Archive for the ‘ China ’ Category

China and India: Contest of the Century

As reported by The Economist

A HUNDRED years ago it was perhaps already possible to discern the rising powers whose interaction and competition would shape the 20th century. The sun that shone on the British empire had passed midday. Vigorous new forces were flexing their muscles on the global stage, notably America, Japan and Germany. Their emergence brought undreamed-of prosperity; but also carnage on a scale hitherto unimaginable.

Now digest the main historical event of this week: China has officially become the world’s second-biggest economy, overtaking Japan. In the West this has prompted concerns about China overtaking the United States sooner than previously thought. But stand back a little farther, apply a more Asian perspective, and China’s longer-term contest is with that other recovering economic behemoth: India. These two Asian giants, which until 1800 used to make up half the world economy, are not, like Japan and Germany, mere nation states. In terms of size and population, each is a continent—and for all the glittering growth rates, a poor one.

Not destiny, but still pretty important

This is uncharted territory that should be seen in terms of decades, not years. Demography is not destiny. Nor for that matter are long-range economic forecasts from investment banks. Two decades ago Japan was seen as the main rival to America. Countries as huge and complicated as China can underachieve or collapse under their own contradictions. In the short term its other foreign relationships may matter more, even in Asia: there may, for instance, be a greater risk of conflict between rising China and an ageing but still powerful Japan. Western powers still wield considerable influence.

So caveats abound. Yet as the years roll forward, the chances are that it will increasingly come down once again to the two Asian giants facing each other over a disputed border (see article). How China and India manage their own relationship will determine whether similar mistakes to those that scarred the 20th century disfigure this one.

Neither is exactly comfortable in its skin. China’s leaders like to portray Western hype about their country’s rise as a conspiracy—a pretext either to offload expensive global burdens onto the Middle Kingdom or to encircle it. Witness America’s alliances with Japan and South Korea, its legal obligation to help Taiwan defend itself and its burgeoning friendships with China’s rivals, notably India but also now Vietnam.

This paranoia is overdone. Why shouldn’t more be asked from a place that, as well as being the world’s most-populous country, is already its biggest exporter, its biggest car market, its biggest carbon-emitter and its biggest consumer of energy (a rank China itself, typically, contests)? As for changing the balance of power, the People’s Liberation Army’s steady upgrading of its technological capacity, its building of a blue-water navy and its fast-developing skills in outer space and cyberspace do not yet threaten American supremacy, despite alarm expressed this week about the opacity of the PLA’s plans in a Pentagon report. But China’s military advances do unnerve neighbours and regional rivals. Recent weeks have seen China fall out with South Korea (as well as the West) over how to respond to the sinking in March, apparently by a North Korean torpedo, of a South Korean navy ship. And the Beijing regime has been at odds with South-East Asian countries over its greedy claim to almost all of the South China Sea.

India, too, is unnerved. Its humiliation at Chinese hands in a brief war nearly 50 years ago still rankles. A tradition of strategic mistrust of China is deeply ingrained. India sees China as working to undermine it at every level: by pre-empting it in securing supplies of the energy both must import; through manoeuvres to block a permanent seat for India on the United Nations Security Council; and, above all, through friendships with its smaller South Asian neighbours, notably Pakistan. India also notes that China, after decades of setting their border quarrels to one side in the interests of the broader relationship, has in recent years hardened its position on the disputes in Tibet and Kashmir that in 1962 led to war. This unease has pushed India strategically closer to America—most notably in a controversial deal on nuclear co-operation.

Autocrats in Beijing are contemptuous of India for its messy, indecisive democracy. But they must see it as a serious long-term rival—especially if it continues to tilt towards America. As recently as the early 1990s, India was as rich, in terms of national income per head. China then hurtled so far ahead that it seemed India could never catch up. But India’s long-term prospects now look stronger. While China is about to see its working-age population shrink (see article), India is enjoying the sort of bulge in manpower which brought sustained booms elsewhere in Asia. It is no longer inconceivable that its growth could outpace China’s for a considerable time. It has the advantage of democracy—at least as a pressure valve for discontent. And India’s army is, in numbers, second only to China’s and America’s: it has 100,000 soldiers in disputed Arunachal Pradesh (twice as many as America will soon have in Iraq). And because India does not threaten the West, it has powerful friends both on its own merits and as a counterweight to China.

