Mad race of arms:At what cost

By Faheem Belharvi

The Indian defence officials’ stance that its 5,000km range nuclear capable Agni-V missile is for defence of the country and not for offence, it is accepted as true and does not attract any criticism from the international community. But when it comes to Pakistan’s peaceful minimum nuclear deterrence, and Islamabad rightly claims to have it only for peaceful purposes, nobody takes it serious and true.
When India piles up arms, raises defence budget every year, buys heavy and modern weapons, nuclear submarines and warships, nobody objects to it. But when it comes to Pakistan that is fighting the world war against terrorism, suffering and sustaining huge losses, that too within the allocated range of its defence budget, there is hue and cry and Pakistan is considered amongst the top buyers of weapons.
In the latest display of its growing military might, India is all set this week to launch the maiden test-fire of its nuclear-capable Agni-V missile from a coastal range in Orissa, which has a range of 5,000 km. With this India is likely to join a select group of countries – China, Russia, France, US, UK and Israel – possessing the stock-pile and capability of the intercontinental missiles. The Agni-V would in theory be able to strike targets across Asia and some parts of Europe.
India is among the world’s top 10 military spenders, with Jane’s Defence Weekly forecasting its total purchases between 2011 and 2015 will top $100 billion. Last month it raised its defence budget, triggering an international debate as to why India is in the arms race. Its whopping $38.6bn defence budget is having 17% substantial increase from the yester year. It is spending a huge amount on the war machinery and since last 5 years she is the number one buyer of the arms in the world. This budget is besides the long-term huge commitment and deals with different countries like, purchase of 129 Rafal combat aircraft, 145 Light Howitzers, 49 warships and upgradation of more than 50 Mirage 2000 fighters.
As compared to India, Pakistan has purchased nothing significant, nor has it been given by the world countries in accordance with its requirement, nor is it allowed to have the indigenous drone technology, even the night-vision goggles are not being provided. If the 5,000km range missile is not Pakistan or China specific, certainly it is not, then for what purpose has it been manufactured. One of the international monitoring organisations, the other day, clearly said that India has no threat at all from China, nor has it from any other country of the world, except Pakistan. So the massive piling of arms, the frequent test-fires and heavy build-up along the Pakistani borders is solely Pakistan-specific. Question is if New Delhi and Islamabad are in for friendship, back channel diplomacy is going on for strengthening trade ties, the Wahga border has in addition now the business exchange centre, the Pakistani traders have been allowed investment in India, etc, then where stand the chances of aggression and subsequently of piling up of arms?
This mad race has instead subjected the region to a great suffering that needs to be stopped.
(Courtesy:The Frontier Post)

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