January 27, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 6:34 pm

Rabia Akhtar

The question that needs to be raised post the 20 January inauguration of the new US administration is not how Obama will deal with Pakistan but rather how Pakistan should revise its foreign policy agenda with this transition in US government and reject eight gruesome years of US coercive diplomacy. The change to achieve regional security and stability rests with Pakistan taking a wiser course of action and reversing the chips for once.

Obama has a foreign policy agenda to pursue in which the GWOT will see a clear shift of focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, with a promise of thinning of troops from Iraq to concentration of more forces in Afghanistan. Not because Iraq is in the settling phase, far from it, but because the projected face of global terrorism suggests that Al Qaeda’s center has shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan onto Pakistan, with the allegiance of the Taliban. It seems like that the US is looking for a scapegoat in Afghanistan and in this case Pakistan fits the bill. With continuous reports on Pakistan being at the crossroads of terrorism and a nuclear threat, pressure is being generated whereby it is expected that Pakistan should adopt an apologist stance instead of a more realistic one against the US policies in the region.

What Pakistan at this moment can do, is to reflect on the US‘ amoral policies and pressurize the new US Obama administration to revise its failing strategy in Afghanistan and show them the mirror of history. This war of eight years has proven to be very costly for the US leading it to the brink of moral and financial bankruptcy. Pakistan however faces a twin dilemma – with India ready to fill the US shoes in case a withdrawal becomes imminent in coming years, Pakistan needs to think long and hard as to how can it cash in on the ‘alliance’ it has sacrificed part of its sovereignty for and build its credibility with the international community so that in case of US withdrawal, it is trusted to take the lead in helping Afghanistan deal with terrorism through networking of forces across the Durand Line.

Pakistan has various policy options which it should pursue now that the new US administration is in power. What Pakistan needs to understand is that it is strategically being encircled into ‘accepting’ that it has become the hub of terrorism, a safe haven for Al Qaeda, a nuclear terrorist threat for the rest of the world, a centre of extremist Islamist militancy, a failing state with fragile democracy, incapable of making peace with its neighbor and a disaster in the making. Therefore, officially distancing itself from these ‘allegations’ and raising a public consensus on the amorality of this war waged on Pakistan will help set the pace for the new Pakistan-US foreign policy agenda for the first term of Obama’s administration.

Second, despite the new US foreign policy strategy for Afghanistan, an additional 30,000 troops in Afghanistan are not going to help curb the resurgence of Al Qaeda and Taliban. The US must understand that there is no military solution to ideology and it cannot be fought through weapons. In this regard, Pakistan must emphasize the lack of understanding that is undermining the morals of humanity and help bridge the gap through raising dialogue and negotiating peace on terms acceptable to all parties in the conflict.

In order for this to happen, Pakistan must pressurize the new US administration for setting a time line for ultimate withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan and promising a peaceful transition of power to Afghanistan truly representative of the factions representing various parties. President Karzai’s statement in this regard of taking more control of US operations inside Afghanistan is a step in the right direction which should be supported by Pakistan. A timeline for US withdrawal is also crucial for Pakistan‘s long term strategy vis-a-vis Afghanistan and India for it will help chalk out its role in the region as a lead player in enhancing strategic stability in the region.

Some right noises have already been made by Pakistan post-Obama inauguration through officially signaling a halting of drone attacks inside Pakistan, respecting its sovereignty and reviewing its policy options if the new US administration’s policies are not positive towards Pakistan. Moreover, Pakistan should accept a ‘tripling of non-military aid’ offer by the US on the condition of de-linking aid from its ‘performance’ in GWOT and dropping the rhetoric on ‘do more’ because over the past eight years, Pakistanis have lost more lives from the US-waged war on terrorism inside Pakistan’s territory than the 9/11 victims combined. This should be enough proof of its commitment to GWOT as a frontline state and requires no apology where ‘performance’ is concerned. If a change is warranted, Pakistan must take the lead.

Chairperson, Department of Defense and Diplomatic Studies, Fatima Jinnah Women University, Rawalpindi


January 2, 2009


Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 11:38 am

A. H. Amin


The Indo Pak conflict is being fought in Afghanistan since 1992.Initial the Hizb e Islami of Hekmatyar was the Pakistani proxy.Later on the Taliban were replaced as the Pakistani proxy and the Northern Alliance as the Indian-Russian-Iranian proxy. After 2001 the Northern Alliance became a US proxy.

