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Between A Rock And A Hard Place

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Act 1 (February 2019): India undertakes ‘non-military’ surgical strikes across the international boundary. The failure of the attack and the ensuing successful Pakistan Air Force counter strike forces the Indian Prime Minister to remark that if India had Rafale jets, the result would be different.

Act 2: (August 2020): Newly-inducted Rafale jets land in Ambala to a water-cannon reception. Indian media explodes with hype, while simultaneously covering Modi’s laying of the foundation stone at the Ayodhya Temple city in Northern India. Warmongers in the overpopulated nuclear-armed South Asian behemoth once again raise their ugly head as Ram Temple is inaugurated at the site of the demolished Babri Mosque.

It was in 1757 that Robert Clive plundered one of Mughal India’s richest province: Bengal, with the help of the treacherous Mir Jaffar. The decadent Nawab of Bengal at the time, Siraj-ud-Daula, had not felt the need for a force in the sea. His slow-moving elephant cavalry and massive amount of foot soldiers, could not take on the ‘laconic, yet ambitious’ Clive’s much smaller force consisting of Europeans and local sepoys. Clive not only had the Jagat Seths (financiers of Bengal) by his side but Mir Jaffar of Persia, an old veteran General of Aliverdi Khan (Siraj’s grandfather), had also secretly changed allegiances. He allegedly cited Siraj-ud-Daula’s bad governance as the reason for his switch.

Extrapolating the fall of Bengal to the present day, lessons must inevitably be drawn from the fall of Bengal in 1757 and preparations made to counter current Indian governments’ evil designs. The more important lesson to draw is to prevent incompetents like Siraj-ud-Daula from taking hold in the government. With a sprinkling of Siraj ud Daula’s in decision making, it will not be hard for our enemy to take advantage of our beloved nation’s Achilles heels. At present, the economy is in bad shape, and there is no fiscal space for major weapon systems acquisitions, besides those from China and those coming through from indigenous developments. However, that should not yield the current setup to resign to fate. Expedient steps such as a targeted stimulus package, lowering interest rates and efforts to reduce unemployment are the need of the hour. These measures will help revive the economy and create space for much-needed defence acquisitions.

India has acquired the latest weaponry and planes to supplement its diverse fleet of Russian, French, American, and locally-manufactured force. Moreover, the Indian Air force (IAF) has also substantiated its air defence in a deal worth over $5.5 billion for the super-advanced and one of the most lethal air defense systems in the world: the S-400. If Pakistan fails to counter these defence acquisitions at some future instance, it will be akin to Siraj ud Daula leaving the waters of Bengal undefended.

India’s Ballistic Missiles Defense (BMD) is multi-layered. Per reports that came through in January 2020, the first phase of the BMD program is now complete. Indian Air Force (IAF) and the Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) are waiting for the government’s approval to install the missile shield for the national capital, which is likely to take three to four years to install after approval. The two-tiered BMD  System   consists  of   the   Prithvi   Air  Defense  (PAD),  which   will   intercept  missiles  at exo- atmospheric altitudes  and  the  Advanced  Air  Defense  (AAD)  missile  for  the  interception  at  endo- atmospheric altitudes.  The deployed system would consist of  many launch vehicles, radars, Launch Control Centres (LCC), and the Mission Control Centre (MCC). All these are geographically distributed and connected by a secure communication network

If the deadly Meteor and SCALP weaponry of the Rafale were not enough to ruffle feathers alongside the above mentioned BMD system in Pakistan policy-making circles; The Indian military has also expedited planes for the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)- a 5th  generation aircraft that is slated to perform flights by 2024 and become operational by 2029. $60 million have already been allocated for the research and development of this platform as the Indian defence industry seeks indigenization.

Pakistan is being dragged into an arms race, which is not of its choosing. Indian leadership has also become more emboldened, and the peace overtures are being more aggressively rejected. Moreover, the IAF’s doctrine since 2012, of operationalizing ‘surgical strikes’ has picked up steam. Also, India’s newly appointed Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat and their aggressive defence minister, Rajnath Singh, have staked claim to Azad Kashmir, time and again.

