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Indian Military Modernization and Dream of Arms Control Between Pakistan And India

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Arms Control is mainly about reducing the danger of war, mitigating the damage that might otherwise be endured in war and dropping the burden of peacetime military preparation. Arms Control can stabilize the strategic relationship between India and Pakistan. The predicament is that there is no mutually agreed framework and Risk Reduction Measure for strategic stability in South Asia. India’s build nuclear weapons on May 18, 1974 and Pakistan simply followed India. In fact, Pakistan pursued a nuclear program to secure its borders from Indian aggression and maintain strategic stability in South Asia. Pakistan nuclear policy based on Minimum Credible Nuclear Deterrence, which means its nuclear program has no other role except counter the aggression of its enemy. It believes in arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament procedures which are impartial and play important role in the stability of South Asian region. While, India is not agree to resolve its disputes with Islamabad through negotiations and talk.

Pakistan has proposed different Arms Control CBMs to India as Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) in 1974, non-acquisition of nuclear weapons in 1978 , the reciprocal check of each other’s nuclear facilities in 1979 and IAEA full scope safeguard that discourage nuclear weapon development between both states. Additionally, Pakistan has not signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and  Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for the reason that India has not signed. Whereas, India military modernization has increased under the rule of Modi. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s (SIPRI) Factsheet March 2020 identified that India is changing no-first-use nuclear doctrine that it adopted in 1998. India’s military modernization is gradually moving state towards the more hostile nuclear policy Counter Force First Strike (CF) with the desire of regional hegemony.  The reports also highlighted that there are five major arms buyers as Saudi Arabia, India, Egypt, Australia and China in the world that are responsible for 36% of total arms imports in the years 2015-2019 where India stands the second largest arms importer of the world. It has increased 6.8 percent military spending in 2019 that makes India third largest military spender country in the world since WWII. India defence budget for the year 2020 is 73.5 billion dollars. It has increased 9 percent its defence budget in this year. Similarly, defence spending grew by 259 percent over a thirty-year period between 1990 and 2019. The enhancement in India military budget indicates that Indian government has placed the security and peace of South Asian region in a confrontational limbo.

India is building a number of disruptive weapons that includes a variety of missile defence systems as S400, a National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System-II (NASAMS-II), Barak-8, Prithvi Air Defence and Area Defence Systems, ballistic missile submarines with ready-to-shoot nuclear weapons, inter-continental ballistic missiles with ranges beyond 10,000 km, the development of thermo-nuclear and hypersonic weapons, and keeping huge stocks of un-safeguarded fissile material. It is not only continuously enhancing disruptive technological weapons, but it astonished the world in 2019, when it launched an anti-satellite missile. The weaponization of space is a very serious matter for not only South Asia, but entire planet because of its long term implications for global peace and security. Pakistan has identified the danger connected with the weaponisation of outer space that is a threat for peaceful space activities. Moreover, the introduction of nuclear weapons by India at the Indian ocean is also a threat while, Pakistan endorses that Indian ocean should be free zone from nuclear weapons.The discriminatory policies of certain international players also played significant role in the instability of South Asia. The US made enable India to obtain highly sophisticated technology in the all military fields because it is countering China through India in South Asia.

 In a nutshell, It is obvious that India has entered into an aggressive arms race with the growing militarism under its hegemonic ambitions. India’s current status of third largest global military spender and the second largest arms importer is a clear manifestation of its mania with arms inspired domination. It wants to dominate small powers and compete China through its enhancement of strategic power in the region. It spawns a classic military security dilemma for Pakistan by enhancing the proliferation of military technologies and arms. If one state increases its military capabilities that always encourage others to increase their capabilities. In the result, it boosts competition between rival states. The lack of trust and mutual confidence increases the chances of first strike. The lack of communication during a crisis leads to uncertainties, and then the risk of a war becomes more manifest due to the mistrust on each other’s capabilities. Thus, deterrence is the only credible option that reinforces strategic stability and can stop war in the nonexistence of arms control. Unfortunately, the traditional notion of strategic stability has been eroded by the Indian desire of dominance, competition and hegemony in South Asia.

The nuclear war between both states would not affect only South Asia but the world at large. Arms Contol is imperative between both countries to bring peace in the region. Arms Control between india and Pakistan would not only help to bring strategic stability, but would also help in transformation of the political environment. India should understand that arms control is necessary for strategic stability and peace of the region. It should close down arms race in the region and work for the Arms Control as it would be beneficial for both states. The US should play a role to make understand India that arms race is not in the favor of  South Asia. In view of the fact that without the cooperation of India the dream of Arms Control between India and Pakistan cannot be fulfilled. Pakistan’s foreign policy believes in arms control and peace, besides it does not want parity with India. In addition, it cannot afford an arms race with India due to its economic constrains. It developed weapons to maintain strategic stability in South Asia. Hence, it is the right time for the US to stop India from aggressive arms race and encourage it for Arms Control  as it is essential for regional and global peace.

Sonia Naz is a visiting Lecturer at International Islamic university and university of Lahore Islamabad. The writer has a degree of M. Phil in International Relations from the COMSATS University Islamabad. She has done Masters in Defence and Diplomatic Studies from Fatima Jinnah University. She frequently writes on Regional Security, Nuclear Terrorism, Nuclear Security and South Asian Nuclear Politics which have been published in various national, international blogs and newspapers. She can be reached at nazsonia68[at]gmail.com

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Defense

The Proxy War of Libya: Unravelling the Complexities

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The African continent has been infamous for its desolate conditions and impoverished lifestyle for years. The violence has not spared the region either since the extremely unstable Middle-East has set the vendetta throughout the region, verging Africa in the east. Whether it comes to the spreading influence of ISIS under the flag of Boko Haram; a terrorist organisation operating in Chad and North-eastern Nigeria, or the rampant corruption scandals and ream of military cops in Zimbabwe, the region rivals the instability of its eastern neighbour. However, one conflict stands out in Northern Africa, in terms of high-stake involvement of foreign powers and policies that have riven the country, not unlike Syria in the Middle-East. Libya is one instance in Africa that has faced the civil war for almost a decade yet involves not only local powers but is also a focal point that has caused the NATO powers to be at odds.

Libya, officially recognised as the ‘State of Libya’, is a war-torn country in the Northern periphery of the African continent. The country is bordered by the Mediterranean Sea in the North, Egypt lies to its East and Sudan and Tunisia border in the Southeast and Northwest respectively. Apparent from the topography, Libya stands as an epicentre to the countries ridden with conflicts, stands the ground that was the central root of the infamous Arab Spring uprisings taking a rebellious storm right off its borders in Tunisia back in 2011. While the NATO-led campaign garnered success in overthrowing the notorious dictator, Muammar Gaddafi, and thus bringing the draconian regime to an end, it failed to account for the brewing rebels and militias in pockets throughout the state of Libya.

Over the following years, weaponry and ammunition was widely pervaded across the region in spite of strict embargo placed. The pilling artillery and unregulated rebels cycled the instability in the country leading to the successive governments to fail and eventually split the country in two dominant positions: The UN-recognised Government National Accord (GNA), led by Tripoli-based leader and prime minister Fayez Al-Sarraj, and the Libyan National Army (LNA), led by the tailing ally and successor to Gaddafi, General Khalifa Haftar.

While both GNA and LNA vied for the control on Libya, foreign powers involved rather similar to the labyrinth of stakes in Syria, each state split over the side supporting their part of the story and ultimately serving their arching purpose of interference in the region. Despite of the ruling regime of Al-Sarraj since the controversial election win of GNA in 2016, Haftar-led LNA controls an expansive territory and has been launching offensive attacks against the GNA alliance. GNA enjoys the support of US, Turkey, Qatar and Italy; each serving either ideological support or military backing to secure the elected government of Libya. Meanwhile, LNA is backed by Russia, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France. While the western powers see GNA as an economically stabilising solution to the Libyan crisis, Russia and France eye Haftar as a key ally to expand influence in the African region and reap control of the oil-rich resources under control of Haftar’s troops in the oil-crescent territory.

The Turkish regime, on the other hand, eye Libya as a direct answer to the Russian influence in the Syrian war that has been pushing the Kurdish alliance stronger along and within the southern borders of Turkey. This has led to recent clashes and direct escalation in the proxy war waged in Syria. Turkey plans to incentivise the leveraging position against Russia in Libya by deploying military advisory to Tripoli to strengthen their position against the Russian-backed Haftar to ultimately deter the alliance from spreading far in the African region.

The power split in Libya was exacerbated in 2017 following the Gulf crisis that led to the boycott of Qatar by the Arab quartet led by Saudi Arabia. Libya stood as a battle ground for both strategic and military positions to one up the other alliance in external power games while the internal matters of Libya are long forgotten and population left clueless and desperate for welfare. Since then, the vested interests in Libya have side-lined yet the peace process has been encouraged by both UN and Merkel-led ‘Berlin process’ in support to the UN efforts to restore peace in Libya. However, the strained relations and foreign demarcation is still apparent even though no escalation has been in action for months.

Now the ceasefires have been in talks for a while and except for a few skirmishes, the powers have been curbed since June 2020. The silence could imply room for diplomatic efforts to push a much-awaited resolve to this complex proxy war. With the recent turn of events in the global political canvas, wheels of the betterment might turn in favour of Libya. Saudi Arabia has recently joined hands with Qatar, opening all borders to the estranged ally and resuming diplomatic relations. Turkey is eying the coveted spot in the European Union since the UK exit. The US in redefining its policies under the revitalising administration of Joseph Biden while Russia deals with the tensed relations with the Gulf since the oil price war shattered the mutual understanding shared for years. The core players of the Libyan Proxy war are dormant and may remain passive due to external complexities to handle. Yet, with regional powers like Egypt threatening invasions in Libya and both GNA and LNA showing no interest in negotiation, a conclusive end to the Libyan crisis is still farfetched.

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Pakistan Army’s Ranking improved

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According to data issued by the group on its official website, Pakistan Army has been ranked the 10th most powerful in the world out of 133 countries on the Global Firepower index 2021.Especially the Special Services Group (SSG) is among the best in the world.  Just behind; 1- United States PwrIndx: 0.0721,  2- Russia PwrIndx: 0.0796, 3- China PwrIndx: 0.0858, 4- India PwrIndx: 0.1214, 5- Japan PwrIndx: 0.1435, 6- South Korea PwrIndx: 0.1621, 7- France PwrIndx: 0.1691, 8- United Kingdom PwrIndx: 0.2008, 9- Brazil PwrIndx: 0.2037, 10- Pakistan PwrIndx: 0.2083.

Global Firepower (GFP) list relies on more than 50 factors to determine a nation’s Power Index (‘PwrIndx’) score with categories ranging from military might and financials to logistical capability and geography.

Our unique, in-house formula allows for smaller, more technologically-advanced, nations to compete with larger, lesser-developed ones. In the form of bonuses and penalties, special modifiers are applied to further refine the annual list. Color arrows indicate a year-over-year trend comparison.

The geopolitical environment, especially the regional security situation, is quite hostile. Pakistan is bordering India, a typical adversary and has not accepted Pakistan’s independence from the core of heart, and always trying to damage Pakistan. The Kashmir issue is a long standing issue between the two rivals. On the other hand, the Afghan situation is a permanent security threat for Pakistan. Bordering Iran means always facing a danger of aggression from the US or Israel on Iran, resulting in vulnerabilities in Pakistan. The Middle East is a hot burning region and posing instability in the region. The growing tension between China and the US is also a source of a major headache for Pakistan.

Under such a scenario, Pakistan has to be very conscious regarding its security and sovereignty. Although Pakistan’s ailing economy is not supporting its defense needs, it may not compromise strategic issues for its survival. Pakistan focuses on the quality of its forces instead of quantity. The tough training makes a real difference—the utilization of Science and Technology-enabled Pakistan to maintain its supremacy.

Pakistan is situated at a crucial location – the entrance point to the oil-rich Arabian Gulf is just on the major trading route for energy. Pakistan is at the conjunction of Africa, Europe, Eurasia, Central Asia, East Asia, South Asia, and China. Pakistan is a pivotal state and always focus of world powers.

During the cold war era, Pakistan sided with the US and protected the region’s American interests. The US military establishment knows well that as long as Pakistan stands with the US, it can achieve all its strategic goals in the region. However, It was the American choice to give more importance to India and ignore Pakistan.

Pakistan is a peace-loving nation and struggling for the promotion of peace globally. Pakistan always raises its voice at the UN and other international forums for oppressed ones and against any injustice. Pakistan. In the history of seven decades, Pakistan was never involved in any aggression against any country. Pakistan’s official stance is, “We are partner for peace with any country, any nation, or individuals.” Pakistan is a partner and supporter of any peace-initiative in any part of the world. 

However, Pakistan is always prepared to protect its territorial integrity and will not allow any aggressor to harm our sovereignty at any cost. Pakistan is determined for its independence and geographical integrity.

Pakistan is no threat to any country or nation. Neither have any intention of expansion. But always ready to give a tough time to any aggressor.

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Defense

Israel continues its air strikes against Syria after Biden’s inauguration: What’s next?

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A family of four, including two children, died as a result of an alleged Israeli air strike on Hama in northwestern Syria on Friday, January 22, Syrian media said. In addition, four people were injured and three civilian houses were destroyed.

According to a military source quoted by Syrian outlets, Israel launched an air strike at 4 a.m. on Friday from the direction of Lebanese city of Tripoli against some targets on the outskirts of Hama city.

“Syrian air defense systems confronted an Israeli air aggression and shot down most of the hostile missiles,” the source said.

The Israeli newspaper Jerusalem Post reported that there were loud sounds of explosions in the area.

In turn, the Israel Defense Forces declined to comment on alleged strikes resulted in the death of Syrian citizens.

Over the past time, Israel significantly stepped up its aerial bombardment. This incident was the fifth in a series of Israeli air attacks on targets in Syria in the past month and the first after the inauguration of the U.S. President Joe Biden. Foreign analysts and military experts said that Tel Aviv intensified air strikes on Syria, taking advantage of the vacuum of power in the United States on the eve of Biden taking office as president.

While the Donald Trump administration turned a blind eye on such aggression, a change of power in the United States could remarkably limit Israel in conducting of military operations against Syria and Iran-affiliated armed groups located there. As it was stated during his presidential campaign, Joe Biden intends to pursue a more conciliatory foreign policy towards Iran. In particular, he unequivocally advocated the resumption of the nuclear deal with the Islamic republic. In this regard, Tel Aviv’s unilateral actions against Iranian interests in Syria could harm Washington’s plans to reduce tensions with Tehran.

By continuing air strikes against Iranian targets in Syria, Israel obviously sent a massage to the United States that Tel Aviv will consistently run anti-Iran policy, even if it will be in conflict with the interests of the Joe Biden administration. On the other hand, such Israeli behavior threatens to worsen relations with the United States, its main ally.

In the nearest future, the US reaction on the Israeli belligerent approach toward Iran will likely determine whether the relations between Tehran, Tel Aviv and Washington will get better or the escalation will continue.

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