Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Increased military spending in South Asia

Photo Courtesy: Citizens for the World

South Asian people are increasingly suffering from poverty and deprivation as their governments are racing for militarization. The International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS) says, Pakistan, India continue defence shopping. The amount of military expenditure is increasing at the cost of rising poverty and intolerable human suffering. Bangladesh is not far behind. Our military expenditure has now reached to $840 million, according to IISS. The actual military expenditure in Bangladesh is always very shadowy as the Army receives funding from non-military expenses of the national budget. South Asians should raise their voice to stop militarization and promote peace and stability.

Daily Times reports on September 26, 2007,
ISLAMABAD: There are rising fears in South Asia that increasing defence spending will exacerbate countries’ internal and external disputes and further aggravate human security in the region, according to an International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) report.

The report titled ‘The Military Balance’ gives the composition of armies, weapons, economies and demographics of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

It says the military structure of India and Pakistan is the most cumbersome and huge, both in terms of men and material.

It says Afghanistan has 50,000 troops besides the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) personnel, Bangladesh 126,500, India 1,316,000, Nepal 69,000, Pakistan 619,000, and Sri Lanka 150,900. About defence expenditure, it says that Bangladesh spends $840 million, India $21.7 billion, Nepal $139 million, Pakistan $4.14 billion and Sri Lanka $686 million per year.

Pakistan, India continue defence shopping: “India’s arms procurement programme continues to gather pace, with the decision to purchase the Trenton, an amphibious transport dock-class ship, along with four landing craft, from the US for $48.23 million in August 2006, its second major arms deal with the US since 2003,” the report notes.

It says India also ordered three modified Krivak III frigates on July 6, 2006, from Russia for $1.1 billion. In view of the Indian air force chief’s concern over the reduction of fighter squadrons from the current 32 to 28 by 2012, there could be an interim order for additional Mirage fighters from France. The air force is also seeking 126 multi-role combat aircraft, 80 new helicopters and light combat aircraft.

Pakistan is also purchasing arms for its forces, including a $1.15 billion order in June 2006 for six Swedish SAAB 2000 turboprop AWACS aircraft with radars from Ericsson Microwave Systems.

It says Pakistan signed a major $5 billion arms deal with the US on September 30, 2006, to purchase 18 new F-16C/D fighter aircraft equipped with AMRAAM - beyond visual range air-to-air-missiles - with the option to buy 18 additional new aircraft and upgrade its existing 34 F-16 aircraft.

It is also planning to acquire up to 150 JF-17 Thunder fighter aircraft worth $2 billion and an estimated 36 J-10 fighter aircraft worth $1.2 billion both from China.

About Pakistan-India efforts to resolve disputes, it says although the bilateral security environment improved between India and Pakistan through expansion of transportation links, people to-people exchanges and a meeting between their leaders in Havana, there was little progress in their composite dialogue.

It quoted an Indian official report that says that 76 of 299 districts in nine provinces – Chattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Orissa, West Bengal, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh – are ‘badly affected’ by Maoists violence.

Militancy in Pakistan tribal areas: The report also highlights Pakistan’s problems in Waziristan and Balochistan where militancy has been going on despite military operations.“In early September, a senior Pakistani minister alleged that India was supplying arms and resources to tribal militants in Balochistan; this was sharply refuted by the Indian government,” it says.

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