Parliamentary Question to Defence Secretary on India's military strategy

11 January 2010

Defence Secretary urged to Tell India To Drop Military Threats Against Pakistan

Former FCO Minister Denis MacShane MP has called on Britain to urge India to stop preparations for war against Pakistan. The Labour MP asked Britain’s Defence Secretary, Bob Ainsworth, to write to India’s Defence Chief and urged India “to stop beating the drums of war.”

MacShane’s appeal made in the House of Commons ( 11 January) was made following revelations in the Times of India that a secret meeting of India’s army leaders in Simla in December discussed plans for a “double-front” military operation against China and Pakistan.

“It beggars belief that India, a nuclear power and Commonwealth nation, should be discussing military action against Pakistan which is now in the front line of the international alliance against terrorism from which India and Pakistan have suffered grievously.

“It is time to ask India to become part of the solution to the problem that bedevils the entire region instead of making the problem worse by holding secret planning sessions to discuss military invasion. India needs to reduce the tension in Kashmir to allow Pakistan to transfer troops stationed on its eastern flank to deal with the troubled western regions of Pakistan where the Taliban flourish and Osama Bin Laden is hiding,” added MacShane.

The Rotherham MP is a member of Nato’s Parliamentary Assembly and will ask Nato Parliamentarians to join in urging India to develop a new approach to Pakistan in order to strengthen the struggle against terrorism.

The exchange in the Commons is below:

Mr. Denis MacShane (Rotherham) (Lab): Has the Secretary of State seen the report in The Times of India about a secret conclave of the Indian general staff in Simla last month in which a planned military attack on Pakistan was discussed openly? Is it really helpful for a Commonwealth partner and nuclear power to talk about attacking Pakistan at this stage? Will he write to ask his Indian opposite number to stop beating the drums of war?

Mr. Ainsworth: I did not see the article. I think that we have made considerable progress in our relationship with Pakistan, which has begun to see the insurgency and terrorism as a big part of the existential threat to Pakistan. We want it to continue in that direction, and so good relations with India have a vital part to play if we are to achieve that.