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India Raises Military Spending to fight terrorism

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    India Raises Military Spending to fight terrorism

    India, a Nuclear Power, Raises Military Spending 28 Percent

    With relations between bitter foes India and Pakistan at their worst point in three decades, New Delhi today announced a 28.2 percent increase in military spending, the largest single-year boost in the nation's history.

    "We shall not shrink from making any sacrifice to guard and protect every inch of our beloved motherland," the finance minister, Yashwant Sinha, said in presenting the country's annual budget to parliament.

    The announcement comes less than three weeks before President Clinton is scheduled to arrive in New Delhi on a mission that is at least partly intended to ease the strain between the world's two newest nuclear powers.

    The big jump in military spending is no surprise. It has been expected since India fought intense battles with Pakistani-backed forces in the frigid mountains of Kashmir six months ago. The Indians drove off the invaders, but the incursion revealed weaknesses in the nation's defenses. The military complained that a decade of belt-tightening had left it without needed funds for basic supplies, surveillance equipment and upgraded weapons.

    Since then, tensions have only grown worse. Pakistan's military overthrew the elected government in Islamabad. Guerrilla attacks have reached an epidemic level in Kashmir. India blamed Pakistan for the hijacking of an Indian airliner on Christmas Eve.

    The budget for the year beginning April 1 calls for tax increases on higher-income people, a review of state subsidies, and cuts in the government payroll.

    "Yes, we are considering downsizing," Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee told reporters today.

    Cuts in personnel will not include the military, which will have an allowance of $13.5 billion. Nearly half the money will go to the army. It is unclear how much will be devoted to nuclear weapons.

    "Going nuclear hasn't done much for India's security, has it?" said P.R. Chari, director of the Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies in New Delhi. "The country seems to be moving in several directions all at once."

    But others see a bigger military budget as an overdue payment. "India has a one million-man army, a two-fleet navy and a 35 combat-squadron air force, and that takes money," said Uday Bhaskar, deputy director of the Institute for Defense Studies and Analyses in New Delhi.

    In 1990, when India was experiencing a financial crisis, the military budget was cut back as a percentage of the gross domestic product, Mr. Bhaskar said. The decline continued throughout the decade. Last summer's fighting in Kashmir was a wake-up call.

    "All that's happening now is that we're catching up," he said.

    The military spending was raised to sustain the state sponsored terrorism in Kashmir. Also to send the "Jawans" for training in how to rape women and butcher innocent children.


      India Plans Big Hike in Defense Spending
      Asia: Announcement comes amid fierce battles along disputed border with Pakistan. It suggests dangerous deterioration in two countries' relations.

      By DEXTER FILKINS, Times Staff Writer

      NEW DELHI--India announced a dramatic boost in military spending Tuesday as heavy fighting along the disputed border with Pakistan prompted fears that relations with its archrival are entering a dangerous new phase.
      The declaration that the Indian government will allocate 21% more--or $2.3 billion--for defense spending in the coming year follows a recent series of bloody skirmishes along the two countries' 450-mile border in the Himalayan region of Kashmir. With the increase, military spending will account for about a sixth of India's $78.7-billion budget.
      More than 60 Indians and Pakistanis have been killed in border attacks in the past six weeks, and heavy-artillery shelling has broken out along the frontier. On Tuesday, after the deaths of 13 civilians and eight soldiers in three days, Indian officials warned the Pakistani government about breaches in the cease-fire line. According to Indian news accounts, one of the Indian soldiers was beheaded and three others were burned beyond recognition.
      The new tensions come on the eve of a scheduled visit to the region by President Clinton, who has offered to help mediate in the dispute between the two nuclear-armed countries. Although Pakistani leaders have said they would welcome such help, India's leaders have ruled it out.
      Relations between India and Pakistan have sharply deteriorated in the wake of an armed incursion by Pakistani troops into Indian-held territory last summer. More than 1,000 people died on both sides in heavy fighting before the Pakistanis were repulsed.
      Adding to the tensions was the hijacking of an Indian Airlines jet in December. Indian leaders accused Pakistan of masterminding the hijacking, which ended with the death of one Indian passenger. U.S. officials have said that there is no evidence of direct Pakistani government involvement but that a Pakistan-based guerrilla group battling Indian rule in Kashmir was behind the hijacking.
      The two events have so angered the Indian public that some officials predict the Indian military might feel compelled to undertake cross-border attacks against guerrilla camps in Pakistan.
      "The Indian military is making the case that it needs to be more assertive," said C. Uday Bhaskar, a defense analyst in New Delhi. "I'm afraid things are going to get more turbulent."
      The tensions between India and Pakistan hit an ominous level in May 1998 when the two countries tested nuclear weapons. Each side has since flight-tested missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads.
      At the heart of their dispute is Kashmir, a mountainous territory that was split between the two countries when they became independent from the British Empire in 1947. Both sides claim the region, which is predominantly Muslim, in its entirety. Besides last summer's fighting, two of the countries' three major wars have been fought over Kashmir.
      Indian officials on Tuesday accused Pakistani leaders of orchestrating the attacks to pressure Clinton into visiting Pakistan and involving himself in the Kashmiri conflict. Clinton will visit India and Bangladesh this month but has made no plans to stop in Pakistan.
      "Pakistan's activities and statements are clearly intended with the cynical purpose of attracting international attention," said R. S. Jassal, a spokesman for the Ministry of External Affairs.
      A Foreign Ministry official reached by telephone in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, declined to comment Tuesday. Indian and Pakistani officials routinely deny that their troops cross into the other's territory or that they shoot first. Earlier in the week, a Pakistan Foreign Ministry official denied that Pakistani troops were involved in the deaths of any of the eight Indian soldiers killed this year.
      Indian officials referred directly to the fighting in the Kashmiri region of Kargil last summer to justify the big military spending increase--the largest ever. The Indian budget doesn't spell out precisely how the new money will be spent, although a chunk of it will pay for soldiers to occupy high-altitude posts that were seized by the Pakistanis in last year's fighting.
      In addition, the Indian air force might get new jets, the navy a second aircraft carrier and the army thousands of artillery shells to replace those fired last summer at Pakistan.
      J. N. Dixit, a former Indian foreign minister, said he hopes the new weapons won't be needed. But like other foreign policy experts here, he isn't optimistic about relations with Pakistan.
      "We are in for a very tense summer," he said.