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Pakistan’s Defense Day: Why nuclear weapon capability was inevitable?

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Six September is known as Defense Day (Youm-e-Difa) of Pakistan. It is celebrated every year with full devotion to give tribute to the martyrs who sacrificed their lives for the defense of Pakistan during second war between India and Pakistan in 1965. Though on 6 September 1965, Pakistan’s forces played a vital role in nation’s defense but at the same time, the war has fundamentally changed the strategic thinking and security landscape of region. To understand the emerging strategic landscape of South Asia, it is necessary to study bilateral relations of India and Pakistan.

Relations between these two major powers of South Asia have remained hostile since independence. Historical disputes, contested boundaries, and disturbed balance of power forced India and Pakistan to search for counterweights through improved relations with other major powers of the world. Consequently, India’s more offensive policies and its objective to acquire “status of hegemonic power” in South Asia has consistently undermined Pakistan’s efforts to maintain “Balance of Power” and “peace” in the region. The enduring rivalry between India and Pakistan has developed a “classic insecurity trap” in the military preparations of both states.  India’s initiation of nuclear weapon program in 1960 and its expanding capabilities as potential proliferator added nuclear dimension to Pakistan’s security calculations in early 1960. The turning point came in the mid-1960s after India acquired a research reactor (1960) and built a reprocessing plant in 1964.Same year, in response to China’s nuclear test, an intensive debate initiated in Indian Parliament and public circle for “nuclear bomb”.

Paradoxically, the 1965 war triggered the new demand in India for Nuclear bomb. Homi Babha’s statement was carefully noted by officials in Pakistan in which he claimed that “India could build a nuclear weapon within twelve and eighteen months”. India’s quest of nuclear capability and war of 1965played vital role in making Pakistan realize that the state has to diversify its security measures and relying only on conventional capability is not sufficient to maintain state’s security. Therefore, Pakistan’s security concerns acquired nuclear dimension.  The war of 1971 appears to have additional stimulus for Pakistan’s decision makers to favor the pursuit of a nuclear weapon capability option for Pakistan. In the wake of 1971 war, Prime Minister Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto gave a decisive flip to country’s nuclear program. In 1972, PM Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto stated that, “We(Pakistan) will eat grass, even go hungry, but we will get one of our own (Atom bomb)…. We have no other choice”. Furthermore, Pakistan’s need for nuclear weapon capability was impelled by multiple factors including wars of 1965 and1971 between India and Pakistan; inadequate conventional capabilities to counter India’s threats and India’s first nuclear weapon test in 1974.  Hence, Pakistan detonated its nuclear weapon on 28 May 1998 in response to India’s second series of nuclear weapon test on 11 and 13 May, 1998.

These factors show that Pakistan did not initiate the nuclearization of South Asia; actually India’s adversarial nature, offensive mindset of its policymakers and its inability to accept the existence of Pakistan as independent state continue to be the major hurdles in the way of establishing peaceful cooperative relations on the basis of equality. Pakistan’s nuclear weapon capability has played central role in countering any kind of external aggression through operational preparedness of the strategic forces. Though nuclear weapon capability has prevented the war between India and Pakistan by maintaining deterrence equilibrium but on this defense day it is inevitable to understand that ‘Defense’ is not limited to direct military clashes or borders security. Now defense of the state has much more meaning, obligations and complexities. Therefore, Pakistan should formulate a pragmatic policy that can counter ‘cruel and protracted tactics’ employed by the country’s adversaries to undermine its security from within. One effective tool could be the art of fourth or fifth generation warfare, more commonly known as 5GW which is more decentralized, fluid and is strategically calculated to engage the enemy on all fronts. As Sun Tzu stated, “supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”.

Asma Khalid is currently working as Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute and can be reached asmaakhalid_90[at]hotmail.com

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“Westlessness” of the West, and debates on China during Munich Security Conference

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image source: MSC/Kuhlmann

The Munich Security Conference, which traditionally brings together heads of state and government, foreign and defense ministers in February, is usually expected to bring some kind of intrigue. This time round, the role was claimed by the conference report, titled “Westlessness,” whose main message was the loss by Western countries of their global leadership and, as a consequence, the growth of nationalist sentiment in Western countries and the loss of their monopoly on resolving international conflicts.

Expectably enough, Russia and China were blamed for the world and the West itself becoming “less Western.” The organizers of the Munich Conference urged China to responsibly handle its role as the world’s new non-Western center of power, and expressed hope that China would over time “adopt liberal values and become a “responsible stakeholder” in a liberal world led by the West.”

A pretty unlikely scenario though. A separate chapter in the report’s “Actors” section is devoted to China. Describing China as the “Meddle Kingdom” (similar to the Middle Kingdom), the authors view the country’s growing economic might and political sway as a potential threat to the world order that exists today.

The authors are concerned about looming Chinese superiority in foundational emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, quantum computing, and connectivity technology, as well as surveillance technology and “know-how” in the field of internet regulation. In the case of 5G, they write about an intense debate over how to balance close economic ties with China amid growing security concerns. And, in a truly Freudian slip, they write about “the growing concern that the future holds a technological segregation of the world into those countries operating on Western technologies and norms and those running on Chinese ones.”

The section of the report on China is chock-full of graphs, charts and diagrams reflecting European fears of Chinese technology and investments. However, when carefully examined, these charts show that despite strong opposition from Washington and Brussels, more than half of “respondents” perceive technologies and investments from China positively.

