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Pakistan General Dismisses North Waziristan ‘Hype’

Pakistan General Dismisses North Waziristan ‘Hype’

Corps Commander Peshawar Lt Gen Asif Yasin Malik

 

MOHAMAD GAT, Pakistan — A leading Pakistani commander on Wednesday sought to play down “media hype” over the prospect of an imminent military offensive to meet US interests in North Waziristan.

 

In the fallout from Osama bin Laden’s killing, US officials are said to have increased pressure on Pakistan to mount a major offensive in the district, considered the premier Taliban and Al-Qaeda fortress along the Afghan border.

 

Local newspaper The News reported this week that Pakistan had decided to launch a “careful and meticulous” military offensive in North Waziristan after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent visit to Islamabad.

 

But Lieutenant General Asif Yasin Malik, the corps commander supervising all military operations in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, told reporters: “We will undertake operation in North Waziristan when we want to.”

 

“There has been a lot of media hype about the operation,” said Malik in the Mohamad Gat area of tribal district Mohmand, where the military flew reporters to show off apparent progress in battles against homegrown Taliban.

 

“I do not operate on press reports. I get orders from my high command,” he said in response to a question.

 

“We will undertake such an operation when it is in our national interest militarily,” the general said, describing North Waziristan as “calm and peaceful as it was weeks ago”.

 

The remote, mountainous region has attracted major interest in the United States as a fiefdom of the Haqqani network, one of its most potent enemies across the border in Afghanistan and thought to have a core of 4,000 fighters.

 

The Al-Qaeda-linked group attacks only across the border in Afghanistan, and is said to have long-standing ties to Pakistan’s intelligence services.

 

Pakistani officials are said to believe they cannot win if they take on its leaders, who command considerable tribal support and are well-armed.

 

Set up by Afghan warlord Jalaluddin Haqqani, the group is loyal to the Taliban and has been blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan, including a suicide bombing in 2009 that killed seven CIA operatives.

 

But asked about the Haqqanis, Malik hit back: “We are misusing the word ‘network’. It does not become a network if four people sit together somewhere.”

 

Instead he said the military was focused on maintaining an already “stable” environment to undertake “developmental activity” in North Waziristan, and confirmed reports that a cadet college in the area had been reopened.

 

The army had closed the college at Razmak after Taliban militants briefly kidnapped 46 students and two staff in June 2009 as they were going home at the start of the summer holidays.

 

In the absence of a Pakistani military offensive, a covert CIA drone war on Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked fighters has been concentrated in North Waziristan, and Western officials say it has dealt a major blow to militant capabilities.

 

But Pakistan is publicly opposed to the drones as a violation of sovereignty and parliament demanded an end to the attacks in the fallout over the May 2 killing of Osama bin Laden in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad by US troops.

 

Malik called the programme a “negative thing” that “creates instability and infringes” his relationships with local tribes, and rejected any question of a joint operation with US forces in North Waziristan or anywhere else.

 

Clinton last Friday urged Pakistan to take decisive steps to defeat Al-Qaeda, as she became the most senior US official to visit since US Navy SEALs found and killed bin Laden in the country on May 2.

 

The fact that the Al-Qaeda terror chief had been living in a garrison city just a stone’s throw from Pakistan’s top military academy raised disturbing questions about incompetence or complicity within the armed forces.

 

Under US pressure to crack down on Islamist havens on the Afghan border, Pakistan has been fighting for years against homegrown militants in much of the tribal belt, dubbed a global headquarters of Al-Qaeda.

 

Pakistan has always maintained that any North Waziristan operation would be of its own time and choosing, arguing that its 140,000 troops committed to the northwest are already too overstretched fighting elsewhere.


Kayani, a man for many seasons

PKKH

Shuja Nawaz

In a timely though perhaps overly dramatic move, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani of Pakistan announced recently on national television the extension of army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani for another three years beyond November this year, when his first term was to end. Timely, since any further delay in announcing it would have led to further speculation and confusion about what was to happen. Dramatic, since the normal manner would have been a press release from the Inter Services Relations Directorate.

