When Indian military failed to browbeat Pakistan and turn it into a compliant state through its military standoff in 2002 and in 2009 coupled with covert operations, and each time had to withdraw humiliatingly, it was decided by conspirators that heavier dosage of character assassination of Pakistan’s institutions and its leadership was required to further weaken Pakistan from within. Seven years of sustained covert war and propaganda war based on lies and deceit unleashed collectively by intelligence agencies of USA, India, Israel, Britain and Afghanistan had made appreciable gains on the civilian front but had failed to crack the defiance and resilience of Pak armed forces. For the accomplishment of their sinister objectives the Army and the ISI had to be sufficiently weakened. Pak Army had to be embroiled in self-defeating war on terror more deeply while the ISI had to be cut to size.
Accordingly, all guns were trained on these two premier institutions to malign their image and reputation. It was propagated that the ISI had become a rogue organisation and must be reined in since it was out of control of civil government and was aiding the Taliban and al-Qaeda. Consistent pressure was exerted on NRO-cleansed civil leaders to civilianise ISI and to bring it under the control of Rehman Malik-led Interior Ministry. ISI was accused of patronising Lashkar-e-Taiba, allegedly involved in Mumbai attacks. The Army was also ridiculed that it was either linked with the militants or didn’t have the heart to confront them.
While India mounted relentless pressure on Pakistan by blaming that it was involved in Mumbai attacks, the US-NATO from the western end adopted an aggressive posture by insisting that it intended to operate inside FATA. Pakistan-specific Af-Pak policy was framed to convert Pak-Afghan border into a single battleground. Drone attacks against suspected targets in Waziristan were accelerated. Alarm bells of Pak nukes getting stolen by Taliban or by Taliban sympathisers working within nuclear installations were continuously ringed. The plot makers intensified propaganda war to build up a perception that Pakistan had become the most dangerous place on earth and its nukes were unsafe and posed a threat to world safety. Simultaneously, suicide attacks and group attacks by RAW-sponsored terrorists were stepped up in all major cities of Pakistan. Intense pressure was mounted to force Pakistan Army to launch military operation against militants’ strongest positions in Bajaur, Swat and in South Waziristan. It was assessed that the Army, for sure, will get irretrievably stuck in at least one of the well-fortified strongholds. It was hoped that multiple actions would create conducive conditions for Indian military to launch the limited war by close of 2009.
While Indian political leaders and Indian media kept the temperature bubbling by indulging in sabre rattling after Mumbai attacks and refusing to resume composite dialogue, India’s former army chief Gen Deepak Kapoor living in the world of fantasy kept the military temperature high by threatening to launch a limited attack under nuclear overhang. Without being provoked, he got so worked up that he made the whole world chuckle when he boasted that his army could bulldoze its way through the combined armies of China and Pakistan.
His composite battle groups deployed in isolation along the border got tired of idling and started doubting the wisdom of impractical and mythical Cold Start doctrine which didn’t make any sense. They dread the call for a sudden plunge into the mouths of hungry sharks lying in waiting. One wonders, if Kapoor was feeling so powerful, what stopped him or his successor Gen VK Singh from bailing out US-NATO troops caught up in quagmire of Afghanistan and in great distress by making minced meat of dreaded Taliban? This is least expected of a strategic partner deriving huge economic and military benefits from its patron USA without firing a shot and shedding a drop of blood in war on terror.
When Indian Army kept flaunting its flawed doctrine but could not launch its battle groups, RAW feeling upset launched a series of terrorist group attacks in Lahore and Rawalpindi starting March 2009 to give vent to its frustration. Ominous schemes worked out by Pakistan’s adversaries got a severe blow as a consequence to Pak Army gaining a decisive edge over militants after achieving outstanding successes in Bajaur, Swat and South Waziristan in quick succession. This development coupled with the security situation in Afghanistan getting out of control of occupation forces at the dawn of 2010 changed the whole complexion and put the schemers on the back foot.
It compelled the US to start leaning on Pakistan rather than on India. However, the US instead of finding an amicable solution to Afghan imbroglio through dialogue wants Pakistan to become a party to its gory plan of dividing the Taliban and crushing them piecemeal. While all non-Pashtun elements in Afghanistan are anti-Pakistan, the US wants Pakistan to sever its links with each and every faction of Afghan Pashtuns as well thereby giving India lasting advantage in Afghan affairs in the future.
Pakistan Army instead of getting weakened has become more robust, professional and is well led and has maintained its defensive and offensive balance. Its mettle in war on terror and UN missions has been widely acclaimed by the world. Gen Kayani proved his mental calibre at the largely attended meeting of NATO at Brussels. It was for the first time that a non-NATO officer had this privilege to address the august gathering and he deeply impressed them. For full one year he has been resisting the pressure of USA to mount an operation in North Waziristan which is laudable. The operation will be launched sometime in 2011 when it suits Pakistan’s interests and not US interests. The ISI is looked at with awe and envy. Single-handed it has successfully battled with world’s six most advanced intelligence agencies and has frustrated their designs.
In the recently held Cambrian Patrol exercise organised by British Army in Wales from 8-13 October, which is considered to be the world’s toughest exercise and in which teams from all over the world including USA, UK, Canada, Germany, Australia and India took part, the team of 35 FF stood first and won the gold medal. The exercise envisaged testing of leadership qualities, teamwork, physical fitness and endurance, map reading and completing the assigned tasks within the stipulated time. Three cheers to the winners who have made us all proud.
I had the privilege of serving in this excellent unit as first Adjutant on its raising in 1971 under dynamic Lt Col Akram Raja Shaheed who earned Hilal-e-Jurat in 1971 Indo-Pak war in the battle of Bara Pind in Sialkot sector based on citation written by Indian officers.
With the induction of AWACs, JF-17 jet fighters, new batch of F-16 CD model jets, the PAF is feeling much more confident. With balanced ratio of hard-hitting submarines and surface warships and improved early warning means and naval air arm, the navy too is in high spirits. Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence is intact and its wide arrays of guided missiles including cruise missiles are much superior to Indian missiles. Gen Shameem Wynne whom I know personally since he was my student in 1982 Staff Course is an excellent choice to head Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee. He surely will further refurbish inter-services coordination and cooperation as well as upgrade missile and nuclear set up under competent Lt Gen Kidwai. The Strategic Force has become a force to reckon with and is well poised to act as the chief deterrent.