China-pak­istan nu­clear ca­pa­bil­i­ties desta­bil­is­ing the re­gion


In Fe­bru­ary this year, China and Pak­istan signed a for­mal agree­ment to con­struct a third nu­clear re­ac­tor at Chashma in Pak­istan, cre­at­ing rip­ples in­ter­na­tion­ally. The US has stated that this vi­o­lated Bei­jing’s prom­ise un­der an in­ter­na­tional anti-nu­clear weapons ac­cord.

China National Nu­clear Corp is to con­struct the 1,000 megawatt power plant at Chashma, lo­cated in the north­ern prov­ince of Pun­jab where two ear­lier Chi­nese re­ac­tors were built. There is no deny­ing the fact that Pak­istan’s nu­clear arms pro­gramme has been ma­jorly sup­ported by China. Alarm­ing re­ports are em­a­nat­ing from the US on how Pak­istan is on course to mod­ernise its nu­clear arse­nal which is es­ti­mated to con­tain as many as 110 nu­clear war­heads. The two coun­tries are get­ting ag­gres­sive, ‘desta­bil­is­ing’ the re­gion.

In an anal­y­sis, Air Mar­shal (Retd) Anil Cho­pra has traced nu­clear de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme in Pak­istan and how it is sup­pos­edly de­vel­op­ing nu­clear weapons. Pak­istan has openly stated that “it will use nu­clear weapons ‘even if In­dia did not use’ atomic weapon first”. This is their way of de­ter­rence to a su­pe­rior con­ven­tional threat. The suc­cess of such a doc­trine was vis­i­ble from In­dia’s sub­dued re­sponse af­ter the at­tack on the In­dian Par­lia­ment and the Mum­bai at­tacks. Pak­istan feels that they have achieved the cold war de­ter­rence sce­nario as In­dia’s reaction mil­i­tar­ily in the re­cent past have to be seen in this back­ground. Air Mar­shal Cho­pra asks are we now branded a weak na­tion?

What is more scary is the nu­clear arse­nal fall­ing into rogue ele­ments in Pak­istan. The US has con­firmed from satel­lite im­ages that Pak­istan has dis­persed its nu­clear weapons across the coun­try, in­creas­ing the risk of fall­ing into ter­ror­ist hands.

In his fort­nightly col­umn, Lt Gen­eral (Retd) P.C. Ka­toch has dis­ap­proved of the In­dian Govern­ment’s soft at­ti­tude to­wards Pak­istan and China. He states that it is amus­ing to ob­serve some In­dian me­dia’s view that we should only look at pos­i­tive as­pects of Rehman Ma­lik’s visit—eas­ing visa norms et al. He hopes that the same logic will not ap­ply to Si­achen and Sir Creek. He won­ders has the govern­ment turned to ‘to­tal’ pulp?

Com­ing to ac­qui­si­tions, Air Mar­shal Cho­pra has dwelt at length on the process of ac­qui­si­tions and states that the to­tal cost of ac­qui­si­tion (TCA)-based L1 de­ter­mi­na­tion is a good model, re­sult­ing in sig­nif­i­cant cost sav­ing over the life of the air­craft.

Al­though there are delays in ac­qui­si­tions and in­dige­nous pro­grammes, one thing for sure the In­dian armed forces are driven by a sense of com­mit­ment and this was dis­played in full strength when the In­dian Air Force con­ducted its largest ex­er­cise ever, ‘Live Wire 2013’. Op­er­a­tions with In­dian Navy were con­ducted in Ex­er­cises ‘Trop­ics’ and ‘Dak­shin Parhar’ as a pre­lude to the main ex­er­cise. Around the same time, HAL con­ducted the maiden flight of the last air­craft in the limited se­ries pro­duc­tion pro­gramme of light com­bat air­craft Te­jas (LSP-o8). It is heart­en­ing to note that the dif­fer­ent or­gan­i­sa­tions are work­ing hard to get the LCA go­ing.

Happy read­ing!

Pub­lisher & Edi­tor-in-Chief

Jayant Baran­wal

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