Contributing Editor Air Marshal (Retd) AYAZ AHMED KHAN does an exhaustive analysis of defence and security - related issues bedevilling the nation
of National Security
The overriding concern of Pakistan's national life is security, both internal and external ie country's defence from inimical forces from within and without. It goes without saying that Pakistan is a peaceful country. Pakistan actively seeks a peaceful international order. It has firmly adhered to the terms of the UN Charter and UN Declaration of human rights. It adheres to the principle that any territorial acquisition by force is totally inadmissible. It has always sought and upheld peaceful settlement of regional and international disputes. Despite this policy of peace inherent in Pakistan's ideology and orientation, the fact is that in the first quarter of its existence the country has been the victim of aggression three times. The first war Oct 1947 to Nov 48 was over Kashmir. India took the issue to the UN Security Council, which resolved that Kashmir problem be decided by a plebiscite under UN auspices. Having agreed to the implementation of UN Resolution, India resiled from its obligations, and having consolidated its military hold over Kashmir, claimed that UN resolutions were outdated and that Jammu and Kashmir was its integral part. The 1965 war was also over Kashmir. Kashmir is the core issue because Indian military occupation of Jammu and Kashmir contravenes, violates and defies the principles and basis of the division of India, ie Muslim majority area will become part of Pakistan. India has denied the right of self-determination to the people of Kashmir, which was given by the British to the people of India, and is inherent in the UN Charter and UN Resolutions on Kashmir. Massive Indian troops deployment (700,000 troops) in Jammu and Kashmir poses a serious military threat to Pakistan's national security. Imperatives of national defence require that rights and aspirations of Kashmir people for self-determination be restored, Indian brutalities stopped and UN Resolutions implemented. Indian troop withdrawal from Kashmir is vital to prevent another Indo-Pak war. Vacation of Kashmir by India is a crucial imperative for Pakistan's defence, and Pakistan's national security will remain threatened as long as Indian troops remain in Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. In 1971 having carried out intensive subversion in East Pakistan, India exploited the opportunity of the century to forcibly dismember Pakistan. These events are an unforgettable part of the nation's history, and have a bearing on peoples' psyche. Normalization of relations with India is desirable, but unlikely in the present scenario. Indian hostility, intentions and attitudes, and enhanced military preparations have a direct bearing on Pakistan's national security.
There are however important lessons of profound validity for preservation of Pakistan's independence, national sovereignty and territorial integrity to be learnt from the manner in which Pakistan was dragged into wars, and from their outcome.
A nation can ignore the existence of such threats only at its own peril. Kashmir and Afghanistan are on the boil, and internal political, economic and social unrest and ethnic and sectarian strife being stoked by enemy agencies are continuing threats to Pakistan's security.
The eleven years of the war in Afghanistan was a dangerous period for the national security. Pakistan supported the freedom struggle in Afghanistan by acting as a conduit, ie a supply channel for material assistance from the West ie US and Arab countries. Pakistan also provided shelter to five million Afghan refugees. The risks involved included twelve hundred bomb blasts, and lead to the creation of Klashnikov era, smuggling and drug culture. America used Pakistan to settle scores with the Soviet Union, and having succeeded in triggering the collapse of the vast Communist empire via Afghanistan dumped Pakistan. After the exit of the Red Army from Afghanistan, Pakistan is out of the nut cracker situation, but is now faced with the looming threat from India's growing military might, numerical and qualitative imbalance ie superior offensive capabilities on the land, at sea and in the air. Forward deployment of Indian Western command and Indian Air Force, deployment of Strike Corps in Rajasthan, heavy concentration of troops, armour and artillery in Occupied Kashmir, Prithvi SSMs targetted against Pakistan, the enhanced one sided arms race and bellicose statements of Indian politicians especially of BJP and Shiv Sena leaders and military commanders provide evidence that India is looking for an opportunity for further aggression. Only recently BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee, the Prime Minister of India threatened to seize Azad Kashmir by force. And Bal Thakray the head of Shiv Sena (which rules Maharashtra) in a recent interview to Reuters said , If BJP comes to power, it would adopt a tough stand against Pakistan. The problem of Kashmir will be solved by use of force ...... India will definitely produce nuclear weapons for use in war against Pakistan. Use of nuclear weapons against Pakistan was inevitable. He stressed. BJP and its ally Shiv Sena have a chauvinistic and tough agenda to deal with Pakistan. The United Front Government has already given a green light for the priority development of Agni IRBM. The formulation of revised war plans, and strategic and tactical concepts for a short swift war against Pakistan are equally menacing. Dictates of national security demand that Pakistan must remain vigilant, and keep its guard up to contain a possible adventure by the BJP government.
