The conflict between India and Pakistan is still the center of attention of the world media. It seems that everybody is getting used to the idea that a war between the two countries is almost inevitable. One cannot say that noone is trying to prevent the conflict. British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw visited Islamabad and Delhi, and President Putin offered to meet India’s and Pakistan’s leaders to during the summit of Asian countries, which is expected to take place at the beginning of June in Kazakhstan’s capital Alma-Ata, and to discuss the ways out of the crisis. Musharraf agreed, but Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee is still silent. It is hard to say if the idea of the Russian president is going to become reality, as the skirmishes on the border between India and Pakistan continue.
It was reported today that terrorists attacked an Indian police camp in Kashmir. These attacks do not contribute anything good to the normal dialogue between the countries, of course. At least everything is clear with the attacks: they are good for Kashmir separatists only: they will do their best to provoke an armed conflict between India and Pakistan (which is actually already taking place).
In this respect, a lot of journalists and experts are trying to forecast the possible scale of the war. India and Pakistan both have nuclear weapons. It is still not know how many warheads both countries have. India reportedly has somewhere between 60-250 warheads, and Pakistan has 25 to 150 nuclear charges. In addition, India tested its first stationary nuclear device back in 1947. The project was called “Buddha’s smile.” Which is why it is not very clear why the West had such a nervous reaction to the news that India and Pakistan obtained nuclear weapons.
Pakistan is much weaker than India from military and technical points of view. The funds that India assigns for maintaining its defense capacity are much greater in comparison with Pakistan’s defense budget. India’s defense budget for the year 2000 was almost $15 billion, not to mention secret funds for the implementation of missile, nuclear, and space programs. The Pakistani defense budget was $3.65 billion for the same year.
The breakdown of the armed forces is the following: India has 1 million 263 thousand soldiers, including 1 million 100 thousand infantry soldiers, 53 thousand naval sailors and 110 thousand members of the air force. The Indian army is armed with 3500 tanks (700 Т-55, 1500 Т-72, 1200 Vijayanta), 740 planes (18 Su-30К, 63 MiG-29, 84 Jaguars and 40 Mirage-2000Н), one aircraft-carrier, eight torpedo-boats (five of them were produced in Russia), eleven frigates, and 16 diesel submarines.
There are 620 thousand people in the armed forces of Pakistan: including 550 thousand infantry soldiers, 25 thousand naval sailors, and 45 thousand members of the air force. There are 2300 tanks (basically of the Chinese production), 350 planes (basically Mirage 3 and Mirage 5), and seven submarines of the French production, including one up-to-date Agosta-90 sub.
Konstantin Makiyenko, deputy director of the Center for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies in the region, said that the balance of forces was surely in India’s favor. The situation is especially dramatic for Pakistan when it comes to the air force, since the quantitative gap is opposed to India’s qualitative predominance. Pakistan was trying to gain access to up-to-date aviation technology of the Russian production, for example, Su-27 or MiG-29 aircraft. However, Russia did not show any interest, since it had such strong links with India. According to Makiyenko, if the armed conflict takes place, then it will look like the local conflicts of the 1970s or 1980s of the twentieth century, which were characterized with a restrictive use high-tech weapons or unmanned planes. These conflicts were more about shooting the enemy, not destroying its economic or political centers. Makiyenko also said that the economies of both countries, especially of Pakistan, would not support military actions for more than three or four weeks. This will lead to financial collapse and the social and economic situation will worsen considerably; General Pervez Musharraf could be overthrown.
The two countries are getting ready for a possible war. The USA started evacuating its citizens from Pakistan and India. This is a fact that says a lot.
Oleg Artyukov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov