From Gen Kayani to Indian military - a lesson of sanity
Syed Muhammad Ali
Gen Kayani is known around the world to be a man of few words. That’s why whenever he speaks people take notice of and his recent encounter with the local and foreign media was no exception. The Pakistan Army COAS, unlike the recent anti-Pakistan tirade by his Indian counterpart, wisely emphasized the need for dialogue with India to resolve disputes and also urged the Pakistani leadership to focus on backing up the military campaign with reconstruction and rebuilding effort to cement the gains made on the military battlefield in Swat and South Waziristan. But what was a profoundly clear message to both Washington and New Delhi was the unequivocal expression of Pakistan military’s long-term doctrine that despite the ongoing costly war against terrorism, in the absence of Kashmir and water-related dispute resolution, Pakistan’s threat perception will remain Indo-centric. Nevertheless, due consideration also needs to be accorded to the domestic, political and inter-service rivalry factors while evaluating the motives behind the Indian Army chief’s threats against Pakistan, which also betray New Delhi’s traditional aspirations, coupled with the growing frustration at the Indian inability to benefit from its growing conventional superiority over its smaller western neighbour. In the post-1998 nuclear tests era, the Indian military doctrinal evolution reflect that New Delhi considers Pakistani nuclear deterrent as the biggest hurdle in the long-term Indian goal of regional hegemony, which is why New Delhi is continuously coining new doctrines such as ‘Cold Start’ aimed at subjugating Pakistan through its conventional superiority, under the dangerous misperception that the pressure of international powers and fears of diplomatic and economic isolation will prevent Pakistan from using its nuclear weapons in a limited conflict. This line of thinking is fundamentally risky and flawed and represents an Indian miscalculation of Pakistan’s political will and diversified nuclear delivery capability in a territorially congruous South Asian context, which makes ‘nuclear brinkmanship’ by India an extremely dangerous game, far subordinating any political or strategic gains New Delhi might harbour. Threats of Indian attacks against neighbouring states, in response to Mumbai like attacks represent an irresponsible tendency as the Indian Home Minister Mr. Chidambaram on Thursday, 11th February, 2010, has himself publicly accepted the possibility that the Mumbai attacks could have been an insider’s job. So simply blaming Pakistan is not going to solve Indian problems of domestic instability and insecurity that it faces in the form of dozens of Indian states presently engulfed in insurgencies and freedom movements, across broad political, ideological and nationalistic spectrum, ranging from Maoist, Kashmiri to Naxalite movements. It is unfortunate that the Indian military, instead of being able to deal with these domestic challenges, is simply trying to divert attention of its political leadership, people and international community towards Pakistan, which is clearly a waste of Indian resources and taxpayers’ money. Since the Pokhran nuclear test in 1974, New Delhi has always been the first South Asian state to breach international norms by diverting internationally provided peaceful nuclear technology towards military purposes, leading to the formulation of Nuclear Suppliers Group and passing of the US Non-Proliferation Act 1978. India was also the first state to introduce a nuclear submarine in South Asia and yet again in May 1998, without any international provocation, re-initiated nuclear weapon testing. Compelled by repeated Indian provocations, Islamabad has repeatedly been forced to respond appropriately to changing geo-strategic imperatives and rectify growing regional asymmetries and preserve peace. But this Indian ambition of using brawn rather than brain to force its way into the elite group of big powers is not without cost to the welfare of its people, serving whom must be the first duty of any democratic state. Perhaps the Indian military leadership needs to learn from the famous statement by the eminent strategist Bernard Brodie, who said that nuclear weapons changed the role of military from winning of wars to preventing them. Moreover, the Pakistani nuclear deterrent is primarily meant to thwart any external aggression, not to start a nuclear war, which New Delhi, in its quest for a big power status, is dangerously attempting to risk, by developing a ‘nuclear war fighting strategy’, rather than pursuing a ‘war prevention strategy’. The international community needs to look at the long-term implications of the numerous nuclear deals New Delhi has signed or is signing with the US, Russia, France and UK, which tantamount to indirectly assisting the Indian nuclear weapons programme, by freeing up the limited domestic Indian fissile material stockpiles to be used for nuclear weapon purposes, so that the Indian nuclear power plants could be run on externally provided fuel. The World needs to beware that the nuclear commerce should not be carried out at the cost of peace and security. As regards the versatile Pakistani nuclear delivery options, they are way beyond the existing or future counter-measures available or likely to be available to New Delhi. Despite a massive investment of billions of dollars in high-tech sea, land and space-based systems and research effort spanning five decades, neither the US nor Russia have a fool-proof operational Anti-Ballistic missile system. Mutually assured destruction (MAD) doctrine, despite its inflexibilities and limitations, has a lot of lessons for South Asia, as the costs of a nuclear war far outweigh any potential or perceived gains either side might contemplate. The multi-billion dollar weapon- buying spree by New Delhi, such as the ABM programme, achieve little than to boost Indian ego and provide a psychological boost. Any limited or conventional attack on Pakistan, under any pretext, will lead to such a swift and complex chain of events that India can neither control, nor desire or imagine. Hence, in view of a very credible, robust and survivable Pakistani nuclear capability, New Delhi needs to tone down its war rhetoric and as per General Kayani’s sane advice, resume peace process in an atmosphere of mutual respect and sovereign equality. The Indian wasteful expenditure on weapons worth billions of dollars is achieving little more than depriving its own people the quality of life they deserve, as Pakistan, a nuclear power, will never accept Indian hegemony.
The Frontier Post