In the recent attack on PAF’s Kamra Airbase, the militants’ obvious target was the AWAC (Airborne warning and control) aircraft. The PAF had recently acquired three from Sweden. These aircrafts are expensive, very sophisticated and highly effective for air surveillance, looking deep into the enemy’s territory and for guiding own fighters onto their targets even below the ground-based radar’s coverage. These aircrafts are force multipliers and, therefore, very potent.

We may also recall the attack on Pak navy’s Mehran Base at Karachi conducted not so very long ago. The attackers ignored the aircraft parked at the adjacent PAF base as well as those based on its naval side - their targets were the two Orion naval surveillance aircraft acquired from the US. These aircrafts, too, are highly effective in detecting and destroying hostile submarines as well as surface ships – by day, night and in all weather conditions.

Considering that neither the air force AWAC’s, nor the navy’s Orions had any part to play in the anti-terrorist operations, why were these aircrafts singled out as targets? Did the TTP-hired guns have any gumption about the various types of aircraft and their functions? Obviously, not! They were merely following the instructions of their paymasters.

Let us shift our gaze to what was happening in Balochistan. Apart from daily killings and kidnappings, the militants had been targeting income-generating facilities, like the railways, sui gas installations, electricity pylons, etc, besides spreading sectarian violence. They had also been targeting the Chinese, who were helping us in various development projects in Balochistan and elsewhere. Here again, the systematic choice of targets - economic, sectarian, etc - provided clue to the real planners and perpetrators while the militants were merely the cat’s paw.

Move back further in time to Lahore and recall the attack on Sri Lanka’s cricket team. Pray what had the Sri Lankans to do with the Taliban or Nifaz-e-Sharia? None, of course! The aim was to bring a bad name to Pakistan and to isolate it from international cricket. Surely, that was not the objective of the Taliban!

Thus, the spectrum of violence from economic targets to attack on sensitive military installations, especially their high value assets, to sectarian killings and attack/abduction of foreigners, clearly indicated method to the madness - much beyond the ken of Taliban. The objectives of those well planned attacks were wide and varied: to destabilise the country, to undermine its economy, to isolate it from its friends, to denigrate Pakistan’s image internationally, to degrade its defence capability, to sow the seeds of hatred among the people. Above all, to show that if Pakistan cannot effectively defend its sensitive defence installations and control the widespread militancy and the lawlessness, how could it defend its nuclear assets!

It should be obvious that all those well thought out attacks could not be the work of simple, gun trotting Taliban. Who could be supporting them with the necessary funds, intelligence and planning?

By the mere process of elimination of the countries that could be behind such terrorist activities in this region, the finger clearly points towards India with which Pakistan has fought several major and minor wars since independence. To be specific, India’s notorious agency, RAW, (the architect of Bangladesh) having established itself in Afghanistan (thanks to Musharraf) is playing merry - hell with Pakistan - of course with the support of the Afghan government and Mossad.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik, and other high officials before him, had time and again accused the RAW for the ills going on in Pakistan. Even international observers like Christine Fair after her visit to Afghanistan had categorically stated that the Indian Consulates established there were involved in subversive activities against Pakistan. In fact, they had “confided in her that they were pumping money into Balochistan.” However, the Indian Interior Minister had claimed that “there was not a shred of evidence about India’s involvement!”

Perhaps, his confident utterance was not entirely misplaced. For RAW’s strategy was highly secretive - based on four M’s.

M for man: To select a rebellious leader like Mujibur Rehman (East Pakistan), Brahamdagh Khan Bugti (Balochistan), Hakeemullah Mehsud (Fata), Malvi Fazlullah (Swat), and Maulana Azam (late).To provide the top men with funds, intelligence and weaponry, but let them deal with their hired goous while RAW stayed in the background. So even when some militants were captured no one would be the wiser.

M for mission: The chosen leader must have a mission that should be propagated, as the aspiration of the majority. Like the demand for Bangladesh, Azad Balochistan, Nifaz-e-Sharia, etc.

M for militancy: To achieve the selected mission, they must resort to militancy based on the local mercenaries – under the banner of appealing names like Mukti Bahini, BLA, TTP, etc.

M for money and munitions: The militants must be supported with money and sophisticated weaponry.

How do we effectively counter RAW’s sinister aims?

First and foremost, the government and the armed forces must acknowledge the fact that a covert war had been unleashed against Pakistan to destabilise and, if possible, disintegrate Pakistan. What Pakistan was facing was not the run-of-the-mill militancy, but a full-fledged guerrilla warfare, totally beyond the capacity of the police and the civil armed forces. We must realise that after our attaining nuclear capability, the only option left for India was to destabilise Pakistan through “covert operations” - as open war would invite a nuclear response.

The armed forces must take charge before it is too late to coordinate the internal security of the country against the covert war, which was slowly eating into the vitals of the country. Additionally, we must set up an anti-RAW agency by pooling experienced personnel from various spy agencies. Its sole purpose should be to focus entirely on RAW’s machinations, to anticipate and to forestall them. And if push comes to a shove to give RAW a taste of its own medicine. We must realise that we are in a state of war and, therefore, the peace time procedures and lackadaisical approach would only spell disaster.

In the end, a word for our peaceniks. By all means pursue your dream of “Aman ki Asha” – indeed, any sensible person would want the two countries with their teeming millions living below the poverty line to be on friendly terms and not waste their limited resources in war mongering. Unfortunately, it will forever remain just an “Asha”, if the Indians do not change their mindset of “Atoot Ang” vis-à-vis Kashmir and “Akhund Bharat” vis-à-vis Pakistan.

It is very rightly said that actions speak louder than words. Pogrom at independence; the forcible occupation of the Muslim majority state of Kashmir; the Rann of Kutch battle; the 1965 war (India was the first to cross international border unannounced); the 1971 war thrust upon us without any provocation as such (to create Bangladesh); the occupation of Siachen; the building dams on three western rivers in stark violation of the Indus Waters Treaty while helping Afghanistan to build a dam’s on Kabul River (all with terrible economic consequences for Pakistan) and now this covert war. Need one say more?

    The writer is a retired air

    chief marshal.