Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson, Nafees Zakaria, on Friday cautioned the United States of America (USA) against the sale of armed drones to India. This statement comes after the disclosure of the report that India intends to buy 80 to 100 units of General Atomics Predator C Average drones from the US. Previously, the Trump administration was also inclined towards a deal of 22 unarmed Guardian drones to India. Pakistan vehemently opposed the signing of that deal as well.

The recent statement by the FO was issued immediately after the Pakistan army claimed of taking down a drone suspected of spying on Pakistan in the Rakhchikri sector of Pakistan Administered Kashmir. The wreckage of the drone was seized immediately by the army for analysis. The presence of the drone in Pakistani territory is a proof of how intent our neighbour is at crossing the de facto border between the two states.

This is not the first time that India has violated the Line of Control (LOC). Every other day, there are reports of cross border firings. Pakistan has repeatedly raised the issue on International forums too. In the last year alone, more than 300 LOC violations were reported. There have been drone infiltrations in the past as well. Back in June 2010, the Pakistan Air Force shot down an Israel operated UAV launched from Indian Territory. They have shown their hand in the past, the deal will only accommodate India’s illegal activities.

An armed drone deal under such circumstances will further aggravate tensions and intensify the arms race between the two countries by adding another category where the two nations will be competing to outgun each other.

Furthermore, it is bound to lower the threshold of conflict and undermine strategic stability in South Asia. Border skirmishes from both sides have already become a common occurrence. Weapon carrying drones will only add to the lethality of these encounters, and have the potential to create countless more incidents which can spark of flashpoints between the two nations – and perhaps even lead to another conflict.

At the same time – as the Foreign Office Spokesperson pointed out – any transfer of armed drones should closely comply with the framework provided by the multilateral export control regimes. This particularly includes the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) because it places certain restrictions on carrying out such deals.