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June 26, 1999

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Pak trying out proxy war paradigm

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With total control over the nuclear weapons capability in his country Pakistan Chief of Army Staff General Parvez Musharraf was testing out how well he could use the low-cost option of a 'militant' spearhead hurled from behind the threat of first use of nuclear weapons, according to defence analysts.

When General Musharraf launched the mixed mercenary-regular army force into the Mushkoh-Drass-Kargil-Batalik sectors of Jammu and Kashmir, he was experimenting with a new politico-military structure in Pakistan, reports the Asia Defence News International.

The export of fundamentalism is Pakistan's only real means of acquiring the 'strategic depth' it yearns for and in Parvez Musharraf it has found a 'rise and shine boy' who has lived down his Mohajir antecedents in a dominant Punjabi milieu. And what better way to do that than to bite off a portion of Kashmir and regurgitate it, hyena-like, before a nation that is finding it increasingly difficult to legitimise its own birth, ADNI said.

He had launched his misadventure in the Drass-Kargil sectors in collusion with former Inter-Services Intelligence crony Lieutenant General Aziz in the hope of converting Pakistan's nuclear first-use doctrine into a currency of diplomatic manoeuvre in foreign affairs, particularly vis--vis India.

''His calculus for acquiring total control of the reins of power is as follows: the threat of first use of nuclear weapons will seek to induce hesitation in the Indian political leadership to use its superior conventional military strength and its better manoeuvre tactics and restrict the conflict to Kashmir. That is why the entire Pakistani military has been brought to forward deployment positions.''

Following are some details of the respective force strengths of India and Pakistan, according to Pakistan Institute for Air Defence Studies:

INDIA

Total military personnel: 1,145,000 active 1,005,000 reserve

Army: 980,000

Tanks: 4500

Artillery: 4,075 towed 180 self-propelled

Combat aircraft: 993

Transport aircraft: 232

Air force personnel: 1,30,000

Navy destroyers: 6

Frigates: 18

Aircraft carriers: 1

Submarines: 20

Naval personnel: 55,000

Surface to surface missiles: Prithvi 18

Surface to air: 180

PAKISTAN

Total military personnel: 587,000 active 526,000 reserve

Army: 520,000

Tanks: 2,350

Artillery: 1,566 towed 240 self-propelled

Combat aircraft: 499

Transport aircraft: 26

Air force personnel: 65,000

Navy destroyers: 3

Frigates: 8

Aircraft carriers: 0

Submarines: 9

Naval personnel: 23,800

Surface to surface missiles: Hatf 1, Hatf 2 (not deployed)

Surface to air: Stinger-350, Redeye-70

Pakistan-inspired militancy has forced India to invest in a large number of paramilitary forces to conduct counter-insurgency operations. And this is the essence of the 'low-cost option' within Pakistan's proxy war paradigm.

External Link:
Pak-India Conventional Military Balance 1999

The Kargil Crisis

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