India-Pakistan, always on the edge
Since the partition, the relationship between India and Pakistan has always remained on the edge and will continue to be so, despite efforts by ‘sane’ leadership on either side. Fringe elements, dominant military leadership, geopolitical considerations, etc, are going to continue to dictate the course of the relationship.
There have been many conclaves, many bilateral meetings, many dialogues between the two but none have been conclusive in ending the imbroglio. The contentious issue in the valley, cross-border terrorism, etc, are thorny issues and the two countries hold their ground. In this issue we look at the latest Foreign Secretary level talks, away from media glare, remained deadlocked. Ranjeet Kumar writes that the on-off India-Pakistan talks at various levels in recent years after the 26/11 Mumbai attacks have been like taking one step forward and then two steps backwards.
The spokesman of the Ministry of External Affairs Vikas Swarup stated that the Secretaries exchanged ideas on how to take the relationship forward. “It was not a meeting to finalise the modalities of the comprehensive bilateral dialogue. Ideas were exchanged on how to take the relationship forward including on the logical followup to the visit of the Pakistan Joint Investigation Team and the ongoing investigation into the attack on the Pathankot airbase. Both sides will reflect on those ideas. A relationship goes forward through such exchanges and let us remain hopeful.”
Besides Pakistan, India has to contend with China which has its own agenda in the region. Trust-deficit continues on both the fronts for India. It is interesting to note that General Chang Wanquan told India’s Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar during his visit to China recently: “Hope your visit improves strategic mutual trust between the two armed forces”. The discussions covered bilateral ties with Parrikar pressing the Chinese military leadership for border transgressions stressing the need to resume the process of clarifying the line of actual control (LAC) and India’s displeasure at China blocking the listing of JeM chief Masood Azhar at the UN. Lt General P.C. Katoch (Retd) analyses the visit and its import on the relationship.
With such neighbours, it is but natural for India to step up its programme of modernisation of armed forces, though it has been a bit tardy. The former Air Chief Fali H. Major has welcomed the decision to speed up acquisition of the Rafale deal and has said that it would make immense sense if the Rafale numbers are incrementally increased to form at least five squadrons (80 aircraft) for the ease of maintenance, training and logistics that is required to maintain a front line state-of-the-art aircraft such as Rafale. Also, given the size and expanse of our country and the airspace that needs to be controlled, defended even during peacetime and ‘dominated’ in times of war/conflict, the number of aircraft do matter.
In this issue, we have analysis on the Defence Procurement Procedure; a report on the successful launch of the Indian Space Research Organisation’s (ISRO) PSLV-C33 vehicle placing the satellite IRNSS-1G in orbit, a significant milestone in the ‘Indian Regional Satellite System’; and information on aircraft which can be used in firefighting in the background of the raging fire in Uttarakhand, among other subjects of topical interest.