Pakistan`s security environment By Masood Sharif Khan Khattak - Former Director General Intelligence Bureau. [Courtesy: Opinion From The Nation (Lahore) 5-16-02]
Pakistan lives in what can be termed a very tough neighbourhood. We are a country whose security is not only threatened from the outside but also from the inside. It is time that we take stock of the situation in right earnest. If we do not do this our problems will multiply manifold and soon the proverbial last straw will find itself on the back of our beloved country. I am certain none of us want that to happen. In order to make a brief assessment of our security environment I shall touch upon the aspects of foreign policy, law and order, the political scene, economy and the current India-Pakistan stand off.
Foreign relations play a pivotal role in the security considerations of any country. If Pakistan has to bring about an improvement in its security environment it will have to reassess the way, it has exercised its foreign policy options. The Foreign Office has to obtain ascendancy over all other organs of the government in formulating the country`s foreign policy options. There is just no other choice.
Domestically we use the complete governmental apparatus in a selective witch-hunt of the opposition. At different times, we have all been at the wrong side of the stick. At all times the commonality has been that the resources of the State were utilized to fight thoroughly patriotic Pakistanis whose only fault was being in political opposition to whosoever was in power. The State resources should always have been used to fight the enemies of the State and the opposition should have been left alone to practice political opposition.
This has never been the practice. It is not the practice even in these so-called days of good governance either. The result, over the years, has been that the political culture has deteriorated. On the other hand those elements that like to take on the State and put its integrity, internal security, law and order, provincial harmony, investment climate and the well being of the general health of the State at stake have improved upon their ability to take on the State frontally and with impunity.
In modern times, states break up because of two major factors. Health of the economy and the state`s internal law and order situation. It is a fallacy to believe that armies can keep countries intact. Take the example of the Soviet Union. When its economy collapsed and the internal dissension, the mighty Soviet Army with all its inter-continental ballistic missiles, nuclear war heads, millions of armed-to-the-teeth soldiers, tanks and whatever else, could not keep the erstwhile Soviet Union from fragmenting into twelve independent states. In our own history, we see that when the Bengalis rose against the State of Pakistan our Army could do nothing to keep the State intact. India`s efforts to keep Kashmir as an integral part of India is not going to work either. Its million plus Army will one day have to quit Kashmir.
We have to concentrate very pragmatically upon our domestic situation before it gets out of hand. Our general law and order situation is bad to say the least. The military ruler Gen Musharraf has openly told this nation on television that the writ of the State of Pakistan has eroded from all over Pakistan. What, therefore, needs to be done expeditiously is that this lost writ should be restored - before it is too late. The State has to leave alone the legitimate political opponents to carry on with their legitimate political opposition and has to divert the attention of all the law and order apparatus, in particular the intelligence agencies, to concentrate on the activities of the anti-State elements and thwart their nefarious designs. If we do not do this instantly, the State of Pakistan will eventually pay a very dear price for this negligence. We, the patriotic Pakistanis are pained at the plight of our hapless motherland. Erosion from within is our biggest enemy.
I am not someone who understands the intricacies of the economy but what I do know is that despite what we are fed over State-controlled electronic media and from those in charge of the economy we are not in a happy situation at all. A good economy should reflect itself in the daily lives of the citizens. In our case, it does not. Statistics are useless for the man in the street.
Who cares if the loans are rescheduled? They will have to be repaid by our next generations. How does it help? When Pakistanis are investing in Jabel Ali (UAE), Malaysia and so many other countries around the world and are helping in improving the general health of those economies why can they not do the same for Pakistan by exploiting the Pakistani market potential? Utterly wrong policies of the governments in the past and in the present have driven the local investors away from the shores of Pakistan - this makes our expectation that the foreign investor will come to Pakistan laughable. This is tragic. We shall have to do something quickly to get the sons of the soil back if we want the economy going.
As far as the external threat from India is concerned I say it emphatically that it is something that was catered for, and very effectively, in the 70`s by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto when he laid the ground work for Pakistan to become a nuclear power in the military sense. That is why India and Pakistan have not gone to war ever since 1971 - despite conflagrations like the Kargil episode and the present full military, naval, and air stand off.
India has never been interested in our territory or our population. They have enough of land and enough of a Muslim population to want an addition to that population. Their sole interest has been and still is to destroy Pakistan`s military potential. The Indians have been preparing for this purpose since long. The Indians have been acquiring arms and equipment from abroad since 1971 for all the three services i.e. army, navy and the air force in a very systematic and planned manner.
Indians have also concentrated on indigenous production of sophisticated military hardware. Their nuclear and space research programme has been meticulous and purposeful. They have had a steady missile development process. In short, the Indians had planned well in order to arrive at a peak military potential in or around the years 1995-97.
On our part, the nuclear program started by Shaheed Bhutto progressed well over the years. Once Pakistan achieved the nuclear capability, it had the problem of the delivery system. Despite western pressures, the governments of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto in 1988-90 and in 1993-96 developed our missile systems. Today we have the bomb - thanks to the elder Bhutto and we have the delivery systems - thanks to the daughter of the father of our nuclear programme. The lethal combination of these two aspects is keeping the Indians from invading Pakistan. Yet, and very sadly so the military government of Zia ul Haq took the elder Bhutto to the gallows and the head of the present military government has the audacity to call the daughter a security hazard.
I shudder to think what we would have had to face if we had not been a nuclear power today and if we did not have the ability to deliver those warheads to almost any place in India that matters to that nation. I get a feeling that we might have been in a kind of situation that the Palestinians face today. What stops India from driving into our territories is not our conventional forces but the fact that our nuclear capability puts the price tag of invading our territories at a level that the Indian nation just cannot bear.
The Indians did not go to war after 1971 because a stalemate would not have helped their cause of trying to be recognized as a regional power and it was not before 1995-97 that their acquisitions and indigenous production could give them their peak military potential so that they could destroy our military machine once and for all. This is why in 1998 they exploded their second nuclear device. The sole purpose of this activity on the part of the Indians was to find out for sure whether Pakistan was or was not in possession of nuclear weapons and the delivery system without which a nuclear capability means nothing. There can be many opinions on the matter but I think Mian Nawaz Sharif`s action of exploding the device at Chaghai did the trick. The Indian desire to cut Pakistan`s military might to size was struck a big blow - a blow that was strong enough to tell the world, Indian and Pakistani leaderships of all times to come that war was no longer an option for the settlement of disputes between India and Pakistan.
We need to immediately reassess our options to improve our security environment. We have to bring about a political culture of tolerance that is not visible on the horizon despite what the incumbent government says. We need to revert to an undiluted representative dispensation immediately. We need to re-establish the writ of Pakistan on each and every inch of its territory and this cannot be done by word of mouth but by deeds of thoroughly professional nature on the part of the country`s security apparatus. We have to set the economy moving and this cannot be achieved in a suffocating political atmosphere that is dominated by fear and intimidation.
The writer is a former director-general of the Intelligence Bureau and former vice-president of the PPP Parliamentarians. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org