It appears now that the USA/NAT0 cannot fight the Afghan war alone. Any US withdrawal would lead to a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan which is seen as not suitable in USA,India,Russia,Iran and even China‘s interest.

The Indians have made a very serious offer of one corps HQ, four divisions, and 30 RR Battalions for Afghanistan, to the Americans, with Lt. Gen Bikram Singh as force commander (HQ III or XXI Corps, 4, 6, 23, and 36 Divs).

Similarly the Russians have motorised forces available for possible deployment in North Afghanistan in case the USA decides to withdraw from Afghanistan.

The simple rationale of the conflict is the fact that a direct Indo Pak war because of the nuclear deterrent is no longer possible. Afghanistan is idle for Indians in order to wage a Bangladesh like war with the Indian proxies in Pakistan being the Baloch and the anti Pakistan Pashtun tribal elements.

Seen in this context the future war which is already ongoing between India and Pakistan will be fought in the backwaters.

A Hypothetical Deployment of Indian troops in Afghanistan

A Hypothetical Deployment of Indian troops in Afghanistan

Possible Indian Deployment after US Withdrawl



Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 9:56 am


India has carried out a revaluation of its strategic options with Pakistan. Coming years will witness an ‘All-out Strategy of Coercion’ effectively applied by Israel in the Middle East. India’s biggest advantage of seeking conceptual and technical military cooperation with Israel lies in the fact that its technology is largely indigenous and facilitates material transfer with no end user problems. Pakistan is already engaged in a War of Attrition and the futures will be a serious test of its strategy of defiance and ability to ride out the crises as a cohesive nation state.

India’s quest for security and response to perceived external threats is shaped and complicated by her past. India desires to exist as a great power with a capability to bully its neighbours to vassal states. Pakistan has been the major impediment towards this quest of great power status. Vary of the freedom struggle in Kashmir, an exaggerated threat of Islamic militants and fear of another Two Nation Theory from within; Indian strategists have been toying with the idea of using a small but lethal rapid reaction force for a limited duration inside Pakistan. However, India cannot accomplish what it has failed to do for the past six decades, unless the breeze blows in its favour. India feels it is time to test her new options.

Post 9/11, India sees an opportunity and is acting as a neo realist to minimise the importance of Pakistan through high profile coercion that falls in line with international perceptions. To capitalise this rare opportunity, India is even ready to forego its traditional mantra of keeping great powers out of the region and rather align with them for short term gains. In the final analysis, India wishes to frame a politically discredited, ethnically fragmented, economically fragile and a morally weak Pakistan. This can only happen if the role of armed forces in Pakistan’s policy making is pushed back; Punjab divided and the rallying call of Kashmir addressed for good.

Indian military structure and force goals for the past 10 years are geared towards such a capability with active assistance from Russia, Israel and now USA and UK. Having allied itself closely with Israel, India will now seek a continuous attrition of Pakistan’s politic body through high profile military coercion, control of river waters, diplomatic isolation and covert interference within Pakistan’s fragile areas. Mumbai and any such incidents in future will continue to provide a reason for such intimidation, all in concert with the US and western strategic objectives in the region. The policy is thus underlined by the need that Pakistan must have a very weak intelligence and surveillance capability.

Interestingly, much of the blame for having landed in the box and then be cornered into it must also be shared by the Pakistani establishments of the past decade. Though Pakistan’s declared nuclear capability was meant to deter all types of conflicts and pave way for sustained economic growth; international stature; and a political solution to the Kashmir Crisis, Pakistan through Kargil led India and the world to believe that notwithstanding a nuclear shadow, a limited military conflict in an existing conflict zone was still possible. Kargil and later 9/11 changed international perceptions on an armed freedom struggle in Kashmir as also Pakistan’s relevance to the new form of threat; the Non-State Actors. Seen in the backdrop of 9/11, it was the second effect that finally resulted in disowner ship of the freedom fighters in Kashmir by Pakistan while also resigning the Kashmir question to the impossibility of backdoor diplomacy.

Nuclear capability of Pakistan provides a very small window of opportunity to India to carry out a physical offensive action across the LOC or international border. This action could be a raid in the garb of Hot Pursuit through ground or heliborne troops, precision air strikes with or without stand-off; remote controlled targeting through a guided missile attack, and in worst case, an attempt to seize objectives close to the international border with little military but considerable political significance. India had a fully developed chemical weapon’s programme even before she signed the chemical weapon’s convention as a country not possessing chemical weapon’s but declared its arsenal soon after signing it and is not averse to using quickly diffusing chemical weapons. After 9/11, India has war gamed and fine tuned these concepts as also implemented some in a very limited manner during the escalation on the LOC.

Hot Pursuit, as the name suggests is only possible in an already hot theatre like LOC. These are launched through ground troops or heliborne forces. Such an option has little probability because of the bilateral ceasefire. However, such an option however remote cannot be ruled out.

With active assistance of Israel, some Indian aircrafts have acquired a beyond visual range, precision stand-off capability, something witnessed during the Kargil conflict. India may use her air force remaining inside her own territory and launch laser guided munitions diagonally inside Pakistan. However, the selected targets should be within 20 KMs of the LOC or international border.

Precision strikes imply that Indian aircrafts will physically violate Pakistan’s airspace and launch precision surgical strikes against selected targets from a very high altitude, or conventional bombing runs, or use of heliborne troops. In such a situation, these aircrafts will be vulnerable to Pakistani air defence and PAF.

In the Cold Start Strategy, India positions forces with offensive capabilities in military garrisons close to the international border, equipped, trained and tasked to capture some nodal points along the international border, before the Pakistani forces can react. India may not succeed in such an operation without a massive air cover. In Indian strategic calculus, the timing and lightening speed of such operations will solicit immense international pressure on Pakistan so as to curtail Pakistan’s conventional and nuclear response.

Notwithstanding such options hinging on military and diplomatic brinkmanship, India will benefit from the use of Israeli armed and surveillance drones operated by Israeli crews from inside India. Historical precedence for such cooperation already exists.

The whole body of war fighting reasoning in such limited conflicts warrants a ‘level of rationalityand comprehension of a common strategic language between the belligerents. This is technically impossible. Different actors would draw varying conclusions from an animated Graduated Escalation Ladder (GEL) always vulnerable to a Fire Break Point that could result in uncontrolled conventional and nuclear escalation. It is therefore most important that the decision to graduate a conflict rest solely with the political leaders of the country, wherein a common strategic parlance could be evolved with more ease and international community enforce a carrot and stick syndrome over Pakistani leaders.

Taking a leaf from Israeli opaqueness in nuclear doctrine, India over time has applied a conceptual innovation in her nuclear strategy. The Indian revision in the nuclear doctrine implies the ambiguity in the no first use clause” through a declared no first use and pre-emptive retaliation to create a perception that she is making a coercive transaction from doctrine of ‘Limited Conventional War’ to an opaque level of conflict in which the nuclear weapons remain in a very high state of alert. The implication is that India may flirt with the concept of a limited strategic coercion in the shadow of a very high non degradable nuclear alert beyond Pakistan’s capability to neutralise. It is also my opinion that as of now, after having signed the Nuclear Deal with USA, India benefits from an extended US Nuclear Umbrella, strategic and diplomatic support.

There are reliable reports from Afghanistan that Indian contractors are busy building billets and accommodation in Kabul and Baghram to station two Indian divisions groups in the area. At the same time, bids have been invited by the US Corps of Engineers to construct a divisional size cantonment in Kandhar. Hypothetically, troops in the garb of protection for Indian investments will actually seal off Afghanistan’s Pashtun Regions from the North. Then the US, NATO and Indian troops will go for an all out counter insurgency operation in the cordoned Pashtun areas. Effects of spillover to Pakistan will be pronounced and Durand Line would become a figment of imagination. Premised on the romantic notion of Pashtun Nationalism, the doors to Pakhtunkhwa would be opened. USA would then select the shortest route to Afghanistan through the Arabian Sea and Balochistan.

What ever the concept, scope and objective of such limited escalations, India with its new found allies has decided to maintain a constant vigil and coercion of Pakistan over a prolonged period of time but well below a Fire Break Point. The obvious targets in tandem with its allies will be addressed through diverse instruments like control of rivers, economics, diplomacy, international pressure, internal law and order, military intimidation and even insurgency. A trillion dollar question is; will USA be ready to occupy Balochistan for a secure supply corridor?

The war has already begun. The question is. When did it begin?

Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army

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