Indian military build-up threatens South Asia
Contributing Editor Air Marshal (Retd) AYAZ AHMED KHAN opines that India continues to threaten the countries in the region.

Military mischief is the logical consequence of unchecked weapons buildup. India is creating the situation for the fourth war over Kashmir by continuing state terrorism and depredations against the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir, had Pakistan been as strong in conventional forces and weaponry as India, by now it would have intervened to stop Indian Armyís and BSF massacres in Held Kashmir. With the ratio of conventional forces in Indiaís favour, Pakistan has no choice but to be a silent spectator, while the Indian military continues to decimate Kashmiri Muslims and turn them into a minority in the Occupied State. Indian Army is twice the size of Pakistan Army. Indian armour and artillery strength is about three times that of Pakistan. IAF is twice as large in combat aircraft, but five times larger in state of the art strike aircraft. IN is five times larger than the PN, except that PNís submarine fleet is more modern. This imbalance must be redressed.

Pakistan has larger inventory of surface to surface missiles, and the country must safeguard its security and sovereignty by assured nuclear deterrence. Pakistan has more medium range missiles like, Shaheens and Ghoris, but Indian inventory of Prithvi short-range missiles is larger. All the three Indian services have different versions of Prithvi SSMs, which will carry miniaturized nuclear warheads. Indian Navy in terms of surface ships is five times bigger than Pakistan Navy. It has several modern cruisers, destroyers and frigates, which are a serious threat to Pakistanís sea lanes, INís submarine fleet with 18 Russian subs is twice as big as PNís, but is somewhat obsolete. Indian Navy is currently negotiating purchase of Scorpion óstate of art submarines from France. The IAF has hundreds of heavy lift and gunship helicopters. The PAF has none. Instead Pakistan Army Aviation Corps mans helicopters and AOP aircraft.

Deployment of 400,000 regular troops and 350,000 para-military and police forces in Jammu and Kashmir has serious repercussions for the safety of Kashmiri men, women and children and for Pakistanís national security. Indian Army presently has a grip on Pakistan jugular vein, which must be broken at the first opportunity. Besides 42% defence budget hike since 1999, India plans to spend fifty billion US Dollars on the modernization and expansion of its conventional military forces and over ten billion US dollars on its missile and nuclear capability. Besides, plans for huge induction of offensive weapons for the Indian military are in hand. This weapon collection frenzy threatens the security of the entire region.

Defence and Foreign Minister Major Takhur Jaswant Singh went to Moscow on June 5, 2001 to sign the largest ever defence deal with Russia. Indian media has described the new, 6.1 billion dollars weapon deal as, ďa matrixĒ for future Indo-Russian strategic cooperation. The agreement includes supply of 310 T-90 main battle tanks. Under an earlier agreement 124 T-90 tanks will be procured from Russian tank formations, while 186 will be licence produced at the DRDO tank factory at Avadi at ďsticker priceĒ of 800 million dollars. Agreement has also been signed for supply of refurbished aircraft carrier Admiral Gorshkov. Two squadrons ó forty aircraft of the latest Mig-29 K carrier borne fighters have also been negotiated for the Indian Navy. At the meeting of the Indo-Russian Inter-Governmental Commission for Military-Technological Cooperation Jaswant Singh and Russian Deputy Prime Minister llya Klebanov discussed the modalities of the deal. Licenced production of 140 Su-30 K air superiority fighters at HAL Bangalore was finalized at a cost of $ 3.3 billion. Since 1996, supply of 50 Su-30 K fighters off the shelf has already been negotiated for the Indian Air Force. In ten years time the IAF will have a huge fleet of 190 Su-30 K fighter bombers, able to penetrate deep and attack targets in China and Pakistan. The whole arms package is worth Rs ten thousand crore, a truly staggering amount. Another 6 billion dollars would be spent on the purchase of sixty advanced jet trainers and ten more Mirage 2000 H multirole fighter aircraft.

Pakistan is not in competition with India. But Islamabad cannot ignore 42% increase in Indian defence spending within a short period of two years, and the planned massive reinforcement of Indian military power. South Asia is being destabilized by massive supplies of latest Russian weapons. Supply of Russian 310 T-90 main battle tanks, 190 SU-30-K nuclear strike aircraft, multi-barrel rocket launchers, avionic and weapon technology, India has stoked a weapon race in South Asia. The deployment of Indian Air Force close to Pakistanís border, and high priority given to the Indian Air Force viz enhanced budget of Rs 79 billion has implications for Pakistanís security. India has developed very close relations with Israel and has placed an order worth Rs 2.07 billion for the purchase of 130 mm Soltam field guns. Billions of Rupees will be spent to buy L I W T - 6 turrets for Arjun tanks from South Africa. Russian and US assistance for major defence projects like the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) programme, high tech computers and information technology industry, and Indian nuclear programme inspite of the sanctions is to prod India as a bulwark against China. Both Russia and the US have a hand in stoking the weapons race in South Asia.