A settlement in time

The prospect of renewed war between India and China is, for now, something that disturbs the sleep only of virulent nationalists in the Chinese press and retired colonels in Indian think-tanks. Optimists prefer to hail the $60 billion in trade the two are expected to do with each other this year (230 times the total in 1990). But the 20th century taught the world that blatantly foreseeable conflicts of interest can become increasingly foreseeable wars with unforeseeably dreadful consequences. Relying on prosperity and more democracy in China to sort things out thus seems unwise. Two things need to be done.

First, the slow progress towards a border settlement needs to resume. The main onus here is on China. It has the territory it really wants and has maintained its claim to Arunachal Pradesh only as a bargaining chip. It has, after all, solved intractable boundary quarrels with Russia, Mongolia, Myanmar and Vietnam. Surely it cannot be so difficult to treat with India?

That points to a second, deeper need, one that it took Europe two world wars to come close to solving: emerging Asia’s lack of serious institutions to bolster such deals. A regional forum run by the Association of South-East Asian Nations is rendered toothless by China’s aversion to multilateral diplomacy. Like any bully, it prefers to pick off its antagonists one by one. It would be better if China and India—and Japan—could start building regional forums to channel their inevitable rivalries into collaboration and healthy competition.

Globally, the rules-based system that the West set up in the second half of the 20th century brought huge benefits to emerging powers. But it reflects an out-of-date world order, not the current global balance, let alone a future one. China and India should be playing a bigger role in shaping the rules that will govern the 21st century. That requires concessions from the West. But it also requires commitment to a rules-based international order from China and India. A serious effort to solve their own disagreements is a good place to start.

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Female Imams Blaze Trail Amid China’s Muslims

By Louisa Lim for National Public Radio

It is 5:50 in the morning, and dark shadows scurry through narrow alleys to the mosque, as the call to prayer echoes from a minaret in Kaifeng. This city in central China’s Henan province has an Islamic enclave, where Muslims have lived for more than 1,000 years.

In an alleyway called Wangjia hutong, women go to their own mosque, where Yao Baoxia leads prayers. For 14 years, Yao has been a female imam, or ahong as they are called here, a word derived from Persian.

As she leads the service, Yao stands alongside the other women, not in front of them as a male imam would. But she says her role is the same as a male imam. “The status is the same,” Yao says confidently. “Men and women are equal here, maybe because we are a socialist country.”                                        

Yao Baoxia is a female ahong, or imam, at Wangjia Hutong Women’s Mosque in Kaifeng, in central China. She sits alongside believers during prayers, not in front of them like male imams. She believes male and female imams are equal in their role as teachers and leaders of prayers. Yao Baoxia is a female ahong, or imam, at Wangjia Hutong Women’s Mosque in Kaifeng, in central China. She sits alongside believers during prayers, not in front of them like male imams. She believes male and female imams are equal in their role as teachers and leaders of prayers.

China has an estimated 21 million Muslims, who have developed their own set of Islamic practices with Chinese characteristics. The biggest difference is the development of independent women’s mosques with female imams, something scholars who have researched the issue say is unique to China.

Yao studied to become an imam for four years, after being laid off from her job as a factory worker. First she studied under a female imam, then with a male imam alongside male students.

Her main role is as a teacher, she says. “When people come to pray, they don’t know how to chant the Quran, so my job is teaching people about Islam, helping them to study one line at a time and leading the prayers,” she says.

