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Mizzima: Khin Nyunt's visit to Paki

Khin Nyunt?s visit to Pakistan, a concern for policy makers in Delhi

New Delhi, July 6, 2000
Mizzima News Group (www.mizzima.com)

While Indian Army Chief V.P Malik is on an official visit in Rangoon,
Burma?s intelligence chief and Secretary No. (1) of ruling SPDC Lt.
General Khin Nyunt is out in Pakistan, an arch rival of India. Pakistan
is known to be supplying arms and ammunition to Burma junta for quite
some years and there is a strong link between the intelligence agencies
of two countries. Lt. General Khin Nyunt is the highest-ranking Burmese
junta official to visit Pakistan since 1974.

Though Indian government does not make any public response on the visit
(in fact, there is almost no news on Khin Nyunt?s visit to Pakistan in
the Indian media), policy makers in New Delhi are definitely watching
closely on the visit of Burmese delegation to Pakistan. But the visit
and continuing close ties between Burma and Pakistan will not have any
immediate shift on India?s policy towards Burma i.e. to establish a
?working relationship? with the military junta in power.

The following is excerpts from an interview with Dr. Swaran Singh,
research fellow at New Delhi-based Institute for Defence Studies and
Analyses (IDSA).

The second part of this will be interview with Mr. Brahma Chellaney who
is professor of security studies at Centre for Policy Research (CPR) in
New Delhi.

Excerpts from interview with Dr. Swaran Singh

Q: Currently, Burma?s Lt. General Khin Nyunt is in Pakistan and India?s
Army Chief is in Burma. What is your view on this India-Burma-Pakistan
triangle relationships?

A: As we know a military delegation from Burma is right now in Pakistan
and this is part of the relationship, which has evolved, in last few
years. In fact, both India and Pakistan and many other countries have a
sort of got into engaged in Burma in last five or six years. And
broadly, this relationship between Pakistan and Burma on the one hand
and India and Burma on the other should be seen in that context that
Burma has opened up and outside countries have gradually started
building relations. And the only difference which should be understood
in this context of comparing India relationship with Burma and
Pakistan?s relationship with Burma is that Pakistan?s relationship with
Burma has been very military-oriented. Partly because of the military
culture or political culture of Pakistan that the kind of relationship
has evolved much around military relationship and military ties between
these two countries. We also had earlier known that they were building
an air base for Burma and they also supplied equipment to Burma.

In the case of India, we have not been a sort of engaged in that kind of
relationship. We have not involved in supplying weapons to them or
building any that sort of military facilities. India's relationship with
Burma has concentrated more on trade and other kinds of political
relationship which involves official exchanges and all other variety of
things that can happen between these two countries. Border management I
think is one major issue for us too.

So, I think that is a major difference when you look at India and
Pakistan both separately approaching Burmese authorities. Indian
military chief General Malik is now in Rangoon and he has signed some
more agreements on border management and perhaps some other issues that
in fact further enforces the fact that Indian relationship is much more
broad-based, and much more holistic.

It is not focused so much more on supplying military equipment or any
sort of helping military junta in building military there. Pakistani
relationship will be again known now once this delegation has completed
deliberations in Pakistan and we will come to know as to what Khin Nyunt
and his other members of delegation are going to focus on while during
the visit in Pakistan.

But I assume again things that the main focus will be how to help
military junta in sustaining itself first and for that they obviously
need equipment for military weapons and other things.

Q: Ministry of External Affairs was quite tight-lipped on this Burmese
visit to Pakistan. What could be the position of India on Khin Nyunt?s

A: The visit led by Khin Nyunt is definitely going to be a matter of
concern for New Delhi policy makers especially because we know earlier
instances where Khin Nyunt is clearly the man who established Burma
relationships with China and the kind of relationship with China shared
with Burma was nearly that of making Burma as another province of China.
It was very military-oriented again. I am sure Khin Nyunt being in
Pakistan with strong delegation of 20 people is definitely a matter of
concern here. People are watching carefully and want to know what is
going to happen during this deliberation, especially as I said earlier
because relationship is military oriented that definitely means that
India must keep its eyes and ears very clearly open and notice what is
happening in neighborhood. Burma is a very important country for India
especially because India has been trying to open up and build
relationship with bigger areas of South East Asia and what happens in
Burma is definitely a major concern for us.

Q: What could be the position of India if it has to choose between Lt.
General Khin Nyunt and General Maung Aye who are the two supposedly
strong contenders for the post of SPDC chairman in future?

A: It is of course known clearly that Khin Nyunt was actually military
intelligence chief and he has been known to having a tremendous hold on
how the things operate in Burma and has generally been known responsible
for all sorts things that happened over last decade. General Maung Aye
by comparison is a sort of known as low-profile person by comparison and
he is also not as ?notorious? if one could use that word. It definitely
is important for India to see a person who should be an easier person to
deal with.

But in fact to start with to deal with military was a big question for
us. You know, we spent long long years to think whether we should deal
with the military junta or shouldn?t. I think this is only another
question of its similar nature for us that in case Khin Nyunt comes to
hold that important chair, after General Than Shwe retires, India should
find itself in relatively difficult position in that case than dealing
with Maung Aye.

Q: What do you think on the view of China fostering relationship between
Burma and Pakistan?

A: I am sure during early 1990s, there was a lot of discussions and
reporting on what was called ?encirclement? of India and a lot of people
did mention how China was building relationships with Burma on the one
hand and the Pakistan on the other. If this kind of relationship is
beginning to strengthen itself, I think this make it some sort of
triangle which can work against India's interest in future. So Burma and
Pakistan are building relationship especially of military nature and
China already has relations of military nature of both Pakistan and
Burma. Definitely this emerges as certain amount of strategic triangle
which can be sort of someway impinging on India's national interests in
future at some date. But definitely as yet, this third leg of the
triangle seems not so strong.

Q: Do you expect any shift, if there is any on Burma, in India?s foreign
policy towards Burma, because of growing ties between Burma and

A: I think India?s foreign policy is not sort of expected to take any
major shift in future when it comes to Burma. What has happened is that
we have accepted the international trend and started opening
relationship with the military regime there partly because they have
stayed there for last ten years and because everyone else is being to
deal with them. But we have also kept our options clearly open and we
have continued large section of Indian decision-makers and public at
large have continued to support democracy movement in Burma. So the
option is always open for us. But let me say that India does not have to
get too much worried about these each time meetings taken place like
this. In last five to six months, if you observe India has clearly been
seen internationally as a very responsible country and the country,
which has to be reckoned with when you talk of South Asia. So India's
views and India's policy will definitely make its own influence in
international decision-making various forums. India ultimately supports
democracy. We are a democracy and we support democracy in both Burma and
Pakistan. So that remains the bottom line in our case though it has a
transitory as a sort of small transition period when we have to deal
with the military.

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