INDIA DEFENCE CONSULTANTS
WHAT'S HOT? –– ANALYSIS OF RECENT HAPPENINGS
US–PAK RELATIONS MUST BE UNDERSTOOD
An IDC Analysis
Delhi, 24 November 2004
India is upset at USA's release of
a $1 billion weapon package to Pakistan. We had
often raised a moot question –- does Pakistan as a
nation not need to worry when India arms itself to
the teeth with SU 30MKIs, Mirages, submarines and
missiles? Unllike India it does not profess non
alignment from the roof tops and so its friends USA,
China and Saudi Arabia worry for Pakistan and help
it out. They all know Pakistan is
"geographically positioned to be an ENERGY HUB
for the region” and India must admit it too.
The Chinese will use Gwadar in the
future when pipelines are set up from Iran where
they have invested. US–Pakistan relations are
bound to be kept up, have become closer post 9/11
and then cleverly poised when Pakistan was conferred
the status of a major non-NATO ally. This will
enable the US to arm Pakistan in exchange for bases.
This has happened and Indian tempers are frayed.
Geographically Pakistan sits
astride the land and sea oil routes of the Middle
East and Central Asia. USA has therefore a need to
be close and support democracy in Pakistan. If
Musharraf goes and a Mullah comes to power, then
Pakistan may become another Iran. Hence the long
question that needs answering is whether India and
USA have any common interests, besides trade and
stability in the area. The short answer is India and
USA have mutual need to trade and dialogue, but have
little in common as far as strategic interests go.
In fact our interests will clash more as we develop
our economy, pirate their software and take away
India is already a democracy so USA
is pleased, but it feels human rights are violated
in Kashmir. USA is keen Pakistan gets some
concessions in the Kashmir valley but India will
never part with an inch of its soil or EEZ, and has
fenced the IBL and the LOC unilaterally. By end 2004
the demarcation will be complete as Army Engineers
say Mission Impossible DEEWAR (Wall) is
USA wishes to retain its base in
Deigo Garcia and have a greater presence in the Indian
Ocean for its missile
defence platforms and to enforce non proliferation.
This does not suit India, but
USA has offered India cooperation and we are
hesitant. Indian Navy's Maritime Doctrine says it
can safeguard the Indian Ocean, and silently the
Indian Navy is being beefed up for this, though our
defence doctrine is still to evolve so that the
Navy's share of the budget rises over the present
18%. CNS is crying hoarse for more submarines and
ships, and these are being delayed.
In this context China and Japan too
feel they must have a say in the stability of the
region to ensure safety of the oil routes in the Indian
Ocean, as it is their energy lifeline that can be
threatened. Japan is hosting an Indian Navy
and MEA retired official s' delegation in Tokyo as
contact is not permitted. India has signed a Defence
Cooperation agreement with Iran and is set to sign
one with Sri Lanka again with IOC oil outlets and
the Trincomallee tank farm in mind.
A look at the map depicts that Iran and Pakistan control the mouth of the Hormuz Straits and can choke the sea lanes of oil quite easily. Yet for the time being USA treats Iran as an evil axis enemy, and is wary of Indian overtures to that country, which are many. India knows it will have to import much needed gas from Iran and can never annoy Iran.
Hence now that Pak PM Shaukat Aziz is
here Mani Shankar Iyer is meeting him to discuss the
Gas and Oil pipeline from Iran, which will have to
pass 700km through Pakistan and they get to earn
route revenue. It’s a win-win situation for all
and USA's dole in the article below by an Indian
should be seen in that light. We must see that
national and economic interests guide our hearts and
Outside View –– U.S. Amnesia On
By Kaushik Kapisthalam
The Washington Times
Atlanta, GA, Nov. 22 (UPI) -- Even
as Pakistan's leadership was expressing its
unrestrained glee with President George W. Bush's
thumping re-election, the new Bush administration
wasted no time in making its first big move to
reward Pakistan with advanced weaponry.
