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Pakistani strategic thinking: Khalij ahmed

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    Pakistani strategic thinking: Khalij ahmed

    cut and paste from 'friday times'. article is on spot. reveals interesting info that indian navy blocked pak during kargil..
    ______________________________________
    What is our strategic thinking?



    Khaled Ahmed's



    It is at times difficult to say who is formulating Pakistan's strategy. Over the past ten years, the state has become so soft that strategic thinking seems to have become fragmented between the army, the leaders of jehad and the clergy. But roughly, it revolves around the threat of India, defence on the eastern border while securing the western border through political accommodation, and getting India to fulfill its pledges on Kashmir by using the leverage of international opinion. Another aspect of the strategy is maintenance of special relations with the Islamic world and creation of the possibility of moral and financial support of the Islamic world to its India policy.

    The 'threat of India' part of the strategy is ambivalent in the sense that it has evolved from a genuine fear of India as an early 'undoer' of Pakistan to become a strategy of changing the status quo against a much superior adversary. The cold war strengthened this strategy and Pakistan got enough quality arms to force India to think in terms of a bilateral military symmetry. The wars were fought to change the status quo and were started by Pakistan because India as a status quo power did not need to start them. The apogee of this policy was the Afghan war in which 'Pakistan defeated the Soviet Union'. After this victory, Pakistan took on India for the third time, through jehad. The question is who thought of the strategy of war in Kashmir? Was this task performed on internationally recognisable lines ?

    Who thinks of strategy in Pakistan?George K. Tanham, a veteran ex-diplomat and a preeminent American writer on strategy, wrote in his Pakistan's Strategic Thinking (Hicks & Associates Inc): 'Conducting research in Pakistan on security has many restrictions and is not easy. The active duty military are forbidden to talk to foreigners about security matters; this also applies to many civilian officials. Retired personnel also have restrictions as to what they can discuss though they appear to have much more freedom in such matters, and are always careful of classified materials...A few academics and journalists are knowledgeable...'. Why should the military be expected to know security matters and the academics be consulted as an after-thought? In the US, strategic thinking is done by civilian scholars in the think tanks. A look at RAND's history will tell you that 'official' strategy evolved from the work of the non-military scholars.

    As far as strategy is concerned, South Asia is still quite Byzantine. There is no White Paper on National Strategy. 'Someone' is supposed to know what the strategy is. Why should he say what it is? Wouldn't it be a violation of security to talk openly openly about it? The advantage of this is that when strategy goes wrong, no one becomes answerable for it. In 1965, we sent commandos into Kashmir thinking the Kashmiris would join us, but they did not. Our strategy definitely posited that India would not open a front across the international boundary. When it did, no one was supposed to be responsible for the failure of strategy. In fact, Pakistan covered up the issue by declaring the war a victory and celebrating 6th of September as Armed Forces Day.

    India's 'lateral' response to Kargil:In 1999, the same strategy was employed on Kargil. This time it was more credible. Pakistan had the bomb and India simply could not cross the international boundary without risking a nuclear war. India did not cross the terrestrial international boundary, but it did something else: it moved its navy into the ocean in such a way that it scared the Pakistani prime minister into capitulating. Who had thought up the strategy without thinking of the sea? The international boundary becomes uncertain in the sea and stops being a boundary beyond the territorial waters. That the navy was not even consulted on the Kargil Operation proves that no one had thought of it.

    Tanham writes of the Kargil Operation: 'Pakistan once again has not engaged in careful, well thought out strategic planning. There has been a tendency to think about a first step only, and then to proceed to action or reaction. Rarely have the Pakistanis considered what the enemy might do after their first step, and they have been caught by surprise several times. Pakistan seldom states clear objectives of what it wants to achieve, only very general ones, such as "to take Kashmir".' The truth of matter is that any well thought out strategy would take into account the long view, which doesn't go in favour of Pakistan. The writer of this article had heard that one 'objective' of the Kashmir jehad was to keep the Indian army engaged internally so that it doesn't put pressure on Pakistan on the Indo-Pak frontier, but was shocked to hear it from Pakistan's ex-foreign minister Sahabzada Yaqub Khan during a private dinner.

    The long view is negative for Pakistan:The long view is supplied from the other sectors: the ulema connected with jehad, the Urdu press, and the retired army officers. The leaders of jehad frequently bolster the Kashmir strategy by saying that the Indian army is breaking under pressure and will capitulate soon provided Pakistan did not succumb to international peace initiatives. The Urdu press reiterates the textbook view of India as an inherently inferior polytheist state unequally matched with the superior moral and physical might of the Muslims. The retired general explains how India is breaking up from within and would soon be many states instead of one, and that Pakistan has to keep it under pressure to assist the process of break-up. This goes to make up the minimally coherent strategy of Pakistan.

