Defiance: Deterrence as concept in foreign policy


Tariq Khalil
PM delivered his speech in the 75 General Assembly session through video conferencing due to Covid-19, highlighting three major strategically important issues beside environment and Covid-19. These are Kashmir, Islamophobia and most important growing escalations on the LoC and impending possibility of adventurism by India. His categorical support on the issue is a clear warning that lest India cross red line Pakistan cannot remain unconcerned for long. It will get involved one way or the other. Unlike previous PMs he did not mince his words in warning India. Further, no demographic change will be accepted. Any registration post-Aug 2019 will not be accepted. And that it is a war crime. Second, like previous year he raised this issue of Islamophobia in the western world where in the name of freedom of press they are targeting Islam. However, in this tirade of Islamophobia Modi’s India is a new player with agenda beyond disrespect, it is to marginalise Muslims in India. Third, growing threat of adventure from India. Contrary to previous policy of appeasement of India a clear warning of befitting reply has been given.
Thus IK Government departs from four decade practiced concept of subservience in Foreign Policy in all its multi-directional dimensions. The major areas are Kashmir, relations with Gulf countries and KSA, USA, Russia, China and India. The path chosen by Gulf countries in recognising Israel and KSA inevitably would lead to chaos in the region. No doubt in this murky and complex milieu, Pakistan’s path will be divergent. The relation with EU has always been cordial but new dimension will emerge after Brexit with Britain. There has three major challenges for Pakistan ever since independence. First security both on eastern, western flanks and internal, second weak economy, third ingress of corruption in our body politics and consequent compromises on national interests. We will examine the impact of these challenges on the direction of foreign policy.
Thus to deal with this geo-strategic quagmire and boiling domestic cauldron where remnants of corrupt mafia are fighting rear guard action in the last battle. Thus PM’s speech on all three major issues is a clear departure from the past. In the realm of Foreign Policy on the matters of Kashmir, unlike past, has raised its concern raising the issue , raising the ante and warning the world on the path chosen by India is assured destruction not only of two nuclear countries but has the potential to involve third, the China. The spectrum may suck other countries. Pakistan cannot remain unconcerned and India crossing the red line will invoke severe reaction. Interestingly Indian media is projecting China has lost territory and President Xi is extremely worried and annoyed triggering purge in PLA and also placing PPF under command China’s Central Military Command. It is not so. Pakistan thus has clearly adopted a path of defiance as a policy ignoring pressures and coercion by US even EU and India on the issue of CPEC, Kashmir and its stance on acceptance of Israel by Gulf States. Defiance is rejection of status quo. It is a peaceful strategy short of deterrence. Both are adopted to coerce, in strategic terms, an adversary no to go for any physical adventure. As a matter of fact Defiance first was identified in the study of criminology when criminals are deterred to go for any unlawful act. The Theory of Defiance was put forward by Lawrence W Sherman in 1993 in study of criminology. Later strategists found in realm of interstate relations Theory of Deterrence as a tool, especially in Cold War period when nuclear armed states avoided conflict to ensure they do not go for mutual destruction. This has worked well in past decades in avoidance of major conflict.
Whereas smaller States, not having access to such weapon system went for peaceful protest or defiance vis-a-vis powerful states. Palestinian Intifada and struggle in Kashmir are two examples. They are still in the state of defiance. Lately, spring offensive originated as peaceful defiance in Middle East against the forces of status quo. Yet there is a thin line between Defiance getting violent. Whereas states to preserve status quo resorted to measures of Deterrence and in some cases it led to civil strife, and even civil war, Libya and Syria are case in point. Liana a Beuffard first laid out Theory of Defiance and Deterrence in 2018. Although it was in the context of criminal behaviour. Yet states consist of individuals and one can extend this concept in interstate and intra-state relations. We see avoiding war Iran displayed extreme Defiance against US pressures, so is the North Korea. There is, however, a relationship between Defiance and Deterrence. The strategic aim is however common. Lately, Henry Kissinger, Bill Percy and even George Shultz have second thought on the effectiveness of Deterrence (Wall Street Journal 2007). They consider emergence of new nuclear powers and rogue states (North Korea and possibly Iran) compromised the theory of deterrence. Defiance in nature is peaceful form, whereas Deterrence is backed by force or threat of use of force. In a nutshell defiance is the function of resolve, willpower, determination, courage and perseverance to face pressures which will bear upon the state and its leadership going for defiance as a policy. It is easy to adopt this policy but difficult to hold. A state going for this need certain fundamental measures. First political cohesion and rule of law. Second, economic stability. Third, clarity of objectives. Fourth, strong moral ascendency and purpose. Fifth, perseverance and strong will of leadership. Sixth, aggressive diplomacy and finally zero tolerance to compromise on corruption.
Pakistan PM stance to depart from status quo is bold, and so far has shown resolve. The pressures already being felt as fifth generation war has been imposed, with main target, the army as centre of gravity. Both external and internal fronts have been activated. LoC along Kashmir is witnessing thousands of violations with loss of life and property. Subversive elements and sleeping cells stand activated. Enemy has penetrated in the fold of political Diaspora and heating up political temperature. IMF package stand grinded with further demands. Mafias have upped the ante through industrial blocks by creating multiple crises in food, gas, petrol and health sectors. Classical and social media are fully penetrated and being used to create a state of anarchy. Efforts are in hand to disturb socio religious landscape through fake news.
Elements in financial sectors are up to fail IK initiative for SMEs and industry. It is next to impossible to get any relief from banks who burry the client under the mountain of paper work. SME entrepreneurs not well placed and educated. They abandon the effort. Foreign Office is controlled by forces of status quo, and the shift in policy is being spiked at every step. Corruption ridden bureaucracy get played in the hands of hidden forces. These are a few examples of multiple pressures being exacted to ensure status quo. Further, strategy of Defiance should not be reactive. All moves be articulate and well thought of. Yet, we find state steadily moving forward to usher new vision both domestically and in international arena. Conspiracies apart, there is always people to carry the flag of change. Through the resilience, Pakistani people are gradually getting welded in to nationhood has all the chance to achieve success against new challenges.
—The writer, a retired Brigadier, a veteran of 1965, 1971 wars with SJ, SI, and IS Bar Gallantry. A senior Defence and Industry analyst.