The Decade of War (2003-2013)

Written By: Col Ehsan Mehmood Khan

A Retrospective Review and the Future Strategic Landscape

The Strategic Context

Due to the nature of international state system and global security structure, the situation in any country today cannot be studied in isolation. All countries are beaded into the same geostrategic string and the entire world is part of the same geo-political atlas. The issues of one country are not diametrically different from the others. Information technology of today's postmodern age has further shrunk the world and worked towards globalization of even the matters of purely local nature. The incidents like 9/11 are certainly not local in stature dec2and consequence. 9/11 heralded another epoch of strategic transformation in the world. The world immediately moved from post-Cold War period into post-9/11 era. Note that all states, whether big or small and developed or developing, were directly or indirectly affected by 9/11 and its aftermath. It seemed that practical manifestation of the argument of history as a dialectical process posited by Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel and subsequently advanced by Karl Marx was indeed an armed dialectic between the states and societies, and was reinforced as an armed exchange as the time elapsed. The twentieth century witnessed the two greatest wars of the history of mankind followed by a string of revolutionary wars driven by various stimuli and rationale from ethnic to nationalist, and anti-colonial to communist.

Wars, both interstate and intrastate have remained the biggest reality of the human history. Peace, in essence, fostered on the sidelines of conflicts and in the pauses between wars. With the end of the Cold War and thus “the End of History,” Francis Fukuyama saw decline in interstate wars through a process of global democratization. Partially true! Partially, for it did not come about the way he envisioned. Whereas the Western world is geographically away from the “war zones” of the world, it is not practically isolated from the kinetic dec3processes and commotions in different regions of the world. Thus, wars, whether interstate or intrastate, do not take place outside the strategic agenda of the states steering the international state system. On a purely strategic note, occurrence of odds like 9/11 and strategic surprises like Crimea are an altogether different issue. Such odds and surprises too have ramifications for a given state, region and at times the whole world. So was the case with the terror incident of 9/11, which not only led to military but also strategic transformation of different regions of the world including South-Central Asia. Volatility in FATA and the Employment of Security Forces

International forces led by the US entered Afghanistan in October 2001. Thus, Pakistan became the neighbour of the most powerful states of the world, which were fighting a unique kind of war, and was thus deeply affected by another spell of instability in Afghanistan. Internal security situation in the country started worsening. The Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), due to geographical proximity, ethno-linguistic bondages, religious affinity and historical linkages with Afghanistan, became the most affected part of dec4Pakistan. It turned into a breeding ground for militancy, something that worked to evolve the security environment of the country on newer lines. The government was left with no choice but to employ the security forces to respond to the challenge of militancy.

In accordance with Article 245 of the Constitution of Pakistan, security forces including the Army and Air Force were tasked to act in aid of civil power in the conflict-ridden FATA soon after the fall of the Taliban government in Afghanistan and deterioration of security situation on the Pakistani side. The Frontier Corps (Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa), Khassadars and police (in KPK and PATA) also invigorated their security related tasks. The year 2003-04 saw a rejuvenated counter militancy campaign in various areas of FATA including South Waziristan Agency (SWA). Since then, Pakistan has endured massive violence both as a state and society.

It has been an inimitable war both in manifestation and magnitude. The unique feature of this war has been the involvement of the entire society rather than the security forces alone, albeit the security instrument of the state spearheaded the kinetic part of the war. The face of war kept changing during this Decade of War (2003-2013) with numerous ups and downs. Certainly, it had external linkages, both positive and negative. Significant part of foreign forces is expected to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Conciliation and dialogue is being tried in Afghanistan. The Government of Pakistan also has decided to give peace a chance. Spearheaded by the Federal Government, these efforts are being supported by all institutions of the state, while the security forces are fully ready for operation, if inevitable. People are up on the heel to view the outcome of reconciliation efforts. The issue deserves a retrospective analysis with what could and should the future look like.

The Campaign Strategy

The overarching policy of the government for countering militancy in FATA revolved around three Ds: Deterrence, Development and Dialogue. Deterrence denoted proportionate use of force where inescapable. Development signified physical measures for socio-economic advancement of the conflict-hit areas including FATA. Dialogue insinuated reconciliation efforts by the government with the militant elements ready to change course and join the social mainstream of Pakistan.

All three Ds were played by the government during the Decade of War with varying enormity in different areas and during different years. Insofar as deterrence is concerned, security forces’ operations were perpetually launched wherever unavoidable. As regards development, the government certainly did its bit. The Army supported, and in some areas spearheaded, the development prong too. A number of dialogue efforts were also carried out by the government during the Decade of War.

Within the national framework, Pakistan's security forces evolved a four-phased operational strategy: Clear, Hold, Build and Transfer. This strategy has been conceptually linear for a given area, but non-linear when applied over the entire conflict-hit area. This means different phases of operations for different areas where security forces are employed. A small area, about 3% of FATA, is still in the first phase i.e. Clear. A little more than that is in Hold phase. Most of FATA and PATA is in Build phase, undergoing reconstruction, and is nearing Transfer. A part of Malakand division has been transferred to the civil administration i.e. already over with the fourth phase.

The Cost of War

The Decade of War incurred heavy cost, which can be analyzed from four different angles: physical, economic, social and psychological. On physical count, the Pakistani society suffered heavily. Pakistan was ranked the second most terror-hit country (only behind Iraq and even ahead of Afghanistan) in “Global Terrorism Index - 2012” based on the data on terrorism from 2002 to 2011. According to data maintained by Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) Islamabad, some 18,687 Pakistanis were killed and 51,632 injured in armed conflict and suicide attacks from 2007 to 2012. These are modest figures, only covering the armed encounters and suicide attacks. Actual number of Pakistanis who embraced shahadat in various acts of crime and terrorism are much more and those injured or incapacitated are certainly over 200,000 (Human Security in Pakistan by Ehsan Mehmood Khan, Narratives, 2013, p.105). Casualty statistics estimated by a research project of the Watson Institute for International Studies showed 60,013 Pakistanis (35,600 Pakistani civilians, 3,520 security forces personnel and 20,893 militants) killed from 2001 to mid 2011. Some of the sources also show over 51,000 fatalities in the country from 2003 to 2013.

In the course of research, the researchers and scholars should be sure of the biases or objectivity of the source. To note, the sources such as the Delhi-based South Asia Terrorism Portal (SATP) and the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA) are being paid by the Indian military establishment and are working on a given agenda. It is therefore better not to consult and cite such sources. Pakistan Security Report annually published by the Islamabad-based Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS) and Pakistan Conflict Tracker of the Centre for Research and Security Studies are better sources to cite insofar as the incidents of violence, other security related episodes and details of casualties are concerned. Figure-2 shows the details of violent acts and resultant casualties in Pakistan from 2005 to 2013.

On the economic plane, Pakistan has endured over $100 billion loss during the Decade of War as a direct consequence of terror incidents. Public and private property worth billions has been damaged or destroyed. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) went down from $5-6 billion in 2005-06 to just over $300 million in 2013. The country has seen worrisome magnitude of capital flight during the recent years. The tiny industry of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa has suffered badly. On the whole, national economic progress has endured unprecedented challenges. One can note with satisfaction that Pakistan's economy is again showing the signs of progress as noted by international finance institutions such as the World Bank (WB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

dec5The social cost of war can be viewed in the lasting dents in country's social fibre. The war has engendered a number of fissures and fault-lines in the society which would take some time to mend. Education has suffered badly in the conflict-hit areas of FATA and KPK. According to a report titled “The State of Pakistan's Children-2011,” a total of 710 schools had been destroyed or damaged by militants in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Some 640 schools were destroyed in Malakand, while 70 educational institutions were destroyed or damaged in various other districts of the province. Statistics on the school destroyed and damaged vary. Yet, the fact remains that the schooling of millions of children across the country has been affected. Around 600,000 children in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa missed one or more years of education due to militancy (Dawn, September 12, 2012). The word “Taliban” is the plural of Talib, which literally means student. Imagine the magnitude of devastation brought about by these so-called “students” to the educational institutions in a country which is already moving with heavy feet on the path to literacy. The wave of destroying schools has pushed the affected areas back in decades if not in centuries.

Besides physical loss, the wave of terror has been responsible for psychological effects, too. All sections of society endured loss, damage, fear, terror, harassment, duress and anxiety. Nearly 0.4 million individual Pakistanis have undergone shock and trauma. The Challenge of IEDs Paul Wilkinson, former Director of the University of St. Andrews Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence noted: “Fighting terrorism is like being a goalkeeper. You can make a hundred brilliant saves but the only shot that people remember is the one that gets past you.” This is true in all cases but even more veritable for the incidents involving Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) in which human and material loss is comparably more than other terror incidents. Unfortunately, IEDs have become a weapon of choice for the terrorists around the world, more so for the groups like Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). It is of note that Pakistan is not the only country hit by the menace of IEDs. According to U.S. Lt Gen Michael D. Barbero, former Director of USA's Joint IED Defeat Organization, who noted in an op-ed published in the Washington Post on May 18, 2013, “Around the world, there have been more than 700 IED explosions each month outside of Iraq and Afghanistan – for a total of more than 17,000 explosions in 123 countries since January 2011. These statistics clearly indicate that IEDs will remain a threat for the foreseeable future.” More than 60 % of U.S. combat casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan – 3,200 killed and 33,100 wounded since 2001 – occurred due to IEDs.

The enormity of the challenge may be observed from the fact that during the last four years, 79% of global IED incidents occurred in the South Asian region. Of this, approximately 6,485 incidents took place in Pakistan (21% of the region). In 2011, the leading three countries affected most by terror-related incidents (predominantly involving IEDs) were as follows: First, Afghanistan – 6,778 incidents leading to 3313 fatalities; Second, Pakistan – 1,680 incidents causing 1876 fatalities; Third, India – 230 incidents incurring 623 fatalities. Child soldiers employed by the terrorists posed unique challenge in this regards. The number of IED incidents in Pakistan from 2003 to 2013 is given in Figure-3. Nevertheless, Pakistan has put up a professionally structured national and institutional response to the challenge of IEDs. In an overall international context and within a national framework, a Counter IED Organization (CIEDO) has been established. It is a professional organization with a centre of Excellence, Explosive Ordnance (EOD) units, search and explosive ordnance disposal units having search teams, advance search teams, EOD team and advance EOD teams. It is a competent organization capable of putting up strategic response to the challenge of IEDs. It has started acting as the only IEDs evaluation, prevention and training facility of its kind in the South Asian region.

