Friday, January 2, 2009



India has carried out a revaluation of its strategic options with Pakistan. Coming years will witness an ‘All-out Strategy of Coercion’ effectively applied by Israel in the Middle East. India’s biggest advantage of seeking conceptual and technical military cooperation with Israel lies in the fact that its technology is largely indigenous and facilitates material transfer with no end user problems. Pakistan is already engaged in a War of Attrition and the futures will be a serious test of its strategy of defiance and ability to ride out the crises as a cohesive nation state.

India’s quest for security and response to perceived external threats is shaped and complicated by her past. India desires to exist as a great power with a capability to bully its neighbours to vassal states. Pakistan has been the major impediment towards this quest of great power status. Vary of the freedom struggle in Kashmir, an exaggerated threat of Islamic militants and fear of another Two Nation Theory from within; Indian strategists have been toying with the idea of using a small but lethal rapid reaction force for a limited duration inside Pakistan. However, India cannot accomplish what it has failed to do for the past six decades, unless the breeze blows in its favour. India feels it is time to test her new options.

Post 9/11, India sees an opportunity and is acting as a neo realist to minimise the importance of Pakistan through high profile coercion that falls in line with international perceptions. To capitalise this rare opportunity, India is even ready to forego its traditional mantra of keeping great powers out of the region and rather align with them for short term gains. In the final analysis, India wishes to frame a politically discredited, ethnically fragmented, economically fragile and a morally weak Pakistan. This can only happen if the role of armed forces in Pakistan’s policy making is pushed back; Punjab divided and the rallying call of Kashmir addressed for good.

Indian military structure and force goals for the past 10 years are geared towards such a capability with active assistance from Russia, Israel and now USA and UK. Having allied itself closely with Israel, India will now seek a continuous attrition of Pakistan’s politic body through high profile military coercion, control of river waters, diplomatic isolation and covert interference within Pakistan’s fragile areas. Mumbai and any such incidents in future will continue to provide a reason for such intimidation, all in concert with the US and western strategic objectives in the region. The policy is thus underlined by the need that Pakistan must have a very weak intelligence and surveillance capability.

Interestingly, much of the blame for having landed in the box and then be cornered into it must also be shared by the Pakistani establishments of the past decade. Though Pakistan’s declared nuclear capability was meant to deter all types of conflicts and pave way for sustained economic growth; international stature; and a political solution to the Kashmir Crisis, Pakistan through Kargil led India and the world to believe that notwithstanding a nuclear shadow, a limited military conflict in an existing conflict zone was still possible. Kargil and later 9/11 changed international perceptions on an armed freedom struggle in Kashmir as also Pakistan’s relevance to the new form of threat; the Non-State Actors. Seen in the backdrop of 9/11, it was the second effect that finally resulted in disowner ship of the freedom fighters in Kashmir by Pakistan while also resigning the Kashmir question to the impossibility of backdoor diplomacy.

Nuclear capability of Pakistan provides a very small window of opportunity to India to carry out a physical offensive action across the LOC or international border. This action could be a raid in the garb of Hot Pursuit through ground or heliborne troops, precision air strikes with or without stand-off; remote controlled targeting through a guided missile attack, and in worst case, an attempt to seize objectives close to the international border with little military but considerable political significance. India had a fully developed chemical weapon’s programme even before she signed the chemical weapon’s convention as a country not possessing chemical weapon’s but declared its arsenal soon after signing it and is not averse to using quickly diffusing chemical weapons. After 9/11, India has war gamed and fine tuned these concepts as also implemented some in a very limited manner during the escalation on the LOC.

Hot Pursuit, as the name suggests is only possible in an already hot theatre like LOC. These are launched through ground troops or heliborne forces. Such an option has little probability because of the bilateral ceasefire. However, such an option however remote cannot be ruled out.

With active assistance of Israel, some Indian aircrafts have acquired a beyond visual range, precision stand-off capability, something witnessed during the Kargil conflict. India may use her air force remaining inside her own territory and launch laser guided munitions diagonally inside Pakistan. However, the selected targets should be within 20 KMs of the LOC or international border.

