2 March 2014

Gayari (Siachen) Avalanche that buried 150 Pakistan Army Soldiers- 7April 2012

Via Flickr:

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At least 150 soldiers in a military camp were trapped after a massive avalanche hit snow-bound region of Siachen.

According to details the incident occurred in Giari Sector, the mountainous area of Siachen.

By 2 October 2013, Pakistan Army was able to recover 133 bodies, while search for the remaining seven continues.

31 August 2013

2013 Indo-Pak Standoff in the Purview of Indian Strategic Thinking / Regional Designs and Response Options for Pakistan


2013 INDO-PAK STANDOFF IN THE PURVIEW OF INDIAN STRATEGIC THINKING / REGIONAL DESIGNS AND RESPONSE OPTIONS FOR PAKISTAN

By Xeric
1.     General.    India has been aspiring for a global status since its inception. Establishing regional hegemony is hence the first logical step towards this end. The desire is primarily fuelled by a steady growth rate, worthwhile military might and a strong industrial base. Except China, other countries in the region had succumbed to the Indian influence in one way or the other; Pakistan however belongs to a different league. It has resisted all kind of initiatives by India to subdue it in the past and continue to do so. Hence, Pakistan had obviously become India’s centre of attention and is compelled to confront the Indian power projection beyond its borders. The recent tension along the LoC is the latest episode in the series of events. As these incidents are not isolated and have a definite connection with the Indian hegemonic designs, there is a need to study the same so that a coordinated response can be generated.
2.   Aim.    To analyse the current Indo-Pak standoff in the purview of Indian global aspirations and its implications for Pakistan with a view to suggest suitable response options for Pakistan.
3.      Scope.    The paper shall focus on the following:-
a.      Analysing the motives behind Indian strategic thinking and its implications for Pakistan.
           b.       Response options for Pakistan.

Reasons Behind Indian Strategic Thinking
4.         The Indian hegemonic designs in the region are linked with her ambitions to become a global player. These designs could take any shape from subduing its smaller neighbours through economic strangulation to expansion of its military might beyond that required for protecting India from internal/external threats. This intimidating attitude emanates from a specific kind of Indian thinking that prevails among their elite and has been further discussed in the succeeding paras:-
a.     Comprehensive National Power (CNP).  India’s CNP is on a rise and ranks among the top ten countries. Out of the six countries that borders India, five are smaller in size, economy and military strength than India. This coupled with the fact that India has border disputes with China and Pakistan, allows India to exert its influence beyond its borders. Also, the Indian ability to invest in its military might due to its soaring economy have enabled her to farther its hegemonic designs. It is hence out of compulsion that India by virtue of her immense CNP undertakes force/power projection in the region.
b.       Counter Weight Against China.  India has been selected by the West as a counter weight to China. Hence, India is encouraged by the West to project its power potential in the region.
c.       Pak-China Energy Corridor. China is constructing an energy from Gwadar to its Xinjiang through the Karakorams. In order to safeguard the same, China is likely to continue with its show of force in Leh region, hence giving India an excuse to flex its military muscles.
d.      The 'Muslim Bomb' Factor.   The fact that Pakistan is a nuclear power is not taken well by the West. In the garb of our relevance in WoT, the possibility of a western intervention to take over our nuclear weapons has gone remote. However, India comes up as an alternative option to do the dirty work for the West.
e.      Discrediting Pakistan. The Indian ‘Akhund Bharat’ notion has taken a back seat since Pakistan became a nuclear power. Moreover, the outcome of four wars with Pakistan has made it clear to India that Pakistan cannot be turned into an Indian annexe. However, India will not refrain from maligning and discrediting Pakistan in the international community. The stigma of so called cross border terrorism and harbouring ‘terrorists’ who are fond of infiltration into India through the LoC is an exceptional excuse with India to achieve this aim. Hence, incident at the LoC are continue to happen.