Border Control Measures The Pakistan-Afghanistan border is truly volatile and poses a unique challenge to the internal security of Pakistan. There are terrorist sanctuaries across the border inside Afghanistan, especially in the Kunar and Nuristan provinces, where from the terrorists have been operating to target the security forces and civilians of Pakistan. Likewise, IED-related material also crosses over the border into Pakistan, thereby worsening the already deteriorated internal security landscape of the country. Pakistan's security forces are manning nearly 700 border outposts and over 1,300 security posts. Nevertheless, due to the geography and anthropology of the border region, it is impossible to completely block the movement of people on a frontier over which thousands of people cross daily.

The Drone Debate The US drone attacks in FATA of Pakistan and elsewhere in the world, e.g. Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan, generated a heated debate across civil society, policymaking spheres and scholarly circles in the world including Pakistan. It has been an intricate debate comprising criss-crossing narratives. There are numerous stakeholders or parties to the drone issue. Each one has its own concerns, demands and opinion. Various segments, institutions and even individuals have had their own sides of the story, judgment, logic, belief or line of reasoning. The key strands of the debate have been morality, transparency, violation of sovereignty and above all the collateral damage.

The drone debate has reached the good offices of the UN. Lately, a resolution against use of drone technology spearheaded by Pakistan and co-sponsored by Yemen and Switzerland was adopted by a majority vote at the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva, calling on all states to ensure that the use of armed drones complies with international law including the UN Charter, human rights law and international humanitarian law. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 27 states in favour to six against, with 14 abstentions at the 47-member Geneva forum. The United States, Britain and France voted against. It is a landmark episode in the debate on use of drone technology. Abstractly, the debate is actually a choice between security and morality, despite the gains in the realm of security. Pakistan cannot stand on wrong side of history in this debate and thus the move of resolution has a positive step.

According to media reports, the first ever drone attack in Pakistan was conducted to strike Nek Muhammad Mehsud, a militant leader, in South Waziristan on 18 June 2004. According to the data maintained by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, a UK-based forum, there have been some 383 strikes in FATA in which about 3213 people, both militants and civilians (including women and children), were killed from 18 June 2004 to 25 December 2013. Figure-4 illustrates.

Development Projects Contribution in nation-building activities and socioeconomic progress of the conflict-hit regions has remained the hallmark of Pakistan Army since independence. Starting from safe arrival of the refugees from India in 1947 and their rehabilitation, the Army has worked in a number of spheres of socioeconomic significance. In reality, infrastructural development, education and thus progress and prosperity, travel with the armed forces wherever they go. It happened exactly in the same fashion in case of FATA and PATA also.

Pakistan Army's Frontier Works Organization (FWO), in facilitation with the military formations and units deployed on ground, is busy in construction of the Central Trade Corridor (CT), a 714-kilometre network of road that links Pakistan's North and South Waziristan agencies. It is the third trade corridor between the two countries, the other two being the Northern Trade Corridor along Peshawar-Torkhum-Jalalabad-Kabul route and the Southern Trade Corridor along Quetta- Pishin - Spin Boldak - Kandhar - Kabul route. Some 501 kilometre roads have been completed while work on the remaining roads is in progress. Details are as follows:

Other noteworthy Projects of socioeconomic significance in FATA are as follows: The Future Strategic Landscape

Global geostrategic environment is evolving fast from Balkan to Southeast Asia, and Latin America to the Middle East. South Asia is no exception. The coalition forces' drawdown from Afghanistan has definitive strategic ramifications for Pakistan alongside other countries of the region. The leading question remains as to whether the region would see a drawdown on militancy too or it would further escalate? Indubitably, the region would undergo a sort of power vacuum which a number of state and non-state actors may endeavour to fill. This may lead to another succession of violence in the region including Pakistan. On the other hand, the Western community is likely to be concentrating on the new strategic issue surfacing in Balkans, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and elsewhere in Africa or Latin America. Thus, Afghanistan would be left to the Afghans and other countries to their own citizens, at large. Hence, “in an era of strategic flux, only the competent states will thrive,” as articulated by Dr Maleeha Lodhi in February 2014 issue of Hilal. Let Pakistan be the “competent state” that Dr Maleeha Lodhi cogitated. However, it can come about only if the entire nation is taken on board and all institutions of the state work hand in glove with each other while keeping eyes on a shared bright future of Pakistan rather than staying in the past. We should learn from history but must not live in it.

The writer is a PhD (Peace and Conflict Studies) scholar, author of Human Security of Pakistan (published 2013) and co-author of Kashmir: Looking Beyond the Peril (published 2014).

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Counter Violent Extremism and the Path to Reintegration

Published in Hilal English May 2017

Written By: Abdullah Khan

Reintegration of militants into the national fold is an uphill but essential task that the State of Pakistan has to accomplish. Majority of the militants fighting against us are our own citizens. We need to think seriously about how to bring those who fell in the hands of terrorist organizations back and reintegrate them into the society. The first step is to develop realization that these are our own citizens who fell in wrong hands because of various factors. Ownership of the mistakes and our citizen will lead us to the right direction.

