The month of September unravels the stories of valor of Pakistan Armed Forces against it’s by-birth adversary, India. It marks another year to the eulogized war, which began when India, a secular and democratic state violated all international laws and attacked Pakistan. With all ears hearing the famous stories of M.M. Alam with the courage to view from top, as he said: “The climb might be tough, but the view from top is priceless.” Not to forget, the gleam in eyes by hearing the name of Air Marshal Malik Nur Khan. Citizens of Pakistan and the diaspora abroad, all are flabbergasted by imagining the eagle virtue operative moves, high above the land by Flight Lieutenant Imtiaz Ahmed Bhatti and Squadron Leader Sarfraz Ahmad Rafique. September marks the month of praise and appreciation for forces defending the nation. Yet, it is merely 3 months before September that the Armed Forces, despite their contributions to the natives, are criticized aggressively for amassing a large sum of budget. The budget controversy is indeed full of myths which veneer the factual realities behind allocation and the actual use of the allotted budget. This shift of opinion reveals the naivety of our masses and how it is exploited by those benefitting from weak defense. It unleashes how naïve minds tend to make our long-lionized defense and naïve one, mostly through fifth generation warfare.
Before trying to clear the sand in the dewy-eyes of subjects, it is better to have an objective outlook of the budget based on authentic facts from Budget 20-21. The total budget framed for Pakistan, for this fiscal year, amid Covid crisis accounts for Rs. 7295 Billion, out of which Rs. 1289 Billion has been allocated for Defense Affairs and Security. Defense Affairs and Security include Pakistan Army which has been allotted 613 Billion (47.6% of total expenses for Defense Affairs and Security), Pakistan Air Force, Pakistan Naval Force and Inter Services Public Relations, receiving 274 Billion (21.25%), 140 Billion (11.3%) and 262 Billion (20.33%), respectively. As evident from the above statistics, the entire Defense Affairs and Security award accounts for 17.67% of total national budget. Furthermore, including the sum assigned for pensions of retired military personnel (369 Billion) and the one set aside for armed forces development program (324 Billion), increase the total percentage to 27.16% from 17.67%. These figures nullify the callow, yet popular stance of Army accumulating lion’s share from budget. In fact, Pakistan Armed Forces are the sixth largest army, but its expenses on per soldier and per capita basis are one of the lowest.Pakistan’s shoulders are already burdened by corruption and deficit in tax collection, it is commendable enough that military commercial undertakings are the largest tax payers.
With the aforementioned circumstantial numeric and the circulating allegories, it is dire need to understand where is this defense share utilized for a developing state like Pakistan whose roots are mildew by economic crisis as a result of corruption in all sectors. All main branches of our Armed Forces are protecting the borders of this piece of Earth, Pakistan, whose borders are mainly troubled, stretching from West to East. Pakistan is edged with Afghanistan in the West, a state whose rule is divided amongst foreign countries, its natives and non-state actors. Afghanistan, a bait for foreign expansionist countries in earlier history is lately been exploited by Talibans, NATO/USA and CIA. Although, peace deal with Talibans was formulated and agreed upon between self-proclaimed Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (Talibans) and the United State of America, early this year and are currently negotiating in Doha, mainly focusing on Intra Afghan Talks, yet the shadows of Islamic State of Khurasan, an extension of ISIS’ terror mischiefs are there which have already stripped Haqqani Network since its first appearance in 2014 and proclamation of Wilayat Khurasan. Since then, terror factions based in Pakistan, namely: Jundullah, Bajur Faction and Tehrik e Khilafat have sworn fealty to ISIK. While, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Lashkar-e-Islam and Jamaat-ul-Islam are its operative allies. This allegiance to ISIK is followed by several terror activities in Pakistan/Afghanistan, claimed by ISIK which is based in Afghanistan. Consequently, Pakistan Armed Forces are constantly protecting Pakistan from such infiltrations, not just militarily but through ISPR as well, as ISIK uses cyber tactics to influence young masses.
Moving down towards the agitated border with Iran towards the west. Pakistan’s relation across this 959 Km is highly dependent on its tilt towards USA and Saudi Arabia as both are antagonistic towards Iran due to religiously influenced ideological actions. With Qassim Soleimani’s death, his predecessor in rank, Esmail Qaani is more focused on Iran’s regional standing, and so, this might infuriate the Sunni militant groups in Baluchistan, their ethnic and theological ties with those living in Sistan and as a consequence, increase Iran’s recruitment of Shiite Pakistanis in Quds Force. Furthermore, cross-border illegal travel and smuggling which aids terrorist and narcotic traffickers are also noteworthy, for both. Kalbushan Jadhav’s entrance in Pakistan via Iran is an unforgettable event. Keeping in mind the mentioned state of affairs, militaries of both states have agreed to work in collaboration in recently agreed Joint Rapid Action Force. Pakistan Army is actively utilizing both mass and material to fence its borders with Iran and Afghanistan to encounter these challenges and specially Iran-based terror activities in Pakistan, mainly due to sectarian divisions and India’s outnumbered presence in Chahbahar. Not to forget the rising economic ambitions of both states considering the strategic ports of Gwadar and Chahbahar. Mentioning the rift in development between Gwadar and its neighbor Chahbahar, Pakistan Naval Force is rendering its services to ensure maritime security against illicit, anti-Pakistan activities in exclusive economic zone of Pakistan. This marine security provides secure ground for CPEC, and Belt and Road Initiative, adding to worth of Pakistan’s ports in Karachi and Gwadar.
Travelling from West, passing by Arabian Sea, Eastern border of Pakistan is joined by its foe, since the dawn saw Pakistan, as a state, India. Sharing an ill at ease border of 3323 km, both have encountered 3 wars as well as a confrontation at Kargil. Pakistan’s defense is mainly India-centric due to their by-birth antagonism. Since the very beginning, India’s plans to devolve Pakistan as a state, doomed miserably. For that reason, India has tried by hook or crook to de-stabilize Pakistan in all walks. To counter such sabotaging attempts by India, strong defense system with deterrence at all fronts is need, since more than 70 years. The repeated escalation in conflict levels, mainly because of India’s RSS shadowed, expansionist ideology which is not only having clashes with Pakistan, but with China also. The recent mounting oppugnant events specially after Pulwama Attack when both were at odds to this extent that India infiltrated in to Pakistan’s airspace and apprehensions about war between two nuclear state was clouding over the region. This was followed by another peak in long-standing Kashmir conflict when India revoked Article 370 and 35A. Constant ceasefire violations across Line of Control by India is a day to day matter, now. India’s soaring extremism compels Pakistan to work through realist perspective of balance of power. The focal component of a state’s power lies in its military, and so to counter India, a country doubles the size than Pakistan, in all three perspectives of land, population and military might. Pakistan needs to maintain the status quo and remain vigilant with her arms to face any threat to sovereignty.
Broaching the subject of sovereignty and Pakistan Armed Forces role in getting grips with external threats, Pakistan Forces have contributed well enough, in sorting internal matters, as well. Not just Pakistan’s armed men securing the borders, but are simultaneously maintaining safe haven for citizens. As an aftermath of 9/11 and following rise in global terrorism under the flag of Islam, Pakistan saw several insurgent groups and terrorist organizations surfacing on its land who had fled from Afghanistan where USA in alliance with Pakistan was busy in their eradication. It is for this reason that military presence was called in Federally Administered Tribal Areas for several years and is still on-going in the post 9/11 times. The majoroperation which is still underway is Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad, which is a continuation of Operation Zarb-e-Azb. This military operation involves all three-armed forces and follows the National Action Plan with Broad Spectrum Security. Moreover, it is Pakistan military that takes part in rescue operations during any calamity. Reviewing the recent catastrophes which have struck Pakistan’s face, we see evident role of Pakistan army as it is one of the major stakeholders of NDMA. Not only, has armed forces served in curtailing virus spread, but it has actively participated in recent urban flooding in Karachi and elsewhere.
Conclusively, while knowing the facts from budget and having an eloquent overview of contributions made by armed forces, it is time to revisit the debate of either to have a secured state or to cut amount down from our security and utilize it in economic progress. Well, in my opinion, there should be balance in the two power components of state: latent that is economic and the actual which is military might, but keeping aforementioned position of Pakistan, with troubles at home and abroad there should be a certain level of tilt towards the actual power. How rightly has it been said by Adam Smith, who is a classical economist: “The first duty of a state is to protect its society from injustices and violence of the other society/societies as it moves towards civilization. What good could be achieved from economy if the state fails to protect its sovereignty? But, considering the dire need to come out from this swamp of economic crisis, military budget can be indirectly used to aid economic developments. Such is seen in Pakistan; Pakistan Navy is providing assistance in maritime exclusive economic zone’s security for exploration of natural resources and economic trade through marine ports. Pakistan saw decline in foreign investments during years of terrorism and instability, hence, for economic progress the first pre-requisite is well-maintained security and stabilization, which is being ensured by our Armed Forces, not just in the years of full-scale wars, but at all fronts and at all times.
India’s Sprouting Counterforce Posture
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.
A pig in a poke of Lithuanian Armed Forces
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.
Fatah-1: A New Security and Technological Development About Pakistan’s Indigenous GMLRS
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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