On Nov. 16, the Defense Security
and Cooperation Agency sent notifications to
Congress of a $1.3 billion arms package for
Pakistan, a major non-NATO ally of America. The deal
includes eight P-3C Orion naval reconnaissance
planes possibly with anti-ship and anti-submarine
missiles, 2,000 TOW-2A heavy anti-armor guided
missiles and the deadly PHALANX Close-In Weapon
Systems for ships. Ostensibly, these sales are to
enable Pakistan to fight the war on terror. What's
even better for Pakistan is that the money for this
sale is likely to come from the $1.5 billion over
five years that the U.S has promised Pakistan in
military aid, making it a veritable freebie.
Not to forget that what is still on
the table is the deal for the F-16 fighter jets that
Pakistan has been dying to get. Even though there is
no official word on the F-16s, there have been many
reports that the deal is all but done and the Bush
administration is waiting for an opportune time to
announce it, perhaps when Pakistan's President Gen.
Pervez Musharraf next visits Washington.
Now, if one takes this new
Orion/TOW/Phalanx giveaway deal at face value, it
seems like a reasonable proposition. After all, if
the United States expects Pakistan to fight
terrorists, it behoves it to support its ally as
much as possible, right? Not quite.
The problem is that these systems
are unlikely to be used in Pakistan's much-vaunted
operations in the tribal areas, which a senior U.S
official recently described to Time magazine as
"7,000 to 10,000 Pakistani troops courageously
battling 200 al-Qaida guys to a standstill."
The Pakistan army, for instance,
could theoretically use the TOW missile against
militant hideouts in the tribal areas. But one needs
to look at the specific version that Pakistan is
seeking to see the fallacy of this claim.
The DSCA statement clearly states
that the TOW variant that Pakistan wants is the
"TOW-2A Anti-Armor Guided Missile." This
missile's unique feature is the "tandem"
warhead that is specifically designed to be used
against tanks with Explosive Reactive Armor. It is
hard to imagine the tribal militants in possession
of ERA armored vehicles, but everyone knows who has
such systems in Pakistan's neighborhood.
On the other side of Pakistan, the
Indian army is busy inducting the Russian made T-90S
tanks with the Kontakt-5 ERA, just the type of armor
the TOW-2A is designed to penetrate. It is unlikely
to see Pakistan wasting its supply of TOW-2As when
its huge supply of cheap Chinese anti-tank missiles
could do the trick against the mud structures of the
tribal militants. As they say, it doesn't make sense
to use a sledgehammer to kill a fly.
Similarly, the P-3C planes have
only one likely purpose -- to fight against India's
large fleet of submarines and battleships. Indeed
there is very little that the Pakistan Navy could do
in terms of tracking terrorist ships that the U.S.
and NATO fleets in and around Pakistan cannot do.
Besides, is the United States ever going to rely on
the Pakistanis to track their coastline, when that
area holds the biggest risk of a
nuclear-weapon-laden container being sent to
American ports? Even the DSCA's press release on the
P-3C sale says that the P-3C "will enhance the
capabilities of the Pakistani Navy and support its
Similarly, the PHALANX system is
meant to defend ships against fast incoming missiles
and aircrafts, which terrorists are unlikely to
have. Pakistan is likely to employ them on ships
conducting operations against India.
And we are not even talking about
the F-16s. If press reports from Washington are to
be believed, Pakistan is likely to get 18 to 20 F-16
C/D variants, possibly with AMRAAM air-to-air
missiles and precision-guided bombs. It is hard to
see how AMRAAM long range air-to-air missiles help
fight terrorists unless they are intended to bring
down Osama Bin Laden's flying carpet.
All this makes one wonder if the
United States has learned anything from history.
In the 1980s, Pakistan was a
frontline ally of the U.S in the effort to drive the
Soviets out of Afghanistan. During that time,
supporters of Pakistan in Capitol Hill and the
Pentagon argued for giving that nation advanced
arms, including the F-16 fighters as well as
billions in military aid. The F-16s were justified
with an argument that a conventionally strong
Pakistan is unlikely to develop nuclear weapons.
As it turned out later, Pakistan
actually accelerated its nuclear program during the
same period with the American taxpayer funding its
conventional defenses to the tune of $5 billion,
thereby freeing up funds for its nuclear program.
Former Senate official Leonard Weiss revealed in
2002 that Pakistan had in fact diverted two-thirds
of the weaponry acquired from the United States
ostensibly to protect against the Soviet threat to
the Indian border.
