Why Pakistan Armed Forces are Indo-centric?

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Sultan M Hali:

India has never accepted Pakistan’s existence and always considered the division of Bharat a cardinal sin. The members of the Indian Congress had initially agreed to the partition with the understanding that the fledgling nation would barely survive a few weeks. Enough impediments had been placed in its path to ensure its destruction. The mass exodus of Muslims from India headed towards Pakistan and freedom but was set upon by marauding hordes of extremist Hindus and Sikhs, who looted raped and massacred the refugees. Pakistan’s share of the assets both in terms of finances, machinery and weapons was not handed over to the new state.

To tighten the screw on Pakistan, Kashmir, Hyderabad, Junagadh and other Muslim states were annexed through forceful occupation. In all this turmoil, one institution remained a thorn in India’s side and that was the Pakistan Army. Bedraggled and under-equipped, the Pakistan Army mostly comprised stragglers, who had themselves barely escaped from the mad frenzy of the communal rioters. It goes to the credit of Pakistan’s founding fathers, Quaid-e-Azam and Liaquat Ali Khan, who thwarted the machination of the Indian Congress, which wanted the Indian armed forces to remain undivided under one on Commander-in-Chief after the departure of the British. The duo of Quaid and Liaquat saw through the macabre Congress stratagem since it would have left Pakistan undefended and at the mercy of the Indian malevolence.

Congress did not want Pakistan to have separate defence because it wanted Pakistan to crumble and beg to be taken back into the fold of united India or failing which, India would gobble up the fledgling Pakistan. After Independence, our founding fathers organized the Armed Forces and deputed them to protect the incoming refugee caravans. The first test for the army and air transport elements of the air force came when India occupied Kashmir. It was baptism under fire but Pakistani Armed Forces despite being outnumbered and ill equipped and devoid of directions from their British Commanders, did well to liberate a sizable portion of Kashmir from the clutches of Indian occupation and would have unshackled the rest of the Valley if India did not approach UN for a ceasefire and agreed to the UN Resolution calling for a plebiscite to settle the Kashmir issue. Pakistan Armed Forces went to war twice more in 1965 and 1971 and nearly in 1999 at Kargil but the Kashmir issue remains unresolved.

Pakistan Army may have committed the folly of upsetting the applecart of democracy by usurping power four times, for which they are answerable to the people of Pakistan and the current dispensation in the Army is trying to make amends. As far as India is concerned, it partly realized its dream of dismembering Pakistan, when it stage-managed the turmoil in 1971 and ultimately severed our eastern wing from us. It has tried similar tactics in the western wing too. Operation Meghdoot (1984) to capture Siachen; Operation Brasstacks (November 1986-March 1987) in which General Sunderji had grand designs of dismembering Pakistan at its narrowest belt opposite Rajasthan; Operation Parakram (December 13, 2001 – June 10, 2002) when belligerent India amassed its troops on its borders with Pakistan; following 26/11 Mumbai attacks, India contemplated surgical strikes. These Indian adventurisms were thwarted by the vigilant Pakistani Armed Forces, backed by a credible nuclear arsenal. Ultimately, in December 2009, Indian Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor croaked that India has developed, modified and tested the Cold Start Strategy to take on Pakistan with conventional weapons before the nuclear weapons can be deployed or launched.

If anyone still has doubts why Pakistan’s Armed Forces are Indo-Centric, they should listen to Indian Army’s musings. Its 19th Chief of Army Staff, General Ved Parakash Malik, who in his Observer Research Foundation discourse of January 2010k titled ‘India’s Strategic Culture and Security Challenges’ spills the beans: “We must realize that our enemy is not Pakistan or its civil society. It is the Pakistan Army.” He qualifies his conclusion by claiming that “Our major security problem with Pakistan currently is terrorism. Experts in India and abroad have no doubt that the 26/11 Mumbai incident originated in Pakistan, and like most such incidents in the past, it was encouraged and supported by the ISI, which works under the Pakistan Army. Even Dr Manmohan Singh said, there is enough evidence to show that, given the sophistication and military precision of the attack, it must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan.” Dr. Manmohan Singh would be better advised to look for the sophistication and military precision provided by agencies closer to home.

The ill informed V. P. Malik rambles on: “The Pakistan Army, for long, has maintained its unholy alliance with terror organizations through the ISI. Recently, General Musharraf called the ISI as its strategic arm and its first line of defense. He has also confirmed that the ISI maintains representation in all jehadi outfits to promote the Pakistan Army’s strategic interests. Last year, the Pakistan Army refused to place the ISI under civilian political leadership.”

Now examine the events in the past few years. Pakistan’s Armed Forces have been the prime targets of terror attacks as well as a maligning and smear campaign in international media, at times quoted in the local media. Reports of Indian involvement in terror activities in Swat, Balochistan and FATA indicate a concerted effort to ensnare the Army in combating terror. It goes to its credit that the Army has achieved success against the perpetrators of terror attacks but it has had to pay a heavy price in human lives. While the nation suffers the agonizing terror attacks, losing innocent lives in the dastardly attacks, it is comforting that its Armed Forces act as a bulwark to frustrate Indian nefarious designs. Attempting to make Pakistan redeploy its forces from its eastern borders to the northwest, India tried to use the shoulders of USA but Pakistan is cognizant of the clear and present danger from India. Now VP Malik has confirmed that “Pakistan Army is India’s enemy”; no wonder our Armed Forces remain India-centric.

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