Deterrence, Defence and Development
By General Mirza Aslam Beg
Nuclear status of a country often conjures up an image of invincibility and breeds a sense of complacence. Nations tend to lose sight of the fact that in the overall deterrence matrix, nukes matter but not entirely. Overloading of security on nuclear arsenal tends to create a false sense of security. Nuclear weapons are essentially weapons of peace and not war. Deterrence, as rightly said, is "the exploitation of a threat without implementing it, or exploiting the existence of weapons without activating them". A classic case of deterrence was when President Kennedy, placed US nuclear forces on red alert, when it was learnt through aerial intelligence that USSR was secretly installing medium range nuclear missiles in Cuba, and sent a credible message through naval blockade of Cuba, that nuclear war between the two super powers could not be averted unless USSR withdrew the missiles. The Russians withdrew on the condition that Cuba would not be attacked.
It was since then that the nuclear arms race between the two Super Powers became a strategic compulsion. Even with a smaller number of nuclear weapons, the Soviet Union had achieved the capability to inflict unacceptable damage to USA and its allies, but carrying deterrence too far, made it much too fragile and ultimately it collapsed because of Glasnost and Pestorika, which the nation was not prepared to absorb. China is maintaining quite an effective deterrence with a much lesser number of nuclear warheads. Nuclear weapons, therefore, do not fit into the game of numbers. What is important is that, the enemy gets an unequivocal message that, should it nourish any idea of aggression, it would, in retaliation suffer much greeter losses than gains.
President Eisenhower had conceived the concept of Massive Retaliation, against the adversary, which would have led to a nuclear war and wholesome destruction of both USSR and USA. Such a doctrine was non-implementable on practical grounds as it would tantamount to a suicidal venture rather than a military strategy. Kennedy, to ensure maximum gains with minimum losses, therefore replaced it with the strategy of deterrence through flexible Response - "a range of appropriate responses, conventional and nuclear, to all levels of offensive or threats of aggression". The idea was to augment it with more non-nuclear options, including ICBMs. In the context of Pakistan, the strategy of deterrence, through Flexible Response is applicable, based on minimum number of weapons. What is a minimal nuclear deterrence, is a national issue, a function of the political and military judgment, related to adversary's capability. Pakistan's nuclear policy, therefore is an attitudinal commitment, to refrain from stock-piling of nuclear weapons, but in case of India, the mind-set is just the opposite. An Indian strategic writer, Kalpana Chittaranian, cities J.F. Kennedy statement: "only when our arms are sufficient, beyond doubt, can we be certain that they should never be employed", and justifies that the same logic was also applicable to India.
Nuclear deterrence alone can not ensure security to Pakistan unless it is backed by an ideological propriety, aggressive diplomacy, and a viable conventional capability enjoying an optimum correlation of forces with India, and adjusted correctly to the required level of operational balance. India enjoys superiority of 2.5 1 in land forces; 7:1 in the Naval forces and 5:1 in Air forces, and this ratio has more or less remained unchanged for the last four decades. Whenever, India has attempted to impair this operational balance in its favour, Pakistan had to quickly restore it. In other words, Pakistan's security hinges on the overall operational balance achieved through conventional and minimal nuclear deterrence, which is the cheapest option Contrary to the popular belief, our nuclear programme is not all costly, as from 1975 till 1990, the total cost did not exceed $ 250 millions, which is less than the cost of one naval submarine.
What is imperative now is to make effective adjustments in the field of missiles so as to ensure a viable and well-integrated deterrence, dove tailing nuclear and conventional capabilities. To counter Pirthvi, Pakistani scientists came out with Ghauri as an appropriate equalizer. What is now needed is to integrate this missile, which is essentially India specific, into our defensive system. Pakistan need not bother about India's inter-continental ballistic missiles, which only go to reflect its extra-regional ambitions. Our short range Hataf II & III & Shaheen missiles have to be operationalised, to balance India's massive missile programme. Let India consume its energies and resources towards developing a hegemonic power clout. Pakistan's security compulsions are only limited to safeguarding its territorial integrity, based on its own military and political power potential.
Our security planners must not be the least perturbed over the jingoistic rehtorics of Indian political and military leaders. Our logistical stamina, to sustain the war was well over forty days, in 1991, and I am sure, it must now be atleast sixty days if not more. Any encounter with India would be a different story, this time, as compared to the wars of 1965 and 1971, because since 1972, with the establishment of the Armed Forces War College, the Pakistan armed forces have gone through an attitudinal and professional transformation, heralding a new era, as a watershed for creating a capability among the higher echelons of command, to evolve an integrated plan of war, to develop the supporting plans and to provide the resources of men and material for the implementation of the plans. This propriety of command and leadership was amply demonstrated in the Exercise Zarb-e-Momin in 1989, which made a radical, departure from stereotyped maneuvers and the self-defeating concept of holding formations. Now, our Armed Forces are fully tuned to fighting an offensive defence, with well tested concepts and strategies, even in an environment, where they may be outnumbered. these perceived capabilities of our armed forces, serve as a deterrence, and strikes fear into the hearts and minds of our enemies, thus achieving the ultimate objectives of the Quranic injunctions - ---------- (Keep busy with your preparations and security). Taking into account the intangible dimensions of deterrence, the war, for a Muslim is an obligation, and preparedness and training are part of divine commandments. For prayers and fastings there are laid down limitations, but for military preparedness, it is an all time commitment.
Based on 1971 euphoria and grandiose power perception, if India embarks upon aggression against Pakistan, then this war would be fought mainly on the Indian soil, and Kashmir will be liberated sooner than expected. It is therefore not easy for India to initiate offensive against Pakistan, or open up another front. its over six million ground troops are committed in Kashmir and pulling them out at this stage of high insurgency, would not be easy. No doubt, India has marked superiority in Air and Navy, yet Pakistan is well equipped to fight effective defensive battles in air and sea. Just as India's nuclear ego was deflated, by appropriate counter blasts by Pakistan, the Kashmiri Mujahideen have shattered the myth of invincibility of the Indian army. the five hundred odd Mujahideen (termed 'infiltrators' as per Indian claim) could not be ousted from Kargil-Daras positions, by the massive Indian ground troops and commissioning of its air force and gun ships. Dubbing them "infiltrators", or "mercenaries" is to blind oneself to the basic reality that the war of liberation in Kashmir, has altogether different dimensions, where 'Jehad' is linked with "faith", conviction and commitment. However, out of sheer desperation, India might decide to capture Pakistani salients across the L of C, which would offer advantage to India. Therefore, the salients of Bagh, Punch, Kotli and Bajawat, must be defended strongly.
The success, Mujahideen have gained in Kargil, is a reward for their relentless struggle against forces of oppression. Much has yet to be attained - the total liberation of the India held territory of Kashmir. To say that it is a violation of LOC, is indeed a ridiculous proposition, for after all, what is insurgency supposed to accomplish? Maintenance of status-quo is not the objective. India's track record of violations of LOC, is poor. the most blatant one being the occupation of Siachin territory in 1984, against the spirit of Simla Agreement. Now when the Mujahideen have recaptured Kargil, India is making a hullabaloo, just to hoodwink the world opinion. the Mujahideen have indeed shattered the 'pride' of the Indian army just as the Armed Forces of Egypt had done to Israel by breaking the Barlieve Line in 1974, but unfortunately the achievements were bartered away at Camp David. Let not a similar ruse compromise the heroic achievements of the Kashmiri freedom fighters. The Pakistani nation, nor the Mujahideen would ever accept a quid pro quo on Kargil-Daras - a suggestion being mooted by USA. The recent visit by General Zini of USA shows a clear bias towards the Indian stance, and complete disregard for the sacrifices of the people of Kashmir. Under such pressure, therefore, our position on Kargil-Daras, must not be compromised because that would tantamount to act of betrayal of the sacrosanct cause of the Kashmir struggle.
Pakistan's security is inter-linked with that of Afghanistan and Iran and despite all efforts by our adversaries to cause dents in the relationship, they have not succeeded as the primordial bonds of affinity and brotherhood are too strong to be erased by divisive propaganda ploys. this tie, need to be strengthened, so that the concept of strategic depth, based on attitudinal harmony and congruence, transcends physical proximity. Between China and Pakistan there exists strategic consensus on issues having bearing on peace and stability of the region Pakistan, therefore is not isolated and vulnerable. These geo-political realities, therefore, determine the paradigm of our national security.
