Friday, January 25, 2013

Military strategy of Pakistan

Recently, the foreign media including Pakistani newspapers like Dawn are celebrating the so called change in Pakistan's military doctrine. These news reports seem to indicate that the Pakistan Army sees the "internal threat" as a bigger threat than the external threat.  The perception is based on the contents of recent Green Book. But, the perception and the euphoria was punctured by the ISPR (Inter service public relations) and the Army providing correct interpretations to the strategy of army of Pakistan.  It would be instructive to understand the strategic direction of army of Pakistan in this context.

The Pakistan Army publishes and then disseminates a "Green Book" every year. The Green book holds particular strategic papers written by professional soldiers who give their own solutions on various subjects. This years Green Book has papers focusing on terror.


Pakistan has three security concerns - western border (Afghanistan border), eastern border (Indian border), and internal security. Pakistan sees an existential threat from India and there is no change in this perception.  This perception is independent of territorial and other disputes and conflicts between India and Pakistan. And the new doctrine is based on this perception. The doctrine highlights the concept of deterrence and defence very well. Pakistan faces sub-conventional, conventional and nuclear tiers facets of warfare. The Green book and the new army doctrine perceives that the threat from India is increasing in terms of army build-up. The Pakistan is also dealing with post 9/11 non-state actors.

By, 2014, the US-Nato forces will leave Afghanistan without defeating Taliban completely. After the withdrawal, the Afghan National Army that will be left on its own would probably collapse and Afghan Taliban would emerge as a dominant force. Since Pakistan has no inherent conflict with the Taliban or other Afghans, the Pakistan army could build friendly relations with the Afghan Taliban.  A negotiated peace in Afghanistan facilitated by ISI would be in the interest of Pakistan. After the withdrawal of US army and reduced focus on the war on terror, the focus of army of Pakistan on the Afghan border would reduce considerably.  Therefore, the western border can not be the strategic direction of Pakistan army in future.

Terrorism has wrecked Pakistan's internal fibre, economy, terrorised the society, resulted in thousands of deaths and untold tragedies. To deal with it, the state needs to pursue political, social and economic reforms. All elements of national power need to be harmonised to achieve synergetic effect against the terrorist malaise. An internal security force  must be established, trained and equipped.

India continues to arms feverishly and is providing teeth to its cold start strategy.  But the 'Cold Start' or attack within 72 hours of preparation cannot conquer Pakistan. Even the American view was that it could have mixed results. In fact, now the 'Cold Start' offensive can lead to catastrophic effect. Pakistan's defensive preparations, besides early mobilisation would be augmented by the possible use of tactical nuclear weapons Nasr against advancing Indian military forces. This, in turn, can lead to strategic nuclear exchange or an all-out nuclear war. A nuclear war will destroy the world in general, not just South Asia.

Cold start refers to the new Indian military strategy to mobilise and strike Pakistan with punitive impact within 48 hours of issuing the order. The strategy has been planned to avoid international pressure and reduce the chances of nuclear counter response from Pakistan to achieve security objectives.  It would involve limited, rapid armored thrusts, with infantry and necessary air support. Officially, India denies existence of any such plan.


So a nuclear war must be avoided (by India), which actually means that all wars between Pakistan and India need to be avoided. Peace, which means, lack of conflict, has to be ensured. Since Kashmir remains a flash point between India and Pakistan, and, it has to be resolved.  If Pakistan army is oriented towards the western border and embroiled in the internal front, New Delhi will not even talk about Kashmir, let alone the desire to resolve it on its terms.

Peace talks with India should focus on defence budget limits and military hardware inductions to ensure strategic balance. Need to improve the quality of life of their citizens, rather than an open-ended arms race, should be motivation for reducing the Indian defence budget.

In summary, after 2014, Pakistan Army will need to redeploy itself. The Pak Army will have to disengage from the western border, make peace on the internal front (Taliban, Baloch militants) and refocus on the eastern border.  This would add conventional deterrence to the 'Cold Start'. This conventional deterrence should be accompanied by a Pakistani statecraft backed by a lavishly nuclear armed, professional war fighting military machine called the Pakistan Army.


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