Syed Ali Zia Jaffery

Sovereignty is an important constituent of a state, a concept which came to the fore after the Treaty of Westphalia way in 1648. The document ended the Thirty Years War and brought a semblance of peace, however, it also became a precursor to bitter rivalries. Sovereignty has to be attained, maintained and protected. This necessitates a discussion on security. States embroil in conflicts when their interests clash with those of other states and even non-state actors.  In a quest to protect vital national interests states are forced to go to war. Therefore sovereignty hinges upon security and states that face threats to their territorial integrity maintain a certain force level.

The armed forces maintain a deployment balance heavily on the Eastern Theater on the Line of Control, Working Boundary and the International Border with India. The strategic fraternity deems India as the major threat to the security of the country.

Military power is one of the most important constituents of a state’s hard power. The prime responsibility of armed forces is to safeguard their countries from external and internal threats. Thus like any other state, Pakistan maintains a credible force level to thwart various challenges to its security.

Militaries around the world have a security orientation that affects the development of their war-fighting doctrines and concepts. A strategic thought is not only shaped up by threat analysis and enemy-appreciation but also by the forces of history.

Pakistan is vilified and questioned about her India-centric security orientation; the security establishment is blamed left, right and center in being soft on “terrorists”. This all is done in spite of Pakistan’s successful kinetic operations against miscreants.

Let us therefore succinctly understand Pakistan’s security thinking and the threat perception that defines the contours of strategy.

The simmering situation in Kashmir and the issue of Kulbushan Jadhav has brought both these neighbors at loggerheads. Security planners are being compelled to continue with their orthodox India-centric approach because the Indian civil and military hierarchy is mulling over using military options to compel Pakistan.

The Pakistan military is currently engaged in various counter-terrorism operations against militant outfits across the country. Yet, the armed forces maintain a deployment balance heavily on the Eastern Theater on the Line of Control, Working Boundary and the International Border with India. The strategic fraternity deems India as the major threat to the security of the country. Pakistan justified its order of battle by pointing out the deployment pattern of the Indian armed forces, as full-fledged commands are operationally deployed on the border.

The ever-increasing potency in the resistance movement in Kashmir resulted in the escalation of hostilities throughout 2016. Military engagements were frequent and the caliber of weapons ranged from small arms to heavy artillery. Despite a cease in military skirmishes at the tactical level by the end of the year, ties continue to traverse on a collision course. The upping of the military ante last year negated all ideas of the need to thin out on the Eastern border.

Pakistan is believed to be using proxies to damage India to an extent that the Kashmir issue is resolved in accordance with what Pakistan wants. It must be stressed that Kashmir is a disputed territory; Pakistan from the lens of realism is trying to wrest back a land that does not belong to India.

The simmering situation in Kashmir and the issue of Kulbushan Jadhav has brought both these neighbors at loggerheads. Security planners are being compelled to continue with their orthodox India-centric approach because the Indian civil and military hierarchy is mulling over using military options to compel Pakistan. The desire to resuscitate the proactive war strategy “Cold Start“ was expressed by none other than the Indian Army Chief. The highly touted Cold Start Doctrine (CSD) of the Indian army gives credence to Pakistani fears of Indian grandiose designs. Though not operational, the incendiary nature of rapid thrusts of Integrated Battle Groups (IBGs) to bite and hold chunks has significantly helped Pakistan stick to its long-held view about India. The top brass of the Pakistani military thinks that invoking CSD will lower the nuclear threshold, and hence Pakistan is all set to induct Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNWs) in its armory. Ostensibly, Pakistan wants to fill the deterrence gap at the tactical level and guard itself on the whole spectrum. Regardless of the effectiveness of TNWs in deterrence, Pakistan is reacting to an action by its rival state: a norm in international politics. The implications of invoking CSD merits another piece though, but the intention to use this gives weight to Pakistan’s “Look East” security thinking.

Pakistan is not merely ostracized for its military deployment and planning. It is berated for harboring terrorists, involvement in Afghanistan and blaming India for internal trouble. Let us deal with all these assertions.

Hence, Pakistan has an undeniable evidence from history to feel uneasy about Indian proclivities of meddling in its affairs. The overt support to secessionists in Baluchistan and the revelations of Kulbhushan Jadhav and Ehsanullah Ehsan further exonerate continued fear of India’s mischief.

The cataclysmic and fateful episode of the separation of East Pakistan is engraved in Pakistan’s security thinking. The massive role played by India is conspicuous, well-celebrated and now well-documented.  There is no denial or remorse by India, from the creation of the Mukti Bahini to the armed intervention which led to sequester of Pakistan. In the language of international politics, an enemy state directly intervened to separate a legal territory from a country. Pakistan did not react in the same vein to this blatant violation of international law by its arch-rival. It is blamed of fomenting trouble in the Kashmiri resistance movement since 1990. Pakistan is believed to be using proxies to damage India to an extent that the Kashmir issue is resolved in accordance with what Pakistan wants. It must be stressed that Kashmir is a disputed territory; Pakistan from the lens of realism is trying to wrest back a land that it feels does not belong to India. In an anarchical world, Pakistan is doing what any other state would do, if we take allegations on face value. Recriminations on fostering “terrorism” in Indian Occupied Kashmir can only end if the Kashmir dispute is resolved. Peace between states in the Westphalian System is achieved if and when casus belli is done away with. Kashmir remains the major flashpoint between the two acrimonious neighbors.

Pakistan’s quest for a “friendly government” in Afghanistan is because it wants to obviate chances of being encircled by inimical neighbors. The concerns that dictate our Afghan policy is that India and an India-controlled Afghanistan would be a major security threat, which is what any rational state would do.

Hence, Pakistan has an undeniable evidence from history to feel uneasy about Indian proclivities of meddling in its affairs. The overt support to secessionists in Baluchistan and the revelations of Kulbhushan Jadhav and Ehsanullah Ehsan further exonerate continued fear of India’s mischief.

In all earnestness, Pakistan’s primary concerns in Afghanistan pertain to the rising Indian influence. Afghanistan and Pakistan have had turbulent relations, and India has shown a continuum in supporting the former on the issue of Pashtunistan and the Durand Line. Pakistan’s quest for a “friendly government” in Afghanistan is because it wants to obviate chances of being encircled by inimical neighbors. The concerns that dictate our Afghan policy is that India and an India-controlled Afghanistan would be a major security threat, which is what any rational state would do. Therefore, like other states, Pakistan will try its best to lessen the role of its perennial enemy on its western border.

The hawkish rhetoric being spread mainly from India; the increasing conundrum in Afghanistan and the inflammatory situation in Kashmir will be hurdles for peace in the region for a foreseeable future.

In sum, Pakistan’s security thinking is India centric owing to historical reasons and increasing imperious and grandiose aspirations of India. There are all reasons to suggest that India will take forceful actions to “deter” and “compel” Pakistan. From the realist prism, Pakistan will alter her security thinking if, India as a relatively stronger state will assuage her fears. Besides, the resolution of the Kashmir dispute is central to peace between the two countries. Harmony would mitigate animosity and lead to peaceful co-existence. However, the hawkish rhetoric being spread mainly from India; the increasing conundrum in Afghanistan and the inflammatory situation in Kashmir will be hurdles for peace in the region for a foreseeable future. Among other consequences, it would further solidify Pakistan’s India-dominated threat analysis.

Syed Ali Zia Jaffery is a Research Associate at the Center For Strategic And Contemporary Research (CSCR), Islamabad. He frequently writes on defense, foreign policy, and Counter Terrorism.