5.         Recommendations/Response Options for Pakistan
a.    Pakistan should put its immense human resource to use, primarily by reducing the number of its non-productive cadre. This can be done by improving upon its education sector and expanding the industrial base. By creating congenial environment which will allow Foreign Direct Investment, we can enhance our CNP which in turn will fuel our growth both in economic and military terms.
b.       Pakistan  should  assist China  in  enhancing its  global  outreach. This can be done by allowing China to add Gwadar to its ‘Strand of Pearls’. The suggestion of turning Gwadar into a free port on the lines of Hong Kong by the current government is a correct step which will help us achieving this aim. Moreover, by following this approach we would not be required to bank only upon China as a free port will allow us to act as a global pier for sea trade.
c.     We should provide China will all the assistance in terms of securing and protecting the energy corridor through the Karakorams. Raising of a special force for the protection of the corridor, as suggested by the current government will facilitate the same. Moreover, constituting an independent and efficient authority/body to specifically look after the transit through the corridor should also be looked into so that the trade through the corridor is not hindered due to bureaucratic hurdles.
d.     Perceptions weigh more than reality. Whereas the western powers seem convinced that we have an efficient mechanism in place to ensure security of our strategic assets and prevent them from falling into wrong hands, but the same needs to be projected for the consumption of western public too. Revealing limited details regarding the safeguards we employ for the protection of our nukes can be the first step in this regards. Use of social media in conjunction with electronic media to fight back the misperceptions regarding the safety of our nukes will also pay rich dividends.
e.       Pakistan should endeavour to remain relevant to the global equation. After the pull out of the US troops from Afghanistan, Pakistan is likely to lose its relevance and hence the limited support it gets from the west both in economic and diplomatic terms. The focus will thus shift from terrorism in Afghanistan to ‘terrorism’ in Kashmir and across the LoC. Hence we must remain prepared to respond to any action by India to malign us by orchestrating infiltration attempts at the LoC through a superior external and diplomatic manoeuvre. Since an open confrontation with India is not in our national interest, we need to focus on gathering support from the international community when it comes to resolution of the Kashmir issue especially regarding the status of the freedom fighters who are portrayed as terrorists by India. Moreover, any further blame game by India whereby it accuses Pakistan for stirring up tension on the LoC must be dealt with promptly by arriving at a consensus between the civilian government and the military hierarchy. Piecemeal and conflicting responses where our military, government and media took divergent views of the situation at the LoC needs to be curbed. Making use of the platform of National Security Council in a pragmatic manner can help us in mounting a unified response to India.

5.         Conclusion. With the possibility of India becoming a regional and then a global power well in sight, we are likely to continue to face a hegemonic India in the future too. Even though India will not be able to subdue us militarily, but its efforts to discredit and malign us among the international community will surely gain momentum. Unless our leaders, civil society, military and media develop a national census on how we are to react to the Indian designs, we are likely to be left behind in the region and thus lose our relevance. Hence, we must develop the capability of presenting a unified response to any aggression, be it military or diplomatic, if we want to survive a dominating India. This is only possible if all pillars of the states, military and media inclusive are taken on board.

8 August 2013

I Couldn’t Vote for PTI, But I Guess it Was Alright

By Xeric

Read at defence.pk

This piece is in response to the knee-jerk reaction by Imran Khan wherein he “raised serious questions over last week’s jailbreak in Dera Ismail Khan and called for introspection by all institutions of the state," in particular the Army.


A natural response to these questions would be: whose government is there in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (KP)? Who is the senior-most executive in the province? Whose prime responsibility is the maintenance of law and order?

The answer is simple – Chief Minister (CM) KPK, read the government of PTI!

There was a time when good leaders were said to possess the moral courage to own their failures, but perhaps, those were good times. The fashion these days is the opposite – transfer the blame to others, and this is precisely what Imran Khan has done.

The “introspection by all institutions of the state” part of the statement is somewhat well taken; we all ought to question how a jailbreak could take place when there was a precedence of the same (the kind of introspection I am talking about is dealt with later). However, including a mysterious “army division” into the circle of ‘accused’ is not understood.