But then this is Pakistan and anything to do with the army chief makes headlines. And this announcement further strengthens the view that the army continues to be a key player even as democracy struggles to establish itself in a country that has been ruled for more than half its life by the military.

This is the first time a civilian government has extended an army chief for a full term. In the past, extensions have been either short, given by military rulers to themselves or, in the case of the first military ruler, Ayub Khan, to an ineffectual army chief with no independent power base. Benazir Bhutto sought to break with tradition when she offered an extension to General Abdul Waheed in 1996 but he refused it. Kayani took pains to convey the impression that he would not seek an extension nor negotiate for one. It appears that the government made him an offer he could not refuse.

Kayani is widely regarded as a quiet, professional soldier, who has helped transform the army in his tenure from a largely conventional force to one that is effectively fighting an irregular war inside its own borders. His new tenure gives him a rare opportunity to continue the transformation of the Pakistan into army into a professional body ready to fight insurgencies and conventional enemies equally well. He maintains a low public profile and is seen as a thinking general. Compared with his predecessor, General Pervez Musharraf, who was tempestuous and rarely had time to read, Kayani is deliberate. From the outset, he stated a policy of keeping the army out of politics, a policy that he tried to maintain even while selectively intervening in political squabbles as a referee. In recent months he has played a key role in moving the United States-Pakistan strategic dialogue onto a higher plane in terms of content and action.

While many inside and outside the country have welcomed the move as providing continuity and stability at a time of a raging insurgency and the rise of militancy inside Pakistan, others view it as a retrogressive move away from institutionalizing the selection and promotion system by linking it to personalities. Above all, it is a political move since the final decision was made by a politician. The United States has studiously avoided taking a public position but conversations with U.S. diplomats and military officials over the past few months indicated their deep interest in the future of General Kayani and a noticeable desire to see him remain at the helm of affairs in Pakistan. Yet Kayani on his part has showed no signs that he is or even is willing to be painted as “America’s choice.”

What are the implications of this extension? In the near term, it opens up the possibility of a routine promotion for the next senior most army general to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee when that position falls vacant in October 2010. There may well be an opportunity also to elevate one of the other service chiefs, from the air force or navy, to bolster inter-service cohesion. Within the army there has been some talk of a Vice Chief. This may make sense for such a large army but runs against the grain, since the Pakistan army has a steep pyramid structure. Authority rests in one man: the chief. When I suggested to my own brother, General Asif Nawaz, when he took over as Army chief in 1991 that he appoint a deputy chief to help manage the administrative details of his work, his reply was crisp: “Command is indivisible!” While not supported by historical evidence, this mantra has taken hold in Pakistan and was echoed by General Pervez Musharraf for different and perhaps political reasons, even though he appointed a Vice Chief of the Army Staff. But Musharraf made all the important decisions himself.

In the longer run, the career paths of many senior generals will be affected by this decision. Nearly a dozen operational three-stars (Lieutenant Generals) will retire before Kayani’s new term expires in November 2013. These include a number of very bright and highly trained officers whom he has promoted to three star rank in April this year. As a result, the age and service gap between Kayani and his corps commanders in another two years will be quite large, as he digs down into the ranks order to promote new commanders. The nature and quality of the exchanges between him and his commanders will necessarily be affected, as was the case for General Zia ul-Haq and General Musharraf before him. Few junior officers will be willing to challenge the views of such a senior chief. Yet, he has exhibited a certain collegiality in his exchanges with fellow officers. If he can maintain that approach it will serve him in good stead. Politically, the country will of necessity see another election during Kayani’s extended term, unless things deteriorate so dramatically internally or in relations with Pakistan’s fractious neighbors that the army, under public pressure, mounts another coup. Here, Kayani will fight against historical precedent: in the past, an extension or the dismissal of a chief and replacement by a new chief invariably led to a coup, as mutual suspicions between the civilians and the military was compounded.

A positive spin-off from the extension in the eyes of some may be that a slew of Musharraf promotees will also retire between now and 2013 reducing the tension between them and others vying for the next rung. Some of these are strong professional officers but the taint of having been favored by Musharraf may remain. After all, Kayani too was a Musharraf choice. A major advantage that might accrue is that the certainty provided by the new term for the army chief will allow the civilian government to become confident in asserting itself in policy matters, knowing that the army chief will not overtly intervene in its affairs. This may help strengthen political institutions. At the same time, civilians must resist the temptation to turn to the army to lead the battle against militancy (a national endeavor not purely a military one) or to arbitrate differences on the political field.

