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Thursday, 9 October 2008

From Today's Papers - 09 Oct

It's the Honor of the Uniform

Letter to the editor of the Indian Express

Dear Mr. Shekhar Gupta,

While your reluctant apology was at best confusing, your tom-tomming the
"soldier's paper" surely cut a sorry figure. I only wish that along the
details of generous donations that your employees have made in memoriam of
the fallen, you also might have informed the reader of the sons and
daughters of IE employees who have joined the Nation's Armed Forces. Anyway,
I write to you assuming that you still believe you are a "soldier's paper".
I must admit that I am a diehard fan of the genre of reporting that your
paper always stands for.

I am sure the Chiefs understood the import of the option of refusing a
cabinet decision before exercising that option including the permanent
damage to the forces, unprecedented as it was. Actually, I believe they were
indeed thinking of the future when they took the decision! Your analysis of
the consequences of not stirring the political executive, I am afraid, was
less than enthusiastic if at all.

I also believe the Chiefs' protest is purely for equivalence and status.
Money is something most are ashamed to even suggest let alone protest since
bargaining is still considered 'un-officer like'. Status on the other hand
is something for which they may probably do more than merely mildly protest.
There are valid reasons for this seemingly peculiar and 'undisciplined'

I will try to explain the centrality of the idea of izzat - that the english
word 'honor approximates. To help me in this endeavour, you may like to
imagine having been asked to lead your employees to their probable deaths. I
believe the talk of 'merely a point of order' in 'It's the uniform' must not
be trivialized. And while I have no intention of sounding alarmist, I
recount an old episode to try to explain the bottom line of professional

Towards the end of the '65 stalemate in the Lahore Sector, a correspondent
happened to ask the Commanding Officer (CO) of 3 JAT, a unit which had just
got the better of a Pakistani battalion in a bloody battle (3 JAT lost 5
officers and 90 men on the night of 21/22 Sep while the Pak battalion lost
about 300 dead and rest captured including their CO), as to what made the
men fight such a gruesome battle? The correspondent, eagerly, without
waiting for an answer hastily added that it must have been the love of their
country. Lt Col Desmond Hayde, the CO, pointing to his No 2, said, "You see
Major Shekhawat? He fights because he holds nothing dearer than the respect
and standing he enjoys in the eyes of his men, family, and community back
home. His fear of losing that standing overcomes his fear of death. The men,
of course, fight because Major Shekhawat fights."

The idea, at the core, is therefore rather simple. You place the leader at
such a pedestal that losing that place is all that he fears. The followers
follow because they see the "highly placed fellow" fighting fearlessly
(seemingly, at least).

Now, if you belittle his protests of his degradation of status (and worse -
tell him that he is getting paid more than he deserves, worse still - egg
him on that he has lost discipline and honour for having the temerity to
even protest his degradation, worst of all - deny him any channel and means
to protest), then, you are in effect directly and surely denuding the
fighting capability of the nation's Armed Forces. There is no dearth of
lecherous (and stronger than India) countries in the dog eat dog world.

Mr. Gupta, I implore you do two things.

1. Read the Chetwode Motto carefully.

"The safety, honour and welfare of your country come first, always and every
The honour, welfare and comfort of the men you command come next.
Your own ease, comfort and safety come last, Always and every time."

Note that the honour of the men comes next to the Nation itself and within
the priorities of the men, honour comes before welfare or comfort. Note that
the honour of the Gentlemen Cadet being commissioned doesn't figure anywhere
in the motto. So where is the leader's honour? The motto itself, of course!
Is his honour divided between the Nation's and that of his men? Who fights
for his honour? I like to think that people like you, the Cabinet and the
people of this country fight for the military leader's honor.

2. Please read and asses for your self the import of what successive pay
commissions have done to that honor? Can we expect some genuine research
from a paper famous for it? Can we expect the IE to kick-off a genuine
national debate instead of allowing lowly lobbyists to dangerously
sensationalize the limited space in print and TV?

With best wishes and a Happy Diwali.



India sheds fear of China, redefines military posture

Vishal Thapar


DEFT SHADOW BOXING: India is somewhere between abject submission and sabre rattling at the moment.

