When Neville Maxwell published his historic treatise in 1970, the title (India's China War) intrigued the reader and critic alike. The book soon became a best seller on the news stand and was adopted as a text book by staff colleges around the world including India. Much to her chagrin, India's accusations of the book being controversial and biased failed to dent the credibility of Neville's account. Indeed, the book was widely praised across a diverse range of opinions, including British historian A. J. P. Taylor, US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger as well as the Chinese premier Chou Enlai. However, in India, Maxwell continued to be demonized as hostile to the Indian narrative and received fierce personal attacks. Over time much light has been shed on the border war of 1962 by Indian and other writers. Much research work is now available including first person accounts and memoirs of distinguished Indian writers, both civilian and military, to substantiate Neville's authenticity. On the eve of the 'golden jubilee of India's Himalayan Blunder', as an Indian writer termed it, Neville Maxwell visited India in late 2012. Armed with recent research and fresh evidence, he spoke to the Indian media and think tanks extensively.
But first to the genesis.
China and India share a long border comprising three stretches across the Himalayas, separated by Nepal, Sikkim (an independent kingdom, later annexed by India), and Bhutan. As a colonial legacy, a number of border disputes remain unresolved, from Kashmir in the west to Tibet and Assam in the north east, between India on the one end and China, Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh on the other. The India - China disputed border, the so-called Line of Actual Control, spans nearly across 3000 miles from Ladakh in the North West to Arunachal Pradesh in the North East. At its western end is the Aksai Chin region, an area the size of Switzerland situated between the Chinese autonomous region of Xinjiang and Tibet, which China declared as an autonomous region in 1965. The eastern border, between Burma (Myanmar) and Bhutan, comprises the present Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, formerly the North East Frontier Agency.
The Sino-Indian War, October 20 - November 21, 1962, is notable for the harsh conditions under which much of the fighting took place, with large-scale combat at altitudes of over 4,250 metres (14,000 feet). It was a limited war in the classic strategic tradition; limited in scope and scale, as also in the politico-military aim, space, time and force levels employed by the two adversaries. It was confined to a remote region with strategic depth remaining unaffected on either side. It was marked for non-deployment of the navy or air force by the rival sides. But what it is most striking for is the sharp decline in relations between two brotherly countries, so declared by their leaders, descending into a full-scale border war in so short a time. Was it a clash of huge egos involved or a case of faulty perceptions that snow-balled into a border war? To fathom the real motives behind the sharp decline in relations, it may be instructive to analyze the events leading to the genesis of the dispute.
In his inaugural address to an independent India's parliament at midnight on August 14, 1947, India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, had laid out a road-map of India's foreign policy parameters. Calling it India's 'tryst with destiny', the Indian leader had stressed India's commitment to peace as the underlying theme in her relations with the world in general and with her neighbours in particular. He warned, “… freedom brings responsibilities and burdens and we have to face them in the spirit of a free and disciplined people.”
In April 1954, India set forth the famous 'Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence', or Panch Shila, with China. Under the historic Sino-Indian Treaty on relations between India and the Tibet Region of China, India gave up her rights in Tibet, pledging non-interference without seeking a quid pro quo. To avoid antagonizing China, Nehru went as far as to assure the Chinese leaders that India had neither political nor territorial ambitions, nor did it seek special privileges in Tibet. Greeting his honoured guest Prime Minister Chou Enlai of China to Delhi, Nehru declared”Hindi Chini Bhai Bhai” (Indian - Chinese Brothers). Earlier in May 1951, Tibetan delegates had signed an agreement recognizing Chinese sovereignty and guaranteeing that the existing political and social system of Tibet would continue.
Later, in April 1955, India played the lead role in calling the Bandung Conference in Indonesia and laying the foundation of Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). Addressing representatives from twenty nine Afro-Asian countries, Nehru pledged India's commitment to world peace and non-participation in the Cold War. Decrying both power blocs, he declared: “So far as I am concerned, it does not matter what war takes place; we will not take part in it unless we have to defend ourselves. If I join any of these big groups I lose my identity… It is with military force that we are dealing now, but I submit that moral force counts and the moral force of Asia and Africa (emphasis added) must, in spite of the atomic and hydrogen bombs of Russia, the U.S.A. or another country, count.”
The core principles of the Bandung Conference were political self-determination, mutual respect for sovereignty, non-aggression, non-interference in internal affairs, and equality. For several years, Indian leaders – mainly defence minister V.K. Krishna Menon – sang the swan song of morality in world politics in all international and regional forums - ad nauseam. India's sermonizing was not taken well in the West: the US leadership, especially, was unamused. At Bandung too, the US diplomats had taken up cudgels openly with Indian delegates. The US delegate representative, Adam Clayton Powell, elaborated at length the American foreign policy which assisted the United States' standing with the Non-Aligned bloc. John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State (1953-1959), was in perpetual conflict with those non-aligned statesmen he found excessively favourable towards Communism, including India's Nehru and Krishna Menon. In one of his hard-hitting speeches on June 9, 1956, Dulles likened neutrality to the “worst form of prostitution”. He argued, "Neutrality has increasingly become obsolete and, except under very exceptional circumstances, it is an immoral and shortsighted conception."
Within months of the Bandung Conference – and as if to rebuke Dulles and the US – India invited top Soviet leaders, Prime Minister Bulganin and General Secretary Khrushchev, in late 1955, to a spectacular 14-day red-carpet visit to India and the disputed Kashmir. To the US media, the high-profile visit more than confirmed US apprehensions of India's hubris. Displaying rank opportunism, however, Nehru soon afterwards rushed to the US in1956 to offset the impression of a tilt towards the Soviet bloc. Lavishing praise for the US leadership of the 'free world', Nehru said, “To the people of India, I should like to say that the friendship of America is a treasure which we value and I am sure if these two countries cooperate, it would add to the peace of the world and will lead to our mutual advantage.”
In reality, India's preaching of world peace and non-violence was only a rhetoric to smoke-screen her increasing hegemonic designs in her neighbourhood. Earlier, she had air-lifted her military forces to forcibly occupy the disputed Kashmir while simultaneously pledging the right of self-determination to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. In a broadcast to the nation on November 3, 1947, Nehru had brazen-facedly stated, “We have declared that the fate of Kashmir is ultimately to be decided by the people. That pledge we have given not only to the people of Kashmir but to the world. We will not and cannot back out of it.” Later, India forcibly annexed the states of Hyderabad, Junagarh, Manavadar and Sikkim under the guise of police action or merger in naked violation of international law and complete disregard of the Will of the people of these states.
