Security Challenges to Pakistan
By Sajjad Shaukat
Media reported on January 2, this year that while changing professional priorities, Pakistan Army has declared the internal threats such as anti-state terrorist groups as major challenge to the country. In the newly published Green Book, known as Army Doctrine, a new chapter, titled, ‘Sub-conventional Warfare’ has been added which also mentions about the militant intrusion in Pakistani areas from across the border in Afghanistan, and the new warfare requires public support. However, the Pakistan Army is ready to face all conventional and unconventional security challenges.
Chief of the Army Staff Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani also said on December 29, 2012 that the country was passing through a very critical phase and “is pitched against an amorphous enemy, while the conventional threat has also grown manifold. He explained, “Increasingly complex external environment and our precarious internal dynamics have created a myriad of security challenges.” He added that the present spectrum of threats could be defeated through collective national efforts in which the armed forces had a pivotal role to play in harmony with other state instruments.
Army’s new doctrine and Gen. Kayani’s statement has come at a time when external enemies have intensified suicide attacks, bomb blasts, targeted-killings, beheadings, assaults on police stations, ethnic and sectarian violence inside the country. Besides the provinces of Balochistan and Gilgit-Baltistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the city of Karachi have become special targets of terrorism which continues unabated.
While, Pakistan’s security forces have been coping with sporadic battles with the militants in the tribal areas, and are target of surprise assault by the militants. In this regard, around 400 heavily-armed Taliban attacked two security posts outside Peshawar on December 27, last year. They killed 2 soldiers and kidnapped 22 Levies personnel whose dumped bodies were found. In the recent past, these insurgents had beheaded some soldiers through similar act. In Balochistan, several personnel of security agencies have been martyred by the foreign-supported separatists in defending country’s security.
Besides other terror acts, recent assassination of Senior Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Minister and the courageous leader of the ANP, Bashir Ahmad Bilour including eight people came like a fresh challenge from the Taliban. And Sectarian violence erupted in different parts of Karachi, killing more than 30 people after a terror attack on a leader of the Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat and the killing of four men of the group believed to be the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan. While on December 30, 2012, more than 20 pilgrims were killed in a suicide car bomb attack on three buses in Mastung area of Balochistan.
Apart from this perennial wave of sabotage, militants armed with suicide jackets, explosive-material, and automatic weapons attacked the Peshawar Airport on December 15, 2012, Kamra Air Force Base on August 16 same year and Pakistan’s Naval Airbase in Karachi on May 23, 2011. During all these assaults, after fierce gun battle with the insurgents, Pakistan’s valiant security forces foiled these terror attempts.
For all these subversive activities, Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Jundollah (God’s soldiers), Lashkar-e-Islam and some other militant outfits, especially the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have claimed responsibility.
In fact, secret agencies like American CIA, Indian RAW, Afghan intelligence-National Directorate of Security (NDS) and Israeli Mossad which have well-established their collective network in Afghanistan have been dispatching highly motivated militants and suicide bombers along with sophisticated weapons to attack the security forces of Pakistan and to commit various forms of terror acts. These secret agencies have hired the services of many Muslims who have joined the ranks and files of TTP and other extremist outfits. Pakistan’s civil and military leadership has repeatedly protested against cross-border terrorism from Afghanistan including TTP location there, but US-led NATO and Afghan top officials have taken no action. Notably, Pakistan is the only nuclear country in the Islamic World; therefore, these entities are determined to denuclearise it.
As regards the conventional threat to Pakistan, US which has signed nuclear deal with India in 2008, has been supplying atomic technology and other modern arms to the latter to counterbalance China. In this respect, Balochistan’s Gwader seaport where China has invested billions of dollars can link Central Asia with rest of the world. As Sino-Pak strategic partnership irks the eyes of US-led India and Israel, hence, they intend to destabilise Pakistan through their affiliated insurgent groups.
Nevertheless, Pakistan has been facing a ‘different war’ by coping with faceless enemies like foreign-backed terrorists. Besides collateral damage, more than 40,000 innocent persons and more than 5000 personnel of the security forces have been martyred in this new style war in maintaining the integrity of the federation. On the whole, Pakistan suffered the losses of more than 70 billion dollars due to war against terrorism.
In the past aggression, was openly being made between two sovereign belligerents through the traditional armies. But the arena of aggression has changed. In the present era, non-state actors like terrorists have made it difficult for the military to serve alone as the dominant sphere in every war. Now, different lethal weapons such as suicide attacks, bomb blasts and targeted killings used by the militants coupled with state’s non-lethal techniques of psychological warfare like propaganda, creation of division among government institutes, politicians, general masses etc. can be more harmful in damaging the interest of a rival country.
In these terms, a number of developments against Pakistan like US double game, pressuring Islamabad to do more against the militants by ignoring the internal backlash, intermittent drone strikes, accusation of cross border terrorism, perennial propaganda against Pak Army, country’s ‘nukes’, intelligence agency, ISI, exploitation of the Malala episode, distorting the image of Pakistan as a fundamentalist state etc. clearly show nefarious designs of the US-led India, Israel and some western countries. But it is due to lack of unity among our politicians, security forces and media that foreign opportunists have been manipulating the chaotic situation of Pakistan in order to fulfil their secret aims against the integrity of the country.
It is regrettable that on the one hand, security challenges to Pakistan indicate that it is rapidly advancing towards a ‘failed state’, while on the other, our media, particularly most of the TV channels conduct controversial debate between politicians and commentators, contesting internal politics. While speaking in the tone of anti-Pakistan elements, they have been following the external blame game in maligning the country’s security agencies.
Notably, present drastic situation cannot be comprehended by the general masses and even the political leaders who abruptly change their opinion without logic. Therefore, they become unintentional victim of the external plotters who succeed in creating a rift between the political groups, divided on ethnic and linguistic lines. These foreign enemies also seek to create a division between the political leaders and the Army.
Without bothering for Pakistan’s multiple threats, our political and religious parties have started old game of accusations and counteraccusations, while forming alliances and counter alliances to increase their vote bank in the forthcoming elections. It could be judged from the fact that Dr Muhammad Tahirul Qadri, the chief of Tehrik-e-Minhaj-ul-Quran (TMQ) and Pakistan Awami Tehrik (PAT) who recently returned from Canada has announced a long march to Islamabad for revolutionary changes in political and electoral system. Recently, Dr Tahirul Qadri and Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) declared that their pro-revolution supporters would turn Islamabad into Tahrir Square of Pakistan. PML-Q leaders have also responded positively to their call. The ruling party, PPP and opposition party, PML-N have strongly condemned Dr Qadri’s at this hour when elections are going to be held in the coming months. Unlike Egypt under the ex-president Hosni Mubarak, parliamentary system is smoothly working in Pakistan. Therefore, some political analysts opine that by pursuing the guidelines of some foreign power, TMQ and MQM want to create civil war in the country by dividing the military on one side and general masses on the other.
Undoubtedly, today our nation stands at the crossroads of its destiny, facing multiple challenges to the security of the country. So, it is not army’s war only; it is nation’s war which demands a selfless unity among Pakistan’s security forces, politicians, media and general masses to castigate the sinister aims of the external and internal enemies.
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations