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India's threat perceptions: The Sino-Pakistan nexus - The Times of India

Dinesh Kumar ()
May 18, 1998

Title: India's threat perceptions: The Sino-Pakistan nexus
Author: Dinesh Kumar
Publication: The Times of India
Date: May 18, 1998

The five nuclear tests conducted over a span of 48 hours were
long overdue and they are entirely in tune with the strategic
security environment in the country's neighbourhood. The choice
was between inaction while being slowly squeezed by smiling faces
with deceptive hands or acting on the dictum that a country's
national interests are permanent whereas friends need not be so.

Consider the following: China has been pursuing a major defence
modernisation programme that includes nuclear-tipped land, air
and sea launched missiles along with long-range aircraft. China
has been quick to resolve its border dispute with Russia but yet
has been slow in resolving the same with India. With monotonous
regularity, it has been publishing false maps of the Sino-Indian
border while sending foot patrols on incursion missions into
Indian territory. More deviously. Beijing has since long been
arming Pakistan with both conventional weapons (aircraft, tanks,
etc) as also with both nuclear and missile technology while
issuing public denials and pledging itself to improving relations
with New Delhi.

Chinese modernisation of missile technology includes advanced
fuel technology, improved accuracy and mobility, multiple
independently targetable re-entry vehicles (MIRV), improved
reaction time, hardened silos, and a more sophisticated satellite
navigation technology. China is engaged in developing the XXJ
Stealth fighter and is helping Pakistan develop the Super F-7

Similarly, Pakistan's major technology thrust has been on
miniaturising nuclear warheads for delivery through ballistic
missile supplied by China (M-11) and North Korea (Nodong-II).
Pakistan has been building a missile factory with Beijing's
assistance at Fatehgunj, located at a distance of 50 km from
Islamabad. The M-11 missiles have reportedly been stored in a sub-
depot near Sargodha with Defence Communication (DEFCOM) terminals
set up at Gujranwala, Okara, Multan, Jhang and Dera Nawab Shah.

The Sino-Pakistan nexus has not been a recent discovery. For
example, the 1991-92 annual defence ministry report revealed how
Pakistan's military procurements during that year included M-11
surface-to-surface missiles from China. Commenting on China, the
report observed, "In particular, we shall need to remain vigilant
with regard to its (China's) missile and nuclear technology
exports which might vitiate the regional security scenario."
While these concerns have figured in successive annual defence
ministry reports, the external affairs ministry has, in contrast,
chosen to maintain a deafening silence on India's threat
perceptions vis-a-vis China.

In addition, India has been facing a peculiar situation in the
form of a Beijing-Moscow axis involving Russian sale of high
technology weapon systems to China including long-range Sukhoi
fighters, submarines, destroyers, sophisticated air defence
missiles, aerial refuellers and IL-76/96 aircraft as Possible
platforms for airborne warning and control systems (AWACS). New
Delhi can do little about this arrangement keeping in view that a
cash-strapped Moscow is India's only source of defence hardware.
And 'yet New Delhi cannot overlook the fact that Beijing may not
hesitate to share this top-of-the-line Russian defence technology
with Islamabad.

The US has chosen to wink at the Sino-Pakistan nuclear and
missile cooperation despite regular pronouncements by US
government officials that this was still continuing. Yet, only
late last year, Washington actually approved the first export of
advanced nuclear reactor technology to China after obtaining
assurances that Beijing would limit its arms exports to Tehran
(but not Islamabad).

Contrast this Washington-Beijing agreement with the January 1995
Indo-US Agreed Minute on defence cooperation. Although the
agreement envisaged enhancement of bilateral defence relations
and also involved establishing a Defence Policy Group (DPG) to
provide policy level guidance, US government officials, however,
made it clear that the Agreed Minute did not entail transfer or
sale of defence technology. And yet, a year after the signing of
the Indo-US defence agreement, the US government made a onetime
waiver of the Pressler Amendment and cleared the sale of a $ 368
million arms package to Pakistan which included induction of new
technology into the subcontinent. This included long-range P-3C
maritime patrol and strike aircraft, night fighting capabilities
on attack helicopters, and gun-locating radars.

In November 1997, a senior Policy analyst at The Heritage
Foundation, a Washington-based think-tank, came out with a paper
on How America's Friends Are Building China's Military Power. The
study observed that Beijing is seeking to use China's growing
wealth to advance its military modernisation programme by
obtaining sophisticated western weaponry and advanced military
technology .....This is a dangerous strategic development ....
It (China) could build new long-range cruise missiles and,
possibly, a power-projection air force. And it could increase its
naval capabilities with new submarines and supersonic anti-ship
missiles," the study states, adding that "China could sell this
technology to rogue states which are less interested in
diplomacy. Indeed, China's drive to become a great military power
is one of the most important challenges facing the US in Asia."

Now that India has joined the exclusive six-member club of
nuclear weapon states, a paragraph from a US Pentagon pamphlet is
worth quoting. he basic responsibility of the Department of
Defence is- to contribute in the best possible way to the
preservation of peace with freedom for ourselves and our
descendants," it says, adding "there can be no more demanding
mission nor important goal. To achieve this goal we must deter
conflict by maintaining armed forces that are capable and ready."

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