Pakistan ‘very concerned’ at India’s military modernisation

  • Prasun Sonwalkar, Hindustan Times, London
  • Updated: Feb 09, 2016 19:57 IST
File photo of Indian Navy’s aircraft carrier, INS Vikramaditya. Pakistan was particularly concerned with India acquiring advanced weapons systems. (AFP Photo)

Pakistan’s military establishment is said to be “very concerned” about the conventional military modernisation programme of the Narendra Modi government, and “frustrated” that no “deal” had been struck with India since the NDA came to power.

As the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) published its annual “Military Balance 2016” report on Tuesday, Ben Barry, a senior expert who works with the military-strategic communities in India and Pakistan, said there was “great optimism” in Islamabad when Modi came to power.

“In the government and security community in Pakistan there was great optimism when Modi came to power, that he would be able to engage Pakistan and maybe strike a deal (normalisation of relations, reduction of tension over security),” Barry told HT.

“But I think there is some frustration in Islamabad that they haven’t been able to achieve that. We have contacts with the Pakistani military. I think they are very concerned about India’s conventional military modernisation.”

Barry, a former brigadier in the British army, said Pakistan was particularly concerned with India acquiring advanced weapons systems like Apache helicopters, C-130 Hercules aircraft and T-90 tanks. The India-US nuclear deal too remained a matter of concern in Islamabad.

According to the IISS expert, “We should take confidence that there hasn’t been a repetition of the terrible massacre in Mumbai. I may be proved wrong, though, but given the state of various extremist groups in Pakistan, it is very, very difficult for the Pakistani government to withdraw all of them. They may have had a hand in generating some of these and setting them up, but it’s quite difficult to turn them off.”

Barry said Pakistan Army chief Gen Raheel Sharif was able to “take advantage” of the 2014 massacre in an army-run school in Peshawar to launch Operation Zarb-e-Azb to clear North Waziristan of militant groups.

“There is no doubt that it has made considerable difference. Islamist terrorist groups and their capabilities have been considerably degraded by the Pakistan Army and the police,” Barry said.

The “Military Balance 2016” report details various initiatives taken by the Modi government to encourage FDI and private sector participation in defence, and lists the personnel and assets of India’s armed forces and reserve forces.

“The Indian government’s ‘Make in India’ policy aims to strengthen the indigenous defence-industrial base through measures that include reforming India’s foreign direct investment cap. However, industrial-capability limitations and bureaucratic obstacles have hampered a number of promising initiatives,” it said.

Focussing more on developments related to Russia, China, Iran and NATO, the analysis states that western military technological superiority is eroding due to the proliferation of advanced military capabilities and growing accessibility to military-relevant high technology around the world.

Source: International Institute for Strategic Studies, London

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