Pakistan needs to shift from its conflictual paradigm vis-a-vis India and think of of ways to ease human distress and promote peace in the neighbourhood in the wake of the devastating October 8 earthquake, says an editorial in the Daily Times.
Not doing so could enhance “external threats” to its already overly strained environment and economy, the editorial adds.
According to the editorial, Islamabad’s resource base is under pressure, and with the government saying that 5 to10 billion dollars will be eventually needed to rehabilitate and rebuild the lives and homes of the quake victims, it should avoid confrontationist positions with New Delhi.
Though countries like Turkey, Saudi Arabia and some other Muslim countries have come forward with aid, international donors have not been as forthcoming as was hoped. Western countries are agreeable to sending men and materials to Pakistan, but reluctant to fork out cash.
At the back of their minds is the fact that Pakistan is about to spend 1.5 billion dollars on buying the first batch of F-16 fighter bombers when that money could be better spent on alleviating the hardships of the quake-hit people.
Given Pakistan's conflictual defence strategy vis a vis India, its air force (PAF) has been under pressure over its depleting armour. Its current fleet of 32 F-16s is not fully operational due to the lack of spares. The Pakistan Air Force has had to cannibalise a few aircraft to keep the rest operational. The truth is that even after getting the 24 new F-16s, the value of the new acquisitions in the Indo-Pakistan weapons calculus context will remain symbolic, says the editorial.
“India can actually lead us to our perdition by playing on our imitative military instinct. The US offer to Pakistan is accompanied with a much bigger offer of technology transfer to India. New Delhi will be offered top-of-the-line fighter aircraft, such as the F-18, or the Joint Strike Fighter, with the additional advantage of licensed production in India. The US is also thinking of transferring to India some of its anti-ballistic missile systems and dual-use technology. Given the foremost reflex in Pakistan to match India weapon for weapon, this gives India an advantage over us, which is more lethal than its military superiority,” the editorial adds.
According to the paper, the size of the Indian economy gives it the leeway to spend more on arms than Pakistan at all times. Its edge over Pakistan in technology sharpens this advantage further. New Delhi can force Islamabad to spend itself into insolvency.
The editorial concludes by saying that the world is fully aware of the folly of an India-Pakistan arms race. It wants the two to normalise relations and become economically interdependent neighbours and recommends that the synergies of the two countries leaderships need to be focused on alleviating poverty and distress rathen than on the weapons calculus.