Rafale, for one, will help the Indian military overcome its limitation of deep fire (while remaining within its airspace). Nonetheless, a RAND study outlined the poor training and mixed readiness state of the Indian Air Force. However, with advanced air-to-ground weaponry such as HAMMER (part of Rafale deal), the Indian Air Force will be precisely able to target objectives and people within Pakistan while remaining within its International boundary.

Presently, it is quite evident that the Indian military is engaged in aggressive military modernization. With a strengthened armory, it will undertake human rights violations on the oppressed Kashmiris with more impunity, arousing more anger from the Pakistani state and citizenry for the sake of their Kashmiri brethren. The draconian Armed Forces Special Protection Act (AFSPA) will be more hostilely used, and the abject state of Kashmiris worsened. The first anniversary of India’s abrogation of the ‘Special Status’ accorded to the Kashmiris just passed. In the future, the eyes of the Indian establishment in connivance with their right-wing Hindu nationalist government is set on Pakistani administered parts of erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir State. National Register of Citizens Act (NRA) and Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA)2019 are further examples of actions taken by the Modi government that are specifically geared to marginalize Muslims. Looking ahead, additional steps that incite hatred from and towards the South Asian Muslims are likely to come from the Indian ultra-right-wing government. Modi, Amit Shah, and the BJP troupe are expected to undertake punitive strikes in Muslim-majority Pakistan in the future following a staged false flag action, to mobilize their Hindu appeal, whenever it is politically expedient.

According to Indian international lawyer, Rishi Gupta, the international community has placed more importance on maintaining state sovereignty and power over all parts of the state than on humanitarian and human rights issues. This raison d’etre points to the community’s unsurprising silence while the Kashmiri suffering under an autocratic regime continues unfettered. Since the revocation of Article 370, and the passing of The Constitution (Application to Jammu and Kashmir) Order, 2019 (C.O. 272), the State of Kashmir has been on a legally tenuous standing with regards to its accession to India. Article 370 formed a key negotiation element on which the supposed instrument of accession was signed by Maharaja Hari Singh of Kashmir, and it has since been abrogated. Moreover, all sovereign power that-according to famous Genevan philosopher Rousseau-stems in any well-functioning democracy from the people has been lost. Instead, the deductions made from a quantitative analysis over the last decade and analysed by Rashmi Sehgal of the National University of Malaysia point toward a high demand for Kashmir’s independence amongst the Kashmiris. According to Rashmi, a political framework that will accommodate the Kashmiris aspirations for self-determination is the present-day requirement. However, after the August 5th, 2019 steps, India is much further from giving Kashmiris their International law sanctioned right to self-determination and/or providing a political framework to do so than at any other point in history.

Moreover, India has also antagonized the Chinese dragon at its doorstep besides its engrossment in a convoluted situation regarding Kashmir since August 5th, 2019. Only an irrational leadership would have undertaken the miscalculations that the current BJP government has done. Surprisingly, the arrival of just 5 Rafale jets was portrayed by the jingoistic Indian media as if to solve all of India’s defence woes. However, the grim reality remains that India is currently in a geo-politically and geo-strategically unenvious position. The question is that whether Aliverdi Khans’ of Pakistan will take advantage and pressurize their arch-nemesis through a calculated strategy across all domains, or will the indolent Siraj- ud-Daula’s reign supreme and reconcile with the status quo? If the Aliverdi Khans’ reign supreme, then they will indubitably benefit from deficiencies within India’s current Kashmir policy.

Omer Aamir is a Researcher for Security & Legal Affairs at the Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies(CASS). He has done B.A LL.B (Hons) from Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS).

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Defense

India’s Sprouting Counterforce Posture

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In recent years, the technological advancements by India in the domain of counterforce military capabilities have increased the vulnerability of the South Asian region. While trying to disturb the strategic stability in South Asia, India through its adventuresome counterforce posture against Pakistan is on the verge of becoming a rogue state. Notwithstanding the repercussions, India is voyaging towards destabilization in the South Asian Region.

India’s enhanced strategic nuclear capabilities which includes-the development of Multiple Independent Reentry Vehicles (MIRVs), Ballistic Missile Defence System (BMD), Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBMs), supersonic and hypersonic cruise missiles, and acquisition of nuclear-capable submarines- indicate that India is moving away from its declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) towards a more aggressive, counterforce posture against Pakistan. The BMD and MIRV technology along with the provision of an advanced navigation system under BECA would embolden India to go for the first strike against Pakistan. While having reliance on BMD, as to be sheltered in return. These technological advancements made by India are sprouting a new era of counterforce posture, which would further make the South Asian region volatile and vulnerable to conflicts.

India’s urge to acquire counterforce capability is strongly associated with its doctrinal shift. As the stated posture requires flexibility in the use of nuclear weapons, which fortifies the first strike capability, and thus a deviation in India’s declared policy of ‘No First Use’ (NFU) has become more significant, particularly concerning its impact on regional stability. India’s declared policy of NFU, set out in Draft Nuclear Doctrine in 1999, followed by its first amendment in January 2003 has since then been into hot debates. Pakistan has long doubted the Indian policy of NFU, as the actions and statements by the officials of the latter have always been aggressive and protruding towards the former. India, now, is drifting away from its policy of NFU with the acquisition of counterforce capabilities, particularly against Pakistan. This is further evident from the statement issued by India’s Defense Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh, back in August 2019. It stated “Till today, our nuclear policy is ‘no-first-use’ (NFU). What happens in the future depends on the circumstances.” A change at the doctrinal level is evident in the Indian strategic enclave. Notwithstanding the challenges and repercussions caused by the counterforce strategy and with an attempt to destabilize the nuclear deterrence in the region, India would go unjustifiably low to attain such measures.  

In the same vein, India has been enhancing its nuclear capabilities for strategic flexibility against its regional rivals. By the same token, it wants to attain nuclear dominance, which would ultimately result in chaos in the region. The counterforce capability by India would compel its adversaries to heed towards the preemptive strike, in case of a crisis, out of the fear of the use of Nuclear weapons first by the patent enemy.  Moreover, the counterforce capability pushes the enemy to put the nuclear weapons on hair-trigger mode, which is directly linked with the crisis escalation.  The acquisition of counterforce capability by India would likely provoke a new arms race in the region. This would further destabilize the already volatile South Asian region. The far-reaching destabilization which India is trying to create, just to have an edge on the nuclear adversary, would be back on India’s face, faster than she knew it.

On the contrary, Pakistan has been maintaining a posture of Credible Minimum Deterrence (CMD) and does not claim to have a No-First Use (NFU) policy. Moreover, Pakistan’s nuclear capability is defensive in principle and a tool for deterrence. Given the Indian evolved notions of counterforce preemption, even now Pakistan would be left with no choice but to leave room for carrying out a ‘first strike’ as a feasible deterrent against India. Nevertheless, with the advent of technological innovations, its countermeasure arrives soon, too. Presently, there are two aspects that Pakistan should take into consideration; the growing Indo-US nexus and India’s concealed innovations in the nuclear posture. Though India is far from achieving counterforce strikes against Pakistan’s nuclear targets, concrete steps are required for maintaining future deterrence stability. With that intention, Pakistan might need to look towards its allies for getting hands-on the modern capabilities which includes- advanced communication and navigation systems, sensors, and advancements in artificial intelligence and otherwise, is essential for strengthening its deterrent capability. Pakistan should heed towards the development of absolute second-strike capability; as, what is survivable today, could be vulnerable tomorrow. Therefore, advancements in technology should be made for preserving nuclear deterrence in the future as well.

Summarizing it all, the existence of Pakistan’s nuclear deterrence has created a stable environment in the region, by deterring full-scale wars on multiple occasions that might have resulted in a nuclear exchange. With the revolution in nuclear technology, the threat of nuclear war has emerged again. Instead of going towards the attainment of peace and stability in the region, India has been enhancing its counterforce capabilities. This would likely remain a significant threat to the deterrence stability in the region. Moreover, any kind of failure to maintain nuclear deterrence in South Asia could result in an all-out war, without any escalation control. India, in its lust for power and hegemonic designs, has been destabilizing the region. Both the nuclear states in South Asia need to engage in arms restraint and escalation control measures. This seems to be a concrete and more plausible way out; else the new era of destabilization could be more disastrous.  

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A pig in a poke of Lithuanian Armed Forces

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The proverb “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” perfectly reflects the situation in the Lithuanian armed forces. It is it unclear how the army will carry out its tasks, if everything that happens there runs counter to common sense.

The conscription took place in Lithuania. The recruits once again were revealed by an electronic lottery on January 7, 2021. 3,828 recruits were selected from the list of 38 thousand conscripts aged 18 to 23.

The idea of using electronic lottery in such a serious procedure arises a lot of questions among Lithuanians. Young people are suspicious of this method and fully admit the possibility of corruption. Nobody could check the results and so nobody could be blamed for random selection. The more so, the armed forces could get weaker recruits than in case of using usual ways of choosing among candidates. So, the army buys a pig in a poke.

This approach to recruitment in Lithuania results in presence of those with criminal intents and inclinations. Сases of crimes committed by Lithuanian military personnel have increased. Incidents with the involvement of military regularly occurred in Lithuania in 2020.

Thus, a soldier of the Lithuanian army was detained in Jurbarkas in October. He was driving under the influence of alcohol. A Lithuanian soldier suspected of drunk driving was detained also in Siauliai in December. Panevėžys County Chief Police Commissariat was looking for a soldier who deserted from the Lithuanian Armed Forces and so forth.

Such behaviour poses serious risks to public safety and leads to loss of confidence in the Lithuanian army in society.

Lithuanian military officials have chosen a new way to discourage young people from serving in the army, which is already not popular.

“The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” The ministry of defence decided to run a photo contest that would reflect service in the country’s armed forces. It is doubtful that such pictures will attract to the army, but the real situation is provided.

Usually, popularization is the act of making something attractive to the general public. This contest served the opposite goal. Look at the pictures and make conclusions.

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Fatah-1: A New Security and Technological Development About Pakistan’s Indigenous GMLRS

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Islamabad: It seems like 2021 has been a good start for Pakistan specifically with regard to stepping up its missile testing. On the 7th of January, the Pakistan military has successfully conducted a purely indigenously developed missile test flight known to be Fatah-1. As stated by various reports, Fatah-1 is an extended-range Guided Multi-Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) which itself is a developed variant of the guided MLRS family.

According to the recent statement given by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) about the newly developed rocket, it was stated: “The weapon system will give Pakistan Army capability of a precision target deep in the enemy territory.” Director-General of Pakistan Army, Media Wing, major general Babar Iftikhar on 7th January tweeted: “Pakistan today conducted a successful; test flight of indigenously developed Fatah-1, Guided Multi Launch Rocket System, capable of delivering a conventional Warhead up to a range of 140 km.”

Defense analyst Mr. Syed Muhammad Ali also stated in his capacity: “the new system was very fast, accurate, survivable, and difficult to intercept”. A video was also shared by ISPR on their official website, in which the missile launch can be seen while being fired from the launcher however, the details on when and where the test flight has taken place, along with the specification of the rocket system are yet to be announced.

Currently, Pakistan Army owns a wide range of Short-Range Ballistic Missiles (SRBM), Medium-Range Ballistic Missiles (MRBM), Battlefield Ballistic Missiles (BBM), Rocket Artillery, and Surface to Surface Cruise Missile (SSCM). In the previous year, Pakistan had also maintained prime success in conducting the Ra’ad-II cruise missile and Ghaznavi surface-to-surface ballistic missile (SSBM). Besides, Pakistan Air Force (PAF) on 30thDecember made apt progress when it comes to the national air defense arsenal as it was announced that PAF is beginning the production of the State-of-the-art JF-17 Thunder Block 3 fighter jets, at the same time acquiring the 14 dual-seat Jf-17 aircraft.

According to various reports, the JF-17 Thunder Block 3 will be said to have a new radar operational capability which will be far better in the practical domain as compared to the Raphael aircraft acquired by India. Whereas, the exchange of 14 dual-seat aircraft, manufactured with Pak-China cooperation were also given to the PAF which will be used for extensive training.

The recent successful testing of Fatah-1 has been considered to be another milestone for Pakistan as it tends to be a fitting response to the recent developments in the conventional capabilities carried out by India and also to India’s Cold Start Doctrine.

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