May 1998 nuclear tests were certainly major strategic events, but there are multiple plausible explanations for these decisions. A more complete and accurate understanding of Indian and Pakistani strategic behavior can be gained by analyzing their ballistic missile flighttesting patterns, patterns related to nuclearization that can provide insights into the motives for both the nuclear tests and their broader strategic weapons decisions. Instead of weighing alternative explanations for one event— the 1998 nuclear tests—I examine the series of ballistic missile flight tests in the region that occurred repeatedly across a two-decade time frame under a variety of systemic and domestic conditions, providing new insights into the motivations for India's and Pakistan's strategic weapons decisions.
I begin with a survey of the South Asian nuclearization debate, demonstrating in particular that there are multiple plausible explanations for India's decision to cross the nuclear weapons threshold in May 1998. This debate focuses on several possible security, domestic political, and normative or prestige variables that might influence India's and Pakistan's strategic weapons behavior; but it is unable to resolve which variables are the most important, and when, due to limited observations. My examination of ballistic missile flight tests in the region relies on a greater number of data points, allowing me to confirm or disconfirm the hypotheses generated by the nuclearization