April '99     Vol 3      No 4     Reg No.SS-346

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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

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

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Ms Ambreen Jahangir

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From the Desk of the Publisher

and Managing Editor

Dear Readers,

The big news this month is the launching of Agni-2 by India, clearly targeting the peace process between India and Pakistan. However, why should Agni-2 concern us? Already India's available missiles can target any area in Pakistan, similarly Pakistan can target many areas in India. So if the range of the missile is increased, it is not bad news for us, it is bad news for countries like China, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Iran, etc. That vulnerability has been noted by the Chinese, who along with the US, have roundly condemned the Indian move. In the circumstances we had no chance but to test out GHAURI-2 and SHAHEEN. For Pakistan, more important is the appointment of an Acting Chairman JCSC. I am taking the liberty of re-producing elsewhere in the magazine an article on the subject written by me in the DJ in November 1997. My views remain the same as expressed in my article JCSC written for THE NATION and published on April 17, 1999, reproduced below.

One of the living beings I respect most in this world is Gen Sharif, the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC). Not only is he upright and correct he remains one of our finest military minds. For many of us Gen Sharif remains the role model of a professional soldier par excellence. unfortunately, like MacArthur, he has chosen the adage, "old soldiers never die, they simply fade away". Therefore, he mostly keeps his own counsel and does not find it professionally responsible to publicly comment on various issues. However, it is always a privilege to listen to his mature, considered views in private, particularly about Higher Defence Organisation (HDO), the concept of which he conceived and authored in the early 70s. In brief, Gen Sharif has always been a strong advocate of the necessity of a superior HQ to control the three Services, both in peacetime and during war. While agreeing with him about the imperatives, one begs to disagree with him on one vital issue, the question of who is to command the JCSC.

The PM has recently corrected two grave anomalies in the defence structure. First of all he has filled the post of the Chairman JCSC, albeit temporarily for a period of one year with acting Charge, and second and more important, he has opted for giving the charge to the Land Forces Commander, which is as it should be. Gen Sharif wanted the Chairman's slot rotated among the three Services, primarily to give the smaller Services the feeling of a vested stake in a coordinated command echelon and to avoid the feeling of being a perennial minority. While the basic feeling of Gen Sharif on the issue to create goodwill by apportioning of the command hat in turn is commendable, regretfully it is not practical.

Both airpower and seapower have a vital role to play in the defence of the country. As the recent two major conflicts, the Gulf War and the on-going Balkans war have shown, air power has a major influence on the course of battle, both to fulfil strategic objectives. Airpower has been backed by seapower, not only firing Cruise missiles and launching attack aircraft but moving men and material considerable distances. However, the holding of ground can only be accomplished by ground troops. Both in the Gulf and now in the Balkans, it is the deployment of ground attack helicopters backed by troops that will have bearing on the ultimate course of the battle. In the Gulf, it brought about a swift Iraqi capitulation, in the Balkans the limits of strategic bombing, even on a massive scale, has not brought Milosevic to his knees or stopped the ethnic cleansing of Kosovo. The introduction of Apache helicopters against enemy tank and troop concentrations will see some effects on the Serbian resolve to cleanse all Muslims from their hearth and home. In the deployment of air, sea and now land forces, one vital point has been unnoticed, who is the NATO Commander-in-Chief? As always, NATO's military boss is an Army man, in this case Gen Wesley Clark. The reason is that NATO has always envisaged primarily a land war in Europe and as such it is necessary to have a Land Forces Commander to head all the three Services, administratively and operationally. The NATO C-in-C is also the Ground Forces Commander.