New Delhi: India has abandoned its four-decade-long defensive posture on the boundary with China. After re-activating a military airstrip at Daulat Beg Oldie, close to the Chinese-held Karakoram Pass in May, New Delhi has decided to re-open three more dormant airfields kissing the Sino-Indian boundary in Ladakh.

AOC-in-Command at Western Air Command, Air Marshal PK Barbora says, "We were called upon by the Government to reopen ALGs in Ladakh for tourism."

The airfields at Daulat Beg Oldie, Fukche and Chushul had been lying dormant since India's humiliation in the 1962 War. The ability to land fixed-wing aircraft here will enable rapid induction of Indian troops.

The Indian Air Force, which will be the primary instrument of power projection, has also started operating its most potent fighter aircraft, the Sukhoi-30, from Ladakh.

Air Marshal PK Barbora says, "Diplomacy and defence, the two arms of a nation, are not to threaten anyone but for showing capability. What inference China draws is left to them."

Signaling it's most robust military-diplomatic posture with China so far, India has also put the military build-up in the disputed Arunachal Pradesh on fast track.

Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal FH Major says, "We need to put military build-up on fast track. We need to upgrade airfields and first of all, the Su-30 squadron in the East by the end of 2009."

There is some deft shadow boxing along the Chinese frontier. When fighter aircraft like the Su-30 are deployed in Ladakh and the North-East, a certain message is sent across. So, India finally seems to be utilising the space between abject submission and sabre rattling to define its military posture towards China.

Watch the video at

IAF@76: Ringing in the changes

October 08, 2008

Set to be phased out from the Indian Air Force fleet, the country's potent ground bombers -- MiG 23BN -- took its last bow at the Air Force parade on Wednesday at the Hindon air base.

"This will be the final public display of the MiG 23BN fighter aircraft before its phase out early next year," an IAF officer attending the 76th Air Force Day Parade at the air base near New Delhi said.

The air display during the parade comprised the renowned 'Akash Ganga' para jumpers, the 'Surya Kiran' aerobatics team on nine MkII trainer aircraft, 'Sarang' chopper display team of four Advanced Light Helicopters (Dhruvs), apart from leading fighters Su-30 MKI, MiG-29s, Mirage-2000s and Jaguars.

Click here to see photographs of the scintillating display...

IAF Integrates Military, Civilian Radars in south India

An integrated command and control system commissioned here Wednesday has enabled the real time networking of all military and civil radars in south India to qualitatively enhance the surveillance capabilities of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in a broad swathe from the Bay of Bengal to the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and large parts of Sri Lanka.

"This system will help in carrying out real time networking of civil and military radars and will act as a force multiplier for the IAF in the southern peninsula," Air Marshal S. Radhakrishnan, the air officer commanding-in-chief of the Southern Air Command, said at the commissioning ceremony here on the IAF's 76th anniversary.

The system integrates IAF, Indian Navy and civilian radars in the southern peninsula through a multi-radar data fusion software that presents a bird's eye view of all aerial operations at the Southern Air Command headquarters.

The system also provides facilities to support air defence functions like automatic surveillance, identification, threat evaluation, interception and recovery.

"This would also increase the operational preparedness of the Southern Air Command and aid in the optimum utilization of our air defence resources," an officer explained.

BAE Systems, Mahindra Defence Venture Plan Rejected by India

By Archana Chaudhary

Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- BAE Systems Plc., Europe's biggest defense contractor, and Mahindra Defence Systems had their proposed joint venture rejected by the Indian government because it exceeded foreign investment limits.

BAE Systems had sought to control 49 percent of the venture with Mahindra Defence, a unit of Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd., holding the remainder, the companies said in a release. They may reapply with BAE Systems owning 26 percent, the maximum allowed under Indian rules for military ventures.

``We are encouraged that ministerial statements indicate that the prospect of a 49 percent foreign shareholding in defense JV enterprises remains an open issue for the future,'' the statement said.

India's Foreign Investment Promotion Board rejected Mahindra's proposal to set up a venture to make defense equipment, the government said in an e-mailed statement earlier. It didn't name the overseas partner.

BAE Systems planned a venture with Mahindra to build a version of BAE's mine-protected vehicle in India, the Mumbai- based company said in February.