Mosques Began As Quranic Schools

The modest courtyard of Wangjia Hutong Women’s Mosque contains within it the entire history of China’s mosques for females. It’s the oldest surviving women’s mosque in China, with one gray plaque high up on a wall dating back to 1820.

Like other women’s mosques, it began as a Quranic school for girls. These sprang up in the late 17th century in central China, including Shanxi and Shandong provinces. They morphed into women’s mosques about 100 years ago, starting in Henan province. Remembering her own childhood, 83-year-old Tang Guiying says even then the women’s mosque was the only place a girl could receive education.

“I didn’t go to school when I was small,” she chuckles. “We were all too poor; none of us girls studied. But I came here to play and study. The old imam was very, very old — she was 80-something, and she had bound feet.”

Tang is sitting in the mosque’s washroom as she talks. This is where women conduct ritual ablutions before prayer. This space — and the mosque itself — doubles as a social center for these women, the heart of a community. In Kaifeng, there are 16 women’s mosques, one-third the number of mosques for males.

A Unique Chinese Tradition

Shui Jingjun, of the Henan Academy of Social Sciences and co-author of a book on the phenomenon, says that so far there are no women’s mosques in other countries. In most of the Muslim world, women pray behind a partition or in a separate room, but in the same mosque as men.

Shui points out that the women’s mosques in China are administered independently, by women for women, in addition to being legally separate entities in some cases. “After reform and opening up [in 1979], some female mosques registered independently, which shows the equality of male and female mosques,” she explains.

Controversy still rages in the Muslim world about whether women can be imams. In 2006, Morocco became the first country in the Arab world to officially sanction the training of female religious leaders.

China is the only country to have such a long history of female imams. However, there are things that, according to the customary practices of Chinese Muslims, female imams can’t do.

They can’t, for instance, lead funeral rituals or wash male corpses. Forty miles away in the provincial capital of Zhengzhou, white-sashed mourners wail as they process through the streets carrying the coffin from a mosque. No female imams are participating.

Opposition Still Exists To Women’s Roles

In central China, most Muslims support the female mosques, but there is some resistance closer to China’s border with Pakistan and Afghanistan, closer to the harder-line Wahhabi and Salafi influences.

“Historically in northwestern China, there were no female mosques,” says Shui, the researcher. “There was resistance because people thought that building female mosques was against the rules of religion. But in central China and most provinces, people think it’s a good innovation for Islam.”

In the past decade, some women’s mosques have been established in northwest China. The phenomenon appears to be spreading, helped politically by the Islamic Association of China, a state-controlled body that regulates Islam and issues licenses to practice to male and female imams alike.

This is part of the anomaly that is religion in China — the atheist Chinese authorities are endorsing a practice some Muslims find unacceptable. While there is broad support among Kaifeng’s Muslims for female mosques and imams, there is also some opposition.

“The education of Islamic women is a very important job,” says Guo Baoguang, of the Islamic Association of Kaifeng. But he admits that he has been criticized for organizing religious education forums for Muslim men and women to take part in together.

“There were some criticisms that women ought to be in the home, and ought not take part in social activities. I think these criticisms are too conservative, and don’t account of the importance of women’s education in Islam,” he says.

Guo believes that when it comes to female imams, China is leading the way.”Given the fast development of China’s economy, and as its political status rises, I think Chinese Islam will become more important in the Islamic world,” Guo says. “The developments Chinese Islam has made, like the role played by Chinese women, will be more accepted by Muslims elsewhere in the world.”

Greatest Challenge Is Economic

In the women’s mosques, most of the faithful are elderly. Young women with families often don’t have the time to worship, especially given the lengthy purification rituals several times a day.

Third-generation imam Sun Chengying, who has been practicing for 21 years, worries about the future.

“I haven’t had any students since 1996,” she says, shaking her head. “Women don’t want be imams anymore, because the salaries in the mosques are too low. No one is willing to do it.”

