Pakistan's Confessions: Shouldn't go slow on defence modernisation
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Issue Net Edition | Date : 13 Jul , 2011

Pakistan Defence Minister in a recent statement has acknowledged that his country just cannot match India in defence capabilities. This, it is argued, is due to the vast difference in the GDP and foreign trade of the two countries, etc. But these essential constraints have never held back Pakistan from not only attempting to achieve parity with India in defence capabilities but to constantly needle this country.

Pakistan following the policy of beg, borrow and steal has all along tried to maintain parity in defence capabilities vis-a-vis India. In 1965war it fielded larger and the then latest fleet of tanks as compared to India. In infantry and artillery India’s edge was only marginal and that too because India was able to withdraw troops from the Tibet border. India brought about destruction of Pak armour and came out on top, through some luck and to an extent due to superior generalship. In 1971 too India was able to shift troops deployed against Tibet to the plains due to winter conditions, but this is less likely to happen again.

Pakistan continues to acquire sophisticated weaponry from France, notably modern aircrafts and submarines. Over all Pakistan is making efforts to build a strong navy to interdict supply of fuel to India”¦

Notwithstanding this statement from Pak minister, recent reports indicate that it is striving hard to acquire parity with India in nuclear weapons capability and missile technology as also in many other defense related areas. It’s attempts to develop tactical nuclear weapons is an area of much concern for India. As long as Pakistani security establishment retains control over the social and economic fabric of that nation, peace between the two neighbours will be tenuous and there will be sustained attempts to achieve balance in military capabilities. Therefore this assertion by a Pakistani political leader, perhaps to lull India to sleep, needs to be taken with more than a pinch of salt, calls for a closer look and a reality check.

This balance which Pakistan continues to strive to achieve is against only those elements of Indian defence forces that get deployed on its Western front. The understanding and some sort of secret defence pact between China and Pakistan gives the latter assurance that India will not be able to shift troops deployed against Tibet to its Western front, even if there are no hostilities across the Himalayas. With Indian defence budget pegged at below 2 percent of GDP and Pakistan to contend with only one part of the Indian forces ( those deployed on the Western front ) there is not much difficulty for Pakistan to achieve near parity with India, especially when China is there to extend all the help. Increasingly Pakistan is becoming a vassal of China. The 20 Billion dollar aid that Pakistan received from the U.S. during the last 10 years, much of it has be deployed for military hardware.

As far as India is concerned in a worst case scenario it has to contend with hostilities on two fronts, with either both getting activated or active hostilities on one front and “˜stand off on the other.

Pakistan continues to acquire sophisticated weaponry from France, notably modern aircrafts and submarines. Over all Pakistan is making efforts to build a strong navy to interdict supply of fuel to India from the middle East, should such a need arise,Building of Naval base at the mouth of straight of Hurmoz ( Gwadar naval base ) with the help of China,has to be seen towards creating such a capability.

Pakistan manufactures it own tanks and is now trying to upgrade these to the level of tanks recently bought from Ukraine. This is essentially to counter India’s import of T-90 tanks from Russia. In the face of India’s growing military arsenal, Pakistan is seeking to enlarge and modernise its forces too.

Pakistan has been beneficiary of defence largesse from the United States and of late from China as well. Because of this there has been less out go of finances for purchase of military equipment as compared to India. Import of nuclear and missile technology came free to Pakistan with little or no expenditure on its indigenous development. China has also set up defence Industry in Pakistan.

Pakistan’s policy now appears to be to have sufficiently strong forces to inflict heavy casualties on any attacker. At the same time it relies upon its nuclear forces to deter an aggressor in the first place, but wouldthreaten their use to stall the aggressor from bringing about total defeat of its military or a deep thrust into that country. Further in any future conflict China may not remain a bystander and vice versa.
Though Pakistan is a factor to be taken into reckoning, India’s chief strategic concern will have to be China. Therefore, unless Pakistan needlessly needles India, it should have no worries about Indian defence forces posing any threat to that country.

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The views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions or policies of the Indian Defence Review.

About the Author

Lt Gen Harwant Singh

Former Deputy Chief of Army Staff. He also commanded a corps in J&K.

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