U.S. Military Aid for Pakistan Worries India: Amendment Frees Up $368 Million Worth of Weapons
Dasgupta, Sunil, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
In all the din over the U.S. budget, few Americans paid attention to the foreign-aid appropriations bill approved by Congress in November, or to a provision in it that may trigger an arms race half a world away.
But in Pakistan and India, the provision - known as the Brown amendment for its author, Sen. Hank Brown, Colorado Republican - has caused military imaginations to run wild.
The Brown amendment would allow Pakistan to receive $368 million worth of weapons partly paid for with U.S. foreign aid. The modest package would include three P-3C Orion aircraft, some Harpoon missiles for the planes, as well as ships and submarines and a replenishment of the stock of Sidewinder missiles to be used on Pakistan's current fleet of F-16s. Pakistani helicopters would be equipped for night attack.
On the face of it, this is nothing for India to worry about. But Pakistan hopes for much more, and those hopes stir tensions on the subcontinent that have been dormant since the end of the Cold War.
In the Cold War's grand theater, India and Pakistan were well-stocked, militarily and ideologically, by their patrons.
In a smaller version of the superpower arms race, the two countries were caught in an endless cycle of competition.
During the 1980s, for example, when Pakistan acquired F-16s, India purchased French Mirage-2000s. Tanks, heavy artillery, submarines - the buying spree put the two countries at the head of the list of arms buyers. Most of the weapons were bought to match the equipment of the other side.
But by 1989, treasuries were running low and the Cold War was ending. The Soviets withdrew from Afghanistan. That meant the United States was far less interested in helping Pakistan, which had been its front-line surrogate in containing Soviet moves in Afghanistan.
It also meant that the Americans would no longer ignore Pakistan's clandestine nuclear weapons program. The Bush administration noted the Pakistani bomb program and enforced the ban the United States has on arms sales to nations with such programs.
The Indian armed forces faced a similar situation with the breakup of the Soviet Union.
The disruptions brought the two countries' military buildups to a halt and left the forces in some disarray. By one estimate, the Indian navy's force level declined 50 percent. Across the services, there is still a massive shortage of ammunition and spare parts. …