India is set to manufacture a set of highly advanced fighter jets for the IAF

by Shafqat Ali

ISLAMABAD - India’s massive military spending has upset Pakistan as Islamabad contacted the United Nations to stop India’s arms buying spree, diplomatic sources said.

Senior officials at the foreign ministry told The Nation that Pakistan had apprised the UN chief, António Guterres, about the arms build-up by India – threatening regional peace.

One official said: “They (India) are threatening peace. The military spending is definitely targeting us (Pakistan) or China. There should not be an imbalance in the region. India’s attitude is upsetting.” He added: “We are taking up the issue in the UN. We have already apprised the UN chief on India’s military designs.”

The Stockholm International Peace Research organisation said in its latest report that India stood fifth on the world’s biggest military spenders list, behind the United States, China, Saudi Arabia and Russia.

The reports said India spent $63.9 billion on its military in 2017, 5.5 per cent more than its expenditure in 2016. The global military spending rose to $1.73 trillion in 2017, an increase of 1.1 per cent since 2016. The five biggest spenders in 2017 together accounted for 60 per cent of the total, the report said. China, the biggest military spender in Asia, spent $228 billion in 2017.

Another official said Pakistan was not oblivious to its defence needs but was against an arms race in the region. “We are doing what we should do but we are not mad to multiplying the arms. We support peace in the region. India is playing a dangerous game,” he said.

Tensions between Pakistan and India have been high since the killing of a Kashmiri freedom fighter Burhan Wani in July 2016. An attack on Indian forces in September 2016 - that killed 19 soldiers in Uri area of held Kashmir - further heightened the tensions. India also claimed it had carried a “surgical strike” to avenge the Uri attack. Pakistan rejected the Indian claim.

Reports said the cross-border clashes between nuclear-armed Pakistan and India had reached the highest levels in 15 years. Hundreds of people have been killed or wounded in the clashes instigated by India.

The nuclear armed neighbours have fought three wars since gaining independence from the British in 1947.

There has been a fresh Track II contact, with a high-powered delegation of former Indian diplomats, military veterans and academics travelling to Pakistan to discuss ways to improve the frosty relationship.

Pakistan was represented by former foreign secretary Inamul Haque and Ishrat Hussain among others. The Indian delegation was headed by former ministry of external affairs’ secretary and Pakistan expert Vivek Katju. J S Rajput, former National Council of Educational Research and Training head, was also part of the delegation. The talks took place from April 28 to 30.

International relations expert Dr A Z Hilali said India was violating international laws and universal values. “India should start a meaningful dialogue with Pakistan to resolve all outstanding issues between the two countries, including the Kashmir dispute,” he added. 

He said the ceasefire violations committed by Indian troops along the Line of Control pose a serious threat to regional peace and stability, and can lead to strategic miscalculation. 

“India is committing ceasefire violations along the LoC just to divert the world’s attention from ongoing atrocities and brutalities committed by Indian troops in Kashmir. India’s is creating war hysteria by spending huge amounts on military,” he maintained. 

Pakistan, he added, had always expressed its willingness to hold dialogue with India, but New Delhi never reciprocated. “Their (India’s military spending shows what they are up to. They are threatening us (Pakistan) and China,” he said.