Perhaps no two countries in the world have a relationship as fraught and dangerous as India and Pakistan. The neighbours have fought four wars since the partition of the British Empire’s South Asian domains in 1949. Both have nuclear weapons, and in 1999 they started the first war in history between two states with acknowledged nuclear weapons.
In a better world, that tense dynamic might make other countries think twice before sending weapons to both India and Pakistan, let alone one of these rivals, to avoid making any future conflict even more destructive.
But the United States, France and Russia, all pursuing their own geopolitical agendas, supply weapons and arms to both rivals, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, which has released its data on global arms transfers in 2014, providing some of the best publicly available information on who’s selling weapons to whom.
We made the following map to show who sells to two of the world’s biggest geopolitical opponents:
As this map shows, a few major arms exporters are willing to sell to both sides. The US is politically supportive of India but depends on Pakistan as a counter-terrorism partner — it exports weapons to both places. France and Russia are two other arms industry titans who see the obvious advantages of cultivating a market in two populous, jittery military powers.
More interesting are the countries that only sell to one of the two. China sees the Indian Ocean as a potential strategic frontier, and is suspected of planning to build a network of military and commercial ports that would encircle India. China and India also have a number of outstanding territorial disputes. So China sells to Pakistan, which is now the world’s leading purchaser of Chinese weapons.
Interestingly, Germany, which is the world’s 4th-largest exporter, only sells to India. Trade between India and Germany tripled between 2002 and 2012. In contrast, Pakistan arrested 3 alleged German spies in 2012, and is a suspected state sponsor of various armed groups that fought the NATO coalition in Afghanistan, to which Germany was a major troop contributor.
The map shows that plenty of countries are willing to export weapons to both sides of one of the world’s major geopolitical standoffs — even if a few leading exporters aren’t.
Jeremy Bender contributed to this report.
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