FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trading Weapons While Kashmir Burns

by FAROOQ SULEHRIA

Patience fellow Kashmiris. Islamabad is buying six high-tech Saab 2000 jets to help you out. ‘Why the heck high-tech jets instead of helicopters if Islamabad has Kashmir in mind?’ fellow Kashmiris might wonder. Because, the Saab 2000 turbo-propelled aircraft will be fitted with a land surveillance system ‘that could have been useful in emergency operations arising from the earthquake in Kashmir’.

True, the system will also help Pakistan face ‘different threats’ but Islamabad’s prime concern was Kashmir since the deal was struck exactly a week after the earthquake hit Kashmir. Costs? What does costs matter when such noble intentions are drawn in. But to satisfy the curiosity of fellow Kashmiris and unpatriotic Pakistanis, one better lay bare the facts. The surveillance system, to be provided by Ericsson, will cost hardly three billion Swedish crowns (SEK 1= Rs. 8). Since the Ericsson surveillance system Erieye operates aboard a Saab 2000 turbo-propelled aircraft, Islamabad is therefore compelled to buy six Saab 2000 worth eight billion Swedish crowns. The figure appears big in Swedish currency. We better do a dollar count. In US dollars, it is merely one billion.

The deal was made public by a mainstream Swedish daily Aftonbladet. Saab/Ericsson would have hushed it up. Aftonbladet, exposing the deal, questioned its relevance since the deal not merely violates Swedish guidelines for arms export but also violates the promise made by ruling Social Democrats back in 1998. Following the nuclear blasts by India and Pakistan, Swedish trade minister Leif Pagrotsky made a public commitment not to sell weapons to India and Pakistan. But even more important is the violation of Swedish guidelines for weapon export, which forbids arms exports to countries running conflicts with other countries or having bad human rights record.

Ironically, the Saab press release issued on October 19 in the wake of Aftonbladet criticism, besides contradicting the prices quoted in Aftonbladet’s story, explains how useful the radar system is in situations like the earthquake: ‘In the aftermath of the severe earthquake, the system would have been able to play a significant part in the search and rescue operations’. Earlier Saab’s statement, issued on October 18, stressed the use of the radar system in fighting ‘terrorism’.

The deal was being negotiated for years. One wonders if Islamabad or Saab knew in advance that General Musharraf would be fighting ‘terrorism’ in Waziristan or that an earthquake would hit Kashmir and ‘the system would have been able to play a significant part in the search and rescue operations’.

The Saab statements were meant for domestic consumption. Because an article published on Pakistan government’s website infopak.gov.pk ‘clarified’ that the Kargil conflict long ago convinced Islamabad of Erieye’s need. A Reuters story (July 14, 2004) headlined, ‘Government seeks Swedish radar system to match India’, leaves no doubt regarding the ‘humantarian’ and ‘anti terrorist’ use of Erieye. Datelined Islamabad, Reuters report says: ‘Government, concerned over India’s plans to acquire a strategic radar system from Israel, is seeking a similar system from Sweden. Air Commodore Sarfraz Ahmed Khan, spokesman for the Pakistan Air Force, said talks were underway with Sweden over the purchase of an Airborne Early Warning System, but no final decision had been taken. A Swedish embassy spokesman confirmed that the matter came up for discussion when President Pervez Musharraf visited Stockholm. He said a Swedish parliamentary commission, which handles defence-related deals, had approved the sale of the radar system and it was now up to the Pakistani authorities to decide. “I can’t say what stage it’s at, but the negotiations have been going on for quite some time,” he told Reuters’.

To water down the domestic criticism, Saab/Ericsson and Swedish authorities are trying to propagate the ‘civil’ use of Erieye. But the Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society (SPAS) has another explanation regarding the sale of Saab 2000 and Erieye. The Swedish Peace and Arbitration Society has been, for years, closely following the negotiations and opposing the deal. The September 2004 issue of Pax, SPAS newspaper, asserted: ‘Erieye is categorised as airradar and warning system and such systems have been used in many wars across the world’.

Suppose Pax is wrong. Suppose Saab-Islamabad deal is well intentioned. Still, one speculates if it is six Saab jets fitted with Ericsson radar system, worth one billion dollars, that Kashmir needs to recover from the earthquake.

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
Norman Pollack
Taiwan: A Pustule on International Politics
Kevin Martin
Nuclear Weapons Modernization: a New Nuclear Arms Race? Who Voted for it? Who Will Benefit from It?
David Mattson
3% is not Enough: Towards Restoring Grizzly Bears
Howard Lisnoff
The Person Who Deciphered the Order to Shoot at Kent State
Dave Archambault II
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe Statement on Dakota Access Pipeline Decision
Nick Pemberton
Make America Late Again
Weekend Edition
December 02, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
The Coming War on China
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: The CIA’s Plots to Kill Castro
Paul Street
The Iron Heel at Home: Force Matters
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
Timberg’s Tale: Washington Post Reporter Spreads Blacklist of Independent Journalist Sites
Andrew Levine
Must We Now Rethink the Hillary Question? Absolutely, Not
Joshua Frank
CounterPunch as Russian Propagandists: the Washington Post’s Shallow Smear
David Rosen
The Return of HUAC?
Rob Urie
Race and Class in Trump’s America
Patrick Cockburn
Why Everything You’ve Read About Syria and Iraq Could be Wrong
Caroline Hurley
Anatomy of a Nationalist
Ayesha Khan
A Muslim Woman’s Reflections on Trump’s Misogyny
Michael Hudson – Steve Keen
Rebel Economists on the Historical Path to a Global Recovery
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail