By Dr. Raja Muhammad Khan

As per the realist’s school of thought, the international system is essentially based on power politics. The agents of the international system; the states, always aspires to acquire power. The most significant and the tangible element of the power is the hard military power, though, economy of a country plays a significant role in its attainment. A strong diplomacy is yet another tool of power politics. Classical realists strongly believe that, relations between states are determined by their levels of power derived primarily from their hard military power, diplomacy and economic capabilities. Under the hostile global environment, maintenance of power (both hard and soft) and clearly defined national interest are crucial for pursuance of the state’s security and survival in the global international system, essentially based on anarchy. To attain these, a state has to help itself with the aim to ensure its safety and survival rather depending on other states or institutions, may it be the United Nations Organization even. In this entire episode, a state has to augment its own power capability through military arms build-up for its ultimate survival or to achieve a balance of power viz-a-viz its adversary.

In the process of accumulating more power and to take military lead from each other, United States and former Soviet Union, spent trillions of dollars on their defence budgets during the period of cold war.  US maintained its military spending even after the collapse of the USSR. In the past two decades, there has been a constant increase in the defence budget of US. Even for the fiscal year 2011, US Congress provided $668.6 billion for the US defence budget. Defence budget of US has been further enhanced for the fiscal year 2012. US House of Representatives' Armed Services Committee has approved $690 billion as the defence budget of this sole super power for year 2012, having no peer competitor ever since the collapse of USSR.  Compared to US Chinese defence budget is less than $100 billion.

As per Dr Sam Perlo-Freeman, head of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) Military Expenditure Project, United States, has increased its “military spending by 81 per cent since 2001, and now accounts for 43 per cent of the global total, six times its nearest rival China. At 4.8 per cent of GDP, US military spending in 2010 represents the largest economic burden outside the Middle East.” As per the latest figures provided by SIPRI,  the top 10 military spenders of the world till  2010 are: United States ($698 billion), China ($119 billion), Great Britain ($59.6 billion), France ($59.3 billion), Russia ($58.7 billion), Japan ($54.5 billion), Saudi Arabia ($45.2 billion), Germany ($45.2 billion), India ($41.3 billion), and Italy ($37 billion).

In the Sub-continent, India has been spending a huge sum of amount on its military budget ever since. Being in the club of top ten military spenders, there has been a constant increase in the Indian defence Budget since last two decades.  Indian is modernizing its three services on the line of the militaries of United States, United Kingdom, and Russia.  It has just completed the new raising of the two new mountain divisions of 36,000 troops each. Two new battalions of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim scouts, comprising 5,000 locally recruited troops, are also being raised, with plans for a new mountain strike corps and a third artillery division for the area. Indian Army has placed a large order for the indigenous Arjun tank, and the Agni-III ballistic missile was confirmed ready for induction into the army’s missile regiments. Simultaneously, India is in the process of acquiring new fighter aircrafts for its air forces from US and other Western countries. Indian air force has begun to deploy two squadrons of Su-30MKI aircraft to Tezpur air base, close to the LAC. It is also upgrading six airstrips in Arunachal Pradesh, as it has already started to do in the Ladakh region of the occupied Jammu & Kashmir bordering Pakistan. Along with the acquisition of AWACS aircraft, ground-based air defence close to the LAC has reportedly been bolstered with 19 low-altitude transportable medium-power radars. India has activated its forward air bases all along the Indo-Pak border and the LoC. This indeed is part of Indian Cold Start Strategy, primarily aims against Pakistan. In 2009, Indian Military formally threatened Pakistan and China for a two-front war.

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Indian Maritime Doctrine, revised in 2009, was aimed at transforming it from a ‘brown water’ coastal defense force to a formidable ‘blue water’ navy. Technically, Indian Navy would have the capability to operate 200 nautical miles from its seashore into the deep sea for extended durations, whereas politically, it would be a long-range extension of the state’s presence as a power projection. Following the naval strategy of U.S Admiral Mahan, India desires the Indian Ocean to become ‘India Ocean’ and the way U.S entered the club of global powers in the beginning of the 20th century; India does the same in 21st century. Indian Naval strategy includes; controlling the choke points, significant islands, and trade routes in the Indian Ocean, Arabian Sea and in the Bay of Bengal at regional level. Strategically, it sees at the arc from the Persian Gulf to the Straits of Malacca as a legitimate area of interest. Operationally, Indian Navy envisioned undertaking three tasks; the conduct of joint operations; information warfare and littoral warfare. However, the proactive role of the Indian Navy would be the projection of its power beyond the limits of Indian shores. It has to counter the distant emerging threats and protect extended ‘Sea Lines of Communication’ (SLOC). India desires making its navy as the oceanic ranging navy, securing of extended SLOCs and domination of Indian Ocean and its adjoining high seas.  There are two interconnected motives, which are acting as the catalyst for all this. First; politically, India will have a say in the global politics and second; securing of economic interests for sustaining its rapidly developing economy and industrial enhancement.  Development and expansion of its naval power will enable it to ensure uninterrupted flow of energy resources and other supplies related to economic development.