There are several aspects of a possible reintegration program. Unless we develop customized policies and subsequent action plans for every aspect mentioned in coming paragraphs, the overall program of reintegration cannot become productive and result oriented in the long run. Following are some of the aspects our State will have to take into account while planning for a policy of reintegration of militants.

• Strategic Aspect: There are two schools of thought who blame state policies for promoting violent extremism. One school of thought believes that more than required role of religion in state as well as national affairs and Pakistan’s participation in Afghan jihad against the USSR are the major reasons for promoting religious extremism and subsequent terrorism in the country. The other school of thought believes that current wave of militancy started after 9/11 because of sudden U-turn by Pakistani state from certain policies and state’s alleged patronage of activities taking people away from religion. Although both point of views are identically opponent to each other but they have a common factor and that is Pakistan’s alliance with the United States. If siding with U.S. becomes root cause of promotion of extremism in our society then we need to do some cost-benefit analysis of our defence ties with the super power. Improvement in defence ties with Russia and investment coming through China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) provides us an opportunity to lessen if not completely end our defence reliance and financial dependence on the U.S. Unless we set our strategic direction right and fix the mistakes we have made no plan of national reintegration of militants can yield long term sustainable results.


• Ideological Aspect: Militant groups fighting against the state can be classified into four categories:
a. Anti-State based on religion and foreign sponsored (TTP, Jamat-ul-Ahrar, Lashkar-e-Islam etc.)
b. Sectarian groups (Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Sipa-e-Muhammad etc.)
c. Anti-State secular groups (BLA, BLF, BRF etc.)
d. Proxies of political parties (Lyari War Gangs, militant wing of political parties etc.)

Every category has different set of ideological tools to motivate their fighters. Militants have to be detached from their ideology before they can be merged back into the main society. Especially the militants motivated by religion need special attention as religion plays a major role in their recruitment and motivation. Most of the militant attacks and subsequent deaths in Pakistan occurred in attacks perpetrated by militants motivated by religion.

• Financial Aspect: Although militants have people from rich to poorer to the poorest but majority comes from poor class in Pakistan’s context with low education rate, almost no job opportunities, and least exposure to the modern world. When some or more of them will be ready to shun violence, we as a nation need to have sustainable financial plans for them so that they are not hijacked again by their respective militant groups.

• Social and Societal Aspect: Those militants who will be selected for reintegration into national folds, their families and relatives need to be taken on board, too. Generally, more than one person from a family is found infected with extremist ideology, however, one or two become hardcore militants while others provide them moral and financial support. For reintegration of a militant, the strategy needs to incorporate requirements of whole family. Even if none of the family member other than the militant subscribes to the militant ideology, the family can play a crucial role in persuading the militant to denounce violence and come back to normal life. Families can be encouraged to report activities of ex-militants and they need to have a trust in the system that any such thing will not create any trouble for them and it will actually be helpful to keep their loved ones away from extremist groups.

Also, one cannot overlook bitter reality that the militants supposed to be integrated into the national fold remained members of such organizations who are involved in killing thousands of Pakistani citizens. It is a tough question that whether society will accept them or not. Any reintegration plan needs to be backed by the society. Sensitivities of the society need to be taken into consideration and incorporated into national reintegration policy.

• Legal Aspect: Any reintegration policy needs to be within the legal framework of the country. Are we going to reintegrate those who were involved in killing of our citizens and law demands they must be tried in the court of law? However, there is a counter argument that if we do not detach them from militancy they can kill more citizens. Those who are known for killing and are wanted in cases of murder cannot, and should not, get away with their crimes. Such elements may not get absolute amnesty; however, State can lure them with lesser degree of sentences from court in case they surrender.

There are also militants who may have or may in future complete their prison terms. There should be a policy for them as well, as they should not fall back in the hands of militant organizations.

• Constitutional Aspect: Any reintegration program will be within the framework of constitution. Those who want to come back will have to accept Pakistan’s constitution. It is a matter of fact that Pakistan’s constitution is the best reply to militant’s narrative but unfortunately never properly presented and promoted in that context. Our constitution sets absolute sovereignty of Allah, the Almighty and no law can be promulgated against Quran and Sunnah. No logic or argument can stand in front of the fact that picking up arms against Pakistan cannot be justified by any valid teachings of Islam. Thus, Islamic aspects of our constitution need to be highlighted and presented as counter argument to those who commit Takfeer in our State and justify violence in that pretext.

Any reintegration program will also need constitutional cover so that no upcoming government reverses the program for any reasons. Any such move can endanger lives of those officials who will be associated with the program. Any reversal can also make future peace process difficult to the impossible extent.

Any reintegration of militants will definitely be in DDR order (Demobilization, Disarmament, and Reintegration). However, question is that should Pakistan target groups or individuals for reintegration? In case of individuals, it will be simply disarmament and reintegration process. While involving groups will be a complex and least productive approach in Pakistan’s context. For the time being militant groups are less likely to join a peace process for a variety of reasons. One of the sectarian extremist group Sipa-e-Sahaba (Jamat Ahl-e-Sunnat) has recently expressed its willingness to disband itself during a think tank’s activity. However, they are not operating as a militant group, thus reintegration of Sipa-e-Sahaba or Tehreek-e-Jafria does not fall in the domain of reintegration of militants. Their possible reintegration falls under reintegration of nonviolent extremist groups.

