By M M Zuhair, PC Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena on April 27 cracked open one of the most horrendous problems confronting mankind — the world’s endless wars!  Inaugurating a conference on “Islamic reality and contemporary challenges” in Colombo, he pulled out an issue often kept under the carpet not only by the world’s powerful [...]

Sunday Times 2

Timely call to ban weapons that destroy mankind


By M M Zuhair, PC
Sri Lanka President Maithripala Sirisena on April 27 cracked open one of the most horrendous problems confronting mankind — the world’s endless wars!  Inaugurating a conference on “Islamic reality and contemporary challenges” in Colombo, he pulled out an issue often kept under the carpet not only by the world’s powerful leaders but also by a major part of the Western media!

President Sirisena in his timely call said, “Peace talks must be held with weapons manufacturers rather than with warring parties. Peace can be achieved if every state leader bans weapons and stops manufacturing them in his own country.”

India, the world's number one weapons importer, displaying its fire power at a national day parade

With unsettled and unpredictable leaders already in command in some powerful countries, and new ones seeking to run many nuclear armed nations, mankind is extremely unlikely to see an end to the never-ending destructive wars in the world! The arms industry is having fabulous business with or without these boisterous extremist leaders!

According to a Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) study of trends in international arms movements based on export-import trend-indicator value (TIV), the total volume of arms movements which in 1950 stood at TIV Billion 09 shot upto TIV Billion 42 by 1985 and dropped to TIV Billion 20 between 2000 and 2005. By 2014 it had risen to TIV Billion 30! These statistics reveal some home truths.
The perceived ‘enemy’ of the pre 1985, arms industry- backed world leadership was communism. Arms sales reached Himalayan heights by 1985. With the collapse of the Soviet Union by 1991, arms sales dropped sharply by more than 50% until around 2002. From 2003 onwards, by which time ‘Islamic fundamentalism’ was installed in the firing line post 9/11 as the next enemy to succeed communism, arms sales began recovering, reaching TIV Billion 30 by 2014!

The Times of Israel of April 6, 2017 reports that in 2015 global ‘military spending’ rose to US$ 1,700,000 million or $1.7 trillion!  This sum is sufficient to solve more than 50 percent of Asia’s problems related to poverty! There is no debate that every country needs an effective armed force. A part of this military spending is therefore a necessary evil.

Addressing the US Congress last year, Pope Francis said if we wish to have lasting peace the arms industry must be dismantled! The Pope could not have chosen a better place — to express his deep concerns for the suffering multitude of women, children and the elderly in the world — than the United States, by far the largest manufacturer and the leading exporter of arms in the world.
Between 2010 and 2014, the US with a 31 percent share and Russia coming second with 27 percent, together supplied 58 percent of all arms requirements. The next eight biggest arms exporters were China 5 percent, Germany 5 percent, France 5 percent, UK 4 percent, Spain 3 percent, Italy 3 percent, Ukraine 3 percent, and Israel 2 percent. The value of these percentages translated into dollars or local currencies would be mind-boggling! The top arms exporters are from the developed world but the theaters of war have always been the struggling developing countries!

The global media seldom report on arms exports or imports. Import figures and their dollar or local currency equivalents are rarely publicised. According to an NDTV report, between 2012 and 2016, India topped the chart as the world’s largest importer of weapons. Saudi Arabia was leading the list of the largest importers of weapons until Prime Minister Modi came to power in India in May 2014. In 2010, Riyadh signed a 60 billion dollar deal with the US to purchase arms and ammunition.

The presidential missile calling on world leaders to ban weapons that destroy mankind could not have been launched at a more appropriate venue than last Thursday’s Saudi-sponsored conference at the Temple Trees banquet hall. How did India take the world’s number 1 title from Saudi Arabia? A report dated January 4, 2017 published by Bloomberg titled ‘Modi closes in on $660 million weapons deal’ states India was set to finalise “a $660 million deal for mobile heavy artillery weapons — its third major gun purchase in the past year and a sign Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s defence spending spree is far from over…”

The Huffington Post of 18th January 2017 reported that India had been on a “secretive weapons shopping spree on an emergency footing, buying up anti-tank missiles, tank engines, rockets launchers and various kinds of ammunition. The emergency purchases costing nearly US$ 3, 000 Million were from Israel and Russia.

A United Press International (UPI) report of 6th April 2017 says the Indian navy has signed a US$ 1,600 million contract with Israel Aerospace Industries to purchase an air and missile defense system. Premier Modi is due to visit Israel in July, the first by an Indian Prime Minister, and will sign two defence deals with the Zionist nation, according to another media report. The two known deals are worth US$ 1,500 million and will include the delivery of 8,000 missiles. This is in addition to deals already finalised earlier, in April 2017, to deliver to India, medium and long range surface to air missiles worth US$ 2,000 million.

According to a 2016 September report, India needs a whopping US$ 233 billion to meet its weapon and equipment requirements in the next 11 years — quoting India’s Long Term Integrated Perspective Plan for 2012-2027. The plan reflects India’s outlook to solve negotiable problems through recourse to war, whether it be with Pakistan, China, the Maoists or the new enemy, ‘violent extremists’!

But where are the peace plans, dialogues, reconciliation mechanisms and conflict resolution processes? Where are the NGOs? Mahatma Gandhi, the iconic founding father of mother India is, no doubt, dead. But did India bury or burn with him the universally respected ideals that Gandhi lived for? India is also the seat of two great religions: Hinduism and Buddhism!

The question that needs to be raised is: Why is India siphoning off billions to the arms manufacturers when the country needs every Indian rupee to advance the millions of Indians below the poverty line? About 10 percent of the US$ 233 billion is adequate for a country like Sri Lanka to solve most of its problems. No doubt India has problems to be solved with Pakistan and China, problems that could be solved through dialogue between statesmen of these Asian countries, if only they will stop believing the fake and fear-mongering intelligence reports of countries that seek to sell their weapons.
Modi set a good example when he invited Nawaz Sharif to New Delhi to be his guest at Modi’s inauguration ceremony in May 2014. But within weeks Pakistani-phobic fear mongering reports attributed to the arms mafia began to surface in the Indian media.

The world also saw the first signs of a down-to-earth Indian statesman when Modi arrived virtually unannounced in Islamabad and joined in Nawaz Sharif’s birthday do in 2015. Once again, within days of this exemplary move, fear-mongering anti-Pakistani reports, some quoting intelligence sources, were circulated. Each time the two nations thought of talks on Kashmir, media and intelligence reports warned of extremist violence, the last of which was the intelligence report based alert on three Indian airports. Nothing happened. The obvious reason being, it is in the interest of the arms industry to keep the two nations as antagonistic as possible.

Prime Minister Modi is making a very welcome visit to Sri Lanka. He will participate as the chief guest in the UN recognised international Vesak celebrations in Colombo signifying peace and harmony. He will, no doubt, recall the greatest gift Sri Lanka received from India, two millenniums ago — Buddhism, with its universal message for mankind of tolerance and compassion. He must also tell the region’s women, children and the elderly — the first victims of all wars — to emulate Prince Siddhartha who will always be remembered as the global role model who gave up arms and, instead, preferred to receive alms. This year’s international Vesak is indeed a great event to be looked forward to by all those who love peace in our region.

(The writer is a former parliamentarian. The views expressed here are the writer’s own and do not reflect the official position presently or  previously held by the writer —

Share This Post


Advertising Rates

Please contact the advertising office on 011 - 2479521 for the advertising rates.