The companies had said they plan to jointly develop a version of the RG-31 vehicle, an all-steel, welded armor vehicle designed to protect occupants from anti-tank mine detonations.

US, Pakistan torn apart over terror
By Tariq Mahmud Ashraf

Recent events in Pakistan have raised critical issues concerning the continuation of Pakistan's support for the United States-led "war on terror" in Afghanistan.

Commencing with the enormous backlash in Pakistan in the aftermath of the raid by US special forces on Angoori Ada in the tribal area of South Waziristan on September 3; the disclosure by the New York Times that President George W Bush issued secret orders allowing US special forces to undertake operations inside Pakistan without prior notice; and the aggressive statements of several Pakistani leaders, the entire country has been gripped by a wave of anti-American sentiment which the country's top civilian and military leadership has also been quick to echo.

Although disagreements between Pakistan and the US have persisted since the latter invaded Afghanistan in 2001 and president General Pervez Musharraf engineered the abrupt somersault in Pakistan's policy towards the Taliban to bring it in line with US dictates, these have seldom assumed serious proportions or created apprehensions as they do now.

Recent events indicate that a major recalculation might be in the offing in Islamabad with regard to Pakistan's support for the "war on terror". Even the militants seem to have recognized the weakness of the regime in Islamabad and have conveyed a powerful message to it with the recent attack on the Marriott Hotel located in the heart of Islamabad.

A diverging alliance
The recent furor over aggressive US unilateralism surfaced immediately after US special forces undertook their first-ever operation on Pakistani soil inside South Waziristan. The September 3 "snatch-and-grab" raid by an elite US Navy SEAL team resulted in the death of nine to 20 individuals.

While the Pakistan government lodged an immediate and forceful protest with the United States over this violation of Pakistan's sovereignty, Pakistan's chief-of-staff, General Ashfaq Kiani, alluded to the implications of the cross-border raid by saying "such reckless actions only help the militants and further fuel the militancy in the area".

What was disturbing about the special forces incursion was the failure to provide any advance information by the US military or government to their Pakistani counterparts. This was despite the fact that there were numerous military-to-military meetings in the preceding weeks, including visits by chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen to Pakistan and the secret August 27 "military summit" between Mullen and Kiani aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln. In addition to these meetings, the regular established channels of communication between NATO/International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan authorities and the Pakistan military were available to inform each other of any new developments or operations, but these were not brought into use.

Kiani's discomfiture over having been kept in the dark even by those US military commanders with whom he has been in regular contact was evident from his statements after the incident. While Mullen was telling Congress that Pakistan had to be convinced to help "eliminate [the enemy's] safe havens", Kiani was strongly criticizing the US for leading NATO forces on a series of cross-border raids on militants within Pakistani territory, insisting there was no deal allowing foreign troops to conduct operations there.

More explicitly, he reiterated that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country would be defended at all costs and that no external force was allowed to conduct operations inside Pakistan.
The national clamor inside Pakistan for the government to respond to this act of overt and unwarranted aggression led to a short-lived decision to stop the movement of US military supplies through Pakistan en route to Afghanistan. The raids were the major issue discussed at the 111th meeting of the Corps Commanders at General Headquarters in Rawalpindi on September 12-13.

The Pakistan Air Force (PAF) began mounting combat air patrols over Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) for the first time since the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. At the government level, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani's National Security Advisor, Major General (retired) Mehmud Durrani, formally wrote to his US counterpart, Stephen Hadley, on September 5, warning that Pakistan would not allow any foreign forces to operate on its territory. This candid warning was issued to the George W Bush administration a day before Asif Ali Zardari was elected as the president of Pakistan.

On the same day the United States was remembering the events of 9/11, the Pakistan army was ordered to retaliate against any action by foreign troops inside the country. The Pakistan ambassador to the United States received assurances that the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan would not operate inside Pakistan or launch any strike. However, the same night, coalition forces launched another missile attack on Miranshah, killing more than 12 people. The escalating attacks by coalition forces inside Pakistan have forced policymakers in Islamabad to seriously revisit Pakistan
s policy on the "war on terror".

