Pakistan – Burma connection: the Courting of General’s and Security Implications for India (Part: I)

Pakistan and Burmese General’s trusted ‘silent strategic friendship’ has entered a new phase with the visit of Burma’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Mr. U. Kyaw Thu to Islamabad in December 2006. The visit was silent, because it was not much hyped in Burmese official media and not even a word in – “The New Light of Myanmar”, as well as it didn’t figure in the list of news section of ministry of foreign affairs of military junta. Although, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was kind enough to give space to the news regarding U Kyaw Thu’s visit of 21st December 2006.

However, Burmese General’s has been smart enough to understand the implications of giving media space to their honeymoon with Pakistan and its ramifications to India’s new constructive engagement relationship, through which they are enjoying legitimacy of working hard towards seven-step restoration of democracy in Burma as a peaceful stable neighbour of world’s largest democratic nation. In this visit, Mr. U Kyaw Thu’s Pakistani counterpart, Mr. Makhdum Khusro Bakhtyar, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, emphasized excellent existing political relations & deepening of economic relations together with proposal to sign an early harvest programme to be followed by the Free Trade Agreement with Burma. It is important to note that, presently Pakistan enjoys and has interest in Burma’s telecommunication, pharmaceutical, cement industry, sugar industry, pesticides, fertilizer, paper industry, tourism and cultural sectors as announced policy and military-defense cooperation as unannounced strategic policy. In return, Mr. U Kyaw Thu was upbeat in saying that, Burma had always good relations with Pakistan and assured about Burmese businessmen’s, who have been participating in Expo-Pakistan every year in Karachi. And further assured Pakistan, for working seriously towards enhancing their cooperation with ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations). (1) Burmese Generals interest in promoting Pakistan’s case in ASEAN forum is not new undermining Indian interest in ASEAN or ASEAN+1 agenda. Even during the inaugural meeting on the establishment of ASEAN-Pakistan Sectoral Dialogue Relations on 5-7 November 1997 held at Islamabad, then Burmese Charge d’ Affairs, Embassy of the Union of Myanmar in Islamabad, Mr. Khin Maung Lynn was very supportive of Pakistan’s case in ASEAN.

The above visit was well timed after the inauguration of Burma-China trade fair opened at Muse (105 mile trade zone) in Shan State (North) on 18th of December 2006 to enhance Burma-China cooperation friendship of “Paukphaw”. (2) And interestingly this visit also coincided with the conclusion of “Pakistan-China joint anti-terror military exercise 2006” on 20th December headed by China’s Chief of Staff of the Chengdu military region of People’s Liberation Army (PLA), Lieutenant General Lu Dengmin. (3) It is important to note that, the Chengdu Military Region of PLA is an inland military force of China and its forces are deployed along the borders with Vietnam, Burma and Tibetan regions, among which it enjoys more close proximity with Burma.

Burmese General’s had always tried to utilize every available opportunity to strengthen ties with Pakistani counterparts, which is more trustworthy and reliable system of governance for them than India and serving Chinese foreign policy interest in South Asian region as well as in Asia. For Burmese General’s, China and Pakistan provides more opportunity than India, at one side to court with regimented one communist party rule of China without the ideology of communism. And at the other side, it provides General’s the opportunity to go with officers like them in Pakistan, denying rights of democracy and accountability of the governance to the people. Burmese General’s are shrewd enough to calculate that, both Pakistan & China provides more stable political homogeneity of courtship than India, which has multi party democracy. Moreover constructive engagement policy could change in future with the change of government or key policy makers at New Delhi. So when, Pakistan was struck with unfortunate earthquake on 8th of October 2005, Burmese Generals were quick to respond with donating syringes and medicines valuing US dollars 200,000, (4) although Burma’s health care system had been always in need for other’s donations under military junta. In the same year in August 2005, Pakistan’s Excise and Taxation Minister, Dr. Muhammad Shafique Chaudhary of Punjab visited Yangon or Rangoon and met Vice-President of the Union of Burma Federation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry – Mr. U Aung Lwin and General Secretary- U Sein Win Hlaing and CEC Member- U Tun Aung to enhance economic cooperation. (5) And in May 2005, Pakistani goodwill delegation led by Lt-Gen (Retd.) Mr. Javed Hassan, Principal of Pakistan Administrative Staff College visited Burma’s General’s and had a meeting with U Hla Kyi, Director-General of Civil Service Selection and Training Department, Burma to enhance cooperation in Civil Services management, which was more of military intelligence cooperation. (6)

