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♦Information♦ ISPR now maintains @OfficialDGISPR as its single official account. Another @ISPR_Official earlier maintained has been merged/closed by ISPR into same. Now any other account with ISPR tag would be fake. COAS expresses his grief on sad demise of ex Air Chief, Air Marshal Asghar Khan, Retired. An iconic soldier who will be remembered for his historic contributions for laying foundations of a strong Pakistan Air Force. May Allah bless his soul-Amen. @OfficialDGISPR Assist Punjab Rangers in operations. Report suspicious activity / information related to terrorism in Punjab direct to Punjab Rangers on following.. Call: 04299220030/99221230 SMS: 03408880047 WhatsApp: 03408880100 Email: [email protected] Postal Address: Headquarters Pakistan Rangers Punjab. 33 Ghazi Road Lahore General Public is requested to report any suspicious activity in Punjab, Balochistan and Sind regarding terrorists at universal no 1135 and for KPK at 1125. These numbers can be dialed directly without any code from mobile or PTCL No.
Rethinking National Security

Untitled DocumenOn a broader level, the geopolitical location of a country and regional dynamics of security, peace or war constitute the fundamental elements of national security. In this sense, geopolitical conditions can be benign or malignant, or these might change over time for good or worse depending on changes within the regional states or transformation of their ties from hostility to friendship and cooperation or from good neighbourliness to hostility.

The post-9/11 developments in the regional and on global level have negatively impacted Pakistan’s national security. Besides the debris of the unending Afghan war falling on Pakistan in the form of religious extremism, rise of militant groups and millions of refugees, we have been witnessing a gradual strategic shift in American policy in the region away from Pakistan towards India. In the background of war in Afghanistan, an evolving strategic partnership between India and U.S., whatever its justification, has created a negative effect on Pakistan’s security.

Other equally broad set of influences on national security spring from the internal features of the state — the state-society relations, nature of politics, economy, social cohesion or slow integration, and most importantly the character of the political elites and their commitment and capacity to ensure political stability, order and satisfaction of the populations. Failure in governance and declining capacities of the state to deliver necessary services to the people in developing countries has often produced dangerous ethnic, religious and extremist movements.

With this brief preface, let us consider the basic elements of national security confronting Pakistan in the light of prevailing geopolitical conditions. Much of the internal national security threats and problems have connections to the geopolitical order both as proxy intervention by adversarial powers and the non-state actors. But at the same time, the state and society have accumulated problems of ungovernability – failure of the ruling elites to establish rule of law and justice or pursue consistent development policies to raise the standard of living of the common people. Therefore, we need to look at the elements of national security as an integrated set of factors, rather than see them in fragments or parts.

There are two external elements of geopolitics of Pakistan that constitute a constant factor in Pakistan’s national security thinking. First, it is north-western borderlands stretching from Chitral in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to the border with Iran on the Arabian Sea. The peace and order along this long border and the neutrality of Afghanistan or its ‘buffer’ status had prompted the British colonialists to secure their imperial interests in British India. Pakistan inherited this geopolitical order without the power, influence or resources of the British global position. Worse, Pakistan, since independence, has seen the threats from the western border and beyond grow more complex than the British had faced. For instance, never did the British confront the Russians in Afghanistan; just the fear of it coming this way had prompted them to pursue ‘forward’ policy and wage self-destructive wars against Afghanistan. Pakistan has seen the predecessor of Russia, the Soviet Union, invade Afghanistan and stay in occupation for a decade. That event alone changed the fundamental dynamics of the conventional geopolitical order of Afghanistan and Pakistan. The millions of refugees, the rise of Mujahideen resistance, the American-led counter intervention of which our country was a frontline state and the mobilisation of Muslim youth by invoking sentiments of Jihad are the major factors causing the change.

In the 1980s, Pakistani State and society got sucked in to the Soviet-Afghan war in which imperatives of national security, Cold War politics and dangerous alliances with the non-state actors played a great role, leaving great negative imprint on the internal national security. As Pakistan was coming to grips with the post-Cold War regional realities, a new cycle of war — a third in row — began in Afghanistan with American-led military intervention in 2001. The war is now entering its 16th year, but the victory for the U.S. and its allies remains elusive.

Afghanistan has been, and will be, a strategic backyard of Pakistan. Its insecurity, instability, and wars have a direct impact on Pakistan’s stability and security. The militant groups on both sides of the borders as well as from Central Asia and the Middle East have found the empty spaces of Afghanistan a good refuge to hide and plan terrorist acts against Pakistan and other states/targets. Some of these terrorist groups have become proxy actors for hostile powers like India to destabilise Pakistan. The TTP leaders and militants are operating from sanctuaries within Afghanistan. Similarly, Baloch militants engaged in terrorist activities and those involved in sectarian targeting in Pakistan are also based in Afghanistan. Either the Kabul government is not in a position to control all its territories that allows anti-Pakistan militants to use its space or certain elements within its fragmented power structure are sponsoring these groups against Pakistan. In either case, threat from across the Western borders is real and has created a situation of two-front war with India.