An American government official quoted in a US military newspaper described the Pakistani backlash to the September 3 special forces raid:

[The raid was] an opportunity to see how the new Pakistani government reacted. If they didn't do anything, they were just kind of fairly passive, like Musharraf was ... then we felt like, okay, we can slowly up the ante, we can do maybe some more of these ops. But the backlash that happened, and especially the backlash in the diplomatic channels, was pretty severe

Once the Pakistanis started talking about closing down our supply routes, and actually demonstrated they could do it, once they started talking about shooting American helicopters, we obviously had to take seriously that maybe this [approach] was not going to be good enough. We can't sustain ourselves in Afghanistan without the Pakistani supply routes. At the end of the day, we had to not let our tactics get in the way of our strategy ... As much as it may be good to get some of these bad guys, we can't do it at the expense of being able to sustain ourselves in Afghanistan, obviously.

An editorial in Islamabad's The News best encapsulated the frustration of Pakistanis:

There is an escalating sense of furious impotence among the ordinary people of Pakistan. Many - perhaps most - of them are strongly opposed to the spread of Talibanization and extremist influence across the country: people who might be described as "moderates". Many of them have no sympathy for the mullahs and their burning of girls' schools and their medieval mindset. But if you bomb a moderate sensibility often enough, it has a tendency to lose its sense of objectivity and to feel driven in the direction of extremism. If America bombs moderate sensibilities often enough, you may find that its actions are the best recruiting sergeant that the extremists ever had.

In another development, tribal elders met in Miranshah and announced their whole-hearted support for the Pakistan government in any action it takes to face up to attacks by US/coalition forces on Pakistani soil.

While welcoming the presence of PAF combat aircraft, which reportedly led to an unmanned US drone withdrawing into Afghanistan territory, these tribal leaders vowed to fight alongside the Pakistani forces against all foreigners. The tribal leaders threatened to go further: "If missile attacks and bombing of our houses and markets do not stop, a tribal lashkar [militia] will launch a counter-attack inside Afghanistan."

Other than the combat patrols being undertaken by the PAF to thwart any ingress by American Predator drones, Pakistani security forces fired in the air to discourage a group of US soldiers from crossing the Pakistan-Afghanistan border on the night of September 14-15.

Seven US helicopter gunships and two troop-carrying Chinook helicopters landed in the Afghan province of Paktika near the Zohba mountain range. US troops from the Chinooks then tried to cross the border. As they did so, Pakistani paramilitary troops fired into the air and the US troops halted their approach. The firing lasted for several hours, local people evacuated their homes and tribesmen took up defensive positions in the mountains.

The reaction of the tribesmen indicates the adoption of an aggressive US policy could well widen the insurgency by uniting the tribesmen with the Taliban - something that Kiani has also alluded to. The Pakistan government downplayed the event, saying the firing from the Pakistani side was carried out by the local tribesmen and not by Pakistani security forces.

Mutual suspicions
The checkered history of Pakistan-US relations is well known. The two countries have had the most unstable of ties ever since Pakistan first allied itself with the US by joining the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO, 1955-79) and becoming the recipient of US military hardware.

Pakistan's disillusionment with the US commenced with the imposition of the US arms embargo during the 1965 India-Pakistan war and was further crystallized by the hands-off stance of the United States during the 1971 India-Pakistan war which saw Pakistan dismembered and the creation of Bangladesh.

The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 once again brought the two countries together, only to see the US depart abruptly, leaving Pakistan to clean up the mess. A distrust of the US and its intentions permeated the Pakistan national psyche, a situation which was played on by politicians and religious leaders to further their own agendas.

Musharraf's decision to align Pakistan with the US-led "war on terror" once again brought the two countries together. Notwithstanding the imperatives that forced Musharraf to join the US bandwagon, his decision created enormous controversy throughout Pakistan and was one of the factors that precipitated his eventual fall from power.

The uneasiness in the alliance stems from a number of causes: the differing motivations of the US and Pakistan in waging the "war on terror"; the fact that Afghanistan lies in Pakistan's backyard and has long been considered by its military leadership as bestowing strategic depth on Pakistan; the ethnic, linguistic, cultural, social, tribal and religious affinities of the Pashtuns on both sides of the Durand Line; the persistence of the US leadership in forging relations based on individuals who are in power; the growing alienation of the Pakistani populace with US policies and the creeping perception that the "war on terror" is just an excuse for a campaign against Islam with the underlying theme of controlling the resources of mineral-rich Central Asia while containing China.

