IDC News Analysis


New Delhi, 26 November 2004

Recent reports on US arms sales to Pakistan and lease of four Russian TU 22Ms for India are making the rounds and we analyse the implications.

USA has come up in defence of its arms transfers to Pakistan, which were cleared by the Congress, because Bush has control of both houses and so this went through swiftly. A piece by Ela Dutt is appended. Besides Notes Verbales from our MEA mandarins and a few protest noises we should take it in our stride. India can live with this.

We are unsure whether the hardware is being paid for from the Aid package, or in cash by Pakistan. ‘The Land of The Pure’ which is what Pakistan stands for!

The peace talks are continuing with PM Aziz meeting PM Manmohan Singh with cordiality and we saw Natwar Singh pat the Pakistani Ambassador to India on TV in a show of bonhomie. MEA is doing well –– wield a big stick, fence the border and kill the militants but speak softly –– our military bosses should do like wise. Ther is no need to panic if Pakistan gets a few guns.

We hope there will be no breakdowns in our talks for a few years and in any case we do not expect a break through, but our diplomats need to continue the break dance with Pakistan. It will ensure our economy continues to grow and Pakistan will have little option in a few years, but to accept the LOC as the international border, which is now spelt out as our aim. No more partitions. This was the vision of Jawahar Lal Nehru, no matter how much we berate him now, and the wish of Indira Gandhi in the Shimla Agreement, which Bhutto reneged on.

The Indian media (Statesman) reports that Putin will offer four TU 22M when he comes next week and though they come in ‘maritime recce’ form for the Navy, any professional will tell you they are one of the finest nuclear bombers and we may presume that they will form part of India's nuclear deterrent. The Navy flies the TU 142 and can well fly these big old machines. A reading of the media from time to time tells us that there is a connection between the sale of Gorshkov, to be followed by the Akula class submarines in 2007/8 (as reported by Inter Fax) and if true the four TU 22Ms on lease may follow and as a deterrent even for China. These will be great nuclear platforms.

The IAF has been against the TU 22Ms as their QFIs who saw them operate in Iraq (when the IAF were training the Iraqis in the 1980s) claim they were ancient then. The Indian Navy has always managed well with ancient equipment, so let’s hope the media report is correct. Indian Navy is headed by a Harrier jet pilot CNS who won his VRc with the IAF in the 1971 war and he will know how to induct the TU22s should they come, and IAF should cooperate as they are the present deliverers of India's nuclear second strike. Pakistan's reactions will be awaited with interest, should the 4 TU 22M story come true. Meanwhile lets enjoy the break dance.

US Defends Sales to Pakistan

By Ela Dutt

Indo-Asian News Service

Washington, Nov 24 (IANS) The State Department has stoutly defended the US policy of selling sophisticated military weaponry to Pakistan while at the same time building closer relations with India.

State Department spokesperson Adam Ereli, questioned about the dichotomy high-level Indian officials have expressed to the Bush administration, implied that arms sales to Pakistan were a commercial venture and it was not Washington's concern that they may be used against India.

"There is no contradiction between having strong, good relations with India and meeting the defence needs of other countries through the sale of US arms. Our arms sales policy, I think, is clear, governed by US interests and congressional legislation, it's transparent, it's publicly notified, and we've done that in the case of the recent transactions in question," asserted Ereli.

"So there should, I think, there should be no question that you can have good relations with one country and sell arms to another country. It's not a mutually exclusive proposition, and nor should it be."

But when asked if, by the same token, Washington would have any objection if India bought arms from other countries such as France or Russia, Ereli seemed to back up a bit.

"Again, I mean, as a general proposition, our view is countries are free to buy arms from whatever their source. The question is what -- you know, what is the purpose of those acquisitions? What does that represent for the strategic balance in the region? And that's how we evaluate these sort of things," Ereli qualified.

Ereli also dismissed any thought that US-India relations had suffered following the Bush administration's recent announcement that it planned to sell more than one billion dollars of sophisticated weapons to Pakistan, and Congress passing the $300 million military aid package to Islamabad.

"We did not intend to suggest that somehow relations were not good and went from a position of being less than excellent to something better than that," he said about a press release that outlined the basics of a meeting between the State Department's top South Asia official Christina Rocca and India's Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran.

"Our relations -- I think what the statement was trying to underscore is that we have a very strong bilateral relationship with India, that our level of cooperation in a variety of fields is intensive and mutually beneficial, and that the meeting in question contributed to that overall -- that overall condition," Ereli said


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