Washington Post Managing Editor
Steve Coll wrote in his recent book "Ghost
Wars" that Pakistan's intelligence services
transferred weapons obtained from the CIA, such as
advanced sniper rifles, to the Islamist groups
fighting against Indian troops in Kashmir. The
Pakistan army even used the famous Stinger missiles
in its 1999 aggression into the Indian-held Kargil
heights in Kashmir.
Apologists for Pakistan in
Washington point out that given the big imbalance
between India and Pakistan militarily, the United
States must step in to address the disparity for the
sake of "stability." One could write a
book on the hollowness of this argument, but two big
holes in this hypothesis stand out.
Firstly, Pakistan is already close
to max-out levels in its defense spending. Its
current defense budget for 2004-2005 is officially
194 billion rupees. But that doesn't include grants,
pensions and other expenses, which increase the
actual number to 300 billion rupees or approximately
$5 billion. If one adds to that the $600 million
that Pakistan is getting in terms of free weaponry
from the United States, it comes to $3.6 billion or
a whopping 8 percent of its 2003 gross domestic
product. India, on the other hand, spends between 2
percent and 3 percent of its GDP for defense.
The fact is that there is never
going to be an equality between Pakistan and India
in conventional arms, just like India can never
equal China's numbers and China in turn can never
match up to America's. Besides, aren't Pakistan's
nuclear weapons supposed to obviate the need for
Pakistan to match India weapon for weapon?
The other argument is the one that
is usually spouted by retired Pakistani military
officials who frequent American think tanks. For
instance, retired Pakistan Army Brig. Feroz Hassan
Khan is a visiting professor at the Naval
Postgraduate School in Monterrey, Calif. Khan says
that the United States needs to "realize"
that India is Pakistan's main threat and must seek
to alleviate this specific concern of Pakistan.
In fact, this argument is also
without merit. The reality is that in terms of South
Asian stability, India is a status quo power, which
seeks to wait out issues, much like China does with
respect to Taiwan.
But what the Pakistani military
establishment clearly wants is a license to try to
change the status quo through the use of sub-state
actors, such as the jihadi groups its uses in
Kashmir supplemented by a U.S.-provided safety net
when its ill thought-out military adventures
backfire, like they usually do.
Now it is quite true that the
military dominated Pakistani establishment has
always viewed India as an aggressor and a mortal
threat. But that does not mean that the world should
buy into this theory. In fact, most experts in
Washington and elsewhere point out that Pakistan's
main threat is an internal one from homegrown
Islamist groups and the radicalization of the
Pakistani society in general and the army in
particular. In fact, the unsaid fear factor is
America's post 9/11 policy towards Pakistan has been
the prospect of a radical Islamist regime taking
control of Pakistan's already leaky nuclear weapons
It is therefore in the American
interest to focus aid to Pakistan toward efforts to
thwart the internal dangers, rather than buttressing
the Pakistani establishment's paranoia about the
Indian "threat." Former State Department
official and South Asia expert Teresita Schaffer
pointed out in her July 14, 2004 testimony to the
Senate that Pakistan has not abandoned its
proclivity towards starting reckless military
adventures and continues to support Islamist
militants in Kashmir who could provoke a war with
India with one big attack. She recommended against
the sale of major weapons systems to Pakistan in
The Musharraf regime is already in
a state of euphoria over the Bush re-election. They
see Bush's win as something that would guarantee the
continuation of benefits that Pakistan enjoyed over
the last four years -- lavish economic support,
daily diplomatic encomiums, little pressure for
democratic reforms, coddling of Pakistani jihadi
groups and a free pass on the A.Q. Khan deal and
more cover up of Pakistani state involvement in
In this milieu, it is hard to see
the latest American military largesse to Pakistan as
having anything but a negative effect on the
region's stability. This could only serve to
embolden the hard-line elements in Pakistan's
military to get aggressive with India again. If the
Kashmir talks soon hit a dead end with Pakistan
realizing that it cannot gain any territory from
India on the negotiating table, we may possibly see
another "tactically brilliant" but
strategically harebrained military adventure by
Pakistan within the next four-years.
Like Yogi Berra once said --
"It's déjà vu all over again"
Kaushik Kapisthalam is a freelance
commentator on topics relating to South Asia. He can
be reached at email@example.com.