With China too, India did not take long to bare her claws. In characteristic Machiavellianism, she launched a clandestine 'soft' operation to instigate the Tibetans to revolt. Within two years of signing the Sino-Indian Treaty on Tibet, she surreptitiously 'invited' the young Dalai Lama to visit India in 1956 under the guise of participating in the 2500th anniversary celebrations commemorating the Enlightenment of the Buddha. To utter surprise of China, he subsequently 'sought' asylum in India. Chou Enlai visited India later that year and sought Nehru's personal intervention to persuade the Dalai Lama to return to Lhasa on the assurance of implementation of the 17-Point Agreement by China in good faith. Nehru promised to intercede; but did precisely the opposite. The failed uprising in Tibet was employed by Nehru as the game-changer. Worse was to follow…
(To be Continued…)
Change is the essence of global politics. The challenge for a state is to recognize the changing trends and make necessary adjustments in its approach to other countries and the global system. The broad goals of a state may remain unaltered, the strategies have to be updated to effectively address the new challenges and make use of opportunities.
The global system has experienced rapid changes since 1990-91. The Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States formally ended (1990) and the Union disintegrated (1991). This article provides an overview of the current global order and how it changed over time. This is followed by a brief discussion of the challenges faced by Pakistan in the transformed world order.
Current Global Order
The current global order can be described as Uni-Multipolar. The United States is the strongest military power and its options in world affairs have increased. However, it is no longer possible for the U.S. to pursue its global or regional agendas all by itself. Other important players have emerged on the political scene in the second decade of the 21st Century. These are the European Union and China. Japan is an economic power and Russia is endeavouring to cultivate an autonomous role at the global level. Some states have gained economic, political and security-related prominence with reference to specific regions, i.e. India, Pakistan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria and a few others.
This means that despite the military superiority of the U.S., a host of other powers are relevant to global politics. When we look beyond the U.S., the global order is multipolar. The U.S. has to negotiate with the European Union, China and Russia to build support for its policies at the global level or at least neutralize their opposition. When some region-specific issues are taken up, the U.S. has to build support or neutralize opposition from the major regional states. Without negotiations and coalition building with these players, especially the European Union, China and Russia, it is problematic for the U.S. to pursue its global agenda.
The constraints on the U.S. clout in the international system in the second decade of the 21st Century reflects the changes that have taken place since 1991-92. The U.S. was the sole superpower in the 1990s in the absence of any countervailing global power. The Soviet dominated Eastern Europe had collapsed in 1989-91 and the U.S. was able to use its military power to expel Iraq's troops from Kuwait (January-February 1991). This was followed by the dissolution of the Soviet Union by the end of 1991. The U.S. was the sole superpower with overwhelming military, economic and diplomatic clout.
However, the U.S. could not sustain its overwhelming clout in the second decade of the 21st Century for the reasons to be discussed in the next section. Other players in the international system gained enough economic and political power to question the U.S. unilateral approach towards global and regional issues.
For any major military action at the global level, the U.S. or the western countries have to create a broadly-based coalition of support among the major players and the key states in the region concerned. Diplomacy and positive interaction at the international level has gained greater importance. If a country like the U.S. has to build issue-oriented partnerships, the role of diplomacy and positive interaction at the global level becomes extremely important for other countries like Pakistan that need to cope with international pressures caused by the agendas of more powerful states.
The World Order today cannot be managed from one point. It has become more unmanageable because more players are involved in managing the global affairs. The U.S. alone cannot dictate term or charter its course of action at the global level. The support of the powerful regional states has become important for managing intra-state or inter-state conflicts.
Other Features of World Order in the Second Decade of 21st Century
There are no permanent ideological partnerships or conflicts at the global level. There are no permanent dividing political or ideological lines that existed during the days of the Cold War between the Soviet/Communist bloc and the capitalist West led by the U.S. Now, the states work with each other on the basis of shared political and security agendas or with reference to specific issues. When political and security agenda or context changes or new issues arise the states seek cooperation afresh. It is a common experience to see two states cooperating with each other on some regional and global issues but these may diverge when a new issue arises. Therefore, positive and negative interaction can go on between two states concurrently or their relationship can change over time.
The relationship between the U.S. and China reflects positive and negative trends simultaneously. The trade between the two countries has expanded over the years and China has done investment in the U.S. Similarly, U.S. multinational corporations have made investment in China. The U.S. views China as an important market and Chinese products are easily available in the U.S. When these states disagree on some global and regional issue their bilateral economic and political relations are not disrupted.
China and India have frozen their border dispute for the time being and their bilateral trade has expanded manifold during the last ten years. The U.S. and Russian relations manifest positive and negative trends more or less concurrently. They diverge on a number of global and regional issues but this does not interrupt their bilateral political relations. What keeps these relations away from a total breakdown is the ideological thaw and a continuous diplomatic interaction among these states on their differences.
Current international political order is greatly influenced by globalization which emphasizes movement of people, goods, services and ideas across the
territorial boundaries of states. The dramatic changes in the fields of Communication, Media and Information Technology have multiplied opportunities of international interaction that has increased interdependence among states. Different states and societies can influence and penetrate each other more than ever because of information avalanche and the movement of people or their ideas across the world.
A state can acquire importance in the international system if it has stable socio-political conditions and potential for trade and investment. Do other countries view it as an attractive market for their goods? What matters most is what can be described as economic and trade relevance of a country either as a venue for investment and trade or a transit route for goods to other neighbouring states.
Regional cooperation for trade, investment and exchange of services has become an important feature of the global order for the last two decades. There is a lot more encouragement to trade and investment within a region which tends to benefit all states in the regional economic cooperative arrangements. The needs of economic and trade cooperation often impel the states to defuse their political disputes.
Transnational terrorist activity has impacted global politics than anything else since the terrorist attacks in the U.S. in September 2001. This posed a different type of security threat to the U.S. and the rest of the world, especially the West. In this case the adversary could not be easily located because of its transnational non-state character. The conventional military power could not be effectively used to tackle such groups because these were dispersed in more than one country.
Transnational terrorism produced two major responses: First, the United Nations passed resolutions in the Security Council and the General Assembly demanding cooperation from the member states to control terrorist groups’ activity. Second, the U.S was able to build a global coalition that included western as well as a large number of non-western states for countering transnational terrorism. Since the U.S. military action in Afghanistan in October-November 2001, terrorism has continued to stay as one of the principal agenda at the global level. Despite the efforts by states, individually and collectively, violence and terrorism continue to haunt the international system. Pakistan's decision to join the global coalition to fight terrorism angered the Taliban and other militant groups based in Afghanistan and Pakistan which began to resort to violence against Pakistan to deter it from countering terrorists' groups with international cooperation. This adversely affected Pakistan's internal peace, stability and economic development.
