INSIGHT AND FORESIGHT

September 14, 2013

PAKIATN’S NATIONAL DEFENCE & DEVELOPMENT

Defence

1947 Partition divided British India with latent unresolved issues. The creation of Radcliffe Award ensured that enough flash points remained to prevent evolution of a post-colonial juggernaut. Psychological scars resigned India and Pakistan to the extremes of a divide aggravated by mistrust and suspicion that persists six decades. The two are involved in a nuclear armed race with no capabilities of crisis management of routine natural calamities. As classified information now becomes available, the post-World War II West had decided and later succeeded to use the newly crafted Pakistan as a buffer between USSR-India and an Islamic containment shield. Nothing has changed.

Unlike India, Pakistan inherited two-pence in resources but a vibrant low middle /middle class, to play a dominant role in the socio-economic development of the new country. Railway system left by the British was quickly made efficient, police made effective, hospitals set up and a network of schools laid by the government and civil society. The battle hardy formations inherited from the British Indian Army were quickly reorganised and a military system put in place. Pakistan Air Force and Navy with little at disposal started from a scratch. After the migration of Polish servicemen and their families to Pakistan, a new class of air and naval combaters was created that proved its mettle in the successive crises Pakistan faced till 1971. Pakistani Christians in foreign office, railways, police, armed forces, hospitals and educational institutions played a role much beyond their representation to give Pakistan a jump start in infancy.

First challenge was the geographical separation of East and West Pakistan. East Pakistan, rich in jute, rice, paper and fruits lacked a commercial port and depended on Calcutta through smuggling. Following the anti-Hindu riots in 50s, Pakistan’s armed forces sealed the East Pakistan border with India, brought smuggling to a halt and played their role in development of a new alternate port at Chittagong. Today Chittagong challenges Calcutta.

After India blocked the flow of Rivers Ravi, Beas and Sutlej the two countries nearly went to war. The military Corps of Engineers in partnership with WAPDA and Plans Division got involved in building of small and large dams including Mangla, Rawal and Khanpur. Many new link canals pending the IBWT were constructed and water diverted to starved areas. Quetta having become the major training centre of army and PAF had significant water shortfalls. The Military Corps of Engineers completed the task of building water reservoirs around the provincial capital that even today cater for the needs of the residents. Kuchlak, Hanna, Spin Lake, Urak and Pishin Lake are the creation of Pakistan Army which not only supply water to the entire area but also recharge underground karezez. Islamabad, the new modern capital was planned on military drawing boards.

When the high tides of the Arabian Sea began eroding agricultural land at Thatta, the military formations at Karachi and Hyderabad on the beck and call of Prime Minister Liaqat Ali, with minimum earth moving equipment created an outfall drain with picks and shovels in a record time of six months. This drain still holds its own.

In far flung areas with little development, military formations took over the responsibility of running schools and hospitals by extending services to the civilians of the area. Some of the major cities of Pakistan like Rawalpindi, New Lahore, Sargodha, Abbotabad, Kakul and Quetta were in fact garrisons that attracted civilian colonies around them.  Wherever a new cantonment like Samungli, Mangla, Kharian, Okara, Panu Aqil, Sibi, Shah Kot, Malir, Bahawalpur, Chorr and Petaro came up, it was followed by civilian urban development. Retired servicemen also become the biggest tillers of reclaimed wastelands.

In 1948-49, the armed forced participated and consolidated the gains of the freedom struggle in Kashmir. Over the past six decades, the military and CAF are deployed in the area ensuring the sanctity of the Ceasefire Line and Line of Control with their sweat and blood.

PAF through its manpower is also the pioneer of PIA. Once upon a time PIA was the leading airline of the world and helped establish civil aviation in many countries including Singapore and Malaysia.

It goes to the credit of our Military Corps of Engineers to carve a wondrous road through the granite of the Himalayan and Karakorum and establish a land link with China. They also linked the land Locked Chitral with Dir and weaved a network of all-weather roads in Northern Areas and Kashmir. Gawadar was linked through a road with Karachi constructed by military men.

Unfortunately, economic hit men, corporatocracy and corruption (Pakistan’s Achilles Heels) managed to undo this brief socio-economic miracle. This corporatocracy has also held back the exploitation of dual use defence technologies capable of making Pakistan a frontline technological state.

In 1965, the armed forces of Pakistan gave a good account of their Offensive-Defence Doctrine and held an enemy many times their size. The conduct of war by the general staff and some generals lacked the mettle to match the tenacious ‘Men of Steel’. The war ended in a stalemate due to faulty national planning and international pressures. It is now known that USA had defined Redlines in various sectors as No Go Areas.

Modern wars in an interdependent world cannot be fought in isolation without allies. In 1965, 1971 and Kargil, Pakistan had to pay a heavy price for strategic miscalculations and faulty higher direction. The spirit of the citizen combater soldiers, airmen and sailors fully backed by an emotive nation cannot be eclipsed. It is this sea of emotions that binds Pakistanis despite all odds and forms the fourth indomitable dimension of strategy and national power.

Pakistan Army, CAF and LEAs are fighting a protracted internal militancy for over a decade without a National Security and Counter Terrorism Policy. Yet each reveille, they rise to the call of duty with sweat and blood. Unless these soldiers are not backed by a meaningful policy, Parliament and the people, success will remain a mirage. Despite negotiations and political concessions, one essential element to end militancy in Pakistan will remain the iron hand of the writ of law. The armed forces, CAF and LEAs will remain an essential element of this policy.

If Pakistan has to replicate the decades of 50s and early 60s, the armed forces of Pakistan will have to be engaged in national development while nipping the Achilles Heels forever. This is only possible if a broad based National Security Policy ensures safeguards against all forms of national attrition.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf is a political economist and a television anchorperson.

Email and twitter: samson.sharaf@gmail.com

http://www.nation.com.pk/pakistan-news-newspaper-daily-english-online/columns/07-Sep-2013/national-defence-and-development

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