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October 13, 2019

The power of money


October 13, 2019

India obtained its first Rafale fighter jet from France under a highly controversial deal which has brought allegations of nepotism and corruption directed towards the Indian government and its leaders. Under the deal, 35 more aircraft are to provided to India at a total cost of around $8.8 billion. The deal was signed in 2016. The Rafale fighter jet is a perfect reconnaissance machine and also one suitable for any battles involving mountainous territory. However, the Indian Air Force has said it will need at least 200 more middleweight Rafale aircraft to bolster its resources and enable it to offer India the best possible defence. In India, the controversy over corruption and nepotism involved in the Rafale deal has continued now for three years, led by Rahul Gandhi asking why the requirement for licenses from Hindustan Aeronautics was ignored during the deal between Dassault Aviation and the newly set up Reliance Defence and Engineering Ltd. Anil Ambani’s presence in France during the handing over of the aircraft has also been questioned. The irony exists because Rahul’s father Rajiv Gandhi was accused in the 1980s of involvement in a corrupt deal involving the purchase of aircraft from the Swedish firm Bofors.

But for Pakistan, the issue is a different one. India is clearly bent on spending huge sums on weaponry, even as its people yearn for development and attempt to combat desperate hunger. Rates of hunger in India’s slum areas surpass those of sub-Saharan Africa. In this situation, we must ask if the people of South Asia benefit in any way from an arms race. The presence of the Rafales means India’s air force has been significantly bolstered. There will be pressure in Pakistan for Pakistan’s air force to try and keep up. We must avoid the temptation. War can never be a solution. We do not need the sight of aircraft speeding through the skies to show supremacy or national pride. We need instead to uplift people and demonstrate we are able to come to power first with other South Asian countries and then with the rest of the world. This would be victory in the real sense. It is what we must aim for rather than pointless comparisons.

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