Therefore, instead of approaching to militant groups, Pakistan should approach foot soldiers and commanders of lower ranks. This will snatch base support from top leadership, which may eventually think to denounce violence in case State decides to accept them.

Role of the former militants can also play crucial role in motivating militants to denounce violence and get into the reintegration process. They can be presented as role models as well as hired to interact with those who have denounced violence and willing to come back but are skeptical of the prospects.

We have to realize the need to bring back our citizens who fell to deviant violent ideologies and traps. We have to devise a national reintegration program which has customized sub policies and action plans as per different categories of the militants. Any such program needs to take care of legal aspects as well as should have constitutional cover. The program must have backing of the society to be productive and sustainable.


The writer is Managing Director Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies. He is an expert on militancy and regional security. He tweets at


E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Balancing Power in the Region: Options for Pakistan

Written By: Dr. Rasul Bakhsh Rais

Given the hard cash India has at its disposal and the Indian religious, nationalist right defining the Indian regional ambitions, Delhi has become a favourite defence customer in many capitals for advanced weaponry in every department of the armed forces. What options Pakistan has to balance the Indian military power?

In an anarchic world, power is the major currency for a state to prevent war by deterring the designs of an aggressive adversary. This is as old a principle as the emergence of the nation state, first in Europe and then in every part of the world after the demise of colonialism. How relevant is this old principle in the world that is fast integrating economically and generating webs of interdependencies? What is the balance of power today between Pakistan and India and why the power structure and the underlying issues that define it, are different from other regions? What are the options for Pakistan for dealing with the issues of power asymmetry? These are the questions that I attempt to address.

First, the idea of balancing power with power has not lost relevance to the modern world. It will remain valid and the primary principle of national security as long as the world system continues to be dominated by the sovereign states that often unilaterally define national objectives and select the means to achieve them. However, the power structure at the global level has changed several times with rise, fall and emergence of new powers and new centers of power. How many great powers and what the relationship between them from one end of hostility to the other end of amity, and their global policies and choice of allies, friends and strategic partners had left a deep mark on the policies of many regional players. Second, the issues that dominate the global politics have kept changing and will keep changing, leaving good impact on the choices that many nations make. For instance, we see great change from ideological issues dominating the cold war era to economic cooperation issues and new threats – terrorism, subnational conflicts and interventions by proxies. Finally, the relative value of the elements of national power has also changed. These changes have taken place within the structural context of the world system that continues to be shaped by power dynamics. The change is only the objectives, means, template of major players and issues that define our age.

While India allocated U.S. dollars 46 billion for its defence, Pakistan could not squeeze out more than 6 billion. In recent years, just increase in Indian defence spending in a single year has been more than total defence budget of Pakistan.

The positive changes that have taken place in other regions – Europe and East Asia – have yet to take place in South Asia. Contrary to economic integration and cooperation these regions which have entirely transformed old-fashioned nationalism and historical rivalries, the troubled legacies of the partition of the British Indian Empire, suspicion, distrust and latent hostility – a kind of cold war – remains the defining feature of power relations in South Asia. Another difference is more obvious and important. While the great powers of yesterdays have trimmed their ambitions regarding dominating the neighbours and have given up geopolitical designs on others, India that occupies the central position in the South Asian geopolitical order, lives by those ambitions. That makes the geopolitical system of the region increasingly shaped by fears, insecurity and nuclear arms race between Pakistan and India. The history of relationship – wars, intervention and destabilizing strategy – have never assured Pakistan of India’s intentions, often conveyed through peace rhetorics.

No amount of good intentions, no matter how best they are articulated and by whom, can assure any pragmatic leader and those possessed with the responsibility of national defence. It is old wisdom to say, intentions can change overnight, as we have seen they have throughout the history. States don’t take such risks of believing in words. Rather they look at the military power of the other – if and when the relationship happens to be adversarial – and think of their own appropriate responses. Never has Pakistan’s national security planners been oblivious to this fact. Balancing India that is manifold stronger than Pakistan, has not been either an easy choice or without tremendous difficulties or costs. In doing so, Pakistan has pursued several strategies beginning with the defence alliances with the Western world, notably with the United States to development of nuclear weapons.

