August 16, 2005

Re: Gunning for Peace in South Asia

Asia Times Letters, 15.08.05

Siddharth Srivastava does not dwell much on the significance of the recent cruise-missile test by Pakistan (Gunning for peace in South Asia, Aug 13). All he does is state that the arms race was on. The implications [of the test] are threefold: First, it shows blatant disregard for international proliferation laws by China, [which] is openly supplying Pakistan with advanced offensive weapons. Second, it displays a new-found maturity within the Indian polity who refused to raise a ballyhoo over the test, since India already possesses the far superior BrahMos cruise missile, which is supersonic and has completely indigenous guidance. Third, the fact that Pakistan is reciprocating as much as it can to India's big plans of acquisitions and weapon development should be a long-term encouraging factor for India. This is simply because Pakistan's economy will continue to get more and more pressured under heavy defense spending, something which does not apply to India given its much larger and faster-growing economy. India can therefore push for issues such as SAFTA [South Asian Free Trade Area] which is coming into force on January 1, 2006, and lobby for faster reduction in tariffs by Pakistan. The underlying fact that is blatantly obvious is that on one hand India seeks to look at Pakistan more and more as in irritant as its economic and political prowess increases on the global stage, while Pakistan is feeling increasingly frustrated at India's obvious military superiority and is thus seeking symbolic victories to offset the ground realities.

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