Remember “Swift Retort”


We keep on listening to the Indian rhetoric nearly at all the political and military levels. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, their Defence Minister, the Army Chief, the Commander Northern Command, etc. all are trying their best, though in vain, to intimidate the people of Pakistan by announcing their readiness and intentions to capture Azad Kashmir, and Gilgit-Baltistan. We know that the Indian defence budget is about 10 times more than that of Pakistan. India also has some important strategic agreements with a superpower. It has acquired some advanced weapons like S-400 ABM Systems that could destabilise the strategic balance in South Asia. New Delhi is also pursuing diplomatic and economic moves to enhance its military, political and economic prowess.

The Indian government has all the right to do everything good for their people and the country and Pakistan cannot make object to most of these developments, except for the negative destabilising efforts like acquisitions of ABMs, maligning Pakistan by fabricating and spreading false information, undermining our efforts to break free from FATF (and we have ultimately succeeded), and other restraining regimes. We are aware that we need to put our own house in order, especially to address the challenges of our economy, governance and law and order. But we also fully understand the roles of ‘economic hitmen’, employment of proxies against us in the shape of the terrorist groups like the TTP, the BLA and others. The intentions behind attacks on Chinese and supporting certain movements in the north and south of Pakistan have also not escaped our attention.

Whereas we might have done a lot of harm ourselves due to some internal myopic policies, yet the steps taken by the enemies of Pakistan and especially the Indian efforts to exploit the weaknesses and fissures to exacerbate our difficulties should never be lost sight of. And if we add to this specter, the recent aggressive statements by the Indian political and military leadership and their offensive posturing, strategically thinking minds can easily visualise the Indian designs likely to unfold in future. To that end, they would keep adding fuel by cautioning the investors to remain away, use influence to prevent any help coming from the International Finance Institutions, create internal and external misunderstandings through fake news and disinformation campaigns etc.

Indians are also employing special media tools in an attempt to create a chasm between the people and the Armed Forces. Thankfully, the enemy designs are now being understood by the saner element in our society. It would be the ultimate desire of the enemies of the state to pull Pakistan Army into the quagmire of political and economic mess, thus diverting their attention from hardcore security issues as well as to discredit them in the masses. And after fixing the environment at their desirable low-level, move for the Coup de Grace by physically attacking some limited spaces with a view to cause limited damage to the Pakistan Armed Forces, but below a certain threshold to discredit and embarrass them. This is where the author intends to remind the Indian political and military leadership of certain other ground realities.

Decades of stringent training of the Pakistan Armed Forces along with the acquired and indigenously manufactured modern weaponry has given us a certain fighting potential that is not going away anytime soon. The world witnessed the entire saga of the Indian Airforce incursion violating our airspace (any border violations in Azad Kashmir tantamount to attack on Pakistan) and our response in the shape of “Swift Retort”. It exhibited our successful integration of surveillance, command and control, delivery means with real-time battlefield awareness. Our Navy kept the Indian submarines at bay by detecting them much away from territorial waters, not once but twice. And recent unearthing of some planned false flag operations even before their implementation should give an indication of our intelligence outfits. The ongoing operations of the CTD and Police against terrorists, and the way the attack on Karachi Police Headquarters was repulsed speaks volumes about the capacity of our security agencies. All said and done, presently we do have some serious political and economic issues, that are being tackled at various levels, and may take some time to resolve; nevertheless, the people of Pakistan should remain confident that their armed forces, intelligence agencies and other security apparatus are in a satisfactory state to beat back any external aggression and internal terrorism attempts. If Indian aggressive intents are getting any fillip from the numerous security agreements that they have with other powers, they must evaluate Pakistan’s especial and deep relations with some of our friends, even if there are no overt defence pacts.

images | Defence Line, Featured from Narratives Magazine
images 2 | Defence Line, Featured from Narratives Magazine
images 1 | Defence Line, Featured from Narratives Magazine

Pakistan Armed Forces are keeping their fighting potential sharp by maintaining highest training standards and a lot of hands-on experience in fighting and defeating the well trained, armed to teeth, foreign sponsored terrorists. We have exhibited our professional and operational fitness at a number of occasions, while competing with other armies, navies and air forces of the world. Cambrian Patrol, Physical Fitness competitions, Army, Naval and Airforce Exercises at international and regional levels etc. are some of the examples, that clearly exhibit our fitness and inter-operability prowess.

The economic stress, though ominous, so far, has not affected logistic stamina, morale and operational readiness of our forces. And on top of that the strategic deterrence is very much in place as a safeguard against any surprise move or unexpected breakthrough by enemy forces. The present routine visit of IAEA officials to carry out periodical inspection of our Civil Atomic Facilities was misconstrued and drummed as an intrusion in our military atomic facilities. It was a sponsored narrative that fell flat after appropriate clarifications.

As a rule, an atomic power should never be given a surprise as the reaction could be prompt and violent beyond any expectations. So, it would be prudent on part of the Indian leadership to desist from making belligerent statements and stop interfering in the internal affairs of Pakistan, including the negative propaganda blitz, unnecessarily trying to aggravate our internal problems, especially when India itself is highly vulnerable due to their internal mistreatment of minorities and failure to control numerous dissident movements in northeast and the Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir. The referendums on Khalistan movement are also a glimpse of what could happen to the so-called ‘Mother India’ in future.  With China now a full-fledged affected country due to the Indian actions in Himalayas and Kashmir, Indian position has become even more untenable due to the multi front scenario. We appreciate the economic development of our neighbour, but will never accept the hegemony that is being projected through irresponsible statements and actions. We will be swift in our retort as was demonstrated just a few years earlier, and defeat any aggression, Inshallah.

Let us live like peaceful neighbours; and rather than aggravating each other’s vulnerabilities, we may coordinate and cooperate to resolve regional issues, act on the UN Resolutions as per the spirit and principle of peaceful coexistence. If this simple and direct piece of neighbourly advice sinks in the heads of the Indian leadership, numerous vistas of progress and peace can open-up in the region, otherwise as a last resort Pakistani people and the Armed Forces combined are resolute to defend their integrity and honour at all costs, literally at any cost. And we retain enough wherewithal including modern well-trained forces and strategic capabilities to sour any wishful incursions.

Lt. Gen. (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi
Lt. Gen. (R) Naeem Khalid Lodhi
The writer is a former defence minister and defence secretary. He has held major command positions in the Pakistan Army.

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