Pakistan cannot afford to match the induction of modern weaponry by India, which possibly has a greater capacity to sustain a war, Pakistani Defence Minister Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar has said.
“If we only try to match them (India) militarily and buy the sort of armament which they have, we will probably not be able to afford it,” Mr. Mukhtar said.
Explaining his contention, he noted that India’s economy is “six to seven times bigger than” Pakistan’s and its trade volumes were “five to six times greater.”
“The capacity of India and Pakistan to fight was for 20 to 22 days. Now India has inducted a lot of armaments, may be they can last for 45 days, we will not be able to do so,” Mr. Mukhtar said in an interview to BBC Urdu.
He was responding to a question on whether the projection of India as Pakistan’s greatest enemy was the root of the country’s problems.
Mr. Mukhtar noted that the two countries were taking steps to improve relations in the aftermath of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.
“Slowly the process of meetings has started. People are going across the border. Nobody had ever thought they could walk suitcase in hand to Amritsar via Wagah but that is the reality now and it is happening,” he said.
This was happening, he said, “in spite of the fact that wars were fought, there were problems on the border and the Mumbai incident”.
Asked why an incident like the Mumbai attacks occurred whenever relations improved between the two countries, Mr. Mukhtar said: “It is very unfortunate that such incidents happen and they should not happen. But there are players who are behind these incidents.”
He did not give details about such elements but said some of them had been arrested and put on trial.
Matters would improve when “we decide that religion and politics should not be mixed together”, he said. “Let them go side by side. There should be no restrictions on religion which is between me and my God.”
Earlier this year, India and Pakistan revived their dialogue process, which was suspended for over two years in the wake of the Mumbai attacks which were carried out by Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.