Radical Islamic movements are the major players in transnational terrorist activity that rely on traditional Islamic scripture to justify their violent activity–a claim disputed by a large number of Islamic scholars and societal leaders in the Muslim states. These groups project their violent activity as an ideological struggle with two dimensions. This is described as a struggle to fight the Western states and their culture that are undermining Islam and Muslim societies. The West in general, and the U.S. in particular, are viewed as the enemies of Islam and the Muslims. The other dimension of this struggle focuses on Muslim societies. These radical Islamic movements contest other Islamic groups for asserting their claim that they represent genuine and puritanical Islam. These groups also endeavour to transform Muslim society into a genuinely Islamic Sharia-based system as articulated by them. Therefore, Islamic militancy has adversely affected not only the relations between Muslim states and the West but it has also caused internal disruption in many Muslim states. This clash has reduced the capacity of the affected Muslim states to cope with the pressures of the changed international order.
There are no permanent political and ideological alignments at the global level and the success of a state in pursuing its agenda at the international level depends on its ability to make itself positively relevant to other states. It needs to mobilize support for itself at the international level and cultivate partnerships. A state can achieve these goals if it has internal socio-political coherence and stable economy that links it to the international community through trade and economic interaction.
Isolation from the international system is not an option for the states like Pakistan that face internal and external security challenges. The more a country is isolated the less are its chances to function effectively in the present day global order and protect its national interests. Engagement is the key to expanding a country's options at the global level. However, the capacity for engagement depends on a country's internal socio-political stability and economic resilience.
Major Reasons for the Changes in the Global Order
The end of the Second World War in 1945 set the stage for major transformation in international politics. The Western allies gave attention to post-war reconstruction and rehabilitation of Europe, Japan and East Asia. European colonialism began to decline with the beginning of the decolonization process as India and Pakistan became independent of British rule in August 1947.
The most significant development was the gradual rise of political competition between the Western states led by the U.S. and the Soviet Union for building influence and control primarily in the war-ravaged Europe. This competition which had strong ideological (Communism versus Western Capitalism and Liberal Democracy) and military character turned out to be the major feature of global politics until 1990, described as the Cold War. It was not merely confined to the Europe which was practically divided into Western and Soviet blocs but the U.S. and the Soviet Union competed for influence in other continents for building partnerships with the states, especially those getting independence in the post-World War period, or dissuading these states from joining the rival political camp.
There were changes in the methods and strategies of competition between the Soviet Union and the U.S. from a tough and interventionist approaches to subtle methods for pursuing their respective ideological Cold War agendas. Some softening of attitude and détente reduced competition but the Cold War worldview continued to dominate the world order. The two super powers, the U.S., and the Soviet Union, often judged the policies of other states or built partnership from the perspective of their respective interests in the Cold War competition. Those not siding with the either side were often viewed with distrust by both sides. The pressure of the competition between the two superpowers on other states decreased when the former pursued rapprochement and limited accommodation in their mutual interaction, although not abandoning their competition at the bilateral, regional and global levels.
The Cold War world order began to unravel when the Eastern European states revolted against the Soviet dominated political arrangements in 1989-91. The reunification of Germany on October 3, 1990 and the Soviet decision to accept it quietly was a major western success. This was accompanied by political uprising against Soviet control in most other Eastern European states for the reasons that are beyond the scope of this article.
On November 19, 1990, leaders of 22 members of the NATO and the WARSAW Pact met in Paris to sign an agreement to reduce non-nuclear arsenal, declaring that “they are no longer adversaries, [and] will build new partnerships and extend to each other the hand of friendship.” (International Herald Tribune, November 20, 1990). These leaders were joined later by 12 other countries for a summit for peace amity, free elections and free economy. This is often described as the formal end of the Cold War. The WARSAW Pact was abandoned in February 1991.
The U.S was able to create a broadly-based coalition for military action to push out Saddam Hussein (Iraqi) troops from Kuwait (January-February 1991). On December 26, 1991, the Soviet Union was dissolved and the Russian Federation replaced it. Its republics in Central Asia and elsewhere on Soviet periphery formally became independent. Some of these states had already announced independence from the Soviet Union.
This was the period of Western/U.S. triumph and the U.S. President talked of the New World Order that emphasized western democratic values and free economy. The intellectuals in the U.S. began to talk of the “End of History” and the ultimate triumph of participatory democracy and liberal (capitalist) economy.
The U.S. launched air attack on Afghanistan with the endorsement of the United Nations in October-November 2001 in retaliation to the Taliban policy of protecting the Al-Qaeda that claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in the U.S. on September 11, 2001. It installed a pro-U.S. government led by Hamid Karzai in Kabul in December 2001. Instead of giving full attention to Afghanistan's economic reconstruction and rehabilitation to ensure a better and safer future for the people of Afghanistan, the U.S. decided in March 2003 to launch a military operation to dislodge the Saddam Hussein government in Iraq. There was no endorsement of the United Nations for the military operation in Iraq. The U.S. advanced the doctrines of “unilateral action” and “Preemption” to check the threats to its national interests all over the world.
Afghanistan and Iraq showed the outreach of American military power. Its power was at the peak in the global system in 2001-2003. However, the post-invasion issues in these countries and a host of other issues set the stage for sliding down of the U.S. from the top of the global power ladder.
The rise of transnational terrorism that primarily targeted the U.S. interests created a new set of challenges for the Western countries in general and the U.S. in particular. A number of non-Western and Muslim countries also experienced terrorism. This led the U.S. in the post-2004 period to seek greater international cooperation to fight terrorism. As the initial military successes in Afghanistan and Iraq were compromised with the revival of terrorist activities in these countries and elsewhere, the U.S. was obliged to seek the cooperation of other states to cope with the terrorist challenge. In spite of being the sole super power, it had to recognize the limits of its power.
This was the beginning of a more active role by other major powers at the global level. This compelled the U.S. to build global and regional partnerships rather than going all alone.
This was a decline of the U.S. pre-eminence it enjoyed in the 1990s but it continues to enjoy a commanding role because no other power has replaced it or directly challenged its pre-eminence. However, it has to work with other states, increasing the importance of diplomacy and engagement at the global and regional levels.
Options for Pakistan
Pakistan faces a difficult global and regional situation. Internally, the state and society are threatened by religious extremism and terrorism. A number of militant groups openly challenge the writ of the state. The spillover of the internal strife in Afghanistan has created serious security problems for Pakistan. The traditional distrust and unresolved problems continue to haunt India-Pakistan relations. However, Pakistan's internal security problems and troubled economy constitute a bigger threat because these undermine societal cohesion and political stability as well as adversely affect Pakistan's capacity to cope with external challenges.
The role and position of a state at the regional and international level is greatly shaped by two factors in the present day global system. First, internal political stability and cohesion and economic resilience increase the capacity of a state to counter external pressures and increase its options. Second, how relevant is a state for global economic interaction. This includes its trade relations, accessibility of its market to other countries and foreign investment. Strong economic linkages defuse bilateral tensions and strengthen a state's role at the global level. International trade and investment are possible if the state has political stability and a secure investment environment as well as the availability of infra-structure facilities, especially energy, and rationalized bureaucratic procedures. Foreign investors also monitor the quantum of local investment to judge the security and safety for foreign investments and investors.
Pakistan must assign the highest priority to increase its economic and trade relevance for the international community. This objective cannot be achieved without working earnestly for creation of a stable and secure domestic environment by controlling internal violence and terrorism and putting its economic house in order by reviving its industrial and business sectors. This will draw more foreign investment and which will in turn boost its economy.
Greater attention needs to be given to strengthening economic and trade relations in the region. Pakistan’s improving trade and economic relations with India and other neighbouring states should be seen in this context. Pakistan can learn from China's India policy. Despite territorial disputes and political differences China has developed strong economic and trade relations with India. China has also developed trade and human interaction with Taiwan, although it views it as a breakaway province that needs to be brought back into China.
A large number of Pakistani political elite and political activists continue to view global politics in the Cold War context of power blocs and permanent enmity or enduring friendships. That is why some people in Pakistan periodically talk of creating an anti-U.S. bloc by Pakistan, China and Russia. The era of permanent ideological divides and everlasting partnerships has come to an end. It is futile to view a country as a permanent friend or permanent adversary. The relationships are need-oriented and functional. Pakistan need to build relationships with all major powers on “need basis” rather than expecting other countries to adopt Pakistan's global and regional agenda as a pre-condition for good relations.
Mutually advantageous relationship can be cultivated through astute and active diplomacy. Identify commonalities and reduce differences with other countries. The positive experience of mutual interaction over the years expands the areas of commonalities and reduces disagreements. In one dominant 'Foreign Policy Perspective', any foreign country developing active relations with India is looked at with suspicion and doubt. Pakistan's foreign policy needs to reduce any country specific obsession and develop relations with other states on mutually beneficial considerations.
Domestic and international politics should not be viewed as a function of religion. There are no purely religious wars or purely religion based friendship in the present-day world. Pakistan may emphasize common religion and culture with Muslim states, especially those from the Middle East. However, this cannot be a basis of enduring relationship unless other and practical considerations are developed in terms of political, security, economic and trade interests. Bilateral relations can be strengthened by transfer of technology, exchange of qualified human power and promotion of non-official societal linkages.
The projection of global politics in terms of Islam and the Muslims versus the West led by the U.S., or viewing it as a “clash of civilizations” distorts the realities of international politics. It is an erroneous perception that there is an intrinsic hostility between Islamic Pakistan and the non-Muslim world, and that some powerful states like the U.S. and other western states are out to destabilize or destroy Pakistan.
Such a perception may fulfil the ideological agenda of some Pakistani political groups that continue to pursue ideological conflict in domestic politics and foreign policy at a time when ideology has lost salience in world politics.
The attitude of hostility towards the states diverging from your worldview strengthens ultra-nationalism in the domestic context and results in isolationism at the global level. Isolationism is not an option for Pakistan. It needs to cultivate friendly interaction with as many countries as possible if it wants to cope with internal and external challenges. It must also pursue active diplomacy in international and regional organizations and global conferences. Such an activism provides a good opportunity to remove misperceptions about Pakistan and secure goodwill for itself. For example, participation of Pakistan military in the UN Peacekeeping Operations helps to build the reputation of the Pakistani military at the international level and it brings credit to Pakistan.
Positive engagement with the international community is a continuous process. This needs to be renewed regularly through active official and non-official diplomacy in political, economic and trade, socio-cultural and security domains.
The dastardly attack by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on Army Public School (APS) in Peshawar represents in essence an act of war against the state of Pakistan. With civilians the deliberate target of the brazen attack, the mass murder of 135 school children by a militant non-state actor unprivileged to use force under various provisions of Pakistani law undoubtedly also amounts to violations of both international humanitarian law and domestic law of conflict of Pakistan as well as the common law of war inherited by it upon its inception in 1947. In response to the ghastly attack, the government has constituted military courts as part of its National Action Plan (NAP) to try ‘jet black’ terror suspects waging war against the state and has amended the Constitution and the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 to enable them to function. These courts are a necessary and proportionate measure in the current circumstances, and represent a naturally suitable forum for trying violations of domestic law of war akin to war crimes under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. For continued domestic and international legitimacy, it is however imperative that they operate under internationally recognized due process, principles and procedures elaborately laid down in the Pakistan Army Act, 1952 and the Pakistan Army Rules, 1954.
Since militant non-state actors like the TTP and its affiliates have avowedly and repeatedly renounced their loyalty from the state and its constitution, Pakistan needs to fight back against them to preserve its own constitution. It also needs to fight back to fulfil its international legal obligations under various United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCR) including 1267 and 1373 by ensuring that its territory is not used by these non-state actors against any other state, and to demonstrate to the international community that it is both ‘able’ and ‘willing’ to counter these threats on its own. This article posits that a de facto and de jure state of conflict between the Pakistani state and militant non-state actors including Al-Qaeda and the TTP and their affiliates effectively exists under domestic law, and that the appropriate legal framework for assessing prevailing circumstances is Pakistan’s domestic law of conflict and the common law of war. To this end, it identifies Pakistan’s domestic law of conflict as separate and distinct from the law of peace applicable in ordinary times of peace. Moreover, it suggests an objective jurisdictional and admissibility criteria for bringing cases before the military courts that maintains the right balance between fundamental rights and Pakistan’s international commitments to counter terrorism.
Pakistan is in a Conflict State against Militant Non-state Actors Although there has not yet been a formal declaration of conflict through invocation of emergency provisions of the Constitution, such declaration is not necessary to constitute a state of conflict under the common law of war of England inherited by Pakistan in 1947 whereby it is based either on the subjective factor or intent of the parties to the conflict or upon an objective factor of the scope and extent of the hostilities1. Moreover, an executive determination or statement on the question whether a state of conflict has come into being is conclusive for common law courts of Pakistan that such a state has indeed come about2. In this regard, the subject-specific invocation of Article 245 of the Constitution pursuant to which the current military operations are being conducted in and of itself signals the commencement of a conflict between the state and militant non-state actors with express intent to wage war against it. Further subjective and objective evidence that a state of conflict has been constituted in Pakistan can be inferred from the following:
• Numerous statements from the TTP and its affiliates clearly expressing their intent to wage war against the state. In January 2014, for example, the TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid wrote a letter to the media stating: “TTP wants to give clear-cut message to the people of Pakistan that our war against the government is for implementation of Sharia'h….” While claiming responsibility for the blood-curdling attack on the APS, the TTP issued a statement saying: “We [TTP] targeted the school because we want them [the Armed Forces] to feel pain. It’s a revenge attack….”
• Scores of statements from highest level executive officials in the wake of the APS attack which are not merely rhetorical but actual representations of executive determinations that a conflict state has been constituted in Pakistan. On December 31, 2014, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif stated on the floor of the Senate: “Pakistan is in a state of war. If we fail to take extraordinary measures, we may not be able to stop the brutalities in time to come.” Speaking in the United Kingdom on January 16, 2015, Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif said: “Pakistan will soon surmount all problems including terrorism, despite multiple challenges. Pakistan is in a state of war. The military courts have been set up in accordance with the wishes of the people of Pakistan.” At a press conference on January 18, 2015, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said: “Pakistan is facing a tough time and is still in a state of war even after sacrificing the most in the war against terrorism. Pakistan is still passing through difficult times and is in war state.”
• Several executive notifications and S.R.Os issued under the United Nations (Security Council) Act, 1948 proscribing militant non-state actors pursuant to UNSCR 1267 and 1373.
• Proscription notifications issued under the Private Military Organizations (Abolition and Prohibition) Act, 1973. Along with the foregoing evidence of conflict, the sustained and organized violence by militants against the state and its functionaries and citizens that has claimed the lives of over 50,000 civilians and 5,000 military and other state personnel conclusively raises an irrefutable legal presumption that a conflict state exists between the state and militant non-state actors including Al-Qaeda and the TTP and their affiliates. In the last few months alone, in addition to the APS attack, the TTP or its affiliated groups have claimed responsibility for a series of brutal incidents including Wagah Border attack in Lahore martyring 90 people, Karachi Airport attack martyring 43 people, Islamabad District Court attack martyring 27 people, Shikarpur attack martyring 60 people, and Lahore Police Lines attack martyring 10 people. Clearly, this systematic campaign of mass murder by the TTP and its affiliates constitutes war crimes against humanity under the common law of war as well as Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
Domestic Law of Conflict of Pakistan and Common Law of War Significantly, there exists a body of domestic law of conflict and common law of war to regulate the prevailing conflict state in the country. Pakistan’s domestic law of conflict and use of force is encompassed across various constitutional provisions, statutes and regulations, which are triggered in conflict situations along with the principles and precedents of common law of war derived from centuries of common law of England that Pakistan inherited upon its creation in 1947.
At present, the following constitutional provisions, statutes, rules and regulations collectively constitute the fundamental domestic law of conflict and use of force of Pakistan:
• 21st Constitutional Amendment and Constitutional Provisions relating to Armed Forces and state security: Articles 8 (3), 10 (3)(4)(5)(6)(7)(8)(9), 237, 245 & 256;
• Provisions of the Pakistan Penal Code, 1860: Sections 121 – 140;
• Provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1898: Sections 129 – 132;
• Provisions of the Civil Procedure Code, 1908: Section 83;
• Provisions of the Anti-Terrorism Act, 1997: Sections 4 & 5;
• Protection of Pakistan Act, 2014;
• Investigation for Fair Trial Act, 2013;
• Action in Aid of Civil Power Regulations, 2011;
• The Pakistan Army Act, 1952;
• The Pakistan Army Rules, 1954;
• The Pakistan Air Force Act, 1953;
• The Pakistan Navy Ordinance, 1961;
• Frontier Corps Ordinance, 1959;
• Pakistan Rangers Ordinance, 1959;
• North-West Frontier Constabulary Act, 1915;
• The Police Act, 1861;
• The Police Order, 2002;
• The Security of Pakistan Act, 1952;
• The Prevention of Anti-National Activities Act, 1974;
• The Private Military Organizations (Abolition and Prohibition) Act, 1973;
• The War Injuries Ordinance, 1941;
• The War Injuries (Compensation Insurance) Act, 1943;
• The War Risks Insurance Continuance Ordinance, 1969;
• The War Risks Insurance Ordinance, 1971.
There is, at present, an urgent need to draw a conceptual and legal distinction between the foregoing domestic law of conflict of Pakistan and the ordinary law of peace of Pakistan. The former is applicable upon those militant non-state actors waging war against the state by attempting to over-awe it by targeting the infrastructure and personnel of its armed forces and its public officials and citizens, while the latter is apposite to deal with ordinary terrorists and criminals. Crucially, in order to more effectively and robustly handle threats posed by militant non-state actors, Pakistan’s policymakers and its judiciary must realize that the sheer size and scale of militant insurgency, deployment of resources, duration and intensity of the conflict and the means and methods of these militants distinguish them from an ordinary criminal or terrorist of peace time. Such distinctions have been legally drawn by other countries facing similar threats. For example, the United States in the aftermath of 9/11 through landmark judgments of its superior judiciary in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004), Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006) and al Bahlul v. United States (2014).
Militant non-state actors including Al-Qaeda and the TTP and their affiliates have unequivocally expressed their intent to assert and establish unlawful control over the territories of Pakistan through private armies and private military organizations. Driven by a murderous ideology, they take direct instructions from elements hostile to Pakistan and obey them, and have established channels to launder funds to procure arms. Through their express intent and overt acts, these militants have withdrawn their loyalty to the state in contravention of Article 5 of the Constitution. The constitutional contract that exists between a loyal citizen and his or her state has thus been breached by them. As a consequence, they can be classified under the definition of an enemy of the state not entitled or privileged to the constitutional guarantees accorded to someone who commits an offense but has otherwise not forsaken his or her loyalty to the state and its constitution. Pakistan’s state authorities and its judiciary must urgently make this differentiation. Pakistan is clearly in the throes of a conflict being ravaged in every nook and corner of the country. The object of this conflict is to overthrow the government and seize the apparatus of the state through brute force and bloodshed by inflicting maximum harm to the life, liberty and property of the citizens and by endangering the security and integrity of the nation and its institutions. Quite obviously, this is not an ordinary criminal enterprise by any standard but an open conflict that needs to be addressed as such under the paradigm of the domestic law of conflict of Pakistan and the common law of war.
