Anil Athale,


Most observers of the international scene had expected the recently concluded Indo-US defence treaty and American efforts to de-hyphenate its relations in the Subcontinent would induce a major re-alignment. But none expected this to come about so quickly- yes I am referring to recently carried out test of cruise missile by Pakistan. It should be very clear from the circumstances that it is reaction to Indo-US treaty and the ‘actual’ parentage of this ‘indigenously’ developed missile would turn out to be our Northern Neighbour-China. Like in the case of Pakistani nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, the only indigenously produced part of the Babur or Hatf VII cruise missile may well be the label, ‘made in Pakistan’.


It took India and Russia several years, at least 7 to 8, to develop ‘Brahmos’ cruise missile. It has gone into serial production only after more than 16 tests. For the technology of continuous guidance and required accuracy needs that kind of time gap. But Pakistan after just one test has announced that the missile is going into serial production. Unless Pakistan has dozens of Einstein’s and Thomas Alva Edison’s, this feat is impossible. A dead giveaway about the ‘imported’ parentage of Pakistani missiles is their practice of announcing tests done from ‘UNDISCLOSED LOCATION’. The secrecy in this is due to the fact that Pakistan has carried out these tests fly over populated areas,-a unique feat NEVER done if you are testing a fresh and newly developed weapon. Once the location and flight path are known, logically it would be correct to assume that the ‘tested’ missile was in fact a proven weapon, already tested by their ‘friend’. World over new systems are tested in ‘missile range’ like ours at Chandipore on sea or the Chinese in Sinkiang.   More likely is the fact that the Chinese have supplied several missiles to Pakistan in crates. Pakistan would now start opening the crates and began assembling the missiles and produce a sizable arsenal. Or has the world and Indians forgotten the story of M-11 missiles supplied by the Chinese?


China- Pakistan’s All Weather Friend.


Pak China friendship was born in 1963 in the aftermath of Sino-Indian border war of 1962. The ever alert Pakistan had seized on the event and Bhutto, the then foreign minister, had dashed off to Beijing in early 1963. The motive then as now, was to counter the growing closeness between India and the US. That relationship which was India specific has become of even greater importance to both.


During most of the cold war era, barring the brief Indo-US honeymoon of 1962-63, the US played the role China is playing today. The recent revelations by the  former Dutch Prime Minister as to how the CIA forced him to let go the notorious AQ Khan, show the nexus and its contribution in creating the Pak nuclear capability. But having said that, there is a qualitative difference  between US and the Chinese support to Pakistan. In case of the US it was often the price it had to pay for Pakistani acceptance of role in its actions against erstwhile Soviet Union. In that sense many times the threat posed to India by these American actions was an outcome of US global aims. While in case of China, it is NOT secondary consequence but primary motive. That motive is to check India and continue the fiction (and fact) of the ‘balance’ between Pakistan and India (ten times larger country in economic & demographic terms), in  the military field. 


Cruise missiles typically are ‘First Strike’ weapons. Given the declared Pak policy of first strike of nuclear weapons, the cruise missile have added teeth to Pak boasts. China has thus ushered in a dangerous trend in the sub continent.


Thus what India has to counter is NOT Pakistan, which is easy enough, but Chinese military and technological prowess. This is the blow back of the Indo-US defence agreement that ought to have been anticipated by us. The supply of cruise missile and associated technology to Pakistan by China shows that for all the normalisation between India and China, the later seem determined to continue its hostile policies towards India. During his last visit to the Indian Subcontinent, Chinese Premiere also signed a defence deal with BanglaDesh, aimed at us. It seems that China intends to follow a dual track policy towards India- normal economic relations and continuing military pressure through sub continental proxies.


India’s Options. 


Indians ought to impress upon the US that mere de-hyphenation of relations is NOT enough. The US has a responsibility to ‘de-fang’ Pakistan. The Pakistani nuclear capability is as much a threat to them as us, if reports of Al Quaida nexus with Pak scientists are to be believed. Containing, degrading Pakistani nuclear capability has to be the top priority of all. China will be a mute spectator of this effort as a weakened Pakistan is in their interest as well, becoming ever more pliant ‘client’ state.


India is slated to test Agni III with a range of 3000 kms in December this year. Without putting a diplomatic gloss on it, Agni III is a China specific  weapon-given our geography. Chinese ought not to protest too much since their medium range missiles in Tibet, already operational, are similarly India specific. All that India would be doing is to achieve some sort of strategic parity with China. But if China continues to raise its stakes then we must look to support countries of South East Asia that fear the Chinese. If that means supplying them with Brahmos missiles, then so be it.


Boost to Indian indigenous research.  


Most analysts of international affairs accept that India is likely to be number three economy in the world in coming decade. Yet in terms of military strength it is struggling to cope with worlds 53 economy, that of Pakistan. This imbalance in the economic prosperity and  military strength was our bane in the past. India, described as ‘Golden Sparrow’ by Babur, attracted invaders. Right till the British military conquest of India in the 18th century, British records themselves accept that the GDP of Bengal alone was greater than Britain. Deindustrialisation and poverty followed  and was not the cause  foreign rule. Though the votaries of White Man’s burden theory would have us believe otherwise!

India’s defence weakness is primarily technological and organisational and are well known. Time after time, the Parliamentary committees have pointed out the DRDO failures to deliver. It is time to rectify these weaknesses and harness abundant Indian talent! As a Director of Madras IIT had once put it, India believes in exporting engineers and importing Mercedes! The Pakistani test of the Chinese gifted missile ought to serve as a wake up call.