Precision strikes imply that Indian aircrafts will physically violate Pakistan’s airspace and launch precision surgical strikes against selected targets from a very high altitude, or conventional bombing runs, or use of heliborne troops. In such a situation, these aircrafts will be vulnerable to Pakistani air defence and PAF.

In the Cold Start Strategy, India positions forces with offensive capabilities in military garrisons close to the international border, equipped, trained and tasked to capture some nodal points along the international border, before the Pakistani forces can react. India may not succeed in such an operation without a massive air cover. In Indian strategic calculus, the timing and lightening speed of such operations will solicit immense international pressure on Pakistan so as to curtail Pakistan’s conventional and nuclear response.

Notwithstanding such options hinging on military and diplomatic brinkmanship, India will benefit from the use of Israeli armed and surveillance drones operated by Israeli crews from inside India. Historical precedence for such cooperation already exists.

The whole body of war fighting reasoning in such limited conflicts warrants a ‘level of rationality’ and comprehension of a common strategic language between the belligerents. This is technically impossible. Different actors would draw varying conclusions from an animated Graduated Escalation Ladder (GEL) always vulnerable to a Fire Break Point that could result in uncontrolled conventional and nuclear escalation. It is therefore most important that the decision to graduate a conflict rest solely with the political leaders of the country, wherein a common strategic parlance could be evolved with more ease and international community enforce a carrot and stick syndrome over Pakistani leaders.

Taking a leaf from Israeli opaqueness in nuclear doctrine, India over time has applied a conceptual innovation in her nuclear strategy. The Indian revision in the nuclear doctrine implies the ambiguity in the “no first use clause” through a declared no first use and pre-emptive retaliation to create a perception that she is making a coercive transaction from doctrine of ‘Limited Conventional War’ to an opaque level of conflict in which the nuclear weapons remain in a very high state of alert. The implication is that India may flirt with the concept of a limited strategic coercion in the shadow of a very high non degradable nuclear alert beyond Pakistan’s capability to neutralise. It is also my opinion that as of now, after having signed the Nuclear Deal with USA, India benefits from an extended US Nuclear Umbrella, strategic and diplomatic support.

There are reliable reports from Afghanistan that Indian contractors are busy building billets and accommodation in Kabul and Baghram to station two Indian divisions groups in the area. At the same time, bids have been invited by the US Corps of Engineers to construct a divisional size cantonment in Kandhar. Hypothetically, troops in the garb of protection for Indian investments will actually seal off Afghanistan’s Pashtun Regions from the North. Then the US, NATO and Indian troops will go for an all out counter insurgency operation in the cordoned Pashtun areas. Effects of spillover to Pakistan will be pronounced and Durand Line would become a figment of imagination. Premised on the romantic notion of Pashtun Nationalism, the doors to Pakhtunkhwa would be opened. USA would then select the shortest route to Afghanistan through the Arabian Sea and Balochistan.

What ever the concept, scope and objective of such limited escalations, India with its new found allies has decided to maintain a constant vigil and coercion of Pakistan over a prolonged period of time but well below a Fire Break Point. The obvious targets in tandem with its allies will be addressed through diverse instruments like control of rivers, economics, diplomacy, international pressure, internal law and order, military intimidation and even insurgency. A trillion dollar question is; will USA be ready to occupy Balochistan for a secure supply corridor?
The war has already begun. The question is. When did it begin?

Brigadier Samson Simon Sharaf is a retired officer of Pakistan Army.
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  1. Dear Author,
    Your article is well written, but based on wrong premises.
    Pakistan's strategic history vis a vis India, of the past five decades, was based on all round financial and military support of the US, and also the transfer of nuclear know-how from China.
    However, you guys in Pakistan, now see india as an US ally. Don't you see that the world has been rapidly undergoing huge changes and heading toward a major shake-up in the coming days ?
    The whole nation, as usual, is united to challange India on the issue of terror, but has learnt to live with missile strikes by the US on daily basis, is that not a big change ?
    Don't you see that the drone attacks on Pakistan by the US lead NATO forces, is a precursor to the dark and turbulent future of Pakistan ?
    Pakistan, clearly is high on the targets of the western powers, firstly due to its mis-handling and proliferation of nuke technology to several known buyers. Secondly, the US knows better than anyone else, Pakistan's involvement in creating and providing financial and logistical support to the monster of Jihadi terror all these years, which it has not given up till date.
    It is not India, but the US that you guys need to worry about, that is where your article has gone wrong.
    The choices for Pakistan seems to have narrowed down to two. Either it sees the writing on the wall and changes its traditional position, or the US lead NATO forces will impose harsh and turbulent changes on Pakistan in the coming days.

