Pakistan and China increase military spending and cooperation as India shows concern
Beijing, China- A senior Chinese defense official has justified Chinese sales of warships and submarines to Pakistan on the grounds that Russia and the United States were selling similar systems to India.
The defense official also indicated that China was aware of the fact that India may not be happy with its deal with Pakistan. “The initiative may invite concerns from its neighboring countries. But the doubts are unnecessary,” Zhai Dequan, deputy director of China Arms Control and Disarmament Association , was quoted as saying by the official media.
Pakistan’s chief of naval staff, Norman Bashir, also made a push to persuade China to sell higher capacity ships compared to the F22P frigates that China began delivering in June. Chinese official Zhai said that Pakistan’s desire for higher capacity ships is normal for an independent nation seeking to bolster its security. “India has also entered into deals for military hardware from the Unites States and Russia. India’s aircraft carrier has already cost it billions of dollars”, said Zhai.
Bashir also met with the Chinese defense minister, Liang Guanglie, and discussed with him Pakistan’s needs in terms of modernizing their armed forces to try and keep up with the torrid pace of rival India’s defense spending. “The Chinese armed forces would like to improve friendly and cooperative relations with the Pakistani armed forces,” defense minister Liang Guangile said, according to China’s state-run Xinhua press agency.” China attached great importance to its traditional friendship with Pakistan, Liang said, adding that the two countries had conducted comprehensive and multi-level military exchanges and cooperation in various areas.”
“The Pakistani armed forces and people cherished their friendship with the Chinese armed forces and people”, Noman Bashir said, noting that “Pakistan would like to work with China to promote the comprehensive and cooperative partnership.” Bashir also stated that Pakistan was keen on buying bigger ships and more JF-17 fighter planes from China in addition to submarines and that Pakistan will be buying more weapons from China, including missiles.
“These growing military ties between China and Pakistan are a serious concern to India,” stated Defense Minister A K Antony. India worries about China’s rising influence in South Asia and the Indian Ocean region, a neighborhood traditionally considered as its sphere of influence.
India’s relations with Pakistan, never easy after three wars since 1947, went downhill fast after last November’s Mumbai attacks blamed on Pakistani originated militants. Meanwhile, Chinese and Pakistani cooperation on military and economic projects has increased in the last few years. “The increasing nexus between China and Pakistan in military sphere remains an area of serious concern,” Antony said in a speech. “We have to carry out continuous appraisals of Chinese military capabilities and shape our responses accordingly. At the same time, we need to be vigilant at all times.” Tensions between India and China, who fought a brief war in 1962, flared again in recent months, especially with the re-emergence of a long-standing border dispute made worse by a visit by the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, to Indian territory claimed by Beijing.
India increased defense spending by 24% for this year’s budget to $28.4 billion a year dwarfing Pakistan’s budget of $4.2 billion for the same period. Meanwhile, China and India are together set to make Asia the highest regional spender on defense in the next seven years replacing North America as their economies continue to fund their weapons appetite.
Pakistan cannot compete with the likes of India and China militarily. Just as Taiwan could not compete with China militarily, but went on to become an economic powerhouse and used its influence economically, so too must Pakistan focus on growing its economy rather than growing militarily. Even though Pakistan possesses the nuclear bomb, and that very well may end up being a strong deterrent against India in the likelihood of a war, it still is loathe to use it, for the consequences from India would be similar and far worse due to their increased warheads and military might.
Also, although Pakistan’s military and previous leadership have articulated the right to a preemptive nuclear strike or a nuclear first use option in the event of hostilities with India, this choice is often seen as a losing option by the military due to the aftermath of a nuclear exchange between the two countries. India’s budget and its technological advancements make it impossible for Pakistan to ever win a conventional war with India. And a nuclear exchange between these two neighbors will leave neither side feeling as the winner.
Pakistan’s most beneficial strategy must consist of directing its full armed forces against the Taliban and militant groups within its territory and re-engaging India back to the peace table in hopes of resolving the long disputed Kashmir region because war with India will certainly not leave Pakistan the victor. However a peace treaty can open the long border between India and Pakistan for trade, goods, ideas, money and people to move freely across the border and allowing much needed investments and flow of technology to Pakistan that will go a long ways in helping the country and its people catch up with the rest of the world.
Reported by Manzer Munir for www.PakistanisforPeace.com