Female imams sometimes earn as little as $40 a month, one-third of what can be earned in other jobs. Younger women need to earn more to support their families. And so it appears the future of female imams in China is threatened — not by the state, not by resistance from inside Islam, but by the forces of market economics.

-Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s Note- Chinese Muslim female imams are unique to China but this practice of allowing female imams is one that should be encouraged throughout the Muslim world. Female imams as well as increased rights for women in Islam across the board will only help strengthen Muslim societies.

China, Pakistan Discuss Another Nuclear Plant

By Jeremy Page for The Wall Street Journal

BEIJING—China’s main nuclear power company announced that it is in talks to build a one-gigawatt nuclear power plant in Pakistan, even as the two countries face U.S. and Indian concerns over their cooperation to build other plants in Pakistan.

Pakistan has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, and U.S. and Indian officials worry that nuclear material might fall into the hands of al Qaeda and Taliban militants based near the Afghan border in northwestern Pakistan.

The state-run China National Nuclear Corp. has already helped Pakistan build its main nuclear power facility at Chashma in Punjab province, is completing a second reactor there and has contracts to build two more 300-megawatt reactors.

Qiu Jiangang, vice president of CNNC, told a meeting in Beijing on Monday that the first reactor was operating safely, the second one was now being tested and expected to start formal operations by the end of the year. “Both sides are in discussions over the CNNC exporting a one-gigawatt nuclear plant to Pakistan,” he added, without giving details.

There was no immediate reaction from the U.S. or India. Officials from both countries expressed concern after China signed a deal in February to build the additional two 300-MW reactors. U.S. officials said such plans required special exemption from the 46-nation Nuclear Suppliers Group, which China joined in 2004, and which is supposed to regulate the global nuclear trade.

Vann H. Van Diepen, the U.S. acting assistant secretary of state for international security and nonproliferation, suggested before the House Foreign Affairs Committee in July that the U.S. would vote against such an exemption.

The U.S. and many other NSG members have long had concerns about nuclear proliferation from Pakistan, especially since A.Q. Khan, its top nuclear scientist, confessed in 2004 to selling nuclear secrets to North Korea, Iran and Libya.

Abdul Basit, a Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman, declined to comment on the one-gigawatt plant, but said Pakistan’s nuclear cooperation with China was for civilian purposes. “The nuclear cooperation between the two countries are in accordance with international obligations and comes under IAEA safeguards,” he said, referring to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

China and Pakistan argue that the U.S. set a precedent by sealing a landmark deal to sell civilian nuclear fuel and technology to India in 2006 even though New Delhi had yet to sign the NPT.

That agreement, which lifted a U.S. ban imposed after India tested its first nuclear device in 1974, is seen as the cornerstone of a new partnership with New Delhi designed to counterbalance China’s influence in Asia.

Critics, however, say it undermined the global non-proliferation regime by recognizing India as a global nuclear power, but not Pakistan, even though the South Asian rivals developed nuclear bombs simultaneously.

What Are Chinese Troops Doing in Kashmir?

By Randeep Ramesh for The Guardian

The claim that more than 7,000 Chinese troops have been handed “de facto control” of Gilgit-Baltistan, a northern part of Kashmir, by Islamabad, has set alarm bells ringing in Delhi. India – which, like its nuclear-armed rival Pakistan, claims the entire state – has long been worried that the People’s Liberation Army was working on roads and railway projects in the Karakoram mountains.

What is true is that China plans a massive highway linking western China to the port it is building at Gwadar, Pakistan, on the shore of the Arabian Sea. The benefits are obvious: the journey time from factory gate in, say, China’s wild west, to container ships bound for the Gulf will be cut from weeks to a few days. Eventually it may even become a key energy supply route.

All of this troubles Delhi, which has long asked for China to keep its nose out of Kashmiri affairs. However, the rise of the Middle Kingdom and its need to secure passage through its own troublesome provinces of Xinjiang and Tibet through to Pakistan make this unlikely. But India suspects, too, that China is intent on becoming the hegemon of much of the eastern hemisphere – able to dictate to smaller powers the rules of the game.