The participants in the Munich Conference also spent a lot of time trying to present the coronavirus epidemic as a “Chinese threat,” even though China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Munich that his country would soon be able to check the spread of COVID-19.

Speaking at the conference, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emphasized: “We are prepared to join efforts on other pressing issues of the global agenda, including epidemiological threats. We are ready to work together on other pressing issues on the world agenda, including epidemiological threats. In this regard, I would like to note China’s open and responsible approach to international cooperation in combating the spread of the coronavirus.”

The Munich conference never found a cure to the problem of “Westlessness” though. Well, maybe they should look at themselves instead of faulting China, Russia and others? At least, Russian and Chinese representatives reaffirmed their readiness to engage in a constructive and inclusive dialogue.

From our partner International Affairs

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Does NATO respond positively to the Turkish supererogation?

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Turkey is once again turning to the West, while over the past two years, it had been distancing from the West and trying to collaborate with Russia due the success of the Astana peace process on the Syrian conflict.

Damascus’s strategic patience is over because Ankara has failed to fulfill its commitments regarding retaking the areas captured by terrorists backed by Turkey. The Syrian army’s widespread advances over the last two weeks in areas occupied by terrorist forces in the northwest have led to Ankara’s reaction and increased tensions between Syria and Turkey. Along with wresting control over the strategic Damascus-Aleppo highway, the Syrian army carried out successful operations in recapturing 1500 km2 of Syrian territory and about 100 towns and villages in west and south Aleppo, especially key towns of Khan Tuman and Saraqib. Following the Syrian army’s operations, the Turkish government has sent thousands of troops and military equipment to the outskirts of Idlib to prevent the continued advance of the Syrian forces.

Turkey’s moves were due to greenlight by the U.S., NATO, and the EU, which have so far not been in Ankara’s favor; rather they have resulted in massive casualties and the loss of six military bases in Syria’s territory.

Recently, Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar called on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to support the Turkish military in order to halt the Syrian army’s offensive against Idlib, the stronghold of the latest Turkish-backed terrorist elements.

Obviously, the move by Turkey has broken the commitments to the Sochi agreement and the Astana process, with the aim of holding its place in NATO. This is a wish that seems unlikely to come true, given the chaotic situation of NATO and the West’s distrust of Turkey.

Accordingly, it is certain that Idlib and its outskirts will soon be completely liberated because of the high motivation and ability of the Syrian army. The liberation will definitely thwart all hostile policies that Turkey has adopted in Syria for many years and will bring heavy defeat for Ankara.

The developments in Syria in recent days shows that Turkey is no longer trustworthy as it has explicitly violated Syria’s sovereignty as an independent state. There have been some accords on Syria, such as the Sochi agreement, regarding the establishment of a safe zone in Idlib, while Turkey has not considered the slightest value for the agreements. 

From our partner Tehran Times

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Lithuania: To serve or not to serve in the army

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source: flickr.com

It is well known that in 2015 Lithuanian authorities reintroduced compulsory military service due to the potential threat caused by the Russian Federation.

It should be said, that young Lithuanians do not appreciate the idea and try to avoid the service in every possible way. They even are not afraid of penalties and imprisonment.

In order to force them to serve Lithuanian authorities are inventing new “tools” to make the process of avoidance the conscription harder.

From the beginning of 2015 all Lithuanian men aged 19-26 had to perform compulsory military service in the Lithuanian Armed Forces for a period of 9 months if fate decided.

The matter is the way of choosing the men who will serve is more than surprising. They say that 2 percent of men are randomly selected to complete vacancies in the army within the year. The lists of military conscripts then are published on the Internet. But “randomly” could also mean “nobody knows how they are selected.”

At the beginning of this year authorities lowered the age range at which men are called up for mandatory military service to 18-23 years and banned volunteer soldiers from holding seats in the parliament and municipal councils.

Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis said that the aim of lowering the conscription age is to ensure that conscripts’ military service causes the minimum possible disruption to their civilian lives.

The matter is the way of choosing the men who will serve is more than surprising. They say that 2 percent of men are randomly selected to complete vacancies in the army within the year. The lists of military conscripts then are published on the Internet. But “randomly” could also mean “nobody knows how they are selected.”

In reality the Ministry of National Defence can’t meet its recruitment goals.

The system includes Lithuanians living abroad who are forced to leave their home and come back for the service. The government of Lithuania doesn’t care that men living overseas have their personal life, own career paths and financial responsibilities.

The military authorities are trying to take immigrants for service on purpose, not caring about their personal problems, including health issues and financial commitments.

They also discriminate homosexual men by giving them specific tests to find out how gay they are, including a talk with the psychiatrist. Because homosexuality is still a sickness in Lithuania, with existing laws against gay people.

A lot of Lithuania men who decided not to come back for the service, are often wanted by police, and in some circumstances might end up in prison for up to 3 years.

Thus, in December 2019, 24-year-old Marius H. from Kedainiai was prosecuted for not visiting the military registration and enlistment office, but did not change his position. He said later that he would not go to serve, it is not in his interests. He has a well-paid job in Belgium and is not going to change his way of life. So he paid penalty (800 euros) and left for Belgium. And he is not the only one in the country who has made such choice.

Evidently, it is impossible to solve the problem in that way, using methods of coercion and punishment. Unfortunately, reintroducing of compulsory military service was the decision of the authorities, finding the ways to avoid it is the choice of youth. If the government doesn’t respect the citizens, the citizens have a right not to obey their decisions.

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