It is not in our interest to provoke a war with India. Similarly it is not in India's interest to initiate war against Pakistan. There are good reasons to believe that there shall be no war between India and Pakistan.
1. For political reasons, the BJP government would like to force the Mujahideen out of Kargil-Daras heights before September elections through military intimidation and coercive diplomacy, as they are being blamed for having lost Kargil and Daras heights.
2. The heavy commitment of ground troops in Kashmir, makes Indian army's projected offensive against Pakistan, weak and uncertain of achieving the war objectives. If they get involved at both ends, they might loose Kashmir, earlier than expected.
3. India knows it well, that in case of an all out war, China, Afghanistan and Iran, will support Pakistan meaningfully and particularly Afghanistan who may be directly involved in Pakistan's war against India.
4. For the fear of a nuclear war breaking-out, the United States of America and the G-8 countries, shall intervene to prevent an all out conventional war between India and Pakistan.
5. The perceived capabilities of the Pakistani armed forces and their state of preparedness, serves as a strong deterrence.
There is recurrent criticism that Pakistan is over spending on defence. This issue can not be seen in isolation. India, has imposed three wars upon us, since half a century of our existence. In the recent developments in Kargil, the Mujahideen have out maneuvered Indian troops by establishing commanding positions at higher altitudes, causing frustrations for India manifesting a typical sabre-rattling mentality, out of desperation. All pointing figures are towards Pakistan. However, with a perpetual state of confrontation, and the threat of an all out war, Pakistan can ill afford to reduce its defence budget. India spends about $ 9.8 billion on defence, which is about 2.8 percent of its Gross Domestic Product, while Pakistan spends 3.2 billion - almost 6% of its Gross Domestic Product, to be able to maintain a minimum level of operational balance. In 1992, India spent (in billions) $ 6.06; in 1993, $ 6.88; in 1994, $ 7.40; in 1995, $ 7.58; in 1996, $ 8.31; in 1997 $ 9.71 and in 1998 $ 9.81. As compared to this Pakistan spent in 1992 $ 3.60; in 1993 $ 3.30; in 1994 $ 3.50; in 1995 $ 3.60; in 1996 $ 3.70; in 1997 $ 3.30 and in 1998 $ 3.20 Analysis of these figures clearly testify to the fact that India has regularly enhanced the defence budget substantially, whereas in the case of Pakistan, it has remained more or less constant. In fact it does not even cater for the inflation.
In the 1999-2000 budget, 45% would be spent on the repayment of debts, and 22% for defence, 15% on essential services, subsidies, grants etc., leaving only 18% for development purposes, which is far too meager a sum to sustain the economy which is really in distress. I do not recommend anything extra for the defence, but I would certainly demand that the armed forces level of reserves of ammunition, and POL (petrol, oil and lubricants) be raised to sixty days, if already not done so. Knowing the officers and men of the armed forces, their level of education, training and the qualities of head and heart to fight outnumbered, we have every chance of winning the war with India, if imposed on us.
Without firm economic base the structure of security can not be sustained. Therefore, the need for our economic planners with vision to extricate the country from the economic chaos. Security is in good hands, let economists of the country come up to meet the challenge. With better economic resilience, Pakistan would be well poised to face the ordeal. the threat from India has induced a new spirit of national cohesion and unity, which is a valuable asset for the government, to use for this purpose. The Mujahideen have taken the decision to liberate Kashmir. They have occupied Kargil, Daras and batalik heights. Tomorrow they shall move forward to hold Zojila Pass, and Srinagar, and force India to negotiate peace. Pakistan must therefore act, under the Law of Intervention, as interpreted by United states and the allies. Pakistan has much at stake, in Kashmir. Now is the opportunity to settle, this core issue, which has maintained a climate of conflict and confrontation in south Asia, for over half a century.
India's obduracy to scuttle freedom struggle of the Mujahideen through sheer brute force is anachronistic. Some one has rightly said: "The age of chivalry has gone; the age of humanity has come." It demands respect for the rights of all people - the right of self determination for the people of Kashmir, who have sacrificed so much for the cause of freedom.