The Way Forward with Military Courts There is no prohibition under international law to establish military courts to prosecute specialized offences against the state such as waging war. While permitting military tribunals, the Human Rights Committee in its General Comment 32 on Article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that “trials of civilians by military or special courts should be exceptional, i.e. limited to cases where the state party can show that resorting to such trials is necessary and justified by objective and serious reasons, and where with regard to the specific class of individuals and offences at issue the regular civilian courts are unable to undertake the trials.” As a responsible member of the international community, Pakistan has an obligation to counter terrorism under binding UNSCRs including 1267 and 1373. This, crucially, creates an obligation on the entire state including its federal and provincial governments and on all its arms including the judiciary, Armed Forces, Police etc. Therefore, an acquittal by Anti-Terrorism Court on whatsoever grounds is viewed internationally as inability on the part of the state to fulfil its international obligations. If on account of poor prosecution or defective investigation, non-state terrorist suspects are acquitted or their trials are inordinately delayed, it has a cumulative effect on the state’s international commitments. Military courts, politically, have been set up within this larger context to enable the state to fulfil the obligations it owes to the global community. However, they do not offer a permanent solution and their establishment to meet the exigencies of the current situation of conflict should in fact be a catalyst for much needed reform of the state’s criminal justice system within the next 2 years. Perhaps most importantly, only very selective cases should be referred to these courts.
In this regard, an objective jurisdictional and admissibility criteria for referring cases to the military courts must be formulated by the federal government and forwarded to the provincial apex committees. It is suggested that a suspect may be tried by these courts if he or she:
• Belongs to the TTP or any of its affiliates; or
• Belongs to Al-Qaeda or any of its affiliates; or
• Belongs to internationally proscribed terrorist organization under UNSCR 1267; or
• Belongs to a prohibited private army under Private Military Organizations (Abolition and Prohibition) Act, 1973; or
• Falls within the definition of ‘enemy’ under Pakistan Army Act, 1952; and
• Is involved in an act akin to war crime under Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court; or
• Owns or claims responsibility for a terrorist strike on religious basis; or
• Declares war against the state on religious basis; or
• Is apprehended during active combat; or
• Is charged with the offense of waging war under Section 120 Pakistan Penal Code, 1860.
The Pakistan Army Act, 1952 and the Pakistan Army Rules, 1954 contain extensive due process and fair trial provisions such as Section 122 Pakistan Army Act, 1952 whereby rules of evidence in proceedings before the military courts shall be the same as those in civilian criminal courts. Nevertheless, by way of caution, the government must undertake a due diligence review of these provisions to ensure that they conform to international standards for military courts or tribunals. It also retains the option and the flexibility to institute administrative oversight mechanism for the military courts to enhance their domestic and international legitimacy.
The constitutional amendment establishing the military courts has been challenged before the Supreme Court of Pakistan for violating the basic structure of the Constitution by unduly restricting individual fundamental rights. The exact contours of the basic structure doctrine remain nebulous in our constitutional scheme. Although the Court has in the past acknowledged its existence, it has never given the force of application to the basic structure doctrine, which is highly anti-democratic in nature and in its application will certainly contravene Article 239 (5) of the Constitution whereby “no amendment of the Constitution shall be called in question in any court on any ground whatsoever.” The military courts have been set up in the legally permissible zone of Article 245 and should be viewed as a necessary and proportionate measure under the law of conflict paradigm. Given the exigencies of conflict situation and its operational imperatives, the Constitution expressly pauses or freezes implementation of enforcement of fundamental rights during notification under Article 245 when laws like those establishing military courts post APS attack can be validly enacted and enforced.
Even as the internal security threat to Pakistan increases, the country continues to debate whether the threat is to be countered through dialoguing with the adversary or fighting him. Leaving aside the fact that a complex conflict situation cannot be reduced to binaries, there are two broad reasons for this. One, despite hundreds of military operations, big and small, in the Federally-Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), the state has not been able to blunt the asymmetric advantage of the groups fighting it. Two, there is still no consensus on who the enemy is, what are his objectives and why is he perpetrating and perpetuating violence.
The state's inability to degrade the enemy's capacity means that while military operations have dominated physical space in FATA, with the exception of North Waziristan, they have mostly failed to stop urban terrorism. People have seen bodies piling up over the years and that has had a psychological impact. Despite many successes and a heavy price paid by the state, the enemy's asymmetric advantage has yet to be blunted. He remains entrenched and continues to strengthen himself by using a combination of ideology and coercion.
This instills fear and uncertainty among the people. The terrorist/insurgent reverses, for his success, Sun Tzu's dictum that a war should not be protracted. His success depends on prolonging the conflict. For the state, success lies in the exact opposite, in winning as quickly as possible. And winning in an irregular war means making the insurgent/terrorist irrelevant to the population in which he operates. That's the strategy of dislocation: dislocate the enemy from the context that strengthens him.
The second aspect is the lack of consensus on who are the groups the state is fighting. This is begotten of multiple factors. Beginning with the eighties, the state started using jihad as a policy tool. In Afghanistan it was helped by the 'free world' led by the United States. The Soviet occupation of Afghanistan brought in jihadis from around the world. They waged the war against Soviet troops in collaboration with the local jihadis. This policy might have allowed the state plausible deniability and helped to avoid a direct confrontation with potential external enemies, but it also resulted in creating power centres within the state that have begun to challenge the state's writ. Over the years they have also come to lay claim to the state itself, citing their Islamic credentials and declaring the state itself un-Islamic.
But this employment was the second stage. Even as jihadis were arriving from abroad, at home, General Zia-ul-Haq was embarked on making this country more Islamic. The groups the state is fighting now are birthed by a mindset the state itself has created and nourished over a long period of time. These groups always had a supra-state ideology but have now turned on the state post-9/11. They accuse the state of making an about-face and becoming involved in a U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. The problem of Zia's Islamisation process, however, goes beyond the groups fighting the state. Thousands more in the society not only sympathise with them but are also prepared to join them. The societal confusion is, therefore, not just a consequence of fear and uncertainty. Ideology also plays an important role in this drama.
Put another way, while the state has turned around, the society has not. The state is now fighting sections of its own society which have, over decades, developed an extremist, supra-state mindset. This is what makes employing the strategy of dislocation so difficult. It also helps cadres from these groups to merge in the population and mount attacks on the security forces and soft targets in the urban centres with relative ease.