In asymmetrical equations like with one between Pakistan and India or between Israel and the vast Arab lands, nuclear self-sufficiency and reliance on more advanced technological means provide some of the answers to the security dilemma. Since the East Pakistan tragedy in 1971, Pakistan pursued the nuclear option as the best guarantee to its national security. The idea is not to wage wars but to deter probable Indian aggression, somewhat compensate for the conventional gap and psychologically reassure the population of peace and security against the more powerful neighbour. Pakistan’s approach has been eclectic towards national security against the Indian threat, as the country has continuously rethought and recalibrated its responses to India’s growing military might – both conventional as well as nuclear. But that has not been without serious challenges, deficiencies and some serious questions about sustainability. This brings us to the major issue of imbalance in material resources, economies, numbers and the weapons systems at both ends. The question that has occupied the defence planners in Pakistan is how to counterbalance the Indian threat, and which means in a given situation will appropriate to do so. This also prompts some of the national and foreign defence analysts to raise the question of Pakistan’s capacity to sustain its strategy of countering the Indian threat. The gap in defence outlays, size of the economies, rate of growth and other elements of national endowment are quite obvious, and quite distressing for Pakistan. While India allocated U.S. dollars 46 billion for its defence, Pakistan could not squeeze out more than 6 billion. In recent years, just increase in Indian defence spending in a single year has been more than total defence budget of Pakistan. Second, Indian economy in recent decades has increased at much higher rate than that of Pakistan and continues to do better. Finally, the volume of the Indian economy is at least six times greater than that of Pakistan. Given the hard cash India has at its disposal and the Indian religious, nationalist right defining the Indian regional ambitions, Delhi has become a favourite defence customer in many capitals for advanced weaponry in every department of the armed forces. What options Pakistan has to balance the Indian military power? While maintaining a robust, full-spectrum nuclear deterrence, Pakistan must pursue a flexible response strategy. What would that mean in the sub-continental balance of power? An equally robust conventional, war-fighting capability is necessary to control the escalatory ladder in a hot-conflict situation. The choice of technologies, defence hardware, and forces structure are very important consideration for getting more out of less defence budget. The integration of tactical nuclear weapons doesn’t give me a comfortable feeling for obvious reasons of these being destabilizing and surely inviting similar use of weapons from India. There will always be a question of uncertainty of outcome – a stalemate, escalation, and mutually assured destruction? The real alternative is in conventional defence, if the nuclear deterrence fails to prevent a major war.

A broader national security framework needs to be formulated with essential components of national integration, political stability, amenable civil-military relations and a national framework for economic growth. Economic modernization through Chinese investments and successes in defeating extremism and ethnic militancy will create the right conditions for a solid base for national security.

Second, Pakistan is facing internal national security threats that India appears to have aided – some, at least in Balochistan and FATA, if not all. For national security and prosperity, Pakistan will have to defeat the internal enemy – the radical Islamists, sectarian and ethnic terrorists. National solidary, peace and stability will create the right conditions for the economy to grow. General Raheel Sharif is right in emphasizing that only “secure Pakistan can be a prosperous Pakistan”.

Third, Pakistan has rightly changed the course of policy toward Afghanistan, and Iran as well in the last couple of years. By not aligning with any power in the Middle East conflicts and by reassuring Afghanistan that “enemies of Afghanistan cannot be friends of Pakistan”, we have made a paradigm shift in our regional policy. Best of relationship with these two neighbours, often problematic, must provide the fresh security underlay for Pakistan. That will surely deny India opportunity to create and use bases from these countries to ignite troubles inside the country. Finally, a broader national security framework needs to be formulated with essential components of national integration, political stability, amenable civil-military relations and a national framework for economic growth. Economic modernization through Chinese investments and successes in defeating extremism and ethnic militancy will create the right conditions for a solid base for national security.

The writer is an eminent defence/political analyst who regularly contributes for print and electronic media. Presently he is on the faculty of LUMS. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Beyond the World of Make-Believe System NATO And Ukraine

Written By: Brian Cloughley

The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, NATO, was formed by twelve countries on 4 April 1949 with the objectives of “deterring Soviet expansionism, forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent, and encouraging European political integration.” That was a clear aim, and in the circumstances understandable because the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, led by the unhinged Stalin, had demonstrated that it was intent on territorial expansion and on drawing neighbouring countries into its embrace, if necessary, by force.

Circumstances have changed dramatically since those days, but NATO's present public stance on the circumstances of its creation is intriguing, because it states officially that, “It is often said, that the 'North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded in response to the threat posed by the Soviet Union. This is only partially true. In fact, the Alliance's creation was part of a broader effort to serve three purposes: deterring Soviet expansionism, forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent, and encouraging European political integration.”

Nowhere in the NATO Treaty of 1949 is there mention of “nationalist militarism” or of it being mandatory to have “a strong North American presence” in Europe. Nor is there any clause relevant to “encouraging European political integration.” Certainly it was intended that its members “will seek to eliminate conflict in their international economic policies and will encourage economic collaboration between any or all of them,” but that falls far short of commitment to, or encouragement of, political integration. History is being rewritten by NATO propagandists, and this is symptomatic of a much deeper malady, in that NATO, having lost its purpose when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, has been desperately seeking justification for its unnecessary and expensive survival. It is intent on interpreting international developments in such a fashion as to rationalise its existence and expand its dubious mandate.

If the world is not extremely careful it might find that NATO's actions could lead to wide and terrible conflict. NATO is not, by any means or interpretation, a body that can regard itself as being above the principles and responsibilities of the United Nations Organisation. Its Treaty notes specifically that its content “does not affect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way the rights and obligations under the Charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.” Indeed, Article 5 specifies that if there has been an attack on a member country, then “Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”

The Security Council passed no resolution, however, that authorised the United States to attack Afghanistan in 2001. There were two resolutions about the 9/11 attack on the US: 1368 of 12 September and 1373 of 28 September, but in neither of them was there any mention of Afghanistan. Certainly in the preamble of 1368 there was note of “the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence in accordance with the Charter,” and it was this that the US seized upon in the context of the NATO Treaty to justify its invasion, dragging NATO's other nations behind it to engage in what has proved a disastrous war. The Council later endorsed the war, and NATO expanded its military contributions because its Treaty states that “an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all.” Of course, Afghanistan did not attack the US or any NATO country – but it was argued that because some foreigners resident in Afghanistan had planned the attacks on America, which were carried out by citizens of Saudi Arabia, and other countries or – the Middle East – then there was justification for invasion. The danger for the world is that there could be similar interpretation of international legal conventions in the case of the current bilateral discord between Russia and Ukraine, which has nothing whatever to do with NATO.