For this alliance to survive, both countries need to understand that continuation of the military campaign is in their own national interest. It is vital, therefore, that the US shed the cloak of unilateralism to wage this war together with Pakistan rather than alienating it by violating the latter's sovereignty.

If the US persists with its aggressive military unilateralism, it might be seen as following in the footsteps of the Soviets, whose ignominious retreat from Afghanistan in 1989 spelled the demise of the USSR. If this happens, the US could well be confronted with another Vietnam-like situation with no easy exit available.

Interestingly, the aggressive stance of the Pakistan army has been tempered by a more conciliatory attitude from Islamabad, with Defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar stressing the need for the issues imperiling US-Pakistan relations to be addressed in a pragmatic manner without bringing the two allies to a state of undesirable military confrontation.

The "war on terror" consists of two separate battles: the first being waged by the US and coalition forces against the Taliban inside Afghanistan and the second being waged by the Pakistan military against the extremist militants who have made FATA their base of operations.

To bring this war to a successful end, the efforts being expended on these two battles need to be coordinated and integrated, taking into consideration the apprehensions of both Pakistan and the US while satisfying their respective policy objectives. Only then can this troubled, albeit necessary, alliance survive the test of time.

The US must also take into account the fragility of Pakistan's democratic government in dealing with this situation and endeavor to strengthen rather than weaken it, since the failure of the nascent democratic dispensation in Islamabad could create an opening for the country's military to step in once again. This is completely undesirable since democracy in Pakistan would be put on the shelf for at least another decade if not more, leading to further instability and a possible failure of the country as a viable nation-state.

Tariq Mahmud Ashraf is a retired air commodore from the Pakistan Air Force. A freelance analyst on South Asian defense and nuclearization issues, he has authored one book and published over 70 papers and articles in journals of repute.

Air warriors celebrate a year of achievements on Air Force Day

Express News Service Posted online: Oct 09, 2008 at 0147 hrs

Chandigarh, October 8 : This year has been a remarkable one for the Air Force Station, Chandigarh (12 Wing). The officials, while celebrating Air Force Day on Wednesday, looked back at the achievements during the year and appreciated the good work of their fellowmen.

The station had pressed into service its aircrafts and men to provide disaster relief to earthquake victims in China and bomb attack victims at the Indian Embassy in Kabul. The base also accomplished the challenging task of landing an AN-32 aircraft at the world's highest airfield called Daulat Beg Oldie (DBO) in Aksai Chin. The air warriors of this station also undertook a high altitude trek in Himachal.

The station acts like a bridge connecting Jammu and Kashmir with the rest of the country. When the road links to these regions are unavailable, the aircrafts of this base serve as the lifeline of the valley.

On July 7, 2008, the Indian Embassy in Kabul was hit by a massive suicide bomb attack, which resulted in the death of four embassy staffers including the Defence Attaché, a Brigadier of the Indian Army, and an IFS officer. The IAF was called upon by the Government of India, to provide immediate assistance by way of launching a relief mission. Air Force Station, Chandigarh responded with alacrity and efficiency and dispatched an IL-76 aircraft to Kabul via Delhi with medicines and rescue personnel in less than two hours. The aircraft returned to Palam at midnight the same day.

On 15 May 08, one IL-76 of 25 Sqn was tasked for a Humanitarian / Disaster Relief (HA/DR) mission to the People's Republic of China (PRC), which was reeling in the aftermath of a massive earthquake in Sichuan province in the south-western part of the country. A total of 96.2 tonne of relief material comprising tents, blankets, food, medical supplies and sleeping bags were airlifted.

Apart from these, units of the Chandigarh base actively participated in flood relief operations in Bihar recently.

Statement of Ex Servicemen Association of Pakistan
Filed under: Uncategorized — sharafs @ 1:41 pm

This comminique has been issued by PESA on the eve of the Joint session of Pakistan's Parliament. October 7, 2008.


