The Army’s Pakistan

For the foreseeable future, the army’s vision of itself, its domestic role, and Pakistan’s strategic environment will be the most important factors shaping Pakistan’s identity. While the growing Islamic consciousness, ethnic and sub national rivalries, and maldeveloped political system are all important, time and again the army’s way has been Pakistan’s way. Pakistan is likely to remain a state in the possession of a uniformed bureaucracy even when the civilian governments are perched on the seat of power. Regardless of what may be desirable, the army will continue to set the limits on what is possible in Pakistan.

Every year throughout Pakistan, there is a search for approximately 320 young men between the ages of seventeen and twenty-two. The ones chosen succeed where almost 15,000 fail: they are to be cadets in the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) at Kakul. The selection process has several stages: an initial interview and written test narrows the field to about 7,000 hopefuls; a medical examination, a review by the Services Selection Board, and an intensive three-day examination and interview procedure then yield the successful candidates.
Of the 350 who entered the Pakistan Military Academy in 1979, approximately 275 graduated. Those who have not retired are among the army’s 900 brigadiers and full colonels. Of these about 70 will go on to become major generals in the fighting branches (about 20 major generals are in the technical arms), and no more than 20 of these will receive a third star-assuming the rank of lieutenant general and becoming one of Pakistan’s nine corps commanders or senior staff members. If President Musharraf retains his position as chief of the army staff until 2005, then his replacement could come from this group.
In terms of their ethnic and linguistic background, the 1979 cadre was about 70 percent Punjabi; the Northwest Frontier contributed 14 percent, Sindh 9 percent, Baluchistan 3 percent, and Azad Kashmir 1.3 percent. A small percentage of them were ‘Muhajirs’,  whose parents or grandparents had migrated from India and were, like General Musharraf, Urdu speakers. The percentages have not changed significantly over the years, although there have been slight increases from poorer provinces and districts. The heavy representation of Punjabis reflects the sheer size of that province, its military traditions, and its higher educational standards.
Armies are total institutions that mold the beliefs of their members for life. Thus the views and policies of most officers who have gone through the ‘system’- and in Pakistan the PMA is the only entry point into the system-are highly predictable. The collective views and assumptions of a particular generation of officers are formed by the curriculum of the PMA, the Staff College at Quetta, and (for the brigadiers) the National Defence College in Islamabad. These institutions provide a lens through which the officer views politics, strategic issues, neighbours, and even Pakistan’s future. The social and class background of these officers, their ethnic origins, and ideological predilections are also important in shaping their worldview, as is their allegiance to the corporate identity and interests of the army itself.
Significant events also influence the outlook of an officer corps, especially its younger members. The 1947 partition and the defeat by India in 1971 influenced two generations of officers in Pakistan. The ‘lessons’ of these events were passed along to new officers in the army’s school, clubs and officers’ messes. The present crop of brigadiers had their own formative experiences. Some were involved in the embarrassing Kargil mini war; all were caught up in the ten-month mobilization in response to the Indian buildup in 2001-02, and a few served on detachment to special service forces or with the Inter-Services Intelligence Directorate (ISI), working with irregular forces in Afghanistan and Kashmir. All were firsthand witnesses to ten years of wobbly democracy from 1989 to 1999, and almost to a man they were relieved when the army ousted Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a coup on October 12, 1999.
The promotion system ensures continuity in the social and ideological makeup of the army. Promotion beyond the rank of major is by merit; the system is supposed to winnow out the unfit and advance only the best officers, but the process does give personal, family, or other connections a chance to play their role, especially at the higher ranks. As in most bureaucracies, senior officers tend to select and promote younger officers who are like themselves. This not only ensures that the changing biography of Pakistan army officer corps can be traced over successive generations, it also displays remarkable continuity.

