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Thursday, May 23, 2024

Pakistan’s multi-dimensional war for survival

Unless Pakistan becomes a self-reliant country, independent of the dole-outs from the US-controlled financial institutions, and the financial lifelines from Saudi Arabia and UAE, it will keep slogging through the minefield of political instability - writes Saleem Akhtar Malik, a war veteran, in a hard-hitting piece.

Kinetic war, also known as the conventional war, deals with military actions involving active warfare, including lethal force. The phrase is used to contrast conventional military force and “soft” force, including diplomacy, sanctions, and cyber warfare. The Order of battle of an armed force participating in a kinetic military operation or campaign shows the hierarchical organization, command structure, strength, disposition of personnel, and equipment of units and formations of the armed force.

Warfare, during the first quarter of the 21st Century, is transitioning fast from a kinetic to a non-kinetic dimension. Not that the non-kinetic dimension of warfare was missing earlier. However, it is presently becoming the dominant form of fighting between the nations. The hot war will gradually become a corollary to the cold war.

However, the hot war will remain an instrument to achieve the coup de grace- the final blow on the battlefield. In that sense, future wars will end even before they are started. It is in this context that Pakistan’s enemies will launch a military operation only when the state is paralyzed through psychological warfare. If that is the case, the order of battle between the warring armies will not only include comparative strengths of the contestants and the dispositions of their formations and units, but also the “soft” force, including diplomacy, power to slap military as well as financial sanctions against the adversary, and cyber warfare. We have seen this happening in 1971, and more recently during the present political crisis in Pakistan.

Read more: Pakistani politicians and their nemesis

Non-kinetic operations

Talking about cyber warfare, the world has witnessed how, in the not too distant past, Israel used computer malware against Iran’s Uranium enrichment facility at Natanz. The Israeli operation which was code-named “Olympic Games,” was a cyber-attack, disclosed during the Obama administration that disabled nearly 1,000 Uranium enrichment centrifuges at Natanz. That attack was believed to have set back Iran’s Uranium enrichment activities by many months.

We had seen, in 1968, how Ayub Khan’s regime was destabilized by a surge of inconsequential events which now appear to have been part of a non-kinetic operation to topple him. In October 1968, a small group of students from Rawalpindi’s Gordon College was stopped at the customs check post. The students were traveling back to Rawalpindi after shopping for some smuggled hosiery, toiletry, and clothing items.

Probably the students had failed to bargain on the cuts the customs people demanded. The customs officials, after seizing the items, let the students go. On their return to Rawalpindi, the students staged a protest against the customs authorities’ high-handedness. The peaceful processions soon snowballed into a countrywide agitation. It was the cloud burst uprising that removed Ayub Khan from office.

Read more: Ayub Khan vs Madar-e-Millat: the Flickering light from Fatima Jinnah’s Lantern

Such a scenario, blurring the lines between the kinetic and non-kinetic forms of warfare, was witnessed in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion that started in 1979 and ended ten years later in 1989. Another such hybrid war was unleashed on Afghanistan during the US-led coalition’s war starting in 2001.

This war began a month after the September 11, 2001, attack on New York’s Twin Towers. The US alleged that Al Qaeda, a terrorist organization, had masterminded the attack. Al Qaeda was supported by the Taliban who were then ruling Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden, the Al Qaeda mastermind, who was a US Army contractor during the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, had turned against his American masters and was at that time hiding in Afghanistan.

The Taliban had refused the US demand to hand over Osama. Even before 9/11, events were being channelized in the direction that formed the excuse for the US intervention. The US, after spending around three trillion dollars on its war effort in Afghanistan, had to make a hasty withdrawal in August 2021.

We saw how the Afghan National Army melted in the face of the Taliban psychological onslaught and how the Taliban reached Kabul at the end of a whirlwind advance after the withdrawal of the US and Coalition forces. After the collapse of the Afghan Army and the flight of Ashraf Ghani from Kabul, the Taliban, as of now, are the rulers in Afghanistan.

Read more: The Renaissance of new Taliban leadership in Afghanistan

However, after remaining in a state of paralysis for almost a year, the retreating Americans have at least partially recovered from the shock of their sudden collapse and reorganized themselves to further destabilize Afghanistan and its neighborhood, Particularly Pakistan where they engineered a regime change through their Trojan horses. This brings us back to the non-kinetic dimension of warfare.

A hard reality

The US and its European allies control the global financial and banking systems through the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Asian Bank, and their commercial banks. FATF is another US instrument to coerce the non-pliant states into submission. The Third and the Fourth World despots, pseudo-democratic rulers, and the rest of the dirty rich squirrel away their looted wealth in the western banks.

The US and the EU can anytime squeeze the balls of these corrupt rulers by blocking their foreign bank accounts. That is why the Saudis, the Emiratis, the Sharifs, and the Zardaris (when in power) cannot dare annoy their western masters.

Americans do not despise the Taliban because of their Islamist ideology, or because the Taliban want to impose a theocratic rule in Afghanistan. True democratic rule, based on pluralistic traditions, is not found in the majority of Muslim countries. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the city-states dotting its eastern fringes are absolute monarchies where, at least in theory, Sharia laws are in vogue.

Iran, America’s nemesis, is not opposed by Uncle Sam because of its fundamentalist ideology – the US cooperates with Iran wherever it suits its strategic interests, like when it provided Iran with TOW anti-tank missiles through Israel at the height of Iran’s war with Saddam Husain’s Iraq. The US is against Iran because it believes that the Ayatollahs, even as a political stunt to perpetuate their rule, pose an existential threat to Israel.

Read more: Iran planning to attack Israel

And the US, if Joe Biden, for once, is telling the truth, did not go into Afghanistan for nation-building and establishing a democracy there. It invaded Afghanistan to use it as a marshaling area for the US expansion into the resource-rich Central Asian republics. According to Zbigniew Brezezinski (1998), Reagan’s national security advisor, the Eurasian continent is the home of the world’s second-largest oil reserves.

Unless Pakistan becomes a self-reliant country, independent of the dole-outs from the US-controlled financial institutions, and the financial lifelines from Saudi Arabia and UAE, it will keep slogging through the minefield of political instability.

Saleem Akhtar Malik is a Pakistan Army veteran who writes on national and international affairs, defense, military history, and military technology. He Tweets at @saleemakhtar53. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.