These three years should also give Kayani time to assess the present Higher Defense Organization of Pakistan and perhaps come up with a more devolved structure for the army and a better system of command and control at the center. One possible scenario may include regional and centralized commands at four-star rank, appointed by the same authority who selects the service chiefs, and a Chairman of the Joint Chiefs with real powers to regulate all the services while acting as the main military advisor of the government. This approach has been taken by the United States and many other modern militaries, so it would hardly be unprecedented. Without having a stake in the chairman’s position in 2013, Kayani may be able to provide a dispassionate plan for the government to decide, well in advance of the next round of promotions in 2013. Any proposal that he presents as a disinterested party will have credibility and will also help override the parochial concerns of the army relative to the other services in Pakistan.

All this will be against the backdrop of Pakistan’s traditional rivalry with emerging superpower India to the east. Kayani would be key to any effort to reduce hostility and to open the eastern border to trade and traffic. He has already played a role in opening up to Afghanistan and perhaps positioning Pakistan to play a role in the reconciliation efforts of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

The United States, as a key ally, must also understand that the army chief in Pakistan will think foremost about Pakistan’s interests. To the extent that they have an interlocutor who knows them well, from his extensive U.S. training and contacts, the U.S. will benefit from a clear dialogue. Removing years of mistrust will take a major and longer-term effort. Officer exchanges will help. But most important will be steady provision of the best possible equipment to the Pakistani forces in their battle against insurgents and militants, with no underlying threats or overhanging waivers accompanying those transfers. That is what trust means.

Key to this entire enterprise is the man who will continue to head the Pakistan army beyond President Barack Obama’s first term and into the term of the next elected government in Pakistan: General Kayani, truly now a man for many seasons.

Shuja Nawaz is Director of the South Asia Center of the Atlantic Council.

The Missile Gap and the Indian Myth of “Indigenous” Technology

Daily.Pk

A Times of India report last year claimed that ” Pakistan has surged well ahead of India in the missile arena”. It also lamented that “the only nuclear-capable ballistic missile in India’s arsenal which can be said to be 100% operational as of now is the short-range Prithvi missile”.

Along with raising the alarm, the Indian report offered the usual excuse for the alleged missile gap by boasting that “unlike Pakistan, our program is indigenous”.

Let’s explore the reality of the “indigenous” claim repeated ad infintum by Indian government and New Delhi’s defense establishment.

US-European Origins of Indian Missile Program

APJ Abul Kalam is credited with designing India’s first satellite launcher SLV3. Its design is virtually identical to the American Scout rocket used in the 1960s. According to the details published in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, Abul Kalam spent four months in training in the United States in 1963-1964. He visited NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia, where the US Scout rocket was conceived, and the Wallops Island Flight Center on the Virginia coast, where the Scout was being flown. Soon after Abul Kalam’s visit, India requested and received detailed technical reports on the Scout’s design, which was unclassified.

US Scout and India’s SLV3 are both 23 meters long, use four similar solid-fuel stages and “open loop” guidance, and lift a 40-kilogram payload into low earth orbit. The SLV’s 30-foot first stage later became the first stage of the Agni.

The United States was followed by others. Between 1963 and 1975, more than 350 US, French, Soviet, and British sounding rockets were launched from India’s Thumba Range, which the United States helped design. Thumba’s first group of Indian engineers had learned rocket launching and range operation in the United States.

India’s other missile, the “Prithvi” (earth), which uses a liquid-propelled motor to carry a one-ton payload 150 miles, resembles the widely sold Soviet Scud-B. Indian sources say that the Agni’s second stage is a shortened version of the Prithvi, according to Gary Milhollin of the Wisconsin Project.

France also launched sounding rockets from India, and in the late 1960s allowed India to begin building “Centaure” sounding rockets under license from Sud Aviation.

