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Monday, April 15, 2024

Can India do what Russia did in Ukraine? -Gen. Tariq Khan

Some enthusiasts are watching the Russo-Ukraine Conflict with interest and asking the question that would India be able to execute such a maneuver against Pakistan. Well, India is not Russia and Pakistan is not Ukraine, writes Gen Tariq Khan, who retired as head of Pakistan’s Central Command

Russia has invaded Ukraine as was expected. It was a spectacular display of military capability in the face of a total military imbalance. A full spectrum application of the military instrument by land, air and sea as well as ground and air coordinated operations. In shaping the battlefield environment, the Russians targeted the Ukrainian air defence and destroyed most of the Ukrainian air force on the ground. Then the Russians engaged the Ukrainians along the border regions by a multi-directional maneuver while airborne assets simultaneously engaged the middle spaces and the depths i.e. Russian gunships and air force engaged middle-based Ukrainian deployments while airborne divisions landed in-depth capturing airports and communication centers.

Every dimension of Ukrainian military resistance was engaged piecemeal through coordinated operations. This denied any synergy or cohesion for any meaningful Ukrainian resistance and collapse is now imminent. On the second day of the invasion, Russia can establish an air-land bridge, encircle Kyiv, liberate the Donbas region and possibly set into motion the series of actions to put up a Russian Friendly Government. It is unlikely that Russia would want to occupy Ukraine but would instead prefer it to be a buffer state between itself and NATO forces; as such it is expected that Russia has achieved its objectives: i.e. liberation of Donbas and installing a friendly government, would execute a phased withdrawal.

Read more: Ukraine’s president vows to stay put despite being Russia’s no. 1 target

Ukraine’s predicament is mainly a consequence of its lack of capacity

It is the only country to give up its nuclear weapons on a vague guarantee by the US and Europe that they would protect it against any aggression. The promise was never kept and Ukraine was left on its own. Also, the disputed question of the Minsk Agreement is being interpreted differently by every side to serve their own arguments. However, the fact remains, that it was never fully implemented despite many years have passed by. Lastly, NATO’s continual attempts at wooing Ukraine to join NATO was a direct threat to Russia and had Ukraine joined NATO at any stage, NATO forces would be sharing a border direct with Russia which was totally unacceptable to Russia.

Some enthusiasts are watching the Russo-Ukraine Conflict with interest and asking the question that would India be able to execute such a maneuver against Pakistan. Well, India is not Russia and Pakistan is not Ukraine. The military parity between Pakistan and India allows Pakistan a credible conventional defence of its own territories. The conclusion and effect of the so-called Indian calculated surgical intrusion in February 2019 is a good indicator as to how Pakistan can handle the Indians.

Yet the most pertinent point in any such argument is that Pakistan never gave up its nuclear capability and in fact, if there is any lesson in the Russo-Ukraine Conflict, it’s that Pakistan must never give up this capability. Yet, the military capability of both countries does not give any clear advantage to India to invade Pakistan and whatever minimum deterrence is in place for Pakistan, is more than sufficient to deny Indian adventurism.

Read more: Biden refuses to send US troops to fight in Ukraine

How the world will be affected by the Russo-Ukraine Conflict?

The possible consequences of the Russo-Ukraine Conflict are global recession and collapse in oil, gas and wheat prices. Europe will suffer gas shortages, industrial closures and unemployment. Russia may experience a severe economic fallout affecting its banking, reserves and business. What’s important is that Pakistan will feel the heat with wheat shortages, high fuel and energy prices that will go way higher than what they are. Economic activity will slow down and political unrest may remain on the rise. Afghanistan will assert itself for some time by pacifying its people by embarrassing Pakistan along the Durand Line on every opportunity. Baluchistan separatist movement will accelerate because of TTP and Indian support. All these matters can be contained by a proper plan and way forward and it is hoped that the Government is thinking along these lines.

Pakistan has repeatedly said it does not want to belong to any block but is there a need to say such a thing and define a position? It is recommended that Pakistan must not offer any rhetoric or wisdom, especially if it cannot sustain its commitments. In the first place, the world is indifferent to what we have to say and in the second place, our credibility is on the line as always. It’s best to remain quiet and only contribute to any meaningful dialogue if and when invited to one. Pakistan must resolve its own political crisis one way or the other. Every matter is politicized and not dealt with from a national point of view but more from hurting the opposing party.

Read more: Middle Eastern states walk a tightrope that Ukraine spins ever tighter

The moment in history and the current global upheaval points to a unified approach based on national interests. Vague ideological references and historical examples will not do. The government needs to put together an All Parties Conference and search for a common approach to what seems to be a very difficult time staring us in the face. Party and personal differences must be put aside; our priorities must focus on the economy with emphasis on gas and energy, then on security on the Eastern, Western and Southern Borders. Our intelligence agencies must be able to offer predictive analysis into the future and develop KPIs leading to major conclusions.

Having validated these conclusions, a course of action must be mounted in a timely and cost-effective manner to contain or mitigate the effects of hostile activity. The need of the hour is central authority and a decentralized execution down to the tehsil level with a coordinated civil-military oversight. This is possible by establishing fusion cells that have plug-ins related to law and order, traffic, weather, hospitals and banking including any other event, etc.

The plug-in involves medical units, police, intelligence, civil administration and the Army. Local bodies must be empowered as soon as possible and allowed to exercise their popular mandate. Development funds must be made available to them on the basis of a staggered system based on progress. External audits systems need to be put into place immediately. Our systems must be set up to support the country and its people. Pakistan must gear up to weather the storm that is on the horizon and it does not look too good at the moment.


Writer, Gen. Tariq Khan, retired as head of Pakistan’s Central Command and has led Frontier Corps to victory against TTP. He has written and lectured extensively on the issues related to Afghanistan, the United States, and the Taliban. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.