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Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pakistan's Army finally sees the enemy within as a greater security threat than India

 
At first sight it is nothing short of a paradigm shift.
According to a news report, the Pakistan Army now believes that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and a host of assorted militants within, are a bigger security threat than India.
This has been outlined in the new Pakistan Army doctrine which deals with operational preparedness. 

The shift in the Pakistani doctrine poses significant opportunities and risks for India
The shift in the Pakistani doctrine poses significant opportunities and risks for India

The doctrine is written up in a "Green Book" which is widely distributed within the Army and it has long considered India as its enemy number one.
But, the actual experience of the last couple of years seems to have convinced the higher echelons of the Pakistan Army that the times have changed and there is need to revise its strategy.
So, a new chapter has been added to the Green Book which now includes threats posed by what the Pakistan military calls "sub conventional warfare."
Actually, India is not really off the hook since the sub-conventional chapter is an addition and presumably the older India-centric posture remains unchanged in the book.
But the new addition does provide a certain balance.
In any case even the new doctrine blames "foreign proxies" (read India in Balochistan) for creating unrest in some parts of the country, although it does not name any country.
Between 2004 and 2009, the Pakistan Army launched several operations against insurgents in its Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Swat.
It was apparent at the time that the Army had found it doctrinally difficult to shift from its posture of confronting India to dealing with the threat that arose from tribal insurgents.
Its fighting style was characterised by conventional operations in which fighter aircraft, attack helicopters and artillery were extensively used.
After the last big offensive in South Waziristan in 2009, the Pakistan Army has been content to continue operations in a limited way, but has avoided any follow through attack on the militants who are now holed out in North Waziristan.
The Pakistan Army has baulked saying that it is already over-stretched in the tribal areas.

Anyway, they believe that it is the American presence in Afghanistan and their drone attacks that are driving the militancy, not any action of the Pakistani forces.
There are several factors that could be driving the change in the Pakistan Army's outlook.
First, is the reality of what is happening in the country. Far from being split and on the verge of defeat, the TTP insurgency remains active and deadly.
In December, it was responsible for the beheading of 21 Pakistani policemen, an attack on the Peshawar airport and the assassination of Bashir Ahmed Bilour, a minister in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
More important, its top leaders Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman appeared jointly in a video to show the world that far from being estranged, they remain close to each other.
The second factor is the relationship of what is happening in Pakistan with developments in Afghanistan.
In the same video, Hakimullah declared that the Pakistan Taliban were under their Afghan counterparts and would take orders from its emir, Mullah Omar, and that both the Talibans were with the Al Qaeda.
In other words, the withdrawal of the US from Afghanistan could see Pakistan confronted by a united Taliban, rather than be the strategic opportunity that many in the Pakistan military dream that it will be.
The third factor is the role of the United States.
Never have the relations between the US and Pakistan been worse than they are right now. As the western withdrawal gathers momentum, Pakistan's leverage over the US will decline further.
Alienating the world's sole super-power (as of now) is not a particularly smart thing to do, not because of its military consequences alone, but because of the ways that it can impact on Pakistan's efforts to stabilise its economy and move on the track of economic growth.
The fourth factor is the relationship with India.
By now some among the hawkish elements in Pakistan may be realising that India is not the existential threat to the Islamic Republic that it is made out to be.
A country that did not react militarily despite the provocation of the terrorist attack in Mumbai in 2008, is hardly the country that is itching to dismantle Pakistan.
Fifth, is the military assessment of the generals.
They cannot but be aware that despite tall talk of "Cold Start", the Indian armed forces, especially its army, is far from ready for a war.
It possesses no mobile artillery, its air defence systems are outdated and its endemic shortages are a virtually public affair.
Equally important is that in the last ten years Pakistan's nuclear weapons capability has grown and actually exceeded that of India.
There was a selfperceived gap in the area of tactical nuclear weapons to offset Indian conventional capabilities, and even that has now been closed.
Sixth, Pakistan continues to bask in the warmth of its relationship with China.
The growth of Chinese economic and military power relative to India provides an important cushion for Islamabad and offsets the perceived losses that arise from its declining relations with the West.
The shift in the Pakistani doctrine, howsoever small, poses significant opportunities and risks for India.
The growing awareness in Islamabad of the dangers from within provide New Delhi an occasion to build on the openings that are visible on the front of trade relations.
With an unsettled Afghanistan to the west, Pakistan realises that it needs peace in the east, and with peace can come the opportunity for stability and prosperity which are directly linked to the opening up of India.
But there are risks as well.
Principal among these are the unreconstructed hawks who probably see the whole thing in tactical terms and want to bide their time, create a pro-Pakistani regime in Afghanistan and return to "deal" with India.
This is linked to the continuing existence of proxies like the Lashkar-e-Tayyeba and the unrestrained expansion of the Pakistani nuclear arsenal.
Yet, being where we are, we have few choices; we must continue to move forward and deal with the circumstances as they present themselves, rather than wait for the arrival of some ideal situation.
Mail Today January 7, 2013

1 comment:

the publisher said...

Thanks for your grateful informations, am working in, asian affairs news magazine.
Try to post best informations like this always
Indo-Pak relations: If the mountain won't come to Manmohan singh