Armed drones for India

IN a development that should raise alarm bells in Pakistan, the United States has offered India the armed version of Guardian drones that were originally authorised for sale as unarmed for surveillance purposes. If the deal comes to fruition, it would be the first time Washington has sold a large armed drone to a country outside the NATO alliance. It would also be the first high-tech unmanned aircraft in the region, where tension between India and Pakistan runs high.
The motives and timing of the deal are questionable and Pakistan needs to take up the issue seriously with the United States. Closer military ties and military sales and purchases between the United States and India are nothing new as Washington is providing New Delhi super computers to aircraft carriers and sales have crossed $17 billion but the latest offers come at a time when India is hurling threats of surgical strikes against Pakistan and has vowed to disrupt the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Pakistan and China are closely collaborating to counter any threat to sea lanes and trade but Indian capability would make it adopt more aggressive posture. The Sea Guardian provides multi-mode maritime surface search radar and a unique identification system. This, together with reports that India’s first missile armed drones that will give it the capability of carrying out standoff cross-border strikes are ready in Israel, ahead of the first ever visit to the nation by an Indian prime minister, should prompt a serious review of Pakistan’s counter capability and response. It is regrettable that Pakistan has all along been urging the United States to provide drones for use against terrorists but Washington never obliged. It is this double standard that creates resentment among people of Pakistan against the United States as Washington is intentionally jeopardising our security.

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