This is not all, though. Even those who do not subscribe to these groups' violent methods argue that the war is reactive rather than ideological. One can cite the view of certain political elements as an example of this argument. These political parties and their voters think that the current violence is a result of the state's decision to embroil itself in a war waged by the United States.
All these arguments employ selective facts of course and none gives the full picture. Yet, that is a problem any state will face when locked in a conflict that seems unending. This is not peculiar to Pakistan. What is, however, specific to Pakistan are two things: the anti-Americanism and the acceptance by most people, even those against violence, that these groups are waging a reactive war.
The implied argument is that if Pakistan gets out of the U.S. war, these groups will lay down arms and everything will be back to normal. This is extremely naïve and fails to understand the genesis and purport of this insurgency/terrorism. Nonetheless, this public perception makes fighting the war that much more difficult.
Given all these factors, how should the state go about it?
Pakistan's counterinsurgency effort, or what can more appropria-tely be called Counter-Terrorism Military Operations (CT Mil Ops), can be put in three phases: 2004-08, 2008-13 and 2014 onwards. In the first phase, while deployment continued to increase, operations were conducted without much emphasis on capturing and holding ground. This strategy, which can be called the Musharraf strategy, notched some tactical successes but the operations didn't add up to any strategic mosaic. Troops were inducted into FATA, mostly in South Waziristan initially, without any pre-induction training and they fought a war they were ill-trained and ill-equipped to fight. The army suffered losses during the initial phases. The main objective of these ops – extraction ops, commando raids, mop ups – was nothing more to these operations than capturing Al Qaeda and Afghan Taliban commanders and ensuring that no one crossed over into Afghanistan from the eastern side.
While many Al Qaeda and Taliban commanders were captured or killed, the cost of the operations continued to increase in men and material and the insurgency spread to other agencies. There was no counter narrative and by the end of 2008, large physical spaces in FATA had come under the control of Taliban groups. By early 2007, General Musharraf had also become politically weak and controversial and the entire policy was questioned on the basis of legitimacy. General Musharraf's question of legitimacy now also hung over the legitimacy of the war effort itself. After the Lal Masjid operation, which came too late and was poorly conducted, the reprisal attacks against hard and soft targets increased manifold. That is another episode which, those arguing in favour of talks, use to counter the argument for using force or the threat of its use.
With General Musharraf out of the picture as army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani took over. General Kayani wanted to get the army out of the civilian sphere and to refocus energies on tackling the problem in FATA. He introduced the concept of Counter-Terrorism Centres which also imparted pre-induction training. All units deployed to FATA were to go through the 4- to 6-week PIT to ensure better performance and to bring down the number of casualties. The doctrine shifted from targeted operations to capturing and holding ground. The army also developed better coordination with the air force for this purpose. [NB: How effective the air operations have been is a matter of debate and to my knowledge no external study has been done in this regard. A study done by Benjamin Lambeth for Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Indian use of air force in the Kargil War argues that given the terrain, altitude and other factors, aerial platforms were not very effective even when the IAF gradually developed better strategies.]
General Kayani understood that successful conduct of this war required a counter narrative. Public buy-in became the buzzword in all army briefings. Further, General Kayani introduced the concept of 'Clear, Hold, Build, Transfer', meaning recapturing territory held by insurgent groups, holding it, building institutions and infrastructure and transferring authority to the civilian administration.
A good concept, its 'transfer' stage has been problematic even in Malakand. In FATA, the success of hold, build and transfer stages varies from one to another agency. Similarly, internal displacement of populations remains a problem. Despite a full-scale military operation in the Mehsud triangle in 2009, the sections of population remain displaced even after six years. The same is true for other agencies.
But the most effective strategy adopted by the insurgent/terrorist groups has been attacks in the urban centres. Neutralising and pre-empting urban terrorism is the job of police forces, what is known as Counter-Terrorism Police Operations (CT Police Ops). That area has been the weakest. No serious effort has been made to make the police effective and the efforts that have been made were, and are, grounded in a flawed concept of CT. Take one example: every time there is talk of training the police for CT, the civilian governments turn towards the army. The pattern is familiar: get Special Services Group (SSG) personnel to train the police; get more SMGs for the police units, more Glock pistols et cetera. No one has realised so far that the army cannot train the police; that militarising the police will not make it an effective CT force; that effective CT Ops and effective policing are two sides of the same coin. Finally, that while actual fighting will be done by specialised police sub-units that must be highly trained in urban combat, the work of tracking down the terrorist cells is the job of experts that do not need commando training or any weapons.
In a way, CT can be reduced to two main ingredients: tracking money and tracking communication. Both these activities require financial experts, lawyers, communication specialists, forensic experts, investigators etc. A commando sub-unit going out in the field is the tail-end of a long process that requires expertise of different kinds, not the militarised, useless police units we currently have.
This has to be supplemented with improving the police's capacity for its day-to-day functions. No CT effort can succeed unless the police can perform its routine functions effectively. One can say much more on the issue, detailing its technicalities, but the point is simple: one, so far no government has shown to have a clear understanding of what CT Police Ops really mean; two, CT Mil Ops can never be fully effective until the state improves its capacity to neutralise the threat in the urban centres. To put it another way, CT Mil Ops must be supplemented by CT Police Ops and vice versa.
This is akin to double envelopment or, more aptly, can be described in terms of a strategy that relies on multiple thrusts and a plan that, using surprise and high mobility, achieves initiative and throws the enemy off balance. Do the unpredictable. So far, we have done the predictable and the enemy has been ahead of us all along.
That also brings us to the third phase – 2014 onwards. There has been an interesting development under the new Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif. Operating within the constraints placed on him by a society politically and socially divisive on the issue of whether to fight or not, he seems to have gone for what looks like the American strategy of using force in a particular area, combining actionable intelligence with air strikes.
The idea appears to eschew the strategy of a surge as a precursor to a sweeping operation and instead relies on degrading the leadership at various levels of command. In some cases, airstrikes could also be supplemented with selective hits through small-unit ground ops, including taking out Taliban commanders. On the plus side, this approach takes care of the problem of population displacements which creates its own political, social, psychological and logistical complications. On the minus side it increases the risk of collateral damage if the strikes are not precise, despite being accurate.
The success of an airstrike depends as much on the integrity of intelligence as on the ability of the pilot to engage the target. And while accuracy depends on the pilot's ability to destroy a target on the ground, the integrity of intelligence which combines the elements of C4ISR (Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance) decides if the strike was precise. The difference between accuracy and precision is, therefore, important. A sniper can accurately take out a target but if the target identification is wrong, the shot is not precise and the sniper has ended up accurately taking out a wrong target.
