Terrorism & National Security Policy
30 May, 2011
By Admiral Fasih Bokhari
The current spike in violence directed against our military and civil security establishment is related to the Afghan War end game in which the players are jostling for their own advantageous outcomes.
This is not the past where war or peace were separate environments. In the new world peace and war are a continuum where interests are pursued simultaneously in all sectors through all instruments of state craft (IOSC), such as military, media, diplomacy, culture, commerce, finance etc. etc. In this seamless environment of neither peace nor war, threats from any or all IOSC of adversaries in pursuit of their interests have to be faced and responded to, to protect own interests.
The primary players in the end game are NATO, India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Other involved players are China, Russia, GCC, and Iran. The game is being played even between the so called "Allies". We do not hate America, we have converging interests in various sectors and diverging interests in others at any given point in time. We cannot upset the entire balance of our relationship in anger. The same is true from the American perspective and that of the other players. In the post war era we both will need economic, political, social, military, etc., etc., ties of a vigorous and mutually beneficial nature.
Pakistan is coming under pressure (current spate of violence) to weaken the Afghan resistance so that American forces can remain uncontested in post war Afghanistan for their long term strategic interests in Asia. They want Pakistani not American lives to be sacrificed for this purpose. Our proponents of geographic strategic depth want a "friendly" post war government in Kabul and are resisting action against the predominantly Pashtun forces in the Afghan Taliban and Mujaheddin. Others in Pakistan would prefer to tell the Afghan resistance to leave our soil and go resist on their own land.
The other players i.e. GCC, China, Russia, and Afghanistan are pursuing their own cultural/religious or economic agendas for which they sometimes support or oppose the main players.
In the coming period leading up to the end game final negotiations, every person, building, and institution of Pakistan will be a potential target, as also our economy, and status in the comity of nations. There is no way that fool proof security can be provided to every person, building, and installation. We don`t have the money or means. When military is a superpower`s chosen instrument to pursue it`s interest, the weaker power can only absorb the pressure and evolve options to make the adversary change it`s strategy because it would be too costly or would degrade the other interest over which the weaker power has control. The form of engagement in the end game is going to be very murky and will need nerves of steel. Appeasement is not an option that our coming generations would want of us.
Yes, we should be worried and must try to improve security. Lapses cannot be condoned. Currently our security forces are fighting the adversary`s chosen military strategy while also answering to the demands of our own public opinion/media. The American and Indian media are following and fully supporting their own Government Strategies as given to all their Instruments of State Craft. Pakistan is reacting to crisis after crisis because we have not evolved a National Policy and Strategies in pursuit of our vital national interests to which other players would have to react. We need to stay ahead in this game.
To get out of this mess we need to evolve a consensus National Security Policy (NSP) defining our National Identity, National Purpose, and Vital National Interests; from which guidelines and strategies can be framed for each IOSC. This NSP must be owned and followed by all of us so that we can together pull this nation forward, and can stop pulling it apart in pursuit of our own personal gains.
Admiral Fasih Bokhari, (SBt, SI(M), HI(M), NI(M)), is the former the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS) of the Pakistan Navy from 1997 to 1999.