Countering Cold Start with AZM-e-NAU

By Ahmad Khan

COAS Ashfaq Pervez Kiani, while speaking at the concluding ceremony of Pakistan’s biggest military exercises in its history—AZM-e-NAU—praised the participants and stated: “Pakistan Army resolves to meet all future challenges squarely.” He went on to say that “the Army in coordination with the Navy and PAF is fully configured and prepared to thwart any military aggression against the country.”

 First, let us briefly analyze his statement concerning external military aggression. Pakistan is facing multifaceted threats to its national security from within the country as well as from outside its borders. General Kiani, while speaking at the concluding ceremony, said the army was ready to counter any foreign military intervention in any form, whether it is in the form of a preemptive strike or a limited counter strike or any surgical strike. Exercises AZM-NAU were initially kicked off in 2009 and ended in 2013 at the National Defence University, Islamabad. The rationale behind AZM-NAU exercise was to have in place a swift and deadly response to any adversary’s plans to launch counter-offensive strikes against Pakistan. After the 2001 terrorist attack on the Indian Parliament, the adversary has chalked out an offensive war doctrine. It is a fact that the adversary was building its military capabilities since the adaptation of Cold Start War Doctrine in its operational plans in order to destroy strategic assets and forces of its opponent (Pakistan) in case of any terrorist attack on its soil.

Here one can envisage that the adversary’ trajectory of developing its military capabilities is maintaining a constant peak, since the covert adaptation of Cold Start war doctrine into its military strategy. The Ballistic Missile Defence (BMD), proposed Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Shield coupled with Indo-US nuclear deal has created a security dilemma for Pakistan. In addition, since 2004, the adversary has clandestinely contemplated Cold Start into an operational war doctrine.

In 2010, the COAS gave an interesting remark on the Cold Start Doctrine (CSD)/ Proactive Strategy that “we plan on adversaries’ capabilities not intentions.” He stated that we are looking at the capabilities, expenditures, and finances of the adversary rather attempting to guess their intentions. In fact, no one can deny the reality that most of the Indian conventional military capabilities are meant to fight a war with Pakistan rather with China. My axiom is based on the recent Sino-Indian military stand-off at an altitude of 16,300 feet in Ladakh. The Chinese troops entered Depsang Bulge area and Indian military was unable to stop them to enter into area, fearing further penetration of Chinese troops into the area. This suggests us that the Indian military was unable to deploy their ‘so-called’ advance modern weaponry at Himalayas. In fact, the sophisticated Indian weaponry is only meant to defend Indian borders alongside Pakistan.

Over the years, an arms race both at conventional level as well as at nuclear level between the two arch rivals in South Asia, is consistently picking up the pace, consuming all the vital resources of two developing nations. Additionally, according to the report published by SIPRI, India, Pakistan and China have increased their nuclear stockpiles; however, India became the largest importer of weapons in the world. Importantly, according to IHS Jane’s Indian military budget is expected to rise 18 percent till 2015. While comparing the defense budgets of the neighbors, it is almost one ratio ten. Similarly, Indian conventional arms are huge in size and outnumber Pakistan conventional weapons, compelling Pakistan to rely on its nuclear Weapons. Moreover, India has carried out ten exercises since 2004 to 2010 to operationalize its military Cold Start Doctrine, which has further created a security dilemma for Pakistan. Indian conventional might is visible to Pakistan and it would be to naive for leaders in Pakistan to ignore this.

Indian conventional military power is so sizable and visible to Pakistan that it creates more vulnerability in the security puzzle of Pakistan. The constant security threat to Pakistan from its eastern borders cannot be denied. As a consequence, Pakistan is also modernizing and enhancing its conventional and non-conventional weapons to embark upon the emerging threats and changing dynamics of South Asia. As Zafar Iqbal Cheema said: “The state of conventional military asymmetry between India and Pakistan is inversely proportional to the nuclear thresholds for the employment of nuclear weapons, that is higher the asymmetries, lower the nuclear threshold, and lower the asymmetries, higher the nuclear threshold.”

In conclusion, no one can deny the fact that conflicts among nations have raised the chances of wars, and this axiom is equally applicable in Indo-Pak context too. However, the nature of perceptions and convictions about the future relationship between the two South Asia rivals vary exponentially. In light of India’s aspirations to become a major holder of power and resources in South Asia, and the constant enhancement of its military capability, our leadership would do well to take steps to guard Pakistan’s national interests and sovereignty. Here I must say, the foremost objective of our military should be to prepare itself for any future conflict with the adversaries, using conventional, non-conventional and sub-conventional applications.


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