JCSC chief calls use of force, coercion counterproductive

General Zubair supports adoption of soft balancing approach to achieve lasting peace

Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee (JCSC) Chairman General Zubair Mahmood Hayat has said that use of force or kinetic means or threats of force or coercion of force to try and resolve problems is counterproductive.

“So soft balancing approach is a mean and toll for stability and peace and that is what is require reinforcement,” he said in reply to a question at the Shangri-La Dialogue, organised by the International Institute of Strategic Studies (IISS).

“When I talked about soft balancing, I am talking about trying to balance out interests; whether there are strategic interests, there are economic interests or there are diplomatic interests, so those can be reconciled in a manner of constructive engagement,” General Zubair told the audience.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis was included among those who also spoke on the occasion. General Zubair said that South Asian stability was indirectly linked to that of Asia-Pacific; South Asia being the most populous, less affluent and conflict prone sub-region. Despite unresolved territorial disputes and shifting geostrategic realignments, Pakistan was proactively making efforts to reduce the strains on strategic stability, he said.

Terming Asia-Pacific to be a mosaic of unique cultures that can build common grounds and said a constructivist approach can reduce the risks and build opportunities. “It is our choice to rise peacefully and develop a shared destiny or become a victim of Prisoner’s Dilemma and deal with consequences of non-traditional and non-geographic security threats,” he said.

He said that South Asian challenges towards crises management have increased owing to lack of mutual trust and political will, the absence of dialogue and disinterest by some major powers in playing a role in resolving the outstanding disputes. He said that the Islamic State was an emerging threat.

“Threat of transnational terrorism by non-state actors may increase owing to the availability of new technologies and the asymmetric strategies such actors have developed,” he said. The cyberspace, technologically, has emerged as the global commons and carries with it the attendant security challenges, he said. “These trends play into Asian geopolitics and the potential for anarchic instability cannot be wished away,” he said.

“While the emerging threats affect regional states differently, what is absent is an approach to shared threat perception,” he said. Sharing his views, he said that Pacific and Indian Oceans were large enough to accommodate common and even some competing interests. He said that soft balancing could be preferred strategy to manage conflicting interests.

He said a successful crisis management model in Asia-Pacific cannot evolve without diplomatic engagement and economic involvement of major powers. It is important to exercise restraint and normalise the political and military situation through shaping an environment of trust by reducing the scale of military manoeuvres.

He said that classical approaches to economic cooperation, collaborative security mechanisms, deterrence and diplomacy may be considered for crises management, he said. For long-term peace and stability in the region, conflict resolution strategies shall be central to addressing deep-rooted problems, he said.

General Zubair pinned the need for developing best practices models for crisis avoidance and crisis management. He recalled that Pakistan has contributed to the security of Asia-Pacific through humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, counter-terrorism and counter-piracy operations including contributing wholeheartedly to international efforts on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.