We the Ex Servicemen welcome the decision of the Government of Pakistan to provide a comprehensive briefing to the Parliament on the security situation of the country and on matters that have a bearing on it… Though belated, we still hope that as a consequence, our public representatives will assume and exert their due role to formulate national policies and subject them to Parliamentary scrutiny and accountability. In the ensuing paragraphs, we are suggesting some of the points that our honorable parliamentarians may like to raise after the in camera briefings.

1. Statements by some of our important leaders have created confusing picture regarding the US military strikes across the Pak-Afghan Border. Has our government permitted these strikes; and if so under what condition? Is the US abiding by the rules of engagement if any; and is there any post strike analysis to determine if the intended targets were correctly identified and engaged?

2. The public has been repeatedly been told that Pakistani military operations were directed against elements that were acting against the country's interests and have been sponsored/aided by foreign powers. Could the Government agencies please provide more details? This is important because the tribesmen are not against Pakistan and some of the 'militants' groups have time and again stated that their primary goal was only to support the Afghan resistance against foreign occupation and because of their tribal traditions they were obliged to go to their help.

3. There is also a need to present to the Parliament, the Government's assessment of the effectiveness of the use of force against the militants. During the last four to five years, this approach seems to have failed and the violence has spread affecting not only the tribal areas but also the rest of the country. Now that we have asked some of the tribes to raise Lashkars to deal with the militants, are we sure that this will not result in more violence and God Forbid to tribal warfare.
4. Indeed, the country is faced with serious economic problems. Are we therefore wilting under US pressure and continuing with the use of the military instrument against our better judgment? Is it not time to say NO to the US aid if it was tied with policies that were destabilizing the country?

5. Our political leadership has often told us that the WAR in our border regions was our WAR. We think it was not, but if now as a result of the flawed policies of the previous regime which has become OURS, then should we not wage it as it is to be done when our own people were involved; politically, psychologically, socially and through persuasion; force only to be used as a last resort and that too selectively through covert and intelligence operations?
We also appeal to our elected President to strengthen the democratic institutions. Lately he has made statements that do not reflect the will of the people or the sanction of the Parliament. He has inferred the Kashmir Freedom Struggle as a terrorist movement. We suggest that he not only withdraw his remarks but also apologizes on the floor of the house. It is also incumbent that we morally support this movement.

Brigadier (Retired) Samson Simon Sharaf

Comment by A.H Amin Major (Retired) — October 8, 2008 @ 4:33 am

Analysis: Harmonising interests —Talat Masood

The Taliban phenomenon has thrived in Afghanistan and the tribal belt because it flourishes in underdeveloped and marginalised segments of society

The terrorism challenge facing Pakistan has several dimensions that have been discussed both in the media extensively. Nonetheless, the inherent nature of the conflict and the external factor of US intervention have created a complex dynamic. As if that was not enough, we are also facing a severe economic downslide, which could possibly lead to a meltdown if emergency measures are not adopted. The US-led 'Friends of Pakistan' initiative has pledged ten to fifteen billion dollars and could be considered one positive outcome of President Zardari's visit to the UN.

But if we look at the history of similar commitments, some countries may not honour their pledges, especially when global economy is in such deep trouble. Doubts aside, the flipside of the financial bailout is that Pakistan will further tie its knot to the US and the West and will make its economic and security policies more subservient to their diktat.

The way to overcome the current security and economic and widen the options available to Pakistan is to review and suitably adjust the strategic, political and economic direction.

Pakistan is projected in the United States — by think-tanks, the administration and the Pentagon — as lacking the military capacity and the political will to fight the war on terror. IT is stated that the Pakistan Army is not sufficiently trained, equipped and — most importantly — motivated for counterinsurgency operations. Also, elements in the ISI are pursuing a so-called dual policy of hunting with the hounds and running with the hare, although recent changes at the top of the ISI and the military should allay these fears. In addition to other motives, these assumptions form the rationale for intensification of US military incursions in Pakistan's tribal belt.

This unilateral American approach does not help in fighting insurgency as it is in conflict with Pakistan's policy of selective and integrated use of military power as opposed to heavy reliance on brute force. Moreover, these incursions are a significant distraction, as instead of focusing on the primary threat of combating insurgency, attention turns to protecting our sovereignty from an ally's threats. Incursions further fuel anti-Americanism, creating problems for the political government in 'owning' the war against terror.