NATO's original members were Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal and the United States. Greece and Turkey joined in 1952, West Germany in 1955 and Spain in 1982. During my service in a British-NATO nuclear missile regiment in the late 1960s, I noted that the least-read, indeed never opened, publication on the magazine-laden table in the anteroom of the officers' mess was “NATO's Fifteen Nations,” and this summed up our attitude to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation. It was (and is) a top-heavy, vastly expensive, militarily ineffective vehicle for enormous numbers of militaristic civilian bureaucrats and promotion-hungry uniformed yes-men. When West Germany was encouraged to re-arm and become a member of NATO in 1955 the move was regarded with concern by the Soviet Union which countered by creating the Warsaw Pact alliance. After the allies overcame Germany in 1945 they held the Potsdam Conference in July-August and agreed upon “the complete disarmament and demilitarization of Germany.” Annulment of that accord caused apprehension in Moscow because it was Germany that invaded Russia in World War II and, according to a well-researched BBC documentary of 2011, killed “at least 25 million Soviet citizens.” It wasn't the other way round. A mere ten years after the war, Moscow wasn't keen on German rearmament. But the official NATO history (it is on the web) records blandly that “approximately 36.5 million Europeans had died in the conflict, 19 million of them civilians.” There is no mention of the fact that Russia was involved in any way in the Second World War. Nor, for that matter, a word about the appalling slaughter in Britain when the German Air Force killed 60,000 civilians – nor even any mention of the ten times that number of German civilians killed by allied bombing. None of that sort of thing can appear in the NATO record, because it had to be sanitised.

Ten days after West Germany joined NATO on 5 May 1955, the Warsaw Pact came into being. Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungary, Poland and Romania joined the USSR in creating a formidable military alliance. The years went by and the two sides squared up to each other from time to time but it seemed that confrontation would end when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. The standoff was over. There was no 'Soviet expansionism' to deter; there was no prospect of 'revival of nationalist militarism'; and European integration was well under way, with the creation of the European Union in 1993. An age of long-lasting peace in Europe seemed to be dawning. But there were problems.

There was genocidal chaos in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, notwithstanding, but NATO went against a country that had not in any way threatened any member of NATO. But NATO thought it had found a reason for its continuing existence. In one particularly bizarre episode, the then NATO commander, US General Wesley Clark, ordered confrontation with Russian troops. As the BBC reported, “the Russians, who played a crucial role in persuading Yugoslav President Milosevic to end the war, had expected to police their own sector of Kosovo, independent of NATO. When they did not get it, they felt double-crossed. As NATO's peacekeepers prepared to enter the province they discovered the Russians had got there first.”

General Clark ordered NATO troops to confront them. Britain's General Jackson considered that this course of action “seemed to me probably not the right way to start off a relationship with Russians who were going to become part of my command.” Of course, he was right, and in a heated exchange with Clark, Jackson told him that “I'm not going to start the Third World War for you.” But what would have happened if he had obeyed the orders of the belligerent US Commander? NATO's enormous Air Forces blitzed Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro still hold the confederation and the title) into submission in an eighty-day campaign of bombing and rocketing. Their aircraft faced no opposition of any sort. The 10,484 attacks killed 659 soldiers, 349 policemen and 528 civilians in delivery of 1,300 cruise missiles and about 14,000 bombs. 25,000 houses, 19 hospitals, 69 schools, and 176 cultural monuments were damaged or destroyed.

When the Balkan war was over, leaving the region in fragments, NATO congratulated itself and looked for another reason to remain in being. Europe was at peace and there were no indications that there would ever be a conflict. There could have been a new era for the entire region, but Russia was not allowed to see the dawn of reconciliation because NATO desperately wanted to expand its numbers and to surround and threaten the new Russia that had been so anxious to join the comity of nations. In 1999 NATO asked Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic to join the alliance. Then in 2004 came Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. To increase the net-drawing around Russia's borders, Albania and Croatia were added in 2009. At the Chicago NATO summit in May 2012, it was declared that “at the 2008 Bucharest Summit we agreed that Georgia will become a member of NATO and we reaffirm all elements of that decision, as well as subsequent decisions.”

Why did the US want all these countries to join NATO? Russia was no threat to any of them. But Russia could present an economic threat to the US, especially as it was prospering through its cooperation with the European Union in provision of gas, oil and coal. And there could have been a very much wider economic union: that of Russia with greater Europe. This was to be circumvented at all costs. The 'Founding Act on Mutual Relations, Cooperation and Security between NATO and the Russian Federation' of 27 May 1997 states that “NATO member States have decided to examine NATO's Strategic Concept to ensure that it is fully consistent with Europe's new security situation and challenges.” So NATO re-invented itself at the bidding of Washington. According to NATO, it “has a new mission: extending peace through the strategic projection of security... This is not a mission of choice, but of necessity. The Allies neither invented nor desired it.” But who did desire and invent it? Someone must have created the “New Mission”. Who approved this important strategic shift? Who crafted the Mission of “extending peace through the strategic projection of security?” Just what is “strategic projection of security.” How is it defined? And who is empowered to define it, internationally?

