New Delhi: Recognising the changing ground realities in the Afghan-Pak region, retired vice admiral Arifullah Hussaini has called for talks with India. Highlighting that his country's relations with the United States has unmistakably strained in recent months, he said stability in the sub-continent largely depends on Indo-Pak relations.
The Dawn reported that Hussaini and several other speakers at a seminar titled 'Indian hegemonic design and its implications', called for recognising that conventional tactics used for decades are largely becoming irrelevant in the new international political scenario. "India is a rising power. Their defence budget is going up about seven per cent every year which is about three per cent of their GDP. The US thinks it can counter China by developing India. On the other hand, nobody is ready to listen to the narrative of Pakistan," said the retired vice admiral. "Therefore, it is sensible to bring India to the negotiating table so that both countries discover a peaceful solution to their problems. War is not a favourable option."
While the vice admiral did recognise India's growing economic might, he pointed out that the country's focus on developing its military was faulty. "I think India is wasting its money on defence. The future of war does not belong to conventional methods but artificial intelligence. Whosoever uses it well will win. Therefore, we have to learn artificial intelligence," he said.
The manner of development work being undertaken in both India and Pakistan too was highlighted. Professor Dr Khalida Ghaus, who was also part of the same seminar, said infrastructure projects in border areas have received special focus in recent Indian budgets. "I have noticed that the Indian budget focuses more on borders, tunnels, defence corridors, infrastructure in Ladakh, Zojila Pass in Jammu and Kashmir and Sela Pass in Arunachal Pradesh," she said, adding that such developments need to be monitored closely.
Hasan Habib, former ambassador to China and North Korea, agreed and said also focused on US presence in Afghanistan. "On the western border, it is now getting clearer that the US will not quit Afghanistan. It is a strategic location for them from where they can keep a close eye on China, Russia, Iran and Pakistan," he said. This and the fact that the US had previously asked India to play a greater role in Afghanistan is being looked at with utmost caution by Islamabad.
On exepcted lines, most of the analysts agreed that China's help is equipping Pakistan to fast-track its development and modernisation plans. Several even said the competition between India and Pakistan has now become tripartite with the Chinese involvement. China recently sold an advanced missile tracking system to Pakistan in an unprecedented deal. It is clear then that Beijing is looking at propping Pakistan as a formidable adversary to India - a country which is otherwise far ahead in terms of economy and military.