In Kashmir this had led to a round of tit-for-tat diplomatic incidents. So when India refuses to allow a Chinese diplomat to visit its troubled north-eastern state of Manipur for a talk, China responds by blocking the visa of a top Indian general because it appears his command includes Kashmir.

The Himalayan state is a piece of real estate whose sovereignty has long been contested. With its demography as varied as its topography, its various peoples have long been imbued with a stubborn streak of independence.

So it may be unsurprising that when heavy rains washed away villages in the Pakistan’s “Northern Areas” and Islamabad’s response was to sit on its hands, the simmering revolt against Pakistani rule flared again. In response Pakistan, so the claim goes, turned to its all-weather friend China, which was more than happy to send boots flying.

All this is dismissed in Beijing but only after referring to Gilgit as a “northern part of Pakistan”, which simply angered Delhi further. While Pakistan’s problem in its part of Kashmir has been of too little government action, India’s rule in its portion of the state has been heavy-handed and self-defeating.

Faced with a largely nonviolent revolt which began in 2008, the Indian authorities have provoked a much larger crisis with a regime of curfews and the killings of teenagers shot dead with nothing but slogans in their mouths and rocks in their hands. It is time for India to admit that its political and military strategy has failed to stabilise Kashmir.

The actions of both Pakistan and India vitiate claims that somehow either could keep the entire state happy. China has little sympathy with separatist claims – and holds sway over large chunks of the former Kashmiri kingdom.

The only way out of this mess is for Islamabad and Delhi to start rebuilding a peace process that will eventually lead to self-governance on both sides of the de facto border and a withdrawal of substantial numbers of Indian, Pakistani and, yes, even Chinese troops from Kashmir.

China, Pakistan Reach Nuclear Energy Deal

As reported by United Press International

The Pakistani government has finalized a deal with China to build two new nuclear power plants in the country, the Pakistani foreign minister said.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Mehmood Qureshi said Pakistan was working with its Chinese counterparts on more than 120 different projects, including two nuclear power facilities in Pakistan, the Associated Press of Pakistan reports.

Despite concerns over the proliferation of nuclear material, the foreign minister said his country was moving ahead with its nuclear activity in line with international expectations

“We have no objections on inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency because we are proceeding ahead in a transparent manner,” he said. Pakistan is facing a looming energy crisis that is creating rolling blackouts in parts of the country.

The energy deal comes as Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari accepted the credentials of Liu Jian, the new Chinese envoy to Islamabad. Zardari said trade relations with China fell well short of their potential.

“Strengthening and enhancing cooperation with China in all sectors is one of the key principles guiding Pakistan’s foreign policy,” said the Pakistani president.

Pakistan and India- The Love-Hate Relationship of Two Brothers

By Manzer Munir for Pakistanis for Peace

Since the bitter partition that resulted in the creation of Pakistan and India in 1947, and three subsequent wars with each other, not to mention countless near incidents, the two neighbors have not had an easy relationship, to say the least.

However, mixed in with fear and hatred towards each other is a fascination and affinity to the arch rival on the other side of the Line of Control. In fact, one could say that the two have a love-hate relationship with each other. The recent wedding of Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Malik to Indian tennis sensation Sania Mirza is an indication to the amount of interest and hype given to the couple in media from both sides of the border, making them instantly one of the hottest and most talked about young couples in this Bollywood and glamour obsessed culture.

In Pakistani schools, children are taught very little if anything at all about Pakistan’s pre-Islamic history. Instead the children are told of the glories of the Muslim Caliphate from the time of the prophet Mohammed and then the grand rule of the Moguls of India with the construction of immortal buildings like the Taj Mahal in Agra, or the Badshahi Masjid and the Shalimar Gardens in Lahore, all three built on the Islamic style of architecture. Not very much emphasis is given to the great contributions that the people of present day Pakistan made as Hindus for centuries prior to the arrival of Islam in the subcontinent.

