Pak concerned about Indian military growth

NEW DELHI: Pakistan warned yesterday that India’s huge military modernisation programme posed a serious threat to stability in a “nuclearised” South Asian region.

“New war doctrines, tremendous boost to the defence spending, induction of new sophisticated weapons systems, these are elements that are prejudicial to regional security and stability,” Pakistan Foreign Secretary Salman Bashir said. His comments followed talks in New Delhi with his Indian counterpart Nirupama Rao — the first direct discussions between the nuclear-armed South Asian rivals since the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

India, which last month inducted its longest range nuclear-tipped missile into the army, has plans to spend up to 30 billion dollars on its military by 2012.

India is scheduled to unveil its 2010-2011 defence budget on Friday, which was jacked up by 24 per cent to 1.42 trillion rupees (28.4 billion dollars) the previous year. Bashir described as “irresponsible,” Indian army chief Deepak Kapoor’s comments in December that India must be prepared to fight simultaneous wars on “two fronts” — a clear reference to Pakistan and China. “We have drawn the attention of the international community to the importance of preserving the regional balance between Pakistan and India,” Bashir said.

“This is a nuclearised region and it is important that Pakistan and India engage meaningfully on the whole range of issues under regional peace and security,” he added.