GHAURI AND ITS AFTERMATH
Lt Gen (Retd) JAVED NASIR, former
Director General ISI,
The successful launching of Ghauri by Pakistan on the morning of 06 April 1998 has given Pakistan a new status - it has become member of the selected elite. It has also helped raise the sagging morale of the Pakistani nation whose apprehensions were well founded on the utterances of the BJP leaders during the recent election campaign in India where the BJP has already formed the Government in a hung parliament. How big a success Ghauri is for Pakistan - the reactions from India and USA are the true indicators.
The reaction from India carried no surprise. As expected it started with panicky statement gradually culminating into threats to put the equally panicky nation at ease. The US reaction was a mixture of threats and manifestation of hypocrisy and duplicity. To say the least the US was shocked that Pakistan Government did not pay any heed to the message it sent through General Jahangir Karamat to put back the test firing by 6 months during which the visits of the US Army COAS and President Clinton were articulated. It was the assessment of US state department that Mian Nawaz Sharif was too courteous a gentleman not to oblige a guest of the standing of US President. Had therefore Pakistan agreed to postpone the test firing - it would have come under tremendous pressure perhaps in return for some more 'peanuts.' The US media under-played Pakistan's achievement by side tracking the issue by asserting that Pakistan had pirated the North Korean technology. The US Government expressed grave concern and saw India and Pakistan going in a nuclear war and as such threatened sanctions against Pakistan, at the same time appreciating India's restraint? There is nothing surprising - the US had been wooing India ever since the division of the sub continent in 1947. For US the preference has always been India - Pakistan was only a poor second choice and that too whenever there was a compulsion in the dictates of US foreign policy for a temporary phase.
In questions of national security, a country's own strategic perception must take priority over all other factors. For Pakistan the US friendship has all along been a story of betrayals. In the Fifties it joined the Cento and Seato which categorically provided no security against the main threat emanating from India- Pakistan thus became a pawn in the super power rivalry - one of the two countries which allowed the U-2 Spy planes to take off from its bases - the other being Turkey. It is interesting to note that the latent hatred and enmity that US harboured about Islam and Muslim countries is reflected transparently from the U-2 flight schedule. No Christian or non-Muslim state agreed to expose itself to the threat of USSR. Pakistan's net gain was a threat from Khrushev to wipe out Pakistan from the world map for allowing US Spy planes to use its territory against USSR. The Russian veto on Kashmir was the reward Pakistan got for joining Cento & Seato.
In 1962 during India's debacle against the Chinese when only one infantry brigade was left against Pakistan's border and Pakistan could have easily sealed Kashmir within 24 hours by closing the noose around its neck at Madhupur, it was the US which came to the rescue of the Indians. Not only that the US Government brought tremendous pressure on Ayub Khan, preventing him from taking any advantage of the precarious military situations in which Indian leadership had landed India. It also made false promises that Indian leadership had agreed to resolve the Kashmir issue in return for Pakistan's benevolent stance. The US airlifted arm supplies to modernise Indian armed forces in quantities in one month that Pakistan had not received even in six years since joining Seato and Cento.
In 1965 War when Indian offensive had been halted in Sialkot and its strategic reserves consumed and when PAF was ruling the skies and creating havoc with Indian lines of communications with major part of Pakistan's strategic reserves still in tact and a mere push would have won that War for Pakistan the US repeated its policy of betrayal by stopping supply of critical spares and ammunitions of Pakistan's predominantly US origin armed forces and thus forced Pakistan to opt for cease fire. In the '71 war, Washington was all the time talking of dispatching the 7th Fleet. On the Pakistan side-when its very unity was being threatened, Islamabad went out of its way to bring US and China together in the most eventful change in the world geo-politico scenario. Yet the US Government mercilessly and shamelessly conspired with India in the break up of Pakistan.
So loyal was Pakistan Government to US interests that it put on stake its own relationship with China by allowing CIA to paint PIA planes on scheduled flights over the Chinese test sites with radiation detection chemicals and thus jeopardized its own security when the Chinese detected it.
Having written off Pakistan, US interest suddenly reawakened in the region when the Russians invaded Afghanistan in 1979. Pakistan fought the US proxy War and in return asked for nothing. Pakistan thus indirectly won for the US its solo super power status. And in return the US through a deliberate policy blunted and compromised Pakistan's conventional deterrence by refusing to sell the contracted F - 16s or up-dating ones on PAF's inventory. It also used its influence to prevent other countries from selling high tech state of the art armaments to Pakistan.