For now it is unclear whether the current strategy is being used to make space for talking to the groups from a position of strength or whether this will become the new doctrine. Some minuses must, however, be put on the table if this were to become the preferred option. Taking out targets from the air, or even through small-unit ground operations, is at best tactical unless it can begin to degrade the capacity of the groups to mount reprisal attacks in the urban centres or force them to talk more meaningfully and on the terms dictated by the state. This should be clear from tactically effective night raids conducted by the Americans in Afghanistan and also drone strikes. Neither has helped the Americans in defeating the Taliban groups strategically.
Yet another problem has to do with the point raised earlier apropos of the use of air force. While high-speed fighter jets can take out infrastructure and compounds on the ground, they cannot be very useful against a dispersed enemy or even defences and hideouts in the mountains. Jet fighters are not only very expensive in terms of the cost per flight hour, as opposed to combat drones, but do not have the luxury of loiter time like the drones. This is one reason helicopter gunships have been relatively more useful when employed properly, though that has not always been the case. Given these and other reasons, which are outside the scope of this article, it is important to analyse how effective the aerial platforms have been. Recent employment of more advanced drones for ISR purposes is, however, likely to improve the precision of aerial strikes. Emerging evidence from communication intercepts in the wake of strikes in North and South Waziristan, as also in Tirah in the Khyber Agency, indicates that the military's capacity for precision aerial strikes has improved.
The Centre of Gravity (CoG) in any such conflict is the people. The use of force, therefore, must be supported by a narrative if people are to be convinced by the state of its narrative. As Capt. Emile Simpson of the 1st Battalion the Royal Gurkha Regiment writes in one of the best books to come out recently on war theory, 21st century combat is about politics. Simpson argues that any “use of the armed force that directly seeks political, as opposed to specifically military, outcomes … lies beyond the scope of war in its traditional paradigm”.
Simpson realises that irregular war or what General Rupert Smith called fighting among the people, is not a polarised contest between two sides. This is how he puts it: “Strategic confusion can result when conflicts characterised by competition between many actors in a fragmented political environment are shoehorned into a traditional concept of war, with its two polarised sides. This fragmented competition may involve organised violence on a large scale, but is fundamentally different from war in the traditional sense: in many contemporary conflicts, armed force seeks to have a direct political effect on audiences rather than setting condition for a political solution through military effect against the enemy.”
The effect of any new doctrine has, therefore, to be seen not just on the enemy but on multiple audiences. That is what makes this kind of conflict so complex. Additionally, we have to see how the enemy will react to a particular strategy. As Clausewitz assessed so incisively, the application of force on an animate object is very different because there are only finite ways in which we can judge how the enemy will react to the application of force. Military history has proven time and time again that the enemy generally has a bad habit of reacting in ways that cannot be entirely predicted. Napoleon learnt this twice, once in Spain and then on his march back from Moscow.
Simpson has a vignette in his book which is instructive: “In April 1975 in Hanoi, a week before the fall of Saigon, Colonel Harry Summers of the U.S. Army told his North Vietnamese counterpart Colonel Tu, 'You never beat us on the battlefield', to which Tu replied, 'That may be so, but it is also irrelevant'.”
This is not to say that force must never be applied or that a state must feel hamstrung and go into inertia. But these thoughts must inform the formulation of a national security strategy and its sub-sets of a national military and operational strategy. The other lesson in this is that CT Mil Ops are just one end of this effort. The war requires, at the other end, equally effective CT Police Ops.
The third most important aspect is the narrative: how does the state engage the audience. This is crucial because the insurgent/terrorist groups are not just using violence; they are also engaging the same audience. It is psychological war and it determines and calculates success differently from what happens on the field. The fourth element relates to understanding the fact that the state has to use a multi-pronged strategy to deal with the threat. For instance, while force can be used directly in several ways, it can be supplemented by attacking the funds and other supplies of the enemy. Money, weapons, acquisition of explosives and ammunition, vehicles and other materials require resources and supply chains. This is the oxygen that keeps the enemy going. To de-oxygenate the terrorists, it is crucial to deny him these resources. Just like own forces have to replenish, the enemy also faces wear and tear of equipment. Its fighters have to rest and retrofit; it has to take care of its wounded. He must be hit at these weak spots. Putting pressure on his logistics is, therefore, vital. Doing so requires outstanding intelligence work supplemented with pro-active operations.
Finally, the people themselves have to understand the nature of the threat. The security forces can only do this much and no more. To cite one example of what this means, I quote here from what I wrote for Al-Jazeera English in July 2013 after the draft of the Abbottabad Commission Report (ACR) was leaked to that channel:
“The ACR, in trying to connect the dots, comes up with a very important observation: an effective security policy, while improving the capacity of the police, must go beyond a narrow definition of security and, by implication, a CT strategy.
“Let's take the bin Laden case to see the various stages where his presence could have been detected. The land for his compound in Abbottabad was purchased through a bogus identity card. This means that Ibrahim, one of the Kuwaiti brothers who bought the land, managed to stay outside Pakistan's digital database and by doing that remained untraceable. The building plan for the house was approved illegally and Ibrahim avoided paying the property tax for the entire duration that bin Laden lived in that house. The essential point in this story is that Ibrahim managed to take care of basic logistics, undetected, through illegal dealings with functionaries of the state.
“Now turn this around. Imagine that Ibrahim could not secure the land the way he did. Imagine also that his attempt to purchase the land illegally had him caught at that stage. Suppose that he had managed to cross the first hurdle. The next snag would have been to get the building plan approved. Let's assume that he had to submit a plan according to the requirements. If he were to then construct the house in violation of the original plan, he could be caught doing so by the inspectors who are supposed to inspect the site during the various phases of construction. One can go on.
“None of this happened, of course. From the first person who got his palms greased to subsequent stages involving other functionaries, everyone got his share and helped Ibrahim and his master stay below the radar. None of these functionaries was performing the hard-security job and yet, as should be evident, every one of them was essential to detecting the presence of a wanted man.”
There are ways in which this can be corrected, not entirely but to a large extent. What is important to note is that in formulating strategies, we must appreciate the situation rather than situating the appreciation. And appreciating the situation will tell us that we need to evolve multiple strategies that address the problem in the short- to medium- and the long-term.
The writer was a Ford Scholar at the Programme in Arms Control, Disarmament and International Security at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1997) and a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. (2002-03). He is currently Editor, National Security Affairs, at a private TV channel and contributes to several publications.