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‘Pakistan’s strongest weapon is the weapon of denial’

Discussion in 'International Relations' started by layman, Dec 8, 2013.

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  1. layman

    layman Aurignacian STAR MEMBER

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    Pakistan has a new Army Chief in Gen. Raheel Sharif. In this interview, Lt. Gen. Syed Ata Hasnain (Retd), who was commander of the Srinagar-based 15 Corps and retired as military secretary, talks to Sridhar Kumaraswami about what the new appointment could mean for India as well as Pakistan.

    Why do you think Pakistan Prime Mini-ster Nawaz Sharif picked Gen. Raheel Sharif to succeed Gen. Kayani as Army Chief over more senior officers?
    Gen. Sharif is the younger brother of an iconic deceased military figure who happened to be a batchmate of Pervez Musharraf. When Raheel Sharif was commissioned in 1976, we learn that Mr Musharraf took him under his wing. As such, it’s a surprise actually that PM Sharif selected an Army Chief who is a protégé of
    Mr Musharraf. How**ever, Gen. Sharif was a commander of the 11 Infantry Division in Lahore and 30 Corps in Gujranwala, which is the heart of (Pakistani) Punjab. So he must have come into very close contact with the (Nawaz) Sharif family. That is probably how he developed that comfort level with the current political dispensation in Pakistan.
    Besides, Gen Sharif has neither served with the Inter-Services Intel-ligence nor with the Operations/Intell**igence Direct**orate. In his last assignment, he dealt with training and doctrinal aspects. The doctrinal study on counter-insurgency has probably been authored by him. There is a Pakistani writer who recently mentioned that Gen. Sharif does not have the personality of an Army Chief who would lead the nation into a war. I feel that Gen. Sharif in his time will mature, and find his own place among equals. I discount theories that he is not aggressive and not capable. He is an infantry officer with a good operational orientation and cerebral capability and has the right political backing.

    Under Gen. Sharif do you think there can be a reversal of Gen. Kayani’s confrontationist policy on the Line of Control?
    This year there have been several infringements of the ceasefire. It is very important for Pakistan to try and keep the fire of disgruntlement burning in Kash-mir.
    There are fewer than 250 terrorists in the Kashmir Valley now. Pakistan probably thou-ght if it does not act now, its ability to calibrate turbulence in the valley will be severely compromised.
    In late 2012, Pakistan probably decided that the LoC has to be re-activated because the Indian Army had its focus on the Jammu and Kashmir hinterland and was succeeding in moulding public opinion towards itself in a positive way. Many militant leaders were eliminated in focused coun-ter-terrorist operations. This is what was worrying the Pakistan Army. Given this, I don’t think there can be a drastic change towards J&K and towards India (as a whole). I don’t think anyone heading the Pakistan Army can take an overnight decision to suddenly switch off Kashmir. In the next six months, I don’t expect any change in policy.
    The Pakistan Army has been brought up on a diet of anti-Indianism. This basic orientation of the Pakistan Army will not change.

    Pakistan’s modified military doctrine war-ns of a disproportionate response vis-à-vis India.
    India’s doctrine of Cold Start (now called Proactive Strategy) — to address the problem of our slow mobilisation — has never really been enunciated. It, of course, worried pakistani-tan and they permanently moved some of their formations to more appropriate locations closer to the border. Earlier, Pakistan was able to mobilise forces much faster compared to India. Pakistan then decided to bring some offensive formations south of the Chenab. It also decided to adopt a policy of “react first and mobilise laterâ€.
    This is a very major change in the doctrine of Pakistan whereby Pakistan will rely on sw**ift and potent reaction with what is available and then supplement it with mobilisation.
    Should this not succeed, as a last act of desperation, Pakistan cou-ld well resort to the use of tactical nuclear weapons, a capability it is keenly developing. And there is an assumption that in any fallout with India, the Afghan border will be downplayed. One-third of their brigades are on the Afghan border. These will be brought back. They appear to have some kind of understanding with the Taliban that in case of any conflict with India, the Taliban will switch off and allow the Pakistan Army to react to the Indian Army.

    How would you react to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement — that Pakistan cannot win a war against India — which was made in response to a comment from the pakistani-tan Prime Minister which has since been denied?
    Pakistan’s strongest weapon is the weapon of denial. We should not be naive. PM Sharif’s purported statement — that Kashmir is a flashpoint and can trigger a fourth war with India — was part of political gamesmanship. Such aggressive verbal posturing is usual when a Pakistani Prime Minister visits Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. However, it is very significant that our Prime Minister has reacted to it. His message was unambiguous — that Pakistan cannot meddle militarily with India and ever hope to succeed. I think it was required and has effectively conveyed our stance. Mr Sharif may have been testing the waters.

    How do you see the current civil-military relations in Pakistan.
    The Pakistan Army’s relationship with the civilian government should pan out positively. The Pakistan Army does not want to take up governance of the country. It has too much on its hands already.

    What will be the Pakistan Army’s stra-tegy on its western border and Afghanis-tan ahead of the pullout of foreign troops next year?
    Pakistan is looking at stability. The Pakistan Army’s strategy is to weaken the Pakistani Taliban. It is not easy to defeat such an insurgency. The strategy would be to stabilise and to prevent further radicalisation. For Pak-istan, it is important to engage with Afghanis-tan and to ensure that no factor perceived to be hostile is allowed to germinate in its backyard.

    Some say the situation in Afghanistan has to be closely monitored in the context of infiltration into Kashmir.
    I don’t think there will be any sudden and sh**a**rp influx into J&K after the pullout of foreign troops from Afghani**stan.
    The Indian Army is alert on the LoC. However, Pakistan will continue moral and material support to separatism in Jammu and Kashmir with the possibility of keeping the LoC active to facilitate infiltration, as it has done in the past.

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