The government has to take due note of increase in Indian defence budgets and weapon procurement programmes. Pakistan cannot allow this unabated offensive buildup to loom as a dark shadow over the country. Neither can it allow continued Indian occupation of Kashmir, and give a free hand to India to trample under foot the life and honour of Kashmiri men, women and children. The core issue of Kashmir is the main cause for the nuclear and conventional arms race. President General Pervez Musharraf tried very hard to convince India to settle the Kashmir dispute peacefully. But India has rejected his highly logical arguments. Indian resolve to solidify its military occupation of Jammu and Kashmir, be a hegemony in the region is being stoked by the West in general and by US and Russia in particular. Pakistan, regardless of its weak economy has taken on the challenge. The 23 March 2001 Pakistan Day Parade provided enough evidence that Pakistan is ready and is not ignoring possible eventualities arising as a result of armaments buildup across the border. The series production of MBT Al-Khalid proves that Pakistan is not going to be caught napping. But money constraints are so acute, that India is going to gallop in the weapons race, leaving Pakistan well behind. Strategic defence accord with China is the only option left. But Chinese priority is economic development and peaceful

co-existence, and may shy-off from military oriented strategic alliance. US is prodding India to threaten China. United States is also engaged in the military buildup of Taiwan for obvious resons.

In the missile race Pakistan seems to have an edge presently. But this may be lost if full attention is not given to the missile and nuclear programme. Pakistani scientists in a short span of three years have developed a whole range of guided weapons to challenge Indian weapons of mass destruction. Shaheen-I (Hatf IV), Ghauri (Hatf V), and intermediate range Shaheen II (Hatf VI) are an antidote. These launcher mounted SSM systems are highly mobile, and could be deployed anywhere. Exhibiting the untested nuclear armed 2500 Km Shaheen II built by Dr. Summar Mubarakmand had a message for the evil wishers. With both the countries engaged in enlarging their nuclear and ballistic missile armouries, the future of South Asia is becoming darker. India is to be blamed for the missile and nuclear mischief in South Asia. Threatened, Pakistan followed suit quickly, but in this suicidal race there will be no victors.

Pakistanís self-reliance programmes have made tremendous headway in recent years. At the Ideas 2000 Arms for Peace exhibition held in Karachi several MBTs including Khalid MBT were put on display. Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) will produce fifty Khalid main battle tanks every year. This is a big achievement for a resourceless country shackled by all kinds of sanctions. It is a great success story considering that Arjun the Indian main battle tank has been under development for twenty five years, and series production is nowhere in sight. Pakistani Khalid is equal if not superior to the Russian T-90 that India is acquiring from Russia. Export of state of the art Khalid MBTs to friendly countries including Peoples Republic of China be pursued vigorously.

MBT Zarrar the updated T-59 MBT with a better engine and Pak made 125 mm gun was greatly admired by armour experts from many countries. Hundreds of MBT Zarrar will be manufactured for the Pakistan Army and other armies in Africa and Asia. Pakistan has already received over 300 much praised Ukrainian T-80 UD main battle tanks. Chinese T-85 MBTs with 125 mm guns are also being manufactured at HIT Taxila, and have been supplied in quantity to Pakistan Army. Pakistan, thus seems to have an edge over India in the race for main battle tanks. But this is an expensive race, and Pakistani economy cannot sustain it.

The PAFís professional competence is a guarantor for national defence. With the induction of new fighters like F-7 MP and Super-7, latest radars, beyond visual range weapons, and avionics fitted on Mirages and F-7ís, PAF is trying to maintain some balance with the adversary air power. PAFís excellent fight safety record since three years provides evidence of high professional expertise of this proud service. Indian Air Force has been suffering heavy aircraft losses from fighter aircraft crashes. Sixty IAF fighters have hit the dust during the last three years. One hundred IAF fighters have crashed with fifty pilots killed since 1997. With six IAF squadrons written off during peace time the morale of IAF pilots must be in their boots. Keeping PAF away from the Kargil air war was a mistake. PAF should have taken on the IAF in the Kargil skies to disallow IAF mirages free run on the exposed Kashmiri Mujahidin on Kargil and Drass tops.

Because of the Augusta submarines and new technology weapon systems Pakistan Navy morale is sky high. The Army has trained hard in all spheres of war making, Pakistan now has high technology Armed Forces. Armour, mechanized infantry, artillery, Signals, and Engineers of the Army are equipped with home made tanks, APCs, Baktar Shikan anti tank missiles, medium and long range artillery guns, SAMs, ANZA I and ANZA II shoulder fired missiles. Field air defence radars, radar controlled Ack Ack, satellite controlled anti-jamming signal equipment, Pak made bridging equipment, multi-barrel rocket launchers, gunship helicopters. With the well-trained and highly motivated soldier, sailor and airman the Armed Forces of Pakistan today are in good shape, and are guarantors of national security. And this has happened inspite of cut and freeze of the defence budget. But the production of missiles, aircraft, submarines, armour and allied defence equipment to ensure reasonable balance with the ever growing Indian military might is not possible without large scale funding and investment. And that Pakistan cannot afford. India has triggered a dangerous and wasteful armament race in South Asia. Indian motive could be to bring about Pakistanís economic collapse by roping it into a race for weapons. Though Pakistanís military build up basically is to check mate growing Indian military preponderance, but it is being caught in a trap from which it may not be able to extricate itself. With 42 billion dollar reserves India has the funds for reckless military spending. With three dollars in the kitty, and 36 billion external debt Pakistan is gasping for breath. Pakistani defence planners are faced with a dilemma. How to avoid the arms race that India, yet maintain defence preparedness in the face of weak economy? Putting the economy on track is General Musharrafís first priority. A new economic and military strategy needs to be evolved to reuse Pakistan from economic collapse, yet be able to field its nuclear deterrent and conventional capability successfully. The strategic military in South Asia will get out of hand, if the world community keeps its eyes shut to Indiaís unilateral military buildup. The United States as the sole superpower cannot shirk its responsibility to keep Bharatís hegemonic ambitions in check. The U.S. must play its role to restrain Indian military and nuclear buildup.