The Ojhri Camp, where US knew Pakistan had stacked nearly 500 undelivered Stringer Missiles for Afghan Mujahideen, was blown off as the US feared that because of Russia's unilateral pull out these would go on Pakistan's orbit which will tilt the air balance in Pakistan favour in the sub continent. This was followed by blowing up the C130 carrying Zia-ul-Haq and Pakistan's military elite.
The immediate requirement in the post Russian withdrawal and elimination of Zia-ul-Haq was to bring about a pro-US, pro-Indian Government in Pakistan. Benazir fitted custom made in the US-Indian- Israeli joint perceptions. The Khalistan movement had reached its peak and the Indian Government would have gone down to its knees had this movement been given the support it sought from Pakistan - it would have changed the history of the sub continent - The success of Khalistan would have disintegrated the whole of India into five, six states or may be more and Kashmir would have been resolved. Unfortunately the Benazir Government bailed out India when it was at its lowest ebb of vulnerability. This damage will remain inseparable and Benazir's crime unpardonable.
US - Israel - Indian interest coincided in keeping Pakistan politically and economically in turmoil all the time. These three countries had identical views. It was in their interest that the conflict in Afghanistan amongst the various Mujahideen factions and now between Taliban and the North Alliance headed by Dostam and Ahmed Shah Masood should remain active - lest the Mujahideen make a 180-degree turn and start joining 'Jehad' in Kashmir.
Their real objective therefore is to see an economically very weak Pakistan where IMF gets the total control of its economy and monitors expenditure of every cent and prevents any outlays on further development of nuclear weapons and delivery system - Militarily it should be so weakened that it capitulates without going to war - is convinced of its outcome and therefore accepts hegemony of India in the region. On economic front their policies are making good headway and with every passing day the IMF's noose is tightening around Pakistan's neck but it is on the military side that Pakistan has succeeded in breaking the shackles of dictated policies which were compromising Pakistan's security new parameter. It is most unfortunate that we don't believe and follow in what Allah the all knowledgeable has revealed in the Quran repeatedly.
O BELIEVERS DO NOT TAKE THE DENIERS ( NON BELIEVERS) OF TRUTH FOR YOUR ALLIES IN PREFERENCE TO THE BELIEVERS, DO YOU WANT TO PLACE BEFORE ALLAH A MANIFEST PROOF OF YOUR GUILT? (AN NISA 3:144)
LET NOT HE BELIEVERS TAKE THOSE WHO DENY THE TRUTH (NON BELIEVERS) THEIR ALLIES IN PREFERENCE TO THE BELIEVERS - SINCE HE WHO DOES CUTS OFF HIMSELF FROM ALLAH IN EVERY THING. (AL - IMRAN 3:28)
One may tend to forgive us for not believing in Quran because we don't study it and those of us who study it do not understand it (overwhelming majority). But what is most ironical, that we do not believe even in what US has openly declared. The response is always to the perceived threat in its totality. Whereas Islam has been identified as the sole threat that the US is to cater for, Islam has replaced communism in US officially declared perception. Its mentor Israel has gone a step further by defining within Islam, countries encouraging fundamentalism as the real threat and Pakistan has been put on top of the list in this context. The Western authors make no secret about it. Ian Simpscon, Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon, Golda Mayer and scores of others have all defined Islam as the threat of the 21st Century. How can therefore these non believers be our friends? We must therefore do every thing necessary for the security of our country with indigenous capability. Along side we must strengthen our faith and become practising Muslims. Mian Sahib has therefore taken the right decision and is on the correct orientations. We cannot leave our security to aliens and no should take any dictates from them. In the process if Pakistan has to make the sacrifice of a foreign minister for calling a spade a spade the price is not too high. The aftermath of Ghauri therefore must be viewed in this perspective.
The threat perception are not based on intentions, but on capabilities. Whereas intentions can change overnight, capabilities take years to build. India has been making fool of the rest of the world. It keeps harpening on the bogey of an imaginary Pakistani threat totally unrelated to Pakistan's capabilities. India's own military is indirectional. India has no threat from China - the approaches from China pass over 15000-20000 feet high mountain passes which limit their capacity to nothing beyond tactical gains. India's declared intentions may therefore be the noblest in the world, yet it has the capability to deploy all its armed might only and only against Pakistan.
