FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Trading Weapons While Kashmir Burns

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:
July 19, 2018
Rajai R. Masri
The West’s Potential Symbiotic Contributions to Freeing a Closed Muslim Mind
Jennifer Matsui
The Blue Pill Presidency
Ryan LaMothe
The Moral and Spiritual Bankruptcy of White Evangelicals
Paul Tritschler
Negative Capability: a Force for Change?
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: ‘Social Dialogue’ Reform Frustrations
Rev. William Alberts
A Well-Kept United Methodist Church Secret
Raouf Halaby
Joseph Harsch, Robert Fisk, Franklin Lamb: Three of the Very Best
George Ochenski
He Speaks From Experience: Max Baucus on “Squandered Leadership”
Ted Rall
Right Now, It Looks Like Trump Will Win in 2020
David Swanson
The Intelligence Community Is Neither
Andrew Moss
Chaos or Community in Immigration Policy
Kim Scipes
Where Do We Go From Here? How Do We Get There?
July 18, 2018
Bruce E. Levine
Politics and Psychiatry: the Cost of the Trauma Cover-Up
Frank Stricker
The Crummy Good Economy and the New Serfdom
Linda Ford
Red Fawn Fallis and the Felony of Being Attacked by Cops
David Mattson
Entrusting Grizzlies to a Basket of Deplorables?
Stephen F. Eisenman
Want Gun Control? Arm the Left (It Worked Before)
CJ Hopkins
Trump’s Treasonous Traitor Summit or: How Liberals Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the New McCarthyism
Patrick Bond
State of the BRICS Class Struggle: Repression, Austerity and Worker Militancy
Dan Corjescu
The USA and Russia: Two Sides of the Same Criminal Corporate Coin
The Hudson Report
How Argentina Got the Biggest Loan in the History of the IMF
Kenn Orphan
You Call This Treason?
Max Parry
Ukraine’s Anti-Roma Pogroms Ignored as Russia is Blamed for Global Far Right Resurgence
Ed Meek
Acts of Resistance
July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail