In­dia-Pak­istan, al­ways on the edge

SP's MAI - - FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK - Jayant Baran­wal Pub­lisher & Edi­tor-in-Chief

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.

Happy read­ing!

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