Archive | August, 2013

Mounting pressure on Pakistan has nothing to do with Cross-LOC firing

14 Aug

LoC-BSF-ReutersSinking of a submarine, docked in the home port, due to any reason is a very dear loss to any navy because subs are very expensive platforms. Everyone is clear that sinking of Indian sub, INS Sindhurakshak, was due to fire but the statement of an ex-chief of Indian Navy making a vague reference to sabotage rings the alarm bells. If this comes out as a reason for sinking of the sub and killing of officers and sailors on board, this could be used as a ploy to blame Pakistan yet again. This is not skepticism; the developments rapidly taking place between India and Pakistan during the last two weeks suggest that Indians are seeking an occasion to escalate the tension.

First it was Indian Army Chief, Gen Bikram Singh, accusing Pakistan for killing of five soldiers by Pakistan’s elite SSG commandos. The soldiers were stated to be on night patrol on the Line of Control (LOC) between the two countries when they were allegedly ambushed and killed. Indian government made a statement in the parliament that the soldiers were killed by terrorists donning Pakistan Army’s uniform.  There was uproar in the parliament by the opposition parties demanding to accuse Pakistan Army and ISI and suspending dialogue between the two countries. The pressure was mounted to such a scale that the government had to cave in and revise its statement and accuse Pakistan’s SSG commandos. Pakistan’s High Commission in New Delhi was attacked; bus service stopped by goons threatening Pakistani passengers and offices of Pakistan’s airline also attacked.

The dispassionate analysts watching the developments were not convinced. They were appalled at the level of dis-information. They were asking questions; the soldiers have clear instruction to wear bullet-proof vests while on patrol but three of the five killed had gunshots on their chests. This clearly meant that the soldiers were not on patrol and were in their resting place. Previous pattern of fighting among the soldiers suggested that they might have fought amongst themselves and killed each other and the Indian Army distorted facts to cover up the incident.

Ever since the killing on LOC, there have been numerous incidents of cross-border firing, each country blaming the other for cease-fire violation. Pakistani government under Nawaz Sharif has demonstrated remarkable restraint issuing no statement that could complicate the matter. However, New Delhi has not reciprocated the gesture because of fear of backlash from media and opposition parties. Anti-Pakistan rhetoric wins political parties massive support and Indian elections are around the corner. The ruling Congress government knows that any mis-step at this juncture could result in political cost. The politicians in both the countries are not known for maturity and statesmanship; they can do literally anything to grab votes.

Elections are not the only reason for Indian brinkmanship; Pakistan is passing through the deadliest period of its 66 years and it is time that India could add to Pakistan’s miseries through threats of war. There has been record number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan by TTP and BLA. Both these terrorists’ outfits are funded by Indian RAW and operate from Afghanistan where India has established more than 15 consulates. Having no real consular work, these are used as conduits to transfer funds and weapons to these terrorists.

With 2014 approaching fast and NATO troops leaving Afghanistan, the pro-Indian government of president Karzai may not survive pro-Pakistan Taliban fighters. India is desperate to have its share of influence in Afghanistan but it has not so far succeeded. It wants to squeeze Pakistan from within through the terrorist organizations broadly perceived to be its proxy and from LOC to weaken it to such a scale the Pakistan could not have a say in the matters of Afghanistan. Taliban are expected to be the next rulers of Afghanistan and it would be wonderful if their sole supported, Pakistan is kept under pressure.

The cross-LOC firing incidents are not random; these are prelude to something more sinister. Indians are hell-bent to escalate tensions for political and strategic reasons. But the escalation may spiral out of control as no one would be able to stop Pakistan from exercising the option of first use of nuclear weapons if Indians did not stop here.

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Courts and media should be made to understand that Pakistan is at war

10 Aug

NSPakistan is in the grip of terrorism of unprecedentedly escalated proportion. The fundamental objective of escalated activities of the terrorists is to arm-twist the political leadership to bring them to negotiating table and enforce the conditions of their choice. The political leadership is so confused that it has not even outlined the draft of a Counter-terrorism Strategy. Two of the three political parties ruling Pakistan are known for their sympathies for the terrorists being oblivious of the fact that TTP, LeJ and BLA are operating against the state of Pakistan from their bases in Afghanistan and funded and aided by India and anti-Pakistan international establishment.

Terrorism in Pakistan is not new of its kind; we have seen terrorism in South Asian region and the way it was fought and eliminated. The most brilliant example is that of Sri Lanka which fought Tamil terrorists, Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or Tamil Tigers (LTTE) for a decade. Originally belonging to India’s Tamil Nadu state, Tamils were brought to Sri Lanka by the British as expatriate workers and were a minority against the Sinhala majority. While Sinhala professed Buddhism, Tamils were predominantly Hindus. The Tamil insurgency was originally sponsored by Indian establishment but when it withdrew support, Tamils killed Rajiv Gandhi in a suicide attack.

By all standards, LTTE insurgency was massive keeping in view the size of security forces of Sri Lanka. But the way Sri Lanka countered it with matching response; we have yet to see in Pakistan. Sri Lankan armed forces are no match to those of Pakistan both in professional excellence, equipment, commitment and size. Yet, Pakistan has not been able to control terrorism because political governments lacked the courage to and are constantly busy in undermining the security establishment rather than strengthening them.

The military and political analyses of success of Sri Lanka in eliminating the menace of terrorism, carried out by various think tanks, converge on focusing the attention of fighting it heads-on. Pakistan can learn a lesson or two when it has started thinking about formulating a National Security Strategy.

The first lesson is that military action against the enemies of the state should be focused and all criticism of clergy, HR activists and the populist courts playing to the galleries should be ignored, if not out rightly rejected. Sri Lanka adopted the strategy of telling domestic and international critics to go to hell and concentrated on the job of completely eradicating the terrorism.

No respectable government will ever enter into peace negotiations with criminals and those fighting against the state. The befitting response is negotiations through the barrel of the gun the nation buys through hard-earned income of tax payers. This is the easiest way of dealing with the insurgents and terrorists but it also amounts to ceding the space to the criminals. Negotiations and cease-fire in fact provide terrorists a golden opportunity to regroup and strengthen themselves. One of the success factors of Sri Lankan counter-terrorism was, and a lesson for Pakistan is, the policy of no-negotiations and no cease-fire.

Mass media is an effective weapon used by enemies and, particularly the terrorists, to defeat the armies. This is fourth generation warfare (4GW) and if media of the country starts building negative perception about own army and positively project the terrorists’ viewpoint, no country can win war against terrorists. This is exactly what’s happening in Pakistan. Everyone knows that BLA terrorists are operating under the sponsorship of a neighboring country but a section of Pakistani media projects them as disgruntled youth against “atrocities” of Pakistan army. The terrorists get public approval through media and Sri Lankan government was mindful of this fact. They muzzled the media in the best national interest and properly regulated it so that misdeeds of the terrorists do not get glorified. In order to fight against militancy, state institutions need to keep a check on the media to see their source of funding and their connections. Proper regulation of media is the third best lesson Pakistan can learn from Sri Lanka.

Fighting enemies of the state is the domain of armies in every country. When a country is at war, its armed forces should have total operational freedom and their conduct of war should not be allowed to be hampered by courts and politicians. This is a golden lesson that Pakistan should learn from Sri Lanka.