Indian Designs to Destabilise South Asia
By Sajjad Shaukat
Although peace and brinksmanship cannot co-exist in the modern era, yet India seeks to destabilise South Asia through its aggressive designs.
In this regard, in its report, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) disclosed on March 20, 2012, “India is the world’s largest recipient of arms…India’s imports of major weapons increased by 38 percent between 2002-06 and 2007-11.”
New Delhi’s military is acquiring a slew of new equipments from combat aircraft to submarines and artillery. It is currently finalising a deal with France’s Dassault Aviation to buy 126 Rafale fighter jets in a contract worth an estimated $12 billion.
On November 2, 2010, US agreed to sell India the most expensive—the new F-35 fighter jets. In a report to the US Congress, the Pentagon said, “We believe US aircraft such as the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF)…to be the best in the world”, referring to the radar-evading F-35 jet. India also decided a major purchase of US F-16 and F-18 fighters. The Pentagon’s sales to India included C-17 and C-130 aircraft, radar systems, Harpoon weapons and specialized tactical equipments. Besides acquisition of arms and weapons from other western countries—especially Israel, America is a potential military supplier to India. It signed a deal of civil energy technology with India in 2008, and lifted sanctions on New Delhi to import nuclear technology. Besides, New Delhi is also working with Russia on developing a fifth-generation fighter aircraft.
In recent years, India has bought reconnaissance aircraft from US aerospace major Boeing worth 2.1 billion-dollars, medium range missiles for 1.4 billion dollars from Israeli Aerospace Industries, and signed an upgrade service contract with the Russian Aircraft Corporation to upgrade its MiG 29 squadrons for 965 million dollars. Several deals are planned for the near future including one of the largest arms contracts of recent times—11 billion-dollar project to acquire 126 multi-role combat aircraft.
It is mentionable that after 9/11, both India and Israel which had openly jumped on Bush’s anti-terrorism enterprise are acting upon a secret diplomacy, targeting Pakistan China and Iran. In this context, Indo-Israeli secret diplomacy could be assessed from the interview of Israel’s ambassador to India, Mark Sofer published in the Indian weekly Outlook on February 18, 2008. Regarding India’s defence arrangements with Tel Aviv, Sofer had surprisingly disclosed “We do have a defence relationship with India, which is no secret” and “with all due respect, the secret part will remain a secret.” With the support of Israel, New Delhi has been acquiring an element of strategic depth by setting up logistical bases in the Indian Ocean for its navy.
It notable that on October 15, 2010, under the Pak-China pretext, the then Indian Army Chief Gen. VK Singh had openly blamed that China and Pakistan posed a major threat to India’s security, while calling for a need to upgrade country’s defence. Indian former Army Chief Gen. Deepak Kapoor had also expressed similar thoughts.
Defence experts opine that taking the concept of a two front war, India has launched an ambitious military buildup plan, along the disputed Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China in state of Arunachal Pradesh and Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir near Pakistan.
On the one hand, India has been emphasising the Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) to normalise its relations with Pakistan, but on the other, Indian soldiers crossed over the Line of Control in Kashmir on January 6, 2012 and attacked a Pakistani check post, killing one Pakistani soldier and injuring many troops. Besides, Indian troops shot dead two Pakistani soldiers on the LoC on January 10 and 15.
In this respect, the Pakistani Foreign Office summoned the Indian High Commissioner and lodged a strong protest on the repeated and unprovoked attacks on Pakistani soldiers. The Pakistani foreign secretary also asked India to “thoroughly investigate the repeated ceasefire violations along the LoC by Indian troops”, reiterating the offer to hold an independent inquiry through the United Nations Military Observers Group for India and Pakistan (UNMOGIP), which India flatly refused.
In order to justify its open aggression, India concocted a fabricated story of accusing Pakistan of killing and beheading its two soldiers in the same area of the LoC. Despite the fact that Pakistan’s civil and army spokesmen have denied Indian baseless allegations, but, Indian top officials, the opposition party and media have perennially been launching a blame game to distort the image of Pak Army and Pakistan. In this context, on January 14, Indian Army Chief Gen. Bikram Singh threatened to retaliate against Pakistan for the beheaded soldiers. While, recently, there have been blatant violations by Indian troops, targeting some other Pakistani soldiers, which have given a blow to the ceasefire of 2003 along the LoC.
Meanwhile, some Kashmiri freedom fighters attacked the camp of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Srinagar on March 13, 2013, and killed five Indian soldiers. Two freedom fighters also lost their lives in the incident. Next day, Pakistan rejected the statement of Indian Home Secretary RK Singh who allegedly said, “Prime facie evidence suggests that the militants who attacked the members of the Central Reserve Police Force were from across the border, and were probably from Pakistan.”
However, Indian defence expenditures have no bounds. India is expected to spend $80 billion over the next 10 years to upgrade its military. Arms deals in India have often been mired in controversy with allegations that companies have paid millions of dollars in kickbacks to Indian top military officials. In this respect, media disclosed on March 14, this year that India’s former Air Force Chief SP Tyagi has been booked on charges of corruption and conspiracy in a VVIP chopper deal. Detectives raided his home on March 12 as part of an investigation about bribery paid to secure a $748 million contract for 12 Italian helicopters.
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in its FIR revealed that Tyagi and his three cousins were bribed 4, 26 000 euros to swing the contract for Anglo-Italian firm, Augusta Westland. The FIR shows as evidence a letter written by the retired air chief marshal in 2005, in which he approved scaling down the flying height of the helicopters from 18,000 feet to 15,000 feet. The concerned Italians admitted that the Tyagi family was paid 100,000 euros in cash for the 12-helicopter deal, and the CBI claims almost half a million euros were paid to the Tyagi brothers.
The CBI also indicated that in addition to the 100,000 euros in cash, it has tracked two payments, one of 1, 26 000 euros between August and October in 2004 and another of 200,000 euros in February 2005.
In 1980s, the government of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi collapsed over charges that the Swedish gun manufacturer Bofors paid bribes to supply Howitzer field guns to the Indian army. Following the Bofors scandal, India banned middlemen in all defense deals. Nonetheless, the case is a major embarrassment for Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government which has been buffeted over the past year by a string of corruption scandals ahead of national elections scheduled in the first half of next year.
It is mentionable that in May 1998, India detonated five nuclear tests, and also compelled Pakistan to follow the suit. The then Defense Minister George Fernandes had also declared publicly that “China is India’s potential threat No. 1.” New Delhi which successfully tested missile, Agni-111in May 2007, has been extending its range to target all Chinese cities. Now by setting aside peace-offers of China and Pakistan, New Delhi has entangled the latter in a deadly arms race.
While international community has been making strenuous efforts for world peace in wake of global financial crisis and war against terrorism, but India has initiated deadly nuclear arms race in South Asia where people are already facing multiple problems of grave nature. Majority of South Asian people are living below the poverty level, lacking basic facilities like fresh food and clean water. While yielding to acute poverty, every day, some persons commit suicide.
By ignoring regional problems and resolution of Indo-Pak issues-especially thorny dispute of Kashmir, Indian rulers state that they do not have any belligerent policy. But, it becomes a big joke of the 21st century, reminding a maxim, “armed to the teeth, but no enemy”, if we take cognisance of Indian aggressive designs, aimed at destroying South Asian peace and stability, giving a wake up call to other regional powers.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations