In what appears to be a paradigm shift in its decades-old policy, Pakistan Army has described homegrown militancy as the “biggest threat” to national security.
According to the new Army Doctrine, ongoing activities of Taliban militants in the restive tribal regions and unabated terrorist attacks on government installations in major cities are posing a real threat to Pakistan’s security. The Army Doctrine deals with operational preparedness and is reviewed on and off.
For decades, the army considered India as its No 1 enemy but growing extremism in the country compelled the military authorities to review its strategy.
A senior military official confirmed to The Express Tribune that a new chapter has been added to the Army Doctrine that would now also include threats posed by sub-conventional warfare.
“Pakistan’s armed forces were trained for conventional warfare but the current security situation necessitated the change,” said the official requesting anonymity. “Forces fighting on the front-line in the tribal regions are now being trained according to the requirements of sub-conventional warfare,” he added.
Preparation of the new doctrine started a year ago and has been adopted recently, according to the official.
When contacted, the chief military spokesperson confirmed the development but attempted to play down the hype. “Army prepares for all forms of threats. Sub-conventional threat is a reality and is a part of a threat matrix faced by our country. But it doesn’t mean that the conventional threat has receded,” Maj-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) told The Express Tribune.
According to the BBC, the new Army Doctrine talks about unidentified militant groups and their role to create unrest in the country. It also mentions that Pakistani militants have found refuge across the Durand Line in Afghanistan.
Quoting military officials, the new Army Doctrine blames “foreign proxies” for creating unrest in some parts of the country, although it does not name any country.
It is widely believed, however, that the army might be referring to India’s alleged role in creating disturbances in Balochistan, which has been plagued by a deadly separatist insurrection since 2004.
Military sources told the BBC that Pakistan could not preempt the US secret raid in Abbottabad in May 2011 because of a lack of threat perception from western borders (Afghanistan) and concentration of armed forces at eastern frontiers (India).
“It’s a fact that before the new army doctrine, India was Pakistan’s No 1 enemy. All military resources were focused on India,” Defence analyst Lt Gen (retd) Talat Masood told the BBC. “For the first time it has been realised that Pakistan faces the real threat from within – a threat which is concentrated in areas along western borders.”
The new strategy also stresses that the formulation of the defence policy was not the responsibility of the army alone. Other organs of the states will have to play their part. In an effort to elicit public support against violent extremism, the army is likely to make public its new doctrine.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 3rd, 2013.