India has just concluded its biggest ever war games, code named “Complete Victory,” close to its border with Pakistan. The location was chosen not without a symbolic significance – at Pokhran, the site of New Delhi’s nuclear tests in 1974 and 1998.
It is normal for countries to conduct military exercises, but as per a bilateral agreement of 1990-91 concerning military exercises close to the borders, India was supposed to send Pakistan a 60-day advance notice. It chose to ignore that requirement and went ahead with its massive exercise unannounced. Pakistan, it is good to note, has reacted coolly to the Indian provocation, saying it is not impressed and that “such a blatant show of force reflects a war hysteria.” The event shows Atal Behari Vajpayee in the stereotypical image of an Indian who has the name of peace on his lips and a dagger under his arm. He has been talking of making peace with Pakistan by resolving all outstanding issues, including Kashmir, through dialogue while at the same time continuing to work towards acquiring ever new military weapons, from nuclear bombs to advanced nuclear arms delivery systems.
Hence, the present show of force may be meant to impress not only Pakistan but also New Delhi’s new-found friend, the US, so that the latter recognizes it as a strategic partner in its scheme of things for this region. It is quite clear that India is trying to trap Pakistan into going for a tit-for-tat policy in order to force it to squander away its meager economic resources in an arms race with India. Any such reaction would be entirely unnecessary.
There can be no end to an arms race. All that is needed for defense is a minimum deterrence capability, which the Pakistan already has.
Safeguarding the rights of its people-to get enough to eat, healthcare, education–is the real ‘complete victory’ for any third world country. The mad arms race is at the cost of these basic necessities of poor masses and prove a ‘complete loss’ at the end.
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