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Pakistan's new military doctrine shouldn't be misread

January 06, 2013 19:58 IST

Pakistan's new military doctrine to tackle domestic issues wouldn't lead to a re-examination of its traditional hostility towards India, notes B Raman.

Media reports emanating from Pakistan's civilian government as well as from the General Headquarters of the army speak of an on-going review of Pakistan's military doctrine in order to give priority to the creation of a sub-conventional warfare capability to fight domestically against non-state actors posing a threat to Pakistan's internal security.

While these non-state actors have not been specifically named, it is apparent they have in mind the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the anti-Shia Lashkar-e-Jhangvi and the Baloch nationalist elements which are waging a struggle for Baloch independence.

The Pakistan Army has not been able to prevail over any of these organisations. The TTP has maintained a capability for fighting against the Pakistani security forces in the tribal as well as non-tribal areas and there have been indications of it extending its activities to Karachi, thereby adding to the instability there.

The LEJ continues to indulge in large-scale massacre of Shias all over Pakistan -- and particularly in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, the Kurram Agency and Karachi. The freedom struggle of the Baloch nationalists continues to gather momentum.

In the past, Pakistan's military doctrine had three components:

  • A Chinese-aided nuclear-cum-missile capability against India.
  • A US-cum-Chinese aided conventional capability against India.
  • A covert action capability for keeping India bleeding and ultimately annexing Jammu & Kashmir. This covert action capability was acquired from the CIA in the 1980s for use against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. It is now being used against India and the Hamid Karzai government of Afghanistan

The Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto government had succeeded in crushing the Baloch nationalists and the anti-Shia elements spearheaded by the Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, which later metamorphosed into the LEJ, were actually created by the Zia-ul-Haq regime to counter the Iranian influence.

The revival of the Baloch freedom struggle after the massacre of Nawab Akbar Khan Bugti and many of his followers by the Parvez Musharraf regime and the birth of the Mehsud-dominated TTP to seek vengeance against the Pakistan army after the bloody army action in the Lal Masjid of Islamabad have confronted the Pakistan army and its Inter-Services Intelligence with serious threats to its internal security to counter which it does not have the required sub-conventional warfare capability.

It is now proposed to pay greater attention to the creation of this capability. This should not be misread into thinking that the Pakistan army's traditional mindset of hostility to India is under re-examination or that it may re-examine its continued use of its covert action capability against India through organisations loyal to the ISI such as the Lashkar-e-Tayiba and against the government of Hamid Karzai through organisations such as the AfghanTaliban or the Haqqani Network

The Pakistan army is not about to give up its use of jihadi terrorism as a strategic weapon against India and its further strengthening of its nuclear and missile capability against India with Chinese assistance. We must avoid any naïve assessment of the reports from Pakistan on this subject.

B Raman