Change ceremonyThe Army Chief and Future Geopolitics

By Brig Nadir Mir

The Army Chief, General Raheel Sharif, has assumed command at a critical juncture in Pakistan’s history. Fortunately, he is uniquely balanced in being bold and elegant, soldier and gentleman, amiable and resolved. A patriotic lineage, and martyrs from his family history evoke both inspiration and aspirations from soldiers and citizens alike. His military grooming and nationalistic vision both are aptly suited to deal with internal security dynamics of Pakistan and regional Geopolitics.   

Globally Pivotal and Nuclear Armed Pakistan. The reason COAS of Pakistan Army is rated among the powerful, influential men of the world by Forbes and other global estimates, is because General Raheel Sharif heads a large, powerful and professional Army. Moreover, Pakistan being globally pivotal is also the reason. Its national security is influenced by South Asia, Central Asia, West Asia, China and Indian Ocean. In turn Pakistan influences the Geopolitics of many regions, because it is not only a South Asian entity but truly multi regional. This concept of Pakistan as a ‘Bridge State’ and also ‘Interposing State’ is presented in my recent book, ‘Geopolitik Pakistan’. Pakistan’s military power influences not only Afghanistan and India but its nuclear power is globally reckoned.  Pakistan’s expanding nuclear arsenal enhances its deterrence capability, and also elevates the strategic stature of Pakistan’s COAS.      

National Security Challenges. 

  • East. India remains Pakistan’s main and perpetual existential threat. As the world’s largest arms importer, build up of nuclear war fighting triad, augmented by outer space forays, trigger happy Cold Start preparations and seeks to enforce a two front scenario on Pakistan. Delhi not only tyrannizes Kashmir, aspires to destabilize Pakistan through Afghan bases but also works on a sinister plan to enhance friction between Iran and Pakistan. In essence, while threatening from the East, undermine from within and strategic encirclement from West of Pakistan is India’s design. Even more ominous and deceptive are peace, cultural and friendship claims by the disciples of so called ‘Global India’. 
  • North West. US – NATO deinduction from Afghanistan in 2014 is a Geopolitical climactic. The future security environment in Afghanistan will be radically different from today. The Kabul regime, former Northern Alliance supported by India may battle the emboldened and augmented Taliban. Even if the Americans leave a rear guard manning nine bases, their stay will become inhospitable after some time. India will try to arm terrorists for strikes on Pakistan even as it fails to invoke Pashtun and Baloch nationalism to weaken Pakistan. A negotiated settlement involving Afghan Taliban, Pakistan, US and Kabul (minus India) could prevent an Afghan Civil War. Pakistan holds most cards and is poised as a winner; still it cannot permit India to consolidate its hold on Afghanistan, even as Delhi builds an inhuman wall to convert Kashmir into a ‘Giant Prison’. 
  • South West. US – Iran interim nuclear deal may be a harbinger of things to come. By end 2014, US draw down of forces in Afghanistan may also be linked to a new understanding with Iran. Unless the nuclear deal fizzles out, leading to more sanctions by USA on Iran or Israel strikes Iran which escalates into a greater regional war. In any event, India is investing in Chah Bahar Port aiming to bypass Gwadar, encirclement of Pakistan and access to Afghanistan and Central Asia. Delhi may enjoy the benevolence of Washington in this unholy nexus. Still Iran is expected to remain friendly to Pakistan and not fall into this trap, rather build energy links with Pakistan.
  • Internal. Pakistan faces multi pronged terrorist campaign. This has been a combined product of internal adverse dynamics and hostile Geopolitics. The Pakistani Taliban in KPK and Baluch militants in Baluchistan, have created mayhem. Besides tragic loss of lives and limbs, the economy has been ruined. Pakistan needs internal peace at the earliest. The Pakistani Taliban and Baluch militants need to be pacified, employing all elements of national power. Fortunately, the federal government is already seeking peace with both forms of militancy.
  • Indian Propaganda. General Bikram Singh Indian COAS expects cooperation from Pakistan on LOC (to India’s advantage). Indian Army Lt General Syed Ali Husnian (R) too wants General Raheel Sharif to keep LOC in Kashmir quiet. (While India builds the great wall of oppression).In essence Indian propagandists as per their desires want Pakistan Army further embroiled in the Western Border even after Americans leave Afghanistan. Delhi wants Pakistan Army imbalanced on its Eastern Border, further duped by cultural and trade gimmicks. Unfortunately for the Indians, Pakistan Army fully comprehends Indian stratagems and COAS General Raheel Sharif is very competent to give a befitting reply.
  • National Security and Democracy. Even while ensuring national security, democracy will be supported by the Army. Indeed the time has come to overcome this civil – military divide. The Army Chief with his confident personality is well suited to bring harmony in soldiers and citizens for the security and prosperity of Pakistan.
  • Future Endeavours. A complete response to national security challenges merits, a research paper. The contours of some salient’s can at best be listed here:
  • National UnityThe Army and nation are united and this needs to be further cemented in all ways. Peace within Pakistan will free the Army for its main job, defending Pakistan from India and to maintain balance of power in the region.
  • Full Spectrum Nuclear DeterrenceFull spectrum Nuclear Deterrence must be built up. It is nuclear weapons power which puts Pakistan on the global map, besides ensuring regional nuclear deterrence. Pakistan must resist FMCT and keep building its nuclear arsenal.
  • Modern War MachineEven though strategy drives technology but technology also drives strategy. The two are interdependent. Despite paucity of resources a modern war machine is indispensable for Pakistan. China and Turkey are strategic partners and great conduits for military technology.
  • Single FrontThe Pakistan Army must concentrate on a single front – Eastern Frontier. Peace within Pakistan, facilitating Exit Strategy for USA from Afghanistan, is paramount. Hostile ‘Game Plan’ of embroiling Pakistan Army on the Western Frontier must be defeated. Pakistan Army should be gracefully shifted from Western to Eastern border in 2014 onwards. 
  • Kashmir LOCPakistan Army must remain pro active in Kashmir LOC and vigilant on its Eastern Border. Indian aggression in Kashmir must be responded, tit for tat. India’s wall making in Kashmir should be resisted in the disputed land. 
  • ConclusionThe Army Chief General Raheel Sharif is in command when new opportunities will present themselves. With his astute strategic sense, he knows that time is on the side of Pakistan. The Americans are greatly thinning out of Afghanistan, and Pakistan should reap the fruit of sacrifices of a decade long war. Indian Geo-strategic game plan is failing in Afghanistan, even as occupied Kashmir becomes more insecure. Under dynamic leadership, Pakistan will not only defend itself but attain its rightful place in the regions around. Pakistan will triumph in future!!
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