US move to share military data with India alarms FO

Web Desk – October 28,  2020

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Tuesday repeated its fears about regional strategic stability being disturbed by the advanced military hardware and technologies shared with India by the West as Washington signed a major pact with Delhi allowing sharing of top-secret satellite data.

The agreement called Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement (BECA) was signed at the third edition of India-US 2+2 talks held in Delhi. The accord will enable India to access precision topographical, nautical and aeronautical data and topographical images from US military satellites on a real time basis. The data could be used for missiles and armed drones.

It is the eighth agreement signed by the United States and India since they embarked on a strategic partnership in 2005. Pakistani strategists believe that the agreement would increase Pakistan’s strategic dilemma, even though it is being presented as part of efforts to contain China.

The Foreign Office, in its reaction to the signing of the agreement, said: “Pakistan has taken note of the signing of the Basic Exchange and Cooperation Agreement. Pakistan has been consistently highlighting the threats posed to strategic stability in South Asia as a result of provision of advanced military hardware, technologies and knowledge to India.”

It added: “India’s massive acquisition of armaments and expansion of its nuclear forces, including introduction of new destabilising weapon systems, are developments with serious repercussions for peace and stability in South Asia.”

Defence analysts say BECA would provide an American overlay to India’s indigenous intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.

The data made available to India under BECA, they say, would help it increase its missile accuracy and precision. It would also allow the US to provide advanced navigational aids and avionics to India in future military aircraft deals.

The US secretary of state referred to Chinese threat after the 2+2 talks with Indian external affairs and defence ministers.

The US State Department, meanwhile, hailed growing cooperation with India, saying it was “critical to the security and prosperity of both countries, the Indo-Pacific region, and the world”.

But it is feared in Islamabad that the agreement would affect Pakistan the most.

“The recent unprecedented rate of missile tests conducted by India is yet another manifestation of dangerous Indian conventional and nuclear military build-ups,” the FO said.

It observed that the developments have corroborated concerns about the military spin-offs of conducting high technology trade with India, which has not only eroded international norms, but also resulted in negatively affecting the strategic stability in South Asia.

“These developments clearly negate the argument that India’s mainstreaming in the international export control regimes will further the non-proliferation objectives of these regimes,” the FO maintained.

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