We get lots of unsolicited articles and letters every day -- 10 marks for guessing who wrote this
Method in the madness
There, ironically, is a group in Pakistan which hates two As (Allah and Army) but loves to flirt with another A (America). To them, army is responsible for everything wrong in this country. These ultra liberals (self acclaimed though) are busy deriding and ridiculing armed forces with frothing mouths on Abbottabad incident. But as they say, there is a method in their madness. In an apparent attempt to criticize armed forces in the wake of US operation, they are raising few questions which do not require answers after scholarly pursuits. These few queries can be dismissed by an ordinary mind. But, alas, common sense is not what they aspire to propagate. It’s their love to hold tail coats of USA that drives them to miss the obvious.
The Abbottabad operation by American SEALs is a failure of intelligence. It cannot be defended. But more than intelligence it is also failure of state policy which treated USA as an ally in war against terror. If now we feel betrayed and humiliated, there is dire need to review our state policy on this issue. Everything else will flow and follow from declared policy. Had our state policy about USA been clear, we would not have faced such a situation. All is not lost and we can recover out of this unenviable situation. But let us stop for a while to address some of the plain truths which are becoming casualty of this war of propaganda.
Nations raise various state institutions and organs to address specific needs. Through deliberate process of continuous pondering, nature and scope of these state organs keep changing. When Pakistan was created, we were faced an immense task of rehabilitating hordes of refugees. The department of evacuee property was raised to address this specific problem. Six decides down, it is no more relevant, so it has seized to exist. To mitigate the sufferings of affectees of 2005 earthquake, Pakistan formed ERRA. It’s jurisdiction has now been expanded to cover the whole of country. It was however a response to a problem. That is the sign of a living nation that it knows how to address emerging issues. Armed forces of nations are again no exception to it. All nations have armed forces of varying sizes and capabilities. Most countries have forces to thwart foreign aggression. Some raise armed forces to fight internal dissensions. Yet few countries raise armed forces for ceremonial purposes. Common among all nations is the fact that armed forces are raised, equipped and maintained for specific reasons.
Take Indonesia for one. It cannot be invaded by any of its neighbours in right state of mind. Malaysia, Brunei and Australia can never expect to resolve an issue with Indonesia by use of violence. That brings Indonesian defence policymakers to few conclusions which translate into organization and capabilities of their armed forces. Indonesia, therefore, does not maintain an offensive capability. There army is mostly deployed in maintaining internal order and quelling any centrifugal tendencies.
Maldives has her armed forces with the purpose of mostly maintaining vigilance over their territorial waters. Strength of their forces, all components included, is no more than 3-4000 personnel. Maldives can barely defend its territory with such small force, let alone plan an aggression. But size, organization and capabilities of their armed forces is product of rationally thought out state policy. Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman do also maintain token armed forces but their role, perhaps is no more than ceremonial. No one expected Kuwaiti forces to put up last man-last bullet scenario against Iraqi aggression of 1990.
With this background information we come to the case of Pakistan. We have large standing armed forces. Army gets the lion’s share is numbers, resources and eminence. But how and why did we opt to keep such huge forces? What is the state policy about capability and organization of our forces?
Since independence we have feared, and rightly so till to date, an Indian hegemonic designs on us. Even before becoming nuclear state, we have maintained a minimum credible deterrent posture. Our forces are organized, equipped and trained to conduct military operations in our geo-strategic environments. Since we don’t plan to invade any country including India by sea, we therefore do not maintain large navy. Our navy and army conduct no training exercises to conduct Normandy style beach landings. Our enemy is towards east only and that is reflected in our defence policy and its consequent manifestation. Our military cantonments and air bases are so located as to react to a threat from east.
With a balanced blend of defensive-offensive capabilities, we have been successful to keep India at bay during recent crisis. But this brings us to the point which is deliberately being missed out in current barrage of scathing comments against Armed forces. And the obvious is – Did we organize, train and equip our armed forces to fight USA? If we did, take the top military leadership to gallows. But if we did not, why deride and ridicule them. If air force radars could not pick state- of- the –art stealth technology helicopters, is it failure of Radars or the policy makers. Armed forces can’t be absolved completely from this fiascos. But then we must apportion the blame proportionately.
When we decide to fight USA, we will have to formulate newer doctrines, train accordingly and equip to meet operational needs. Till then, we must not let ourselves be swept by despondency about our potential to defend against India. Second obvious being missed out is that in right state of mind no one equates defence of training institution with that of nuclear installation. We are info a full blown war against the state. Despite all attempts, terrorists have never succeeded to penetrate the outer cordon of security. Take example of Wah Ammunition factories. Suicide bomber could only hit public access area at entrance gate. Mardan training centre was also attacked at entrance only. In GHQ attack, terrorists were successful to hold hostages at outer most security cordon.
Secondly, nuclear assets are not carrots and mangoes, lying in a shelf, ready to be transported. These are complex systems, kept in semi knocked down state, dispersed over different locations. Since these are our national pride installations, they are being guarded jealously with what ever resources the nation can muster. Dispersion of these assets ensures that no unauthorized use is made. It also ensures that no Abbottabad- style operations succeeds against them.
Moral of the story is that if armed forces have displayed that their important installations have near impregnable defences, then why cast aspersions on their capability? It is strange that nuclear assets of no other nation are under such intense discussion. Focus of international media over our assets is understandable since we are the sole Muslim nuclear armed country. But uninformed criticism of our own media and thinkers is beyond comprehension. Majority of Indian nuclear sites (storage and launch) are located in area which is known to the world as Red corridor. This area is not under effective control of Indian state is almost been ceded to Marxist insurgents, whom prime Minster Manmohan Singh had described as the biggest threat to Indian security. With nuclear sites in such a vulnerable area one wonders, what are the safe guards Indians have taken to avoid falling of nuclear material in wrong hands?
If this was a scholarly effort to further improve the defence against emerging threats, it should be welcome. But if sole purpose of such criticism is to avenge some perceived grievances, it is no national service. Days of armed forces being a holy cow are nearing an end. Discussion on matters of defence, security and defence budget is no more a taboo. Informed and well researched debate will certainly improve efficiency and capability of armed forces. But treating them as mere punching bags does not augur well. (ENDS)