    Dear Mr. Sharaf:
    Your analysis is systematic and thoughful! To your trillion dollar question perhaps one couldn't help thinking why US would occupy if security of supply corridor is outsource to India!
    Your analysis would indeed needed for better understanding.
    I would like to add you in my mailing list for future discussions, if it is ok?
    Happy new year.
    Best Regards

    Dear Brig. Sharaf,
    Congratulations on a well written article in The News. I completely agree with your analysis. Logical and to the point.
    My questions are :
    1. Did Pakistan not bring itself into this sandwich situation where it is being squeezed both from East and West ?
    2. The problem lies within Pakistan. If you clean up your country from terrorists and threats to others, there will be no squeeze. So why dont you do the cleanup ?
    Vijay Kanchan
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    Nothing will happen as described by you but for that Pakistan just need to dismantle Jehadi infrastructure. In any case in the long run it's just not sustainable - no government can run a country by supporting Goonda Brigade. Jehadi are nothing but better trained Goonds.

    Hello Sir,
    Today I read your article Pakistan's present and future war.
    I have a mixed feeling. I am delighted to see such a wonderful work done by you as regards research, deep analysis of Indian capabilities, threat perception, various hypothesis, brief historical perspective and above all beautifully written.
    Feeling a bit worried as to what we are upto! The question raised: When did it begin? - what were we doing at that time! frankly i just can not spot any one in present political and Military leadership (so called) having even clue of what has already happened, what is happening and what is coming!!!
    Best Regards
    Waqar Khadim

    There aren't any definitions on Webster or Oxford dictionary.
    Non-State Actors = Terrorists within a country, the state refuses accept as terrorists and do anything about it.
    Your intellectually mutant opinions may carry inside a uneducated Pakistan which elected a known state criminal, the 10% man as its president. What rubbish are you talking about. Rest of us are not as stupid as you think. Strong afghanistan is not in Pakistan's interest and here is country with its economic life line tied to war on terror. Soon, the economic lifeline is going to dry then, what the heck is Pakistan going to do.
    The nuclear threat is fake, you launch a nuclear attack and Pakistan is going to get wiped out, plain and simple.

    Dear Sir:

    You are right that it has begun. Alert people like you, for sure, know when it began. But the problem is when our stupid politicans would rise from the deep slumber and buy this that it has begun. It is very pity when we look at them. Either they do not have a sense or are numb on a purpose with a B plan to flee the country in case?

    I just read your article - Pakistan's present and future war - in the
    International The News
    A remarkable analysis and commentary.
    What are your thoughts about Wasiristan and the NWF? Where will the
    "Jungalies" go?
    Navi K Bhalla
    Burlingame USA

  2. This was the first thing I read in The News this morning. I trust that by now you would have gotten 30 to 40 emails from flailing and wailing Indians. Half of them will accuse you of being "Islamo-fascist" and the other half will probably ask you if you can justify as a Christian fighting for Islamic terrorists that according to them Pakistanis are.

    The point is that you've hit the nail on the head. Our Pinko-liberals and as well as our pigheaded Islamic minded elements are too narrow, too short sighted, too ideologically oriented to actually see your logic.

    The victory of Pushtun Nationalists in the recent elections in retrospect seems as suspect as the MMA fascists in 2002. The great game that Sir Olaf Caroe imagined in 1945 (he is said to be one of the original proposers of Pakhtunistan idea) has come a full circle.

    If the US thinks that a bunch villayeti verkottey pathans are going to be able to control the real impulse behind Pushtun nationalism ie a violent, volatile mix of ethnic parochialism mixed with puritan Islam they better think again.