In 2009, the NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said, “He did not believe that the enlargement of NATO and the European Union has created any security problems for Russia. On the contrary: a more stable and prosperous Europe is indeed contributing to the security of Russia.” He avoided the main point about NATO : it is a military alliance, as noted by Russia's President Medvedev who observed that “no country would be happy about a military bloc to which it did not belong approaching its borders.” NATO's members “undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered.” But in Ukraine and in other countries bordering Russia they are engaging in provocative military confrontation that could hazard world peace. On 1 May 2014, NATO's Deputy Secretary General, former US Assistant Secretary of Defence for International Security Affairs Alexander Vershbow, who was appointed to his NATO post in 2012, declared that “Clearly the Russians have declared NATO as an adversary, so we have to begin to view Russia no longer as a partner, but as more of an adversary than a partner.”

Mr. Vershbow is a former US ambassador to Russia (and was cordially detested by Mr. Putin) and has not lost his distaste for the country in which he served. He has gone so far as to state that NATO could unilaterally reject its 1997 agreement not to station nuclear weapons or large numbers of troops in Eastern Europe. He said that given the Ukraine situation “We would be within our rights” to ignore such an accord and permanently station “significant” numbers of troops in Eastern Europe. His sentiments are approved by the US Administration and by his superior, Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, whose official line is that “We support Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty. We support the rights of the people of Ukraine to determine their own future without outside interference. And we emphasize the need for Ukraine to continue to uphold the democratic rights of all people and ensure that minority rights are protected. Ukraine is our neighbour, and Ukraine is a valued partner for NATO.” Mr. Anders Fogh Rasmussen (known by cynics as “the Fogh of War”) may declare NATO's support for Ukraine in its dispute with Russia, but there is no treaty basis for any such backing. His very “support for the people of Ukraine” is demonstrative of what he so rightly calls “outside interference.” In pursuit of its policy of disapproving of outside interference NATO sent reconnaissance aircraft to Poland and Romania “to monitor the Ukrainian crisis” in order to “intensify our ongoing assessment of the implications of this crisis for Alliance security.”

NATO deployed US F-15 attack aircraft to Lithuania and F-16s to Poland. The US sent troops to Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. Then Canada sent six CF-18 fighters to Poland and Britain sent four Typhoons to Lithuania. The next NATO military activity was despatch of a multinational force of four minesweepers to the Baltic to stay “for the foreseeable future”, according to NATO's spokesman. Then the Pentagon sent a guided missile frigate to the Black Sea for “engagements with Bulgarian and Romanian navies.” (Note that this seems much of a threat because the last US frigate sent to the Black Sea ran aground and had to be towed back to its Mediterranean home port.)

All this because NATO wanted a cause to continue its existence. The British Defence Secretary said his country was taking action because “in the wake of recent events in Ukraine, it is right that NATO takes steps to reaffirm very publicly its commitment to the collective security of its members.” But Russia was not menacing any NATO country. Even NATO's more adept publicists could not claim that Russia had uttered a word of threat against any country at all. And when the Crimea District of Ukraine acceded to Russia in a free plebiscite in March 2014, there was no menace of any sort to any NATO nation. Crimea had been part of Russia since 1700, until Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave the region to Soviet Ukraine in 1954 in a political (and probably drunken) gesture. The vast majority of its citizens consider themselves Russians and considered themselves discriminated against by the corrupt Ukraine government and so voted in favour of rejoining their own country in an independently observed election. Their combined decision and subsequent peaceful accession of their region to the country they preferred had no effect on the affairs of any other country in the world. Not one person died as a result of the accession, which the entire western media refer to as “annexation.” Pronouncements on Ukraine by US Defence Secretary Hagel have been deliberately provocative, just as they have concerning China's legitimate claims to various island territories in the South China Sea, when he declared that “we firmly oppose any nation's use of intimidation, coercion, or the threat of force to assert these claims.”

This echoes Mr. Hagel's theme on Ukraine, when he declared that “Article-V [of the North Atlantic Treaty] is clear that an attack against any one NATO ally will be considered an attack against all members of NATO. The United States is fully committed to meeting its Article-V responsibilities.” – But there is no Russian threat of any kind to any NATO nation. The dispute in Europe concerns Russia and Ukraine and nobody else. Russia is not going to attack any NATO country. End of message. If Russia invaded Ukraine (which it could quite easily) there would be turbulence and probably violence in other regions along Russia's border, which would be shatteringly disruptive to Russia's economic growth and set back development and progress by decades. That seems to be what America wants ; but President Putin wants development and progress and he is going to achieve that national goal in spite of US moves to obstruct his efforts. He does not want interference by militaristic NATO – which might well happen if NATO's generals have their way. If they do, they will discover that Russia is not Yugoslavia.

The writer is a France based retired officer of Australian Army and is an expert on South Asian affairs. He is also author of different books, and contributes extensively in international media.

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Follow Us On Twitter