The British Generation
Three distinct groups of officers received their initial professional training in the British Indian Army and had served in combat by the time of partition. They constitute the long- departed British generation. Some had entered the army in peacetime and received their training at Sandhurst (in the United Kingdom) or (after 1932) the Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehra Dun. Ayub Khan belonged to the former group, and his friend and successor as commander- in – chief of the Pakistan army, Muhammed Musa, to the latter.
It is often assumed that the Sandhurst- trained officers were superior soldiers; however, there is substantial evidence to indicate that the IMA officers were better qualified and more professional in their outlook.
All prewar officers and wartime-entry officers have long since retired, although a few members of this generation, such as Lieutenant General Yaqub Khan have stayed on as influential advisers, key members of the Establishment. This generation of officers left an important legacy; they were responsible for founding and commanding the major training and educational facilities of the new Pakistan army, and for shaping the army itself.
Although World War II exerted a major influence on Muslim officers who were to form the Pakistan army’s core, the events immediately after the war had an even greater effect. In the aftermath of the decision to create Pakistan, many Muslim officers had to choose between Pakistan and India. For the group of able Muslim officers whose homes were in India (the Muhajirs), joining the Pakistan army meant moving their families, leaving ancestral homes and properties, and starting over in a new country as well as a new army. Why did they leave, and how did this decision affect their professional and political attitudes-and, in turn , succeeding generations of Pakistan army officers?
A central, recurrent motive for choosing Pakistan was a sense of injustice and fear in regard to the Hindu majority. Even though religion was barely discussed in the British Indian army messes, Hindu and Muslim officers got along well, remaining friends for years, the vast majority of Muslim officers came to the conclusion that they could lead a better life in an Islamic state. The experience of partition- the killing, the bloodletting, the random cruelty exceeded only by the organized variety- confirmed their worst suspicions.
These mostly secular officers had commanded Hindu troops of all castes and regions as well as Sikhs and Muslims (there were no all-Muslim regiments). However, partition taught them that no one could be trusted when communal passions raged, even their former Hindu and Sikh colleagues. The reluctance of India to deliver Pakistan’s allotted share of military stores, India’s occupation of Kashmir, and its forceful absorption of the princely state of Hyderabad and the Portuguese colonies, and many other examples of Indian duplicity- real or imagined- became part of the Pakistan army’s legacy. For Pakistani officers of all generations, this axiomatic distrust of India is as certain as is the existence of Pakistan. A common view, held by many Pakistani officers through the years, and taught at the Staff College, was that had Indian Hindus treated the Muslims fairly to begin with, there would have been no need for a Pakistani state.

The Pakistan army retained the basic structure of the old Indian army, and most of the Pakistani officers continued to see their British predecessors as professional role models. Because there were no qualified Muslim officers, initially the position of commander in chief and many other senior positions were filled by British officers who stayed on; this was especially the case in key training institutions. One of these, the Staff College (at Quetta), was intact, but a military academy had to be constructed, and Pakistan sought and received extensive assistance from several foreign countries, notably the United States, in creating a basic infrastructure.

Because Jinnah cared little for military matters- he told the first commander in chief of the Pakistan army, Sir Douglas Gracey, to run things together with Liaquat Ali Khan- and because the first two chiefs were British, the possibility of turning the Pakistan army into an ‘Islamic’ was never seriously considered. However, some young Pakistani officers admired the ‘liberation army’ model of Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA) and early on there was an aborted coup, the Rawalpindi Conspiracy of 1951, influenced by revolutionary ideas. At this stage, few had an interest in applying theories or doctrine to army organization or strategy, and the British ( and then American) advisers serving with the army frowned upon both a politically radical or ideologically motivated army.

The American Generation
After Pakistan joined the Baghdad Pact (later CENTO) in 1955 and developed close ties with Iran, Turkey, and the United States, a new generation of officers emerged. Three things set the ‘American generation’ apart from its predecessors and successors.
First, its members were fully exposed to the American military. Many of them received training in America or from Americans, whereas their predecessors had received most of their professional training from the British in India and Pakistan, subsequent generations of Pakistanis (with a few important exceptions) were entirely trained in Pakistan. The American connection led to a complete revision of the army’s structure, the addition of an American- equipped armoured division, four infantry divisions, one armoured brigade group, and support elements for two corps.
Along with American equipment and training came American military doctrine and approaches to problem solving. While the infantry remained unchanged, armoured, artillery, and other technical services and branches (especially the air force) were strongly influenced by American practices. In