By Rajeev Sharma
25 June 2014
There is a pressing need for the new Indian government to engage with Myanmar at the highest levels as Pakistan and China are all set to enlarge their strategic footprints in Myanmar by selling fighter aircraft to that country.
Myanmar government is planning to procure an unspecified number of JF-17 Thunder multi-role combat aircraft. JF-17 is the joint project of Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) and Chengdu Aerospace Corporation (CAC) of China.
While India cannot officially object to the proposed JF-17 deal, the development underlines the need for India getting its act together. India can do so in two ways: overtly and covertly.
Overtly, India can step up engagement with Myanmar at all levels, particularly politically and militarily. Prime Minister Narendra Modi needs to put this crucial contiguous neighbour on the front burner of his near-abroad foreign policy outreach and ensure a top level visit within a few weeks.