Despite the vital role of the Navy in protecting our sea frontier and the air force to keep control over our airspace, any war with our enemy India will primarily be a land war. As such, it is the Army General, like in NATO, who is the Ground Forces Commander, who must have absolute control over the Armed Forces of the country. He is the person who must call the shots, not only in wartime but also in peacetime, to ensure that during times of crisis the three Services are coordinated towards a single mission, the defence of Pakistan. The mission dictates the deployment of forces, while it is true that cost dictates the size of the forces, particularly high cost ones like the Air Force and the Navy, the overall concept of threat perception in Pakistan is to have adequate land forces to counter possible enemy threat on the ground on different axis. Neither the Air Force Chief nor the Naval Chief would have the inherent professional knowledge of land conditions equivalent to that of a Corps Commander, as such it would be a luxury, just because of their feelings, to rotate the hat of the Chairman JCSC among them. One feels that the survival of the country is more important than anyone's feelings. If we were to accept such a theory then why not have doctors, aeronautical engineers, electrical and mechanical engineers as well. Control and Reporting personnel from the PAF, engineers in naval vessels etc. all lining up to become Chiefs in their respective Services. In the Army, the COAS can only be from one of the fighting arms, Armour, Infantry and Artillery. There are excellent officers from Engineers, which may even be counted by some as a fighting arm, EME, ASC, Ordnance, Army Aviation, etc. What about their "feelings" because they cannot become COAS? We should be very clear about the issue, the Chairman JCSC should be from the Army, this would avoid later heartburn among possible contenders in the Air Force and the Navy. Admiral Fasih Bokhari is a very fine professional military man, maybe he could have filled the slot, but could we take the chance against the country's survival?

Why have a single person to be both the Chairman JCSC and the COAS? The reason is that the Chairman JCSC must be hands-on commander of the land forces and he can only fulfil that if he has concurrent command of both. In that sense the use of the phrase GHQ (General Headquarters) as opposed to Army HQ is very significant. One feels that the JCSC structure can be modified to reflect reality and placed in the proximity of the Army HQ, both together being referred to very correctly as GHQ. A lot depends upon the force of circumstances as well as the personality and character of the individual who wears the ultimate hat. In 1976, when the JCSC was created, Gen Sharif was made the first Chairman. He was followed by Admiral Sharif from the Navy and then by his illustrious brother-in-law, the late Gen Iqbal Khan. Another outstanding soldier of great character and integrity. Because Martial Law was declared in 1977, a basic anomaly came up as Gen Ziaul Haq as COAS was junior to Gen Sharif but as Chief Martial Law Administrator (CMLA) and later President, he became senior. That was the death knell of HDO as it was conceived. The Chairman JCSC became largely a ceremonial figure despite his superior rank. The personalities of the Navy and the Air Force who came to the chair did nothing to create waves for their Services. Air Chief Marshal Farooq Feroz Khan was an unmitigated disaster in the sense he did virtually nothing except play golf. He is a living symbol of how "ceremonial" that post of Chairman JCSC had become.

General Jehangir Karamat, the last Acting Chairman JCSC and COAS was one of the most brilliant professional soldiers ever produced by the Pakistan Army. It was to be expected that in the year he spent as Acting Chairman JCSC he would bring about adequate reform that would correct the present anomalies in the command structure. It was during his time that the May 28 nuclear blasts took place and the requirements of command and control are more acute for nuclear operations, as such it was also expected that a Nuclear Command Authority would function with the Chairman JCSC as the man with the finger on the button, directly reporting to the PM. However, in one crucial issue Gen Karamat was found wanting, that is in decision-making, particularly at a time of crisis. His decision to resign symbolized this uncertainty, this indecision is fatal in command. While the way of his departure left a bad taste in the mouth, Gen Pervaiz Musharraf who succeeded him, is totally a different kettle of fish. By moving Corps Commanders within hours and days of his assumption of COAS to reflect the team he wanted, he showed himself to be a keen student of Richard Nixon's theory of not debating a point to death, instead he is known to be very decisive as a leader of men. It is very fitting that this thoroughly sound professional soldier, a field person as well as an above par staff officer, has assumed charge of JCSC, albeit as Acting Chairman. At least we now have a person as COAS who will take a decision when it is necessary, that is the only imperative of a superior command. The reform of JCSC with the added responsibility of the Nuclear Command should not take any length of time, it is an open and shut issue, the land forces commander must also be the man responsible to coordinate operational and administrative issues in the three Services, both during peace and war. With Gen Musharraf, one can be sure of one thing, reform will take weeks, not years. One feels that the PM must correct this anomaly now on his advice and put all speculation as well as uncertainty to rest. The Armed Forces must have one Commander. The PM must make this a settled issue immediately without delay.


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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