The increase in the Indian defence budget this year from 1996-97 almost equals Pakistan's total defence budget. India's current defence and defence oriented outlays of over 500 billion rupees surpass Pakistan's total national budget.
A balanced defence policy is the one in which the conventional response is backed by the non conventional response. The first response to the national security is invariably the conventional one - it is only when the conventional response fails or about to be neutralized that the non conventional (in case it is available) is applied. In the case of Pakistan, mainstay of both responses was the F-16; in strike role in the conventional and in delivery role in the non conventional. Very few in Pakistan know that ever since SU 30's induction in IAF in 1996, Pakistan's non conventional response had lost its credibility because of the delivery system; the F-16s, no longer enjoyed unchallenged superiority. Simultaneously therefore Pakistan's conventional and non conventional responses stood compromised and its national security denuded and exposed. 06 April 1998 therefore is a monumental day for Pakistan for on this day Ghauri has given Pakistan that badly needed credibility to its non conventional deterrence and brought Pakistan back into contest.
Let there be no doubt in the mind of anyone that once fired, Ghauri will reach its destination (Insha Allah) with its pay load and no anti-missile weapon can intercept it during the flight.
It was a difficult decision, one of the most momentous ever taken by anyone. All credit for this goes to Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif. The nation badly needed this boost. It was a question of our survival, a choice between an honourable nation or a client state.
It is immaterial whose technology has been used. What really matters is that it has been mastered by Pakistani scientists, what only matters is that Ghauri reaches its destination unhindered and uninterrupted. The US and the USSR both developed their nuclear weapons on stolen technologies. They continue to do so. Every country is doing it. Therefore it is immaterial who helped Pakistan. A sea platform, it will reach any target. Pakistan deliberately test fired its first Ghauri at less than maximum range- because longer the range the greater the error - even at the fired range - 40 ambulances and helicopters had been positioned in various villages close to the objective as a precautionary measure should there be a lateral error. Those on the receiving end had their fingers crossed. However to the extreme jubilation of all concerned it landed on 6th April 1998 where it was aimed at killing all apprehensions (alhamdu lillah) about its accuracy.
Pakistan's development in the nuclear field and the missile system has all along been defensive as against India whose developments in these fields have all along been offensive.
Pakistan only wanted to develop the system because its security lay exposed and denuded courtesy the deliberate policy of the US of blunting and eventually compromising Pakistan's only conventional delivery system, the F-16. Thanks to the US , had they followed a more long terms policy, perhaps Pakistan would have remained contended with its conventional delivery system and we would have never gone for the Ghauri.
Both India and Pakistan know the attrition and the damage they will suffer if they ever escalate the conflict to a state where they have to think of employing unconventional response. The Indians therefore need not feel panicky. Ghauri is harmless or harmful only to the extent Pirthvi and Agni are. The two countries cannot afford a mad race - they should resolve their disputes peacefully. The Kashmir knot must be untied because it is ruining India's economy. It is costing India close to Rs. 100 billion. It can save all this and much more if it resolves the Kashmir issue. Pakistan has other options which it has not deliberately exercised. It can enlarge its indirect strategy which can do irreparable damage to the Indian unity. It is Pakistan which has been showing restraint and not India.
* The war in Kashmir has already destablized India politically. This is the fourth continuous hung assembly which is at the mercy of 12 members from the South - They can bring it down any day - another hung assembly perhaps would open gateway to India's disintegration. Economic failures and unjust wars have always resulted in the same Kashmir first, there is neither any utility nor any possibility of having meaningful talks on any other issue. The Indian leaders recent pointers through TV interviews of putting Kashmir at the back yard and resolving other issues are not worth a mention. The Kashmir knot will have to be untied first. Normalisation of relations without the resolution of Kashmir is unthinkable. With Kashmir problem resolved in accordance with the wishes of the people of Kashmir through fair and impartial plebicite, multiple options will open:
* They two countries could sign a No War Pact.
These measures can usher an era of peace and great economic development in both India and Pakistan. The Indian leadership must not let this opportunity slip. They must respond positively to Mian Nawaz Sharif's olive branch. If the Indian leadership can rise above petty considerations and agree to resolve Kashmir problem, it will open flood gates of prosperity and unprecedented growth rate both for India and Pakistan.