RECENTLY, a distinguished British think tank, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), has boldly accepted the strategic nature of Pakistan Army through a research. Founded in 1831 by the Duke of Wellington, Sir Arthur Wellesley, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) deals with defence and security studies and its reports are considered as well researched and authentic throughout the world. In its recent research, RUSI concluded that, Pakistan Army has departed from the British Rule strategy of Russian containment. Indeed, Pakistan Army has diversified its options for the defence and security of its motherland. This diversification in security matters has not come over night, rather three conventional wars with India and a number of unconventional wars have taught Pakistan Army a lesson for the reorientation in its military strategy. Indeed, apart from having the strategic arsenals, there has developed a strategic thinking in higher leadership of Pak Army, departure from traditional mind-set of dependency and notation.
It is always easy to fight a Conventional warfare, since the location of enemy is known and battlefield orientation is well defined. Moreover, such warfare is conducted by using conventional weapons and battlefield tactics between rival armies through a declared and open confrontation. Unlike Conventional warfare, the Unconventional warfare is difficult to fight, since it involves myriad of resistant elements and movements, operating against the government, state institutions, society and armed forces. Such type of warfare is generally supported by external forces directly and indirectly. “Whereas conventional warfare is used to reduce the opponent’s military capability directly through attacks and manoeuvres, unconventional warfare is an attempt to achieve victory indirectly through a proxy force. Here small groups and irregulars use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility to fight a larger traditional military.
Pakistan Army’s war against terrorism has been an all-out war, since the terrorists have threatened not only the military and its installations but, they have threatened the peace loving society and subsequently endangered the very survival of the state of Pakistan. There was a time in 2008/09; once TTP captured Buner District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and directly threatened the Capital, Islamabad. At that time, through ‘Operation Rah-e-Rast’ Pak Army recaptured all areas of Swat and Malakand, killing the TTP outfits in a large number. In the subsequent operation, ‘Operation Rah-e-Nijat’ Pakistan Army cleared South Waziristan area from the TTP terrorists. It is worth mention that, the terrorist outfit, TTP was well equipped, well trained and logistically supported from Afghan soil. During those operations, many of TTP terrorists escaped to Afghanistan, where they were given proper reception and welcomed. ‘Operation Zarb-i-Azb’ in North Waziristan Agency was a great success of Pak Army and a decisive setback for the TTP terrorists and their abettors. Besides Pakistan Army, the entire Pakistani nation fought to eliminate the menace of terrorism during Operation Zarb-i-Azb. It was a national operation against militancy and foreign conspiracies. The whole nation was behind the brave armed forces of Pakistan. During this prolonged military operation, over 4000 militants were killed, 1000 hideouts were destroyed and over 400 tons of explosives was recovered. Apart from that, a number of militant strongholds, communications infra-structure and sanctuaries were cleared on a large scale, not only in NWA, but all over the FATA.
RUSI has indeed, highlighted and appreciated the role Pakistan Army has played during all military operations against terrorism. It has particularly made a mention of ‘Operations Zarb-i-Azb’ and ‘Raddul Fasaad’ which indeed restored peace and stability in Pakistan, following a series of terrorist’s attacks against institutions and masses by TTP and its accomplices. The best part of these operations was that, Pakistan carried out these operations independently without any assistance from its former ally, United States, which indeed, betrayed Pakistan on a number of occasions during this prolonged war on terror, initiated by it. Upon repeated betrayal by its former allies, Pak Army had a re-evaluated its former submissive strategy of cold war, which was essentially based on dependency theory. The re-evaluation process led Pakistan Army for self-dependence and innovation in its defence and security matters. Besides, it had a re-look on the list of its friends and foes. Since there has been no direct animosity between Pakistan and Russia, therefore, Pakistan positively responded to Russian offers of closer ties in the field of defence and security. It was US compelling Pakistan during cold war to act against former Soviet Union.
Today, Pakistan does not find Russia as its adversary; rather both countries are heading for an era of strategic partnership. Indeed, Pakistan, Russia and China have common concerns as far peace and stability of Afghanistan is concerned. Since Taliban is a reality in that country, therefore, they have to be engaged alongside the Kabul regime for reconciliation. Together, these three countries are trying to establish peace, stability and economic prosperity of Afghanistan. Iran, after having betrayed by US has also realized the significance of Pakistan and peace in the region. Some of international players and neighbours are not interested to bring peace in Afghanistan, thus constantly causing instability by promoting terrorism, suicide attacks and usage of IS (Daesh). Incorporating FATA into mainstream was a dream came true after hectic efforts of Pak Army. Pakistan Army does not believe in colonial pattern of ‘buffer zones’ rather it strictly follow the principle of state’s sovereignty and integrity under concept of nation state. Within Pakistan, it seeks equality for all, as enshrined in the Constitution of Pakistan. Over the years, through strategic war gaming, Pakistan Army has reached to the conclusion that, it can fight all types of war through its indigenously manufactured war munitions. Besides, it’s highly professional men may not be needing training elsewhere, rather the world armies need to learn the skills of asymmetrical warfare from Pakistan Army, since it attained s series successes which 150,000 US and NATO forces could not achieve during their prolonged deployment in Afghanistan.
— The writer, Professor of Politics and International Relations at IIU, is based in Islamabad.