The aid of the United States and France, however, was quickly surpassed by substantial West German help in the 1970s and 1980s. Germany assisted India in three key missile technologies: guidance, rocket testing, and the use of composite materials. All were supposed to be for the space program, but all were also used for military missiles.

The cryogenic stage used in a recent failed satellite launch by India was a copy of the Russian cryogenic rocket engine and the cryogenic technology transferred to India in the 1990s. According to Non-proliferation review of 1997, it has emerged that Russia continued transferring rocket engine technology to India in 1993 after its agreements with the United States to stop such transfer under MTCR. This reportedly resulted in the completion of 60 to 80 percent of the transfers to India.

North American Origins of India’s Nuclear Bomb

India’s nuclear program would not have advanced without a lot of help from the Canadians that resulted in Indian copies of Canadian reactors to produce plutonium for its nuclear bombs.

India conducted its first atomic bomb test in 1974. The Indians used the 40 MW Canadian Cirus reactor and US heavy water both imported under guarantees of peaceful use and used them openly to make plutonium for its 1974 nuclear blast.

In 1972, the Canadian-built 100 MWe Rajasthan-1 nuclear power reactor became operational, serving as a model for the later unsafeguarded reactors. Another Rajasthan unit started operating in 1980 and two units in 2000. In 1983, India’s 170 MW Madras-1, a copy of Canadian Rajhastan-1 reactor, became operational. A second Madras unit followed in 1985.

According to the Risk Report Volume 11 Number 6 (November-December 2005), the heavy water and other advanced materials and equipment for these plants were smuggled into India from a number of countries, including the USSR, China and Norway. Some of the firms, such as the West German firm Degussa, were caught and fined by the United States for re-exporting to India 95 kg of US-origin beryllium, usable as a neutron reflector in fission bombs.

In May 1998, India conducted two rounds of nuclear weapon tests. Last year, the media reports indicated that Kasturiranga Santhanam, the coordinator of India’s 1998 nuclear tests, went public with allegations that India’s Pokhran II test of a thermonuclear bomb in 1998 was actually a fizzle. The device, designed to generate 45 kilotons, yielded an explosion equivalent to only 15 to 20 kilotons of TNT.

Summary

There is plenty of evidence and documentation from sources such as the Wisconsin Project to show that the Indian missiles and bombs are no more indigenous than Pakistan’s. The fact is that neither India nor Pakistan was first to split the atom, or to develop modern rocket science. The Industrial Revolution didn’t exactly start in India or Pakistan or even in Asia; it began in Europe and the rest of the world learned from it, even copied it.

The differences between India and Pakistan in terms of the technology know-how and the knowledge base are often highly exaggerated to portray India as a “technology power house” and Pakistan as a backwater. Some of these analyses by Indian Brahman pundits and commentators have racial and religious overtones implying that somehow Brahmin or Hindu minds are superior to those of the people of other religions or castes in South Asia.

What is often ignored by such Indian analysts is the fact that neither of the two Indian pioneers, nuclear scientist Homi Bahbha and rocket scientist Abul Kalam, belong to the Hindu faith or the Brahmin caste. The false sense of Indian superiority is pushed by self-serving Indian and some Western analysts to justify their own biased conclusions.

These analysts have fed what George Perkovich described in his book “India’s Nuclear Bomb” on page 410 as “general Indian contempt for Pakistan’s technical capabilities” and may cause serious miscalculations by the Indian security establishment about Pakistan’s defense capabilities. Indian chauvinistic analyses have been put in perspective by another piece in Newsday (Friday, May 15, 1998; Page A5: “India Errs Nuclear Power Isn’t Real Power”), in which George Perkovich talked about the rise in India of a radicalized, ultra-nationalistic BJP for the “glory of the Hindu race and rashtra (nation)”. Perkovich added that “the Bharatiya Janata Party, has long felt that nuclear weapons offer a quicker ride to the top. Like atavistic nationalists elsewhere, they believe that pure explosive power will somehow earn respect and build pride.”

The extreme right-wing influence on South Asian analysts has the potential for serious miscalculations by either India or Pakistan in the nuclear and the missile arena, and it does not augur well for the future of the Indo-Pak region and the world at large.

R Haq