ASIAINTL CONFLICTSOPINIONPOLITICS

India’s obsessive spending in arms

By Anaya Shahid

President Eisenhower in his farewell address in 1961, to the American people warned about formidable union of defense contractors and the armed forces, which is commonly called the military-industrial complex. He said, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.” Since then the notion of MIC is commonly used to explain symbiotic relationship that flourishes between government entities primarily defense and defense-minded private companies.  That’s the reason that war is a business for this nexus and the Subcontinent has been its victim.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, rising conflicts around the globe pushed up military expenditure to a total of $1.67 trillion. This is an upsurge of one per cent from the previous year. It was the first increase after four years of declining spending.  This reflects the continuing growth of both MICs and armed conflicts.

Interestingly, Pakistan did not rank even in the first twenty-five importers in the world. Conversely, India stands 6th among countries with the highest military expenditure in 2015. With military spending already at $51.3 billion, India plans to further increase military expenditure by about 8 per cent in this year.

Since Indian Premier Modi has made military modernization one of his top priorities, the country has emerged as the largest weapons importer. Modi has increased foreign firms to hold up to 49% stakes in defense ventures. This provides tremendous opportunities for multi-national corporations to sell and invest in India’s lucrative defense market. Arms manufacturing corporations in countries such as Russia, the U.S, France, Britain, Sweden and Israel are competing to procure billions dollar deals with India.

The massive inflow of latest war machinery and weapon related technology in Indian defense sector is setting up a dangerous precedent in a region which has unresolved territorial disputes and is involved in one-sided arms race. That State that is arms racing is the one that is not interested in conflict resolution and world’s military industrial complex is party to creating this dangerous environment. India’s offensive posture remains the trigger of this instability.

India’s unprecedented military spending is deteriorating regional balance. It is engaged in a major arms build-up, with offensive land, air and sea weapons systems, India is turning Pakistan’s conventional capabilities insufficient to deter or halt an external attack.  Indian military’s growing quantitative and qualitative war tech has a direct effect on Pakistan’s security apparatus. With its Pakistan-specific proactive operations strategy, India has potential to put the entire region into dismay.

Pakistan has voiced serious concerns over the widening conventional asymmetry and India’s growing conventional capabilities. These aggressive steps have contributed significantly to the instability in the region. Pakistan, whose economy is steadily worsening, can’t afford to invest in conventional weapons build up on large scale. Overwhelming military modernization across the border has created a sense of security consciousness in Pakistan.

Consequently, Pakistan’s dependence on nuclear capability is increasing due to the India’s growing conventional capabilities and its proactive military plans. The disturbing trend across the border, where military expenditures are rising and conventional weapons inventories are expanding, put a dark shadow on peace initiatives.

For Pakistan, India’s offensive military doctrine, cold start doctrine, is a real threat to its security. The threat of cold start doctrine which is an operationalized reality now, compelled Pakistan to develop TNWs that can be used to stall the advancement of Indian troops.  It’s pertinent to note that only Pakistan has become an epicenter of criticism due to its TNWs but India which also possesses short ranged battle field nukes “Prahaar” and “Praghati” seldom get West’s attention.

India has maintained a multifaceted strategy to keep Pakistan under great pressure.  On one hand, it has been engaged in building overwhelming military superiority both conventional and nuclear, on the other hand it’s propagating to isolate Pakistan by portraying it as the epicenter of terrorism. In such circumstances, Pakistan needs to take preemptive measures. It needs active engagement with global community, exposing terror plots by India and follow offensive diplomatic posture.

Pakistan is fighting one of the largest inland wars against terrorism. Although, terrorism is a global epidemic but Pakistan is alone fighting against this disease. International community has a role to play. There needs to build a lasting multi-lateral coalition against terrorism. For that, West needs to understand the security compulsions of Pakistan which is fighting a two-front war, one within country and the other on hostile borders.  There is a need of constructive diplomatic efforts from international community and global institutions to create an environment conducive to engage Pakistan & India for peaceful settlement of disputes. This is the only way forward to restrict massive weaponization of South Asia.

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Anaya Shahid

Anaya Shahid is a social activist and political scientist who had graduated from the Department of Defense & Diplomatic Studies, Fatima Jinnah Women University Rawalpindi.

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