Criticisms abound by Muslims that in India, Muslim contributions to modern India are down played or not explored in the manner they are deserved. However, In Pakistan it is well documented those Pakistani textbooks not only do not teach about Hindu history and achievements, they actually teach hatred against India and Hindus. There is an underlying culture of hate and inequality based on religious grounds that permeates in the society despite Islam teaching respect for all religions and faiths. It’s as if thinking of someone as a polytheist makes them less equal as a human.

The mindset becomes that these non believers are infidels and this somehow makes it easy to dehumanize them or in some way think them to be inferior to you as a human being. Even the current terrorism situation in Pakistan has its roots in this culture of hate and to some level a dehumanization of people of other faiths, especially non-Abrahamic like Hinduism or Buddhism. To not recognize that ancient Indian/Hindu history is also the history of Pakistan does a great injustice to the shared history of one of the most ancient of cultures.

The natural history of this region shows that the origins of the Indian/Pakistani civilization go back to the end of the last Ice Age, more than 10,000 years ago, making this one of the oldest civilizations of the ancient world. This area of the world is a place which gave the world not only Hinduism, but also Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism, and other religions and has been a source of spiritual inspiration since the earliest of times. But maybe even more important than the contributions in the field of religion are the ancient civilization’s gifts to science and medicine.

Albert Einstein once said “We owe a lot to the Indians, who taught us how to count, without which no worthwhile scientific discovery could have been made.” Indeed, Indian civilization is credited with the creation of the decimal number system, the binary numbering system, negative number, the origins of algebra, and even the all important concept mathematically of zero came from ancient Indian mathematicians.

Archaeologically, India has the most extensive and continuous record of all ancient civilizations, much more than Egypt, Sumeria or Mesopotamia of the same time periods. The ruins in Mohenjo-Daro and Taxila in modern day Pakistan point to the fact that there was a very advanced civilization present here and even the beginnings of one of the early urban settlements of the ancient world as they were remarkably constructed, considering its antiquity. Taxila is also the site of what is believed to be the first university or school of higher learning in the ancient world.

Also the ancient Vedic literature is the largest in the ancient world and contains thousands upon thousands of pages dwarfing what little has been successfully preserved by the rest of the world. This literature contains profound spiritual concepts, skills in mathematics, astronomy and medicine. Sanskrit is the mother of all European languages and Ayurveda is the earliest school of medicine known to man.

Indian culture not only gave the world the game of chess, but was also was a place where some of the earliest innovations in the fields of surgery and advanced dentistry were developed as there is evidence of complex dental procedures being performed in the Indus valley some 8,000 years ago!

The celebrated American author Mark Twain once famously said of India that “India is the cradle of the human race, the birthplace of human speech, the mother of history, the grandmother of legend, and the great grandmother of tradition. Our most valuable and most constructive materials in the history of man are treasured up in India only.” And not so long ago, in a statement made by China’s former ambassador to the US, Hu Shih stated that “India conquered and dominated China culturally for 20 centuries without ever having to send a single soldier across her border.” This is further validated by the fact that the Indian civilization is considered unique in that it never invaded any country in the last 10,000 years of its history!

By denying its centuries old Hindu/Indian ancestry and history, modern day Pakistan is willfully abandoning its participation and hand in some of the greatest contributions made by one civilization to mankind. Not teaching children the importance of the pre-Islamic history and beginnings of what is now Pakistan is actually a disservice to its people. Also, since the ancestors of all Pakistanis were at some point or another Indian Hindus, disrespecting Hinduism and pre-Islamic Indian culture in essence disrespects one’s own ancestors!

Pakistan can learn a great deal from its ancient brother in the fields of democracy, constitutional freedoms, economic empowerment and technological advancements. A culture of hate has only bred more hate that has now begun to consume internally a nation that has for too long wearily looked outside to its larger neighbor as its chief enemy, instead of as a brother.

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

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