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Article No.: 1019 Date: 16/01/2008
Emerging Situation in Pakistan: Implications for Indo--Pak Rapprochement
Col. Ravi Tuteja
Dy Director, CLAWS
E-Mail-tuteja.ravi@rediffmail.com

General
The Centre for Land Warfare Studies (CLAWS), held a day-long seminar on the Emerging Situation in Pakistan: Implications for Indo-Pak Rapprochement on November 16, 2007. General V P Malik, former COAS, Lt Gen R K Sawhney, former Director General Military Intelligence and Prof Kalim Bahadur, formerly of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, took stock of the rapidly evolving political and security situation in Pakistan and its likely impact on Pakistan's integrity as a nation state. Lt Gen Vijay Oberoi, former VCOAS, noted security analyst Maj Gen Ashok K Mehta and former ambassador to Pakistan Mr G Parthasarthy analysed the implications of the emerging situation in Pakistan and the impact it could have on the ongoing peace process and composite dialogue between the two countries.

Objectives: The seminar was held with the following objectives: -
(a) Review the present crisis situation in Pakistan.
(b) Analyse the implications for India-Pakistan rapprochement.
(c) Discuss India’s short-term and long-term politico-military strategy towards Pakistan.

Sessions
The seminar was held over three sessions. Details of Programme are at Appendix.
Session I: Emerging situation in Pakistan

  • In recent months, Pakistan has witnessed unparalleled political and internal instability. While the government appears to be losing even the semblance of control that it had over the NWFP, particularly FATA and Waziristan, Baluchistan continues to be in a state of turmoil. Wanton acts of terrorism are becoming commonplace in urban areas and terrorist organisations are gradually gaining strength. Elements within the Pakistan Army have reportedly refused to fight their own kith and kin. Political agitations are gathering momentum. Political instability in Pakistan does not augur well for India-Pakistan relations as a beleaguered government is in no position to seriously carry forward the peace process. Ideological conflict, socio-economic inequities and ultra radical extremism combined with the lack of a genuinely representative people\'s government and poor governance at the local level, have all contributed to the gradual drifting of Pakistan towards becoming a failed state. Like several times earlier in Pakistan\'s history, this time too the army has failed to deliver. Both weak and strong governments in Pakistan have instigated hostilities and fuelled proxy wars against India. Instability in Pakistan is bound to have adverse repercussions for India and, therefore, stability in Pakistan is in India\'s interest.
  • Pakistan is undergoing a manifestation of a systemic crisis wherein the state-building and nation-building processes have not progressed ever since Pakistan came into existence. General Musharraf has lost credibility and now has only a tenuous hold on power. Musharraf’s stepping down from power could create a power-vacuum and uncertainty. While the government appears to be losing even the semblance of control that it had over the NWFP, particularly FATA and Waziristan, Baluchistan continues to be in a state of turmoil. Further, suicide attacks have been increasing ever since the emergency was declared.
  • The US does not support extra-constitutional measures, particularly the policies of the current administration. The cumulative thrust of US postures suggests that there is clear prior or subsequent US approval of Musharraf’s latest initiatives.
  • Emergency is being projected as an effort to remove any remaining obstacles to the prosecution of the US-led \'war on terror\' in the region and to clear the grounds for a dramatic intensification of the campaigns against the Islamist radicals in Pakistan. Further, it emerged that the Pakistan army is not clear which militants they have to fight, whether the LeT, LeJ, HM, etc or the Taliban / Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

