March 2000     Vol 3      No 8     Reg No.SS-346

Publisher & Managing Editor:
Ikram-ul-Majeed Sehgal

Chief Patron
Air Marshal (Retd)

Mohammad Asghar Khan

Lt Gen (Retd) SF Lodi

Brig (Retd)TH Siddiqi
Lt Gen (Retd) Imtiaz Waraich

Board of Editorial Advisors
Ardeshir Cowasjee

Arif Nizami
Ms Maleeha Lodhi
Ms Nasim Zehra
Hameed Haroon
Humayun Gauhar
Ambassador (Retd) Afzal Mahmood

Brig (Retd) Saeed Ismat, SJ

Panel of Contributing Editors
Air Marshal (Retd) Ayaz A. Khan

Vice Adm (Retd) IF Quadir
Dr Shireen Mazari
Farhan Bokhari

Panel of Columnists
Col (Retd) EAS Bokhari
Col (Retd) Abdul Qayyum
Dr. Matiur Rahman
Ms Amina Jilani
Capt (Retd) A.A. Jilani

Executive Editor
Ms Ambreen Jahangir

Vice President Marketing
Syed Tauseef  Muhammad Ali

Advertising Manager
Naushad Alam

Internet Coordinator/Graphic Designer
Rizwan Alam Khan

Cover Design
Shujaat Ali

Vice President (Circulation & Accounts)
Ms Parveen Akhter

Printing Manager
Tariq Jamal

PR/Advertising (Rawalpindi/Islamabad)
Brig (Retd) Asmat Beg Humayun

AVP Coordination (Lahore)
Azizullah Goheer

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From the Desk of the Publisher

and Managing Editor

Dear Readers,

Unreal as it may sound, we may be very close to war with India. India's latest provocation was an absolute atrocity, its commandos slipping across the border to slit the throats of women and children, keeping at par with the psyche of the present BJP rulers, all associates of Naturam Godse, the man who shot Mahatma Gandhi for seeking rapprochement with Pakistan. The COVER STORY is dedicated to nuclear affairs, South Asia being a possible flashpoint. Two very interesting articles by Dr. Shireen Mazari and Brig (Retd) Saeed Ismat, SJ appear on the subject. I am taking the liberty of re-producing my article 'LIMITED WAR' written for THE NATION, Mar 4, 2000.

If the sabre-rattling from across the borders is to be believed, we are in for a short, sharp limited engagement with the Indians before the summer heat takes over. While some of it is clearly election rhetoric, as a matter of caution we must take most of it as being deadly serious. Vajpayee and Co were contesting in four crucial States, in this they have been reasonably successful, BJP gaining ascendancy in Haryana and Orissa in tandem with their regional allies. However the Indians have been smarting over Kargil, while a diplomatic disaster for Pakistan on the ground the Indian Army took severe losses in men and material. Despite the Bollywood-ish creation of an aura of 'victory', the morale factor of the Indian Army (and Air Force) took a major pounding. As much as the Indians would have their own public and the world to believe otherwise, the body bags returning from Kargil to distant towns and villages told their own story, there is a seething frustration behind the rapid escalation in border incidents by the Indians in recent weeks. Moreover, India has seen in Chechnya etc that the world pays scant attention to international norms of the conduct of war unless it encroaches on their vital interests. At the moment the west's attention is directed towards terrorism and India is busy whipping up their fears on that account, from Osama Bin Laden to the Kathmandu hijack, Harkatul Islam, etc. In any possible conflict between India and Pakistan the west will always have the nagging apprehension that faced with a military debacle, either State may go nuclear, with a holocaust in the making and catastrophic consequences thereof.

It is quite apparent that 'limited war' when it comes will be initiated by India in or in the vicinity of Kashmir, exercising the option to take out some strategic targets to circumscribe Pakistan's potential to wage a long war. For the past few weeks there has been a systematic escalation in intrusions and provocation, backed up by a massive publicity blitz. On the ground, artillery exchanges have intensified, as have some set-piece attacks by Indians on border outposts (BOPs) along the Ceasefire Line (CFL). The worst incident was a cross-border incursion by Indian commandos targeting civilians in a brutal atrocity where the throats of women and children were slit. As the snow melts and logistics improve for conduct of ground operations, it is to be expected that the Indian Army, backed closely by the Air Force, both with fixed wing strikes and helicopter gunships, will make a push for Azad Kashmir (or adjacent) territory of some strategic or even tactical significance. Given the quantum of Indian forces within Occupied Kashmir, given their offensive balance and interior lines of communication, our intelligence will have to be fine-tuned to predict precisely where an Indian attack will come and in what quantum. There could even be simultaneous attacks to create diversion, to disperse our defence effort. There is no question that steps have to be taken to counter any possible Indian lodgement before it becomes threatening. However, to expect to hold the Indians everywhere given their overwhelming numbers would be over-optimistic and we could well have to give ground in the fast flush of any assault, preparatory to launching counter-attacks to restore the line in the area of incursion (or even in the vicinity of) to put the enemy off balance. If the Indian incursion goes beyond parameters that can be easily contained, then off course, a more detailed response will be necessary.

In short, Pakistan cannot afford India's imposing of limited war on us. Our response should not be limited to containing Indian adventure but to go for vital Indian ground elsewhere along the international border, this may well lead to all-out war. In the fitness of things we must make our possible response clear to friend and foe alike so that any misconceptions about our reactions do not end up in fatal miscalculation by the world community about how much nonsense we are prepared to absorb from the Indians before turning up the heat and countering their threat effectively.

We need to seriously get our media 'A' team in action, both in intellectual and creative content, where it matters. And it is no use presenting the same hackneyed arguments on domestic TV, that may be good enough for domestic public consumption but it is mostly a waste of time internationally. We have to convince the world of our cause and the world listens to BBC, CNN, NBC, FOX, etc. Most of our presentations are made by rank amateurs, who lack both credibility and the ability to communicate the thrust of our point of view effectively. There is usually a selfish motive attached of personal aggrandisement in pursuit of one's ambitions at the expense of the country, a very steep price for the nation to pay.

Are we ready to engage in limited war? In a sense we have been fighting that in Siachen and along the CFL for years. In the continuing phase of delegating officers to the civil cadres for various reasons of governance there is a pervasive feeling among the masses of inadequate military preparation both physically and psychologically. Mature and responsible the military hierarchy may be, howsoever sure about their military prowess in the face of overwhelming Indian numerical superiority we need every able-bodied man to hold the line from the first hour of conflict. Thank God things are not as bad as they were during Kargil in the summer of 1999 when WAPDA had the services of the core of the Army in the form of young officers, JCOs and NCOs from 'the thin khaki line' on a national economic mission, dangerously reducing our capacity to wage war for that limited period of time. This time we do have units which are out in the field for the de-silting of canals, other than the Army's many monitoring teams across the length of the land. Whenever units go out in 'aid of civil power' from peacetime location, the General Staff plans to keep them in the vicinity of their battlefield locations, these can be switched from peacetime to wartime role without much ado. The need for Monitoring Teams, at the very least the reduction in their composition needs to be re-evaluated. Even then a nagging perception remains that the Army has been diverted from its primary mission, the defence of the integrity and sovereignty of the country. Unfortunately for Pakistan, our experiment in dynastic politics had brought the nation to economic and political ruin, this bankruptcy had reduced us to a stage where without a war being fought the integrity and sovereignty of the nation was seriously threatened. The Oct 12 coup was a reaction to events rather than any initiating of a course of change. The short-term alternative was possible civil war, the long-term alternative was deep politicisation of the Army, i.e. if during the period the economic condition had not deteriorated to the stage that maintaining any defence capability would have become a luxury. As such there was no option but to intervene to get good governance back into the body politic of Pakistan. We are now faced with Hobson's Choice, as the Army is drawn more deeply into civilian affairs, the Indians are raising the ante to deliberately put us in a midst of a crisis-ridden crossroads. Do we send in 'Brigadiers' into every conceivable department as a panacea for all ills, that by itself being a moot point in the face of the escalating Indian threat? On the other hand those who run the affairs of the State would be well advised to read 'Why do Martial Laws fail' THE NATION, June 29, 1995 before they bring the nation - and themselves - to grief. There are striking similarities to previous military regimes which all began with sincere intent but ended in a welter of frustration, the national psyche corroded by blatant nepotism when the Army got embroiled into more than was necessary - and then was not able to fight a war with its full potential.

One fully expected the Indians to open up other fronts to relieve the pressure in Kargil but the Indian Armed Forces had severe material and morale deficiencies in their military posture, particularly in the Air Force and the Navy. The Indian COAS had denuded his strike forces in the Punjab plains and in the desert to rush every possible man and gun upto the Kargil stretch. The military Order of Battle (ORBAT) became lop-sided. We were lucky, this may not happen again. The Indians have been more deliberate over the past year, doing their homework even while smarting under the Kargil drubbing. To raise the morale of their Armed Forces and even the psychological balance, an adventure is very much possible by the beginning of summer, maybe sooner than later after US President Clinton's visit. To ensure we are not wrong-footed by the 'limited war' that may well erupt we should re-adjust our forces allocated to civilian governance to ensure favourable tactical and strategic balance.

The views, opinion and recommendations expressed in the articles published in this magazine are entirely that of the author of that particular article, this magazine serves only as a neutral platform for healthy debate where contrary thoughts in print are considered an important cornerstone of the freedom of expression enshrined as the essence of democracy.

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