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Saturday, November 28, 2009

China boost to Pak military troubles India

Warships, fighters, missiles and millions in aid, Islamabad has it all
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 27

The ongoing military relationship between China and Pakistan is worrying India. Defence Minister AK Antony today hit out at China saying the “increasing nexus between China and Pakistan remains an area of serious concern ….. we have to carry out continuous appraisals of Chinese military capabilities and shape our responses accordingly”.

He was speaking at the 44th foundation day celebrations of the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) in the Capital. 

“India wants to develop a friendly and cordial relationship with its neighbours including China. We continue our efforts. At the same time, there are issues that are a matter of concern to us,” he said. Antony’s fears are not misplaced. New Delhi feels the China-Pakistan military nexus is detrimental to its interests and the strategic balance in the South Asian region. 

Another area of concern for India is Chinese transfer of equipment and technology for Pakistan’s nuclear weapon programme. China has helped Pakistan build two nuclear reactors in the Punjab province and continues to support its nuclear programme.

China is Pakistan’s largest defence supplier. These include short-range ballistic missiles, fighter aircraft, frigates with helicopters, T-85 tanks, jet trainers, besides arms and ammunition.

Pakistan is scheduled to get the second of the four warships China is building for it next month. PNS Shamsheer, the frigate class warship F 22P, has anti-submarine warfare capabilities and armed choppers on board. In July this year, just days after India had launched its first N- powered submarine, China had handed over the first warship to Pakistan. Three of these ships will be built at a Chinese port, while the fourth one will be built in Pakistan. 

Just last week, the two neighbours of India had announced that they were co-developing a fighter jet named JF-17. The production facilities of the same will be housed in Pakistan, while China will provide most of the parts that includes a Russian-built engine. Separately, China has already agreed to supply some 36 J-10 fighters to Pakistan. The single-engine fighter is somewhere close to the Mirage-2000 owned by India. 

In the past, the Chinese have supplied Pakistan with K-8 jet trainers, Al-Khalid tanks and Al-Zarar tanks. Both have lower capability than India’s T-90 tanks. China has also supplied small arms and ammunition besides having built a ballistic-missile manufacturing facility near Rawalpindi to develop the 750-km-range, solid-fuel Shaheen-1 missile for Pakistan. 

Apart from two nuclear reactors, a huge port at Gwadar near Karachi has been set up with Chinese aid. In the second project, China has pumped in 80 per cent of the expenses, say sources. 

However, Antony was hopeful that China would reciprocate India’s initiatives aimed at mutual prosperity and understanding.

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