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At the strategic level, India intends operating its naval power in conjunction with the United States for countering the Chinese naval influence and advancing its own naval ambitions by reaching out to the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. Regionally, India intends to have complete control of the Indian Ocean while effectively dominating the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea. This out of proportion strength of Indian Navy and domination of the regional waters would bring littoral states under Indian domination. There would be serious ramifications of Indian Naval build-up both regionally and at the global level. The Indian navy also plans to strengthen its eastern fleet, notably by basing an aircraft carrier in the Bay of Bengal. At the same time, India has stepped up its naval interactions with the US and with Southeast and East Asian states.

With this military build-up of our adversary, Pakistan has to maintain a balance of power at least to survive in this anarchic and highly competitive international system. In fact so far in our history we have been fighting the war of survival with India and now on multiple fronts with enemies all around. Right from its inception, Pakistan is confronting a situation, where it’s much larger and militarily stronger adversary has been making all out efforts to undo it. In this regard, Pakistan had to fight a war over Kashmir, to counter the Indian aggression, thrust upon it, on the very first year of its independence. Fearing a military defeat at the hands of poorly equipped Pakistani troops, India, took the Kashmir case to UNO, where it was decided that, the future of state would be decided as per the wishes of its people through impartial plebiscite.  In the subsequent years of its history, Pakistan survived the Indian aggression in September, 1965. However, through global conspiracies and Indian military might, India was able to disintegrate Pakistan in 1971.  This was not the end, and in 1974, this South Asian giant exploded its first nuclear device, ‘Smiling Buddha’ to prove itself militarily superiority in the regional power play. This Indian act further alarmed the defence planners of Pakistan, who already were in a state of shock, upon the disintegration of Pakistan at the hands of India. 

Since last one decade, Pakistan is fighting a war against terrorism. In the process, it has lost over 35,000 people, with a vast majority of armed forces personnel. During this tenure, the weapons and equipment, otherwise meant for the war with its adversary has been extensively used, thus causing extensive wear and tear. With half of its Army deployed to counter terrorism, there has been no worthwhile increase in its defence budget. This is contrary to Indian defence budget, which is constantly increasing, without India involvement in any such type of anti-terror derive.

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Traditionally, Pakistan has been reactionary to Indian actions. From Pakistani side, there never has been any attempt to compete any country including India. However, its defence budget has been based on, “providing stringent funding for the military to maintain a minimum deterrence capability against India.” This can be accessed from the budget allocation of India and Pakistan for the current fiscal year. Compared to $32 (actually $41.3) billion Indian defence budgets for the fiscal year 2011, Pakistan’s Defence Budget is around $5 billion for the year 2011-2012. Most of the defence budget of Pakistan is being spent to counter the terrorism within the country. “In 2009/10, Pakistan’s revised Defense Budget was approximately Rs 378 billion, while proposed allocation for 2010- 2011 is Rs 442 Billion showing an increase of 16.5%. Considering an official inflation rate of 12.5%, in real terms it reflects a marginal increase of only 4%. India’s defence allocation for 2010-11 is Rs.147, 344 corer (Rs.1.47 trillion), up 8.13 percent from the revised estimates of the previous fiscal.”

Owing to its weak economy, Pakistan cannot match the Indian defence spending; however, it should maintain at least the minimum credible deterrence to ensure its safety and security in the wake of enmity all around; domestically against extremists and terrorists and externally, those also promote internal instability too.   The aspect has become more significant after the unilateral US military operation on Pakistani soil (Abbotabad), to kill OBL, where Pakistani sovereignty and national integrity has been compromised by our ally. Attack on PNS Mehran has further aggravated the situation. This US act essentially proves that in the realm of international power politics, there is neither a permanent friend nor a permanent foe and US cannot be trusted in future.

Essentially, these are national interest of the countries and preservance of the national sovereignty, which nations pursue to safeguard. Pakistani armed forces too need to jealously guard the geographical and ideological frontiers of their homeland. The nation would surely not disappoint them financially. In this struggle of the safeguarding our homeland, we have to follow the neo-classical realists, who discard the dependency on any external power. This comes true on Pak-US relationship, where we did everything for them since 1950s. But, did they do anything for Pakistan, except embarrassing us on each mile of our relationship. This is high time that we must re-evaluate our strategic alignment and diversify our future relationship, which should be based on mutual trust and respect. While making this future alignment, nothing should be dearer than the national sovereignty and integrity. Let us explore our potentials and exploit our over 50% youth to change the destiny of Pakistan in the days to come.