Breaking the Army Division myth 
  1. There is no ‘army division’ in DI Khan, only the skeleton Headquarters (HQ) of an Infantry Division resides there with (all of) its combat elements i.e. brigades actively engaged in fighting around Tank, Jandola etc.
  2. The positioning of this division “HQ” at DI Khan is not permanent (not its actual location); it is only there as forces under its command are engaged in operations ahead.
  3. Each field formation of Pakistan Army is responsible for certain administrative divisions/districts/tehsils; called Internal Security Area of Responsibility (IS AOR) of the concerned division. Here under-command units of the Division would act/react when called in Aid of Civil Power i.e. in case of natural calamities like floods, earthquakes or other tasks like elections duties or for security reasons. DI Khan does not fall in IS AOR of the division located there i.e. it is not primarily responsible for policing/security of Dl Khan.
  4. Although, this division did undertake the election duties during General Elections-2013 in addition to its primary IS duties at its peace location (location not disclosed). But then the government had requisitioned the Army to assist for GE-2013 (as a one-time measure).
  5. Lastly, Central Jail DI Khan is the baby of Prison Department, KPK and not that of the Army:




Where is the anti-terrorism policy?
 
The above-mentioned facts now beg a few questions:
  1. Where is the anti-terrorism policy we all have been talking about? Being part of a uniformed organization, I can assure you that General Officer Commanding (GOC) of this so called division at DI Khan, Inspector General Police (IGP) KPK, IG Prisons KPK or IG FC KPK cannot formulate this policy at their own. However, someone senior to them and to whom these people are answerable, has to formulate this policy by ‘making’ these commanders sit together. That guy is none other than CM KPK a.k.a government of KPK. So dare I ask; what has he done so far in this regards?
  2. A rep of PTI was seen telling us on live TV that the Police is not supposed to fight back in case of a terrorist attack. Right, so why not we just hand over every prison, bank, government offices etc to the Army?
  3. How much budget did government of KPK allocate to equip its LEAs? Alternatively, did it ask for more if it was short on it?
  4. Is even terrorism on Imran Khan’s top agendas?
  5. What directions/policy, if any, did Imran Khan and his party gave to its LEAs to fight terrorism after it formed government in KPK?
The bottom line remains: when will the civilian government take responsibility?

Gen Kiyani had already said that terrorism is our real enemy and our internal threats need our foremost attention; it is our war! (This is how we wanted the role of Army to be in our national policymaking – discreet and passive, right? Or maybe we want to go back to square one where the Army ‘ran’ the country from behind the scenes?). Nevertheless, the real question is what our elected leaders have done so far in this regard:
a.    We are still unclear about whose war it is.
b.   We are unable to gather an APC since the past 3 months to discuss/formulate our terrorism policy.
c.    Some of us still want to talk with the enemy (I do not mind talking, but this has to be collective decision).
d.    We believe in good and bad Talibans.
Believe me, this is not how nations fight terrorism!

And a word of caution for those who would now ask the Army to do it (policy making) for them; sorry sir, no can do. Army, for the first time in our history, is behaving exactly it is supposed to – not fiddling with the state’s affairs. After all, Pakistan had marked its first peaceful democratic transition.

So this time around, our elected leaders have to take charge and lead on, without tossing the responsibility of fighting terrorism to the LEAs or the Army alone. If not, Bannu’s and DI Khan’s would continue to happen and we would just point fingers towards each other, order inquires and call it a day.

I consider Imran Khan to be a man of actions and not mere words, and I like him for it. So I suggest, that he should man up, shoulder a little responsibility when his IG Prisons failed him and stop doing what his predecessors did – pointing fingers on other. Instead, he should lead on and take us all along in this/his fight against terrorism.

We/he should for once and all figure out whose war it is (Army already did), decide upon an anti-terrorism policy ASP, and once done, we should execute it as a nation (Police, Army, Politicians – all and sundry inclusive).

Lastly, for the record, I wanted to vote for PTI in these elections, but could not as I failed to receive my Postal Ballot on time, and I felt dejected.

But now I think, maybe it was not that bad after all.

Disclaimer: This piece would gladly face the online tsunami of PTI e-warriors.