    I have no doubt for a single minute that Indians are thinking in these terms. I can never forget 9/11/2001 when I walked down to the gym at my university in the US. I was in shock and disbelief which was compounded when I was confronted by three very cheerful Indians. I asked them why they were so happy and they said : well this is the end for US as super power. India will be the Super power now. This is a true story ...which for nothing else must be considered for this aspiration that Indians harbor of dominating the world let alone their own neighbourhood.
    Except they don't understand that the best way out for everyone is a stable democratic and united Pakistan working as a partner and not a disintegrating lawless badland that Indians want to reduce it to.

    Indian plans of a surgical strike have been upset by PAF's vigilant air patrolling... PAF may no longer have the technological superiority over IAF but is more than capable of defending its own air space against incursions. In response to an article I wrote about the PAF, an Indian gentleman recently complained about PAF patrolling and called PAF Al Qaeda's air force. I suppose Indians want PAF to roll over.

    At the same time it is important that we realize that our thinking in term of strategic assets can no longer be sustained. LeT is a problem for everyone. Whatever their usefulness might have been, they've become a huge liability. Therefore it is all the more important for us to outflank the Indians and their American allies in paramount interest of Pakistan. I hope the Pakistan Army realizes that in order to remain relevant as an army, it needs Pakistan to remain relevant and not diplomatically isolated. If Indians have learnt the art of speaking with a forked tongue about peace, brotherhood, universalism, all the while keeping their cards, all of them Hindu chauvinist to say the least, close to their heart, we must do so as well. Statesmanship would be to continue to keep Pakistan the main hurdle between India and its illusions of grandeur forcing the Indians to make a fool of themselves. At the same time, we must organize ourselves economically, educationally and politically as a truly modern nation. These things must come first.

    And a word about US-Pakistan relations. We must take care and ensure that Obama adminstration is not alienated from Pakistan and that we continue to remain an important country and an ally. India has a lot of allies in the US... It calls for a diplomatic offensive. We must stress to whoever is willing to listen that Pakistan is a democratic state committed to the same principles of equality, fraternity and liberty that US holds so dear. This is where a secular domestic agenda must come in for the incumbent government. Pakistani nationalism ought to be revamped along territorial lines and the slogan of Pakistan first must be resurrected. It is time we removed the humbug of Islamic ideology and moved on to building a modern, democratic and secular Pakistan. This might be the only way we can counter the successful attempt by Hindu chauvinists in India to paint in a certain color and to fit a certain shoe.

    One of the first things I can think of is a constitutional amendment removing the word "Muslim" from qualifications required for the president of Pakistan.

    Yasser Latif Hamdani

  3. Good to see your article, somehow i was actually expecting it to be there. You have summed up the whole situation very beautifully, which would have needed a whole policy paper. India is flexing her muscles and her tone has become of something like a 'regional power', not a surprise. When USA started opening 'Wall Marts' and 'Pizza Huts' in India, there was a slogan 'India, the next super power", which later became a joke as USA was occupying a consumer market.

    Present situation doesn't seem different, as we know its Indian mind set, we have our own odds and they will try to exploit the situation. But to what extent they can is a separate debate. Presently, situation is not different from your analysis. However a long term stand off, diplomatic, economic or military might impact India more then Pakistan. What USA has to offer India after pulling it in Afghanistan and on confrontation with neighbors?

    My opinion is still same, India is a future's Pakistan of 1980's for USA, a proxy who fights for US interests and gets slaughtered. They have too much mess at home to handle, before they can act as a US proxy and this premature Indian adventure will become a heavy burden for its already fragile internal situation. But I dont see Indian decision makers understanding this fact. So, yes, we will facing the situation what you have predicted.

    As regards Baluchistan, US economy do not afford another war, neither they can guarantee India to completely neutralize Pakistan's nuclear capabilities in case Indians go for a war. So at this point of time most likely scenario is a situation of cold war. How long India is going to afford it, which is completely dependent on FDI, Foreign trade (while US economy is dying) and already huge trade deficits?

    Dividing Punjab? This is on what I would like to speak with you

    Ahmad Nadeem Gehla

  4. what is being asserted here needs more discussion.i suggest that Brig Simon needs to expand on this thesis.