However for India’s present External Affairs Minister and seasoned congress politician, Mr. Pranab Mukherjee, policy of constructive engagement with Burma’s General’s is a part of Look East policy initiated since 1992 and serving national security interest. He trusts General’s like many other experts at South Block and went even beyond Congress & Indian history during his visit to Burma in January 2007 that, “India is not interested in exporting our own ideology. We are democracy and we would like democracy to flourish everywhere. But this is for every country to decide for itself.” (7) Mr. Mukherjee has forgotten that supplying arms and ammunition to military junta would not flourish democracy everywhere including Burma and if he thinks that, he can compete with China and Pakistan in supplying arms to General’s then he is making a big-big mistake concerning India’s Security interests. Probably Mr. Mukherjee has also forgotten India’s role in Nepal’s democratic history and Indonesian independence struggle as well as linkages of Aung San, Ba Maw, U Ottama, U Nu and more importantly Daw Aung San Suu Kyi with India and other examples. India has rich history of trusting people’s leaders than Government servant’s or employees. The past records of rising Northeast insurgency, small arms trade through Northeastern Burma borders, increase in illicit drug trade and smuggling has different story to tell about reposing more faiths on employees than leader’s, whom people of Burma elected & chosen in 1990 election. It is also for present Indian leadership to understand that, India is not a banana republic, which can succumb to terror politics of any group and any nation in pursuing their cherished ideals. It is also important for the policy makers & corporate houses of Australia, UK, Japan, South Korea etc. to find coherence with their national traditions rather than running for some dollar benefits in Burma. The world is large enough to satiate economic hunger.



1. Deputy Foreign Minister of Myanmar’s Visit, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Pakistan, Islamabad, Pakistan, 21 December 2006, (PR. No. 372/2006).
2. Enhancing Economic Cooperation through Promotion of Border Trade, The New Light of Myanmar, Thursday, 21 December 2006, Volume XIV, Number 249, p.2
3. Pakistan, China joint anti-terror mily exercise, The New Light of Myanmar, Thursday, 21 December 2006, Volume XIV, Number 249, p.11
4. Pakistan: Myanmar donates syringes, medicines for quake victims, 14 December 2005, from
5. UMFCCI Vice President meets Pakistani Minister, Myanmar Information Committee, Yangon, Information Sheet, No. D-3411(1), August 21, 2005, Section-3.
6. Pakistani delegation concludes visit, Myanmar Information Committee, Yangon, Information Sheet, No. D-3338(1), May 26, 2005, Section-5.
7. Siddharth Varadarajan, India not interested in exporting ideology: Pranab, The Hindu, 20 January 2007.



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3 Comments on “Pakistan – Burma connection: the Courting of General’s and Security Implications for India (Part: I)”

  1. TAbrez Nasar Says:

    Dear Dr. Rajshekhar,

    I am an Indian national working in East Timor (Timor Leste) advising the Government. I liked your sduccint description on the going-ons in Burma. Keep up the good work!



    Dear Rajshekhar Ji,

    I would like to comment that although there may be a history of Indo-Burma linbks, and although, the strategic initiatives to Burma, by nations hostile to India’s long-term interests may be there. Let us not forget that we live in a largely democratic world, where xenophobia, especially in the globalized era, is the worst disease.

    Let Pakistan do what it wants to do. The real issue is what India and Burma want to do together!!!

    Thank You.


  3. ce Says:

    Can someone tell me if U Hla Kyi noted in above story is someone who once studied in Japan as an exchange student back in the 1980s?

    This may seem like an odd request but the reason is I once knew someone with this name.

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