Session II: Implications for Indo-Pak Rapprochement

  • India has adopted a policy of cautious optimism in its recent dealings with Pakistan. The Indian strategy has been to give peace a chance while continuing to maintain vigilance. The Indian Army and other security forces have not lowered their guard. Though the extent of infiltration and incidents of violence have reduced in numbers in Jammu and Kashmir this summer, the ISI has not completely given up its sponsorship of terrorism and is keeping the machinery for waging proxy war well oiled. The main stakeholders in Pakistan are the Army, United States of America, political parties, civil society and the Judiciary. Among these Army is the major stakeholder in the current situation. Participants were of the view that the Pakistan Army is losing the war against the increasingly aggressive radical extremists, particularly in the NWFP where radical Mullahs have captured several towns and large chunks of territory. The army\'s professional ethos is rapidly deteriorating and there is danger of growing dissension within the ranks. The army needs to quickly enhance its counter-insurgency capability and, as a professional army, must come to terms with fighting fellow Sunni Muslims who are threatening the integrity of Pakistan. In case immediate steps are not taken to stem the rot, the army may cede control to radical extremists irretrievably.
  • The Pakistan Army\'s major corporate objectives to bleed India through a thousand cuts and gain strategic depth in Afghanistan are unlikely to change even though the tactics are now different. Pakistan\'s strategic focus has shifted from the East to the West, as it has become an ally in the so-called global war against terrorism. While there is no serious risk of war between India and Pakistan, Indian security forces must enhance vigil against renewed attempts to infiltrate terrorists across the LoC and intelligence agencies must watch out for \"show piece\" strikes. The participants took the view that there is no immediate danger of Pakistani nuclear warheads falling into Jihadi hands as these are well guarded by elite army personnel. As far as the main thrust of international responses is concerned, most countries are clear that it would be better to do business as usual with the Musharraf regime.
  • India has adopted a policy of cautious optimism in its recent dealings with Pakistan. The Indian strategy has been to give peace a chance while continuing to maintain vigilance. The Indian Army and other security forces have not lowered their guard. Though the extent of infiltration and incidents of violence have reduced in numbers in Jammu and Kashmir this summer, the ISI has not completely given up its sponsorship of terrorism and is keeping the machinery for waging proxy war well oiled. The main stakeholders in Pakistan are the Army, United States of America, political parties, civil society and the Judiciary. Among these Army is the major stakeholder in the current situation. Participants were of the view that the Pakistan Army is losing the war against the increasingly aggressive radical extremists, particularly in the NWFP where radical Mullahs have captured several towns and large chunks of territory. The army\'s professional ethos is rapidly deteriorating and there is danger of growing dissension within the ranks. The army needs to quickly enhance its counter-insurgency capability and, as a professional army, must come to terms with fighting fellow Sunni Muslims who are threatening the integrity of Pakistan. In case immediate steps are not taken to stem the rot, the army may cede control to radical extremists irretrievably.

Session III: India’s Politico-Diplomatic and Military Strategy

  • Pakistan is facing a problem of its own identity where the ideological conflict has widened and is likely to deepen in the next 10 to 15 years. Diplomatically and politically Pakistan’s posture towards India is weakening. Pakistan’s military strategy is a segment of its larger strategy. Therefore, India should have a decisive edge in balance of power vis a vis Pakistan. Several political scenarios were discussed and it was agreed that General Musharraf will be inevitably forced to step down from the post of COAS. His continuation as a civilian President may also become untenable. Apprehension was expressed about whether elections can really be free and fair under tight military control. It was felt that if elections are genuinely free, the PPP will sweep Sind and the PML (Nawaz) will outstrip all others in Punjab, leading to a hung National Assembly. In the post-election scenario, a power sharing \"troika\" will once again emerge.
  • While no major agreement has yet been signed between the two countries, for example on the demilitarisation of Siachen and the Sir Creek boundary dispute, nor has there been substantive progress on finding a long-term solution for the Kashmir dispute, several confidence building measures have been instituted and people-to-people contacts as well as cultural exchanges are flourishing. It was pointed out that progress on the composite dialogue has been stalled at Pakistan\'s request to enable the government there to tide over its present difficulties. However, back channel diplomacy is continuing.
  • India should follow a strategy of \"detached engagement\", that is continue to engage Pakistan diplomatically without getting directly involved. At the same time, India must watch out for any covert moves by the Pakistan Army to instigate terrorist incidents in India to draw an Indian reaction, so as to turn the attention of the Pakistani people away from domestic challenges.

Conclusion
The deliberations during the seminar highlighted the fact that intentions can change overnight and hence capabilities must be enhanced for a suitable response. The presentations made by the various speakers led to a better understanding of the subject. India should follow a strategy of \"detached engagement\", that is continue to engage Pakistan diplomatically without getting directly involved. At the same time, India must remain vigilant against covert moves by the Pakistan Army to instigate terrorist incidents in India. India must keep its powder dry and enhance military preparedness with a pro-active and responsive strategy that relies on prompt punitive measures in retaliation for wanton unfriendly acts. India must also lay more emphasis on military modernisation so as to create asymmetries in the conventional military balance between the two countries and to generate more options for an effective response.

 
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