    The pillar of international support in national strategy is associated with Kashmir policy: that while deniable war goes on with the help of the militias, Pakistan would abstain from formal war and lean instead on the strategy of enlisting international support. This presupposes that India is on a morally weak ground because of its violation of human rights in Kashmir. But when Pakistan went abroad to enlist this 'international support' after 1990, it got very little of it. No one went into why the world did not come to the help of Pakistan even though it was offended with India. Had someone in the establishment done any cold-blooded analysis, he would have discovered that the reluctance related to Pakistan's internal developments. In 1999, the Kargil Operation was staged with the idea that the world will come to the help of Pakistan. If someone thought that Pakistan would get international support under duress because of its nuclear might, he was indulging in a dangerous low-IQ exercise.

    The fragmented strategy-making on Islam and India:The fragmented strategic thinking supplies the next bit. The ulema and the retired generals posit that since the West is Christian and since Christianity cannot be in favour of Pakistan, the West cannot be expected to assist Pakistan in its just struggle against India. They enhance this insight by further positing that the West, led by the US, is in collusion with India to inflict harm on the Islamic state of Pakistan. The US in particular wants to see Pakistan subordinated to the regional hegemony of India. In an even higher flight of strategic fancy, the clergy and the retired army generals, frantically supported by the intelligence agencies, will posit a tripartite alliance between the US, India and Israel, to harm Pakistan in particular and the world of Islam in general. An 'intelligence' general recently put the 'final' definition on strategy by telling a scared envoys' conference in Islamabad that 'not fighting with India would be tantamount to living as shudras in South Asia'.

    The army and the jehadi clergy seem therefore to think that a permanent state of war would suit Pakistan. Both are armed and have a vested interest in conflict. What might bother the army today is that it has also to run the country's economy and may be under the same 'heretical' pressure as the elected prime ministers were when they tried to 'cool down' the jehad. This dilemma has not taken the army in the right direction, but split it, the jehadis siding with the dissident Islamists in the army. Conflict suits the jehadis as an eternal choice. What would damage their cause is victory. A defeat would hurt the Pakistani people but will actually make the jehadi clergy paramount in Pakistan.

    Can isolationism be a strategy?If the strategy was to nurse good relations with the Islamic world, it has become seriously dented by contradictions with Iran and Central Asia, both located in close proximity. The rest of the Islamic world has lost most of its leverage in the strategy because of war and economic decline. Iran and Central Asia are offended because of the operation of another aspect of Pakistan's strategy: keeping Afghanistan under Islamabad's influence to avoid having a two-front situation. This has plunged Pakistan into deep international isolation and rendered the original strategy quite useless. Afghanistan which started as a paradigm of disorder in the region has passed some of its disorder on to Pakistan. The fragmented strategists of course interpret it as a positive development in the context of Islamic purity. The real strategy expert, Samina Ahmed from Islamabad's Institute of Regional Studies, expresses the following fears about what passes for strategy in Pakistan ( Asian Security Practice, Stanford University Press, 1998):

    'Pakistan's continuing to depend on military power, both conventional and nuclear, and ignore the geostrategic policy of its neighbourhood could bring serious repercussions, for Pakistan has a history of conflict with India and the balance of power obviously favours its much larger neighbour...The use of official propaganda, in both domestic and international forums, to create hostility towards India, for example, could make it extremely difficult to resort to diplomatic bargaining, even if such a course should become desirable for Pakistan's over-all security. It is becoming apparent that the new directions of state policy in Pakistan are in fact creating new categories of threat, both external and internal, while they fail to address the present security risks to the Pakistani citizenry and the state.'


    #2
    Unfortunately I think the article reflects, mostly, the situation on the ground. We have never had a strategy for the betterment of the masses and therefore the Nation. It has always been a reaction to India and its agressive stance, plus whatever brings short term gains for the ruler of the day.
    I also think the following is not far from the truth - remember the West did not come to Pakistan's aid during the Indian invasion of East Pakistan in 1971 - why we ever expected it to is beyond me.
    QUOTE
    "The ulema and the retired generals posit that since the West is Christian and since Christianity cannot be in favour of Pakistan, the West cannot be expected to assist Pakistan in its just struggle against India. They enhance this insight by further positing that the West, led by the US, is in collusion with India to inflict harm on the Islamic state of Pakistan. The US in particular wants to see Pakistan subordinated to the regional hegemony of India. In an even higher flight of strategic fancy, the clergy and the retired army generals, frantically supported by the intelligence agencies, will posit a tripartite alliance between the US, India and Israel, to harm Pakistan in particular and the world of Islam in general. "

    We need to put together a strategy to clean up our house first, while obviously keeping our eyes open on the international front.
    Enough for now.

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      #3
      cleaning up the house is last priority of pak rulers since they represent what is rotten in the system.

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