The post-9/11 developments in the regional and on global level have negatively impacted Pakistan’s national security. Besides the debris of the unending Afghan war falling on Pakistan in the form of religious extremism, rise of militant groups and millions of refugees, we have been witnessing a gradual strategic shift in American policy in the region away from Pakistan towards India. In the background of war in Afghanistan, an evolving strategic partnership between India and U.S., whatever its justification, has created a negative effect on Pakistan’s security. The U.S. has encouraged India to play a much bigger role in Afghanistan in the name of trade and development assistance. India’s traditional influence with a certain constituency of Afghan leaders and groups now backed by the U.S. has weakened Pakistan’s relative advantage with the Afghan population. Despite cultural and historical ties, and enormous sacrifices in support of Afghanistan’s war against the former Soviet Union, Pakistan finds Afghanistan becoming increasingly under the influence of hostile intelligence agencies.

It is, and will be, an enduring imperative of Pakistan’s national security to deny Afghanistan as a space for adversaries to plan and carry out hostile acts against our citizens, security forces and national security interests. The choices that the Afghan leaders make about their allies and partners will have to be carefully evaluated in terms of security impact, and adequately responded to in order to prevent the use of Afghanistan as a base against our interests. There is material evidence in the present situation as well as from the past that some of the Afghan leaders and regimes have connived with our adversaries to harm us. While we strive for a friendly, peaceful and unified Afghanistan, we will have to work hard with the government in Kabul to prevent hostile use of the Afghan territory.

Pakistan has adequately prepared itself for meeting the challenge of Indian threat by maintaining a robust conventional defence and developing flexible nuclear deterrence capability. Our counter-force strategy has thwarted the Indian Cold Start Doctrine. This is one of the many reasons it has opted to use Baloch and Taliban proxies. Thus the situation at hand presents Pakistan with the challenge of an unconventional, low-intensity conflict. This might be a long and difficult war, but there is no escape from fighting it out by all means necessary. Not doing so or facing defeat is not an option.

There are unilateral security measures that Pakistan has rightly adopted to neutralise threats emanating from Afghanistan. Firstly, clearing the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan from the militants that had kept local populations hostage for many years was a painful but necessary first step towards ensuring national security. The TTP had been using the region as a sanctuary for militancy against the Pakistani state, citizens and security forces. With the cooperation of local population, which suffered enormous difficulties as internally displaced persons, the TTP has been defeated. However, its remnant elements have found safe havens in the adjacent tribal regions of Afghanistan.

Attacks by militants from across the border have influenced a new security paradigm: security along the international border, that had been left largely porous in the previous decades, would be the first line of defence against militants across the border. Pakistan has undertaken an ambitious, bold and much needed initiative to control the movements of peoples and contraband through this border. As a consequence of multiple sources of border control mechanism, after more than one-hundred and twenty years, the international border (old Durand Line) is going to change from soft to hard power. This will check smuggling, drug trafficking, inflow of terrorists and illegal immigrants from Afghanistan.

The unending war in Afghanistan is the primary source of conflict spillovers into Pakistan. It is in our interest to help regional and global powers to end this war. Peace and security of Afghanistan will have positive effects on stability and social order around its neighbours. But Pakistan alone, and no single power for that reason can end the war in Afghanistan. The real change has to occur in the strategic outlook of the United States and allies with the realisation on their part that continued war will hurt their interests in the region around Afghanistan.

Hostility of India, its occupation of Jammu and Kashmir and regional designs remain at the heart of Pakistan’s security calculations. We have a long history of unresolved disputes, wars and proxy intervention by India. Its military intervention in the East Pakistan crisis in 1971 was a watershed event in the strategic outlook of Pakistan. India initially provided sanctuary and support to separatist elements that its intelligence agencies had nurtured, and when it saw them losing ground, it militarily attacked East Pakistan, separating it from rest of the country. This was yet another lesson for Pakistan in realpolitik and a demonstration of the Indian intentions toward the country.

Hardly has India’s security outlook toward Pakistan and the region changed. Rather, it has become more aggressive and expansionist in political designs and strategic calculations. Since Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rise to power on the wings of Hindu nationalism with overly anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan tones, relations have touched the lowest point in decades. India is pursuing a policy of destabilisation by supporting Baloch and Taliban terrorist factions, and it is investing heavily in groups inside Pakistan to work against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. There is considerable evidence to show that India is using Afghanistan as a base for supporting these elements to carry out its agenda of destabilisation — a proxy war through use from the ‘empty’ places of Afghanistan.

Pakistan has adequately prepared itself for meeting the challenge of Indian threat by maintaining a robust conventional defence and developing flexible nuclear deterrence capability. Our counter-force strategy has thwarted the Indian Cold Start Doctrine. This is one of the many reasons it has opted to use Baloch and Taliban proxies. Thus the situation at hand presents Pakistan with the challenge of an unconventional, low-intensity conflict. This might be a long and difficult war, but there is no escape from fighting it out by all means necessary. Not doing so or facing defeat is not an option.

Pakistan has been in a war against terrorism for more than a decade. We have succeeded in evicting the TTP from Swat and from all tribal agencies of FATA. Populations once displaced from these regions have been rehabilitated with the support of new road and infrastructural development. Insurgency in Balochistan has been withering away, wearing out in the face of resentment within the Baloch populations against the militants. There are positive signs of contribution to the development and integration of Balochistan under the extensive CPEC projects that would be linking larger part of the province with all other provinces and China. The geo-economics of the Corridor is futuristic, historic and a powerful new element in the national security order of Pakistan. It is also a symbol and reflection of shifting alliances and strategic partnerships for stability and prosperity in the region.

Courtesy Hilal Magazine

The writer is an eminent defence/political analyst who regularly contributes for print and electronic media. Presently he is on the faculty of LUMS.

E-mail: [email protected]

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