Furthermore, US policy fails to address the larger problem of Pakistan's insecurity. What appears to the US as duality is not necessarily the same when viewed from the prism of Pakistan's security establishment. It has been, and remains, Pakistan's policy not to take on all militant groups. In its order of priority, it prefers to neutralise elements hostile to the Pakistani state, deal with others later or even use them as 'assets' if needed.

The apparent logic behind this policy has been that the US, India and Afghanistan are not sensitive to or interested in protecting Pakistan's national interests. These countries are promoting their own regional designs, mostly by undermining Pakistan's interests.

The US is accurately perceived as elevating India to new strategic heights through the civil nuclear deal, defence cooperation and space agreements. Washington is providing enormous economic, military and diplomatic support, as well as disproportionate space in Afghanistan and the region, to India.

Meanwhile, India continues to pursue a scorched earth policy in Kashmir without an eyebrow being raised by the international community. As regards Afghanistan, despite Pakistan's leading role in the Afghan Jihad and accommodation of millions of Afghan refugees, Pakistan finds itself accused of 'not doing enough'. It has lost more troops in the war on terror than the 37 NATO countries combined, as President Zardari mentioned in his speech to the UN General Assembly.

The result is our security forces turning a blind eye to the activities of Hekmatyar, Haqqani and others who are supposedly hurting American and Afghan interests, but are not necessarily Pakistan's enemies. Ironically, similar parallels exist in American and Afghan behaviour towards certain militant groups operating in our tribal belt. India, and even the US, has been blamed for supporting dissidents in Balochistan. This sharp divergence in perception and support of proxies has given rise to mutual distrust and is by default strengthening the Taliban and other militants.

Pakistan's interests demand that it does not allow the Taliban or any other obscurantist militant group to hold territory and destroy the socio-economic and political structure of the state. And this, of course, it is trying to do, though success is still some distance away. But Pakistan is not wary of the Afghan Taliban despite the face that their resurgence directly impacts the tribal belt. Obsession with India, and now with the US, should not blind us to the fact that terrorism and insurgency are seriously endangering the integrity of the federation.

The argument that the western border became volatile after 9/11, when we joined the US as a frontline state, does not hold on close scrutiny. We had neglected FATA since the creation of Pakistan, and allowed it to fester during and after the Afghan Jihad while supporting the Taliban with grandiose designs of Pan-Islamism and 'strategic depth'. As long as militant activity in the tribal belt was directed outwards, it never attracted our attention. And when these militants turned inwards, we were caught napping. The highly aggressive and unilateral US policy has aggravated the challenge.

Clearly, stabilisation of Afghanistan and peaceful borders are in Pakistan's interest. This implies that the efforts of the Afghan government with the support of the international community should succeed. Pakistan's policy of ignoring the presence of certain groups in FATA, which are supporting the Afghan Taliban, has to be revised. Not only does it create rifts between the two countries, it also promotes militancy within Pakistan.

The US, too, cannot continue to ignore Pakistan's vital interests if it seeks genuine cooperation. Pressurising a country of 160 million people without a quid pro quo does not work. Only a more equitable policy in the region will succeed. Washington should use its influence and that of the international community to prevail on India to find a durable solution to Kashmir and other issues that bedevil the Pak-India relationship.

For Afghanistan and Pakistan to have stable long-term cooperative relations, formal acceptance of the Durand Line as international boundary is a prerequisite. Additionally, there is an urgent need to improve the conditions of Afghanistan's politically and economically deprived Pashtun community. The Taliban phenomenon has thrived in Afghanistan and the tribal belt because it flourishes in underdeveloped and marginalised segments of society.

Relying essentially on military force to defeat them has not worked before, and will not succeed now. A subtle combination of limited force, engagement with the people and economic development is key to stabilisation.

The US should cease cross-border raids, and instead work closely to build up Pakistan's economic and military capacity. It is equally important for the US and the West to dispel the impression that the war on terror is directed against Islam. Resolution of these critical issues through harmonisation of national interests can secure a peaceful future for the region.

The writer is a retired Lieutenant General of the Pakistan Army. He can be reached at

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