The battle plan for siege warfare
What has happened in Indian held Kashmir has damaged Pakistan’s cause of pursuing peace in the region for internal stability. Pakistan’s goodwill is drenched in blood. In the short and midterm, Kartarpur Initiative and relaxing visas for Indians will have an opposite effect. India has immediately removed Pakistan from MFN status. Like the attack on Indian Parliament, the event will escalate hostilities. Given the forthcoming elections, emotive factors in India will conflagrate the pyres.
This event must also be seen in context of a recent suicide bus attack in Iran; two dare devil attacks in Loralai Balochistan and one in Afghanistan. The timings and inter connection of such violent acts cannot be ignored. It is a string of black swan operations that shall work in tandem with red herrings within the systems. Beware! There are trojans within Pakistan that operate in every sinew of the country with impunity. These are precursors to shaping an environment whence these moths will devour from within. Pakistan has no battle plan against these moths.
It would be foolish to judge external dynamics surrounding Pakistan and its internal issues in isolation. There is a jigsaw of events, kinetic or non-kinetic, overt or covert, direct or indirect, within or without intertwined around the same epicentre. Placing each piece of this mosaic in place warrants a quick appraisal of Pakistan’s external and internal threats. As if albatrosses around Pakistan are not enough, what is the point of adding to these sinking loads?
In an article titled ‘Poliorcetics and Battle Plan’ (Nation: 19 January 2019), I had analysed that the peace process is vulnerable to a different kind of siege warfare. Given that the modern nature of warfare is terrorism using proxies amidst the interplay of interests of each partner, seigecraft will entail low-intensity conflict and non-kinetic means characterised by each party thinking it holds a tenable position. This means infecting the pituitary gland or the most nodal nerve centre of the country. The bar of competence can only be raised to the prevailing level of acceptable incompetence.
In a broader perspective, ‘The Devil’s Triangle’ (Nation 22 March 2014), built on the tripod of Syria, Ukraine and Afghanistan inextricably connects the centuries old Geostrategy. Though OBOR projects challenge this precarious balance of power, USA will never allow it to undermine interests pursued for nearly a century. As in ‘Iceberg Diplomacy’ (Nation: 24 October 2015), USA will continue pressuring Pakistan with a clear tilt in favour of India. The latest challenge comes from IHK and ICJ.
In a regional perspective, USA considers itself the most powerful economic and military power. Afghan regime feels it needs full US backing. Taliban do not wish to talk to a regime that espouses US interests. US calculus relies heavily on India to pressurise Pakistan. Pakistan wants India out. Interest of Iran, China and Russia complicate the situation for USA. Shared interests and mutual vulnerabilities logically pitch USA, Afghan regime and India against Pakistan and the loose Afghan Resistance. Within the motion of these bonded and lose electrons, objectives of full spectrum dominance do not change. They will keep striking.
There is also a third dimension. ‘Afghan Peace: Reaching into the Womb’ (Nation: 9 February 2019) warned that the siege warfare means “Reaching into the very womb”, a threat built through internal dynamics. This means a rise in ethno cum sub nationalism, separatist movements and economic manipulation in every sinew of Pakistan’s gross domestic and national product.
This is a battle appraisal Pakistan woefully lacks. The mainstream media in Pakistan does not discuss analytics of such manoeuvre hitting at Pakistan’s centre of gravity; the parliament does not debate it; while the bureaucracy has never sensitised itself for a national cause.
So what is this moth eating frenzy from within?
Pakistan’s poor and low middle classes contribute for over 70% of gross domestic product. Overseas Pakistanis from the same classes are the biggest contributors to foreign exchange remittances. These classes together sustain an unregulated economy that sustains Pakistan. Together, they provide the bulk of Pakistan’s revenue. Yet this segment of society continues to be ignored over the past decade. The change these masses expected in nowhere in sight. Fiscal policies indicate that this robust element of Pakistan’s society is under siege by its very own.
The state has done nothing to provide relief to this biggest segment of revenue. What happens if Pakistan’s majority ridden by poverty and lack of purchasing power reacts? This is a scenario of a looming instability ahead.
The agriculture sector, the major segment of this GDP and GNP comprises small land holders under immense exploitation. The farm inputs are too high and manipulative. Policies suit mid and high level upstream businesses. The rich and highly politicised farmers and their industry are exploiting the poor. Crop manipulation and selection of GMO seeds is at a very high ecological cost. The farmer continues to be pushed to the wall and no one seems to notice. About three years ago, Pakistan’s BT project under National Agriculture Research Centre was closed. Successfully developed cotton varieties are no more. The entire research was shifted to cotton research institute in Multan where it was slaughtered. In the past Pakistan’s Canola Project envisaging substitution of Palm and Soya Oil was also slaughtered under pressure from vested lobbies. The Idara e Kissan with its highly effective Halla Milk and powder milk was closed under severe intimidation. FIRs were registered against Pakistan’s best agro-economist Dr Zafar Altaf who died a broken man.
Western seed providers like Monsanto, Cargill and Bayer are on prowl looking for an opening that was denied to them for a long time. Making Pakistan dependent on these GMO products already rejected by most of the world will cause a big environmental and ecological disaster. Once this happens, no one has to imagine which way Pakistan heads.
Two main autonomous organisations, the State Bank of Pakistan and Federal Board of Revenue are continuation of the old guard. Their operations are independent of government directives. The sudden devaluation and four fold hike in gas prices were treacherous. The government is pre occupied in fire fighting while ignoring cost effective and more durable solutions at grass roots. Pakistan’s vibrant unregulated sector is being crippled by neglect and design.
Pakistan’s industrial policy does not exist. It supports multi nationals, corporates and politicised industries. The department of commerce is not integrated with finance, industries and planning commission. Arduously collected revenues face evaporation due to devaluations.
Financial capitals like New York, Istanbul and Bombay are not political capitals. The contemplated shifting Pakistan’s financial capital from Karachi will open wounds that were healing. Instability will follow.
There are many other internal dynamics ignored and manipulated. Most importantly, Pakistan’s indigenous strengths are being ignored. There is no vision or policy document to synergise indigenous potential. Rather it is pervious to forces of exploitation.
Pakistan’s defence capability and economic vulnerability are two contrasts on extreme. It is not the defence that has consummated the national potential. Rather it has preserved it. Economics is driven by hitmen for far too long.
It is in the midst of such external and internal dynamics that Pakistan is expected to ward off challenges. The solution needs one year of concerted efforts to resurrect the economy at grass roots. Yet there appears to be no
intention nor resolve because the state has neither identified vulnerabilities not made a battle plan.