An Appeal to the Indians
05 July, 2005
By Col. Riaz Jafri (Retd)
After more than half a century, three wars, Siachin and Kargil, innumerable border clashes, colossal loss of precious lives and resources on both sides, the clouds of animosity over the sub continent had started yielding to the silver lining of the peace in the region. Much wanted confidence building measures (CBMs) seemed to be well on their way to usher in an era of brotherly friendship and prosperity to the teeming millions on both sides of the great divide. But the prospects of peace and tranquillity in the region, which could result in bringing together the largest democracy in the world and the most powerful Islamic country, with a highly enterprising human resource of a billion and a quarter justifiably proud of their rich heritage, culture and enviable civilisation in a sub continent endowed by the Creator with a rich reservoir of natural resources must have sent shudders down the spine of many a western power who would have soon found themselves at the mercy of Indo-Pak in their worldly affairs. 'They must not get together' would have been the cry of all political Pundits of the West. Uncle Sam, who already had a hold in Pakistan, took upon itself to move into India as well to shatter the peace prospects of the region. An incessant flow of visits by the highly placed US diplomats started to India, wooing her and offering her all she needed. Immediately F-16s, F-18s and Patriot ABMs were offered. As if this all was not enough last week Washington and Delhi signed a 'new framework for ! the US-India defence relationship' that envisages expanding two-way defence trade, increasing opportunities for the transfer of defence-related technology, co-producing and developing new armament and expanding collaboration on missile defence. Wow, what a master plan? Who will gain by it all? India? No way. USA? Yes certainly. Such a scheme of affairs will not only pull India out of the sphere of the influence of Russia but will also make her dependent upon the US for all time to come. Bharat Karnad of India in a recent article says," Indeed, military reach and clout have historically opened up markets for trade and commerce, been the engine for economic growth and for the dissemination of cultural values. Trade follows flag even in a globalized milieu."
One really wonders that on the one hand we talk of peace, friendship, soft borders, complimentary trade and commerce all leading to the weal of the common man. Pakistan even offered curtailment of the forces on both sides proportionately to cut down the defence expenditure and divert such saved funds to the social sectors of education, healthcare, employment, industry to alleviate the poverty and combat the back breaking inflation. On the other hand we find ourselves arming with the latest state of the art weaponry and weapon systems promising nothing but mutual self destruction. When we are talking of 'irreversible peace process', then against whom do we intend to use these weapons? Will not such acquisition of the defence technologies and weapon systems by India force Pakistan also to opt for some suitable counter measures to maintain a minimum deterrent level' to ensure her safety? Will it not give rise to the 'mistrust' once again and bring back the arms mad race between the two countries? Will it not involve the huge HUGE useless, non-productive and wasteful defence expenditure which has been the main cause of the poverty in the region? Both countries are responsible nuclear powers and fully aware of the holocaust that a thermo nuclear engagement can cause to the both. Some advocate that in order to be world power it is essential for India to have regional superiority in the conventional weapons. However, in the event of a conventional war - God forbid - between the two, can any one say with certainty ! that the country at the verge of being vanquished will not use the ultimate weapon? After all what are the A bombs for? Just decoration pieces for a status symbol? And if the use of nukes cannot be ruled out altogether then of what big deal is such superiority in the conventional weapons?
The Indian people have a much more say in the affairs of their country. Their voice is heard and respected by the powers that be. I would, therefore, ask them in the name of peace to prevail upon their government to desist from such defence arrangements with USA which are firstly entirely to the advantage of the USA, and secondly will make India dependent upon the USA for all time to come. At the same time un-necessary and wasteful arms race will again raise its ugly head in the sub continent to the detriment of its masses languishing in abject poverty. Please save us also from becoming poorer in the process.