I had read it somewhere that in the past the state acquired arms and weaponry to fight war in self-defence against the perpetrators / enemy states but now wars are fabricated / forced on the nations for the manufacture and sale of weapons. In other words, in the modern times the economic and commercial interests have an overriding priority and consideration over all other considerations including safeguarding liberty, life and integrity of civilization.
So it has not come as a surprise when the news spread on the last Friday, the 12th February 2016 that the Obama administration has notified to the US Congress about its intention of supplying eight nuclear-capable F-16 fighters and other high-end assorted military hardware worth nearly $700 million to Pakistan. If this materializes (and there is every likelihood), this will happen despite sharp criticism and opposition from several US lawmakers, regional defence experts and India as reportedly the latter immediately summoned the US envoy to South Block in New Delhi to convey its protest and displeasure.
The US notification maintains that the proposed sale contributes to the US foreign policy objectives and national security goals by helping to improve the security of a strategic partner in South Asia…and enhance Pakistan’s ability to conduct counter-insurgency and counter-terror operations. In consonance and furtherance of the US notification, the American Ambassador in India too made a far more interesting observation, “The reality is that there are dangerous groups operating within Pakistan…Islamabad needs to act against terror groups operating on its soil.” So the US administration hopes that the current sale will boost Pakistan’s effort to eliminate terror groups from its soil.
The question is why India should oppose arms supply by the US to Pakistan when she herself is one of the largest importers of defence equipment in the world. Ideally, any arms race or built up should be discouraged but for any rational minded person, it wouldn’t be difficult to find answers for India’s concerns for self-defence and consequent acquisitions. Population wise India comes only next to China and geographically it is seventh largest country in area in world. It has two potential adversaries on east and west fronts with whom she had to fight several wars in self-defence since independence and a large part of its territory is still under occupation and dispute with these adversaries. China is fast emerging as the next superpower with its global ambitions, and boundary and maritime disputes in regional context with almost every neighbour. There is not one instance when a neighbour has accused India of any illegal incursion while such incursions and boundary violations have been so common from the adversaries often engaging Indian troops in low-intensity border conflicts.
The history of India-Pakistan relationship would vouch that arms and weaponry supplied by the US in the name of their fight against terrorists and counter-insurgency operations have actually been used against India. For the same reasons, India has to perforce expend a significant portion of its resources to strengthen her self-defence.
Ironically, the criticism and opposition to the arms sales to Pakistan has not only come from the US lawmakers, experts and Indian government but also from Pakistan’s former US Ambassador, Hussain Haqqani who warned that the jet fighters will ultimately be used against India rather than militants. The US conviction that the sale of jet fighters would help Pakistan to counter terrorism and insurgency itself appears to be “a crude joke” as perhaps other than the US Administration it will be difficult for any other senile person or group to comprehend how nuclear-capable F-16 fighters would help Pakistan to fight terrorists.
Clearly, the proposed jet fighters and many other military weapons appear ill-suited to fight terror and their continued supply would in no way help fighting terror or convince Pakistan to end its long-standing support for the terror outfits. But then ultimately what really matters is what has been outlined in the opening paragraph. So I will continue to justify it as long as it serves my economic and commercial interests.