America literally dumped Pakistan after achieving its strategic aims against the USSR in Afghanistan. Instead of expressions of gratitude the US imposed the highly discriminatory Pressler Amendment against Pakistan in October 1989, whereby US economic aid and military assistance, purchases and supplies have remained blocked for the last ten years. The Pressler Law has caused paralysis in Pakistan's foreign and defence policies. Not only US weapons were denied, but US allies and even Russia have refused to supply weapons even against hard cash. Pakistan once a favourite in Washington after Israel and Egypt has been left high and dry, and forced to fend for itself. Even duly paid for F- 16 fighters have been blocked and an amount of US Dollars 658 million has been illegally swindled. Efforts of Pakistani President and Prime Ministers for the release of the F -16 fighters or refund of money have not succeeded. This high-handedness by the only super power was resorted to against Pakistan only to force it to roll back and scrap its peaceful nuclear development programme. India has been exonerated and allowed to carry on with its highly potent missile development and deployment programme, and much larger nuclear weapon programme. Pakistan had resolutely resisted US pressure, and has embarked on a modest nuclear and missile development programme, so as to be able to have a deterrent capability against Indian conventional and nuclear threats. But Pressler law is in place and hurts Pakistan's national security and defence capability.
Indian conventional threat is more serious than Indian nuclear threat. In a recent interview to Defence Journal Karachi, Air Marshal Asghar Khan remarked, I don't know if they would use nuclear weapons against Pakistan. It is easy to issue threats to use nuclear weapons, but it is very difficult to actually drop them. Pakistan must however take note of such rash Indian statements, and should remain fully prepared to take (nuclear) deterrent action. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has taken note of Indian threats to use nuclear weapons and conventional forces against Pakistan. But Islamabad's response is shrouded in secrecy - which is in order. In view of BJP and Shiv Sena hostility and aggressive aims of the BJP Government, Pakistan must accord highest priority to nuclear and missile programmes to checkmate Indian bellicosity, and threats of nuclear and conventional aggression. Nukes in the basement are of no use, without delivery platforms. They are duds unless they could be accurately dropped on selected targets. In view of Indian deployment of Prithvi I and II SSM and priority development of Agni Missiles, proper funding of Pakistani missile programme is important.
During the last ten years India has invested heavily in air power, and today IAF's high technology combat and strike capability is more than seven times that of the PAF. The numerical imbalance is three to one. In a recent interview to Defence Journal the Chief of the Air Staff PAF has rightly stated that, Importance of air power is fully recognized by all countries. In the light of experience it is a foregone conclusion that air power will be a decisive factor in any future conflict. Future wars will start with air power and defeat and victory will be decided when either side concedes defeat in the air. The recent example of Gulf war established that the desired aims and objectives were achieved by air power. General Scharzkopf an army man as commander-in-chief of the Coalition armies had fully appreciated the capability, potential and impact of air power. Entire planing for war was around the effective use of air power.
To a question as to How important is air power for the defence of Pakistan, the air chief said that, Air power is pivotal to the defence of Pakistan. It is vital for the success of defence strategy and national security. Air power has to be employed to deter and deny aggression. Land and naval forces will need air power to ensure the success of their missions. Land operations are highly sensitive to air support, and will need fullest (100%) air support for the success of most missions. In the modern day war air is vital for defence, deterrence and for land and maritime operations. There is a national awareness of the vital importance of air power for the defence of the country. To another question How do you see the role of Pakistan Air Force in defence strategy and national security?' Air Chief Marshal Pervaiz Mehdi Qureshi said that PAF plays a pivotal role in the defence strategy and national security of Pakistan. It is the most essential element of our armed forces, as it is only through the PAF that we can deter any aggressor, and deny him the use of his air force to any meaningful effect. We have strong support of the Government and of other services in the development of the PAF to correct the weakness in some critical (high tech) areas.
In spite of Air Chief's assurance the fact is that the PAF has been ignored and denied funding for the acquisition of high-tech aircraft, or for the in-country co-manufacture of Super-7 and FC -1 fighters. The CAS has publicly warned that if the high-tech fighter gap is not narrowed in the next four years, it will become unbridgeable thereafter. His concern must be taken seriously by the Ministry of Defence, who should advise the Government to accord high priority to PAF's fighter procurement and production programmes. Assured nuclear weapon capability based on accurate SSM's, IRBM's and multi-role strike fighters is a vital imperative of national defence in the prevailing environment in South Asia. Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and Service Chiefs in their collective and individual capacities must advise and guide the Government to accord high priority to assured deterrent with nuclear, missile and credible air power capability. For the cash strapped government this will not be possible unless the Services do their own right sizing, so that funds become available for vital nuclear, missile and air power enhancement programmes. In the same interview Air Marshal Asghar Khan said that ďair power is vital for Pakistan's security. The rulers and the politicians do not realize or understand it. They have no grasp of the defensive potential of air power in peace or war. Neither they understand the problems of defence and national security. Comprehension of the role, capabilities and overpowering influence of air power on diplomacy and defence is a difficult subject even for the well read. Concerned officials, MNA and Senators must convene regular meetings of defence Committees of the Parliament and of the Senate so as to be briefed on various aspects of national security. It is in order to suggest that parliamentarians and concerned bureaucrats should undergo short courses preferably at the Joint Services Staff College for greater comprehension of defence matters and national security issues. Strong air force along with enhanced teeth to tail capabilities of the army and the navy is an equally important imperative of national defense. Indian aggression against Azad Kashmir will have to be defeated by coordinated land- air action. Use of nuclear weapons by either side will imply total devastation and massive casualities on both sides. Use of nuclear weapons is out, but enhanced artillery duels and conventional battles in some sectors are plausible. Pakistan must sharpen its conventional defence capabilities, while keeping its nukes, missiles and aircraft in a high state of readiness.
According to Asghar Khan who is also rated as a high intellectual of great integrity Pakistan is friendless today because the foreign policy of isolation and drift is faulty, and has not served the nations security interests. Our foreign policy lacks priorities, is shorn of diplomacy, is poorly conducted, and has made Pakistan friendless and isolated. That we are not able to buy aircraft and weapons even against hard cash is a proof. Pakistan foreign policy needs to be reviewed and renewed. Pakistan must have reliable friends. Pakistan was strong in the decade of the sixties because America was our reliable friend. In the seventies Pak-China friendship was exemplary. China is our reliable friend, and has helped Pakistan economically and militarily. The Karakorum highway, HMC, HIT, PAC Kamra and many major industrial and infra-structural ventures are lasting symbols of Pak-China friendship.
and Chinese and Indian Prime Ministers, Presidents, Foreign Ministers, Generals and officials have been visiting each others' countries frequently, and are trying to settle their border disputes, and build up normal economic relationship. But Indian media, politicians and military and foreign policy planners, and Indian intelligence agencies rate China as the major threat to Indian national security. They are very conscious of China's nuclear, missile and conventional military power, especially Chinese IRBMS in Tibet which they allege are targetted on Indian cities. The major objective of Indian military, nuclear and missile policy planning is to checkmate Chinese nuclear, missile and conventional military threat. American objective is to use India to contain China. Chinese economic planning hypothesis is that the danger of world war has receded, and China's aim is to become a medium developed country by the year 2050. China hopes for peace in the world and in the Asia pacific region so as to be able to continue with its socialist modernization drive. China wishes to develop and hopes that the entire region including Pakistan develops in peace. Pakistan foreign policy will have to be re-tailored to restore the confidence and friendship of yester- years. Pakistan must take China into confidence by stressing that Pakistan is a small country which needs a long spell of peace. But India is continuing to reinforce its much larger military with nuclear capable guided missiles, advanced aircraft and smart weapons and Indian leaders threaten Pakistan with dire consequences on a daily basis. Indian military buildup is a serious threat to Pakistan's national security and Pakistan seeks China's help to avert this threat. Pakistan's dilemma in the defence field is its faulty foreign policy. Frankly the foreign policy does not exist at all. Our foreign ministers, politicians and diplomats have no idea and no concept of how to tailor a foreign policy that meets the challenges of our national security interests. We have drifted away from everybody, including our close friends like China and Iran. We have added to our enemies, and lost our allies, and today we have no reliable friends. We should address ourselves to redefine our foreign policy aims and objectives, so that we have the support of reliable friends. We must change our foreign policy to have dependable friends, and that is the only way we can meet India's military challenge. The United States is no more willing to support us as it did three decades ago. The US sees India as a much bigger market, and a future bulwark against China. They see India as a force, which can be developed to meet the economic and possible military challenges of the future. The alternatives available to Pakistan are to explore the possibility of having close relations with China, Iran, Bangladesh and Turkey in particular and with rest of the Islamic world in general. We not only need good economic, cultural and diplomatic relations with these important neighbours, but need to develop military understanding with them for mutual benefit. Such a policy will give us security, and will help us to right size our forces. But there is a condition to such a policy, and that is that we should not think of involving them with our disputes with India. We need to develop strategic understanding with China, Bangladesh and Iran, so that we could march together towards peace and economic development together. In friendship Iran offers us strategic depth, while Bangladesh could tie down Indian forces in the East. Such an initiative entails that massacre of Iranian nationals and sectarian slaughters be stopped, and Bangladesh be treated with respect. Iran is emerging as a powerful country in the Gulf, and even the US is now seeking Iran's help to deal with Saddam Hussain. Bangladesh is growing fast economically, and closest understanding could be of immense mutual benefit. I am hopeful that China, Bangladesh and Iran will consider an arrangement of mutual defence assistance, and such an understanding would give us tremendous security and strength. Official visits at prime ministers and presidents level should be used to develop such an understanding. I wish the recent visit to the Prime Minister with a big delegation to China should have been tailored with such aims and objectives. The restructured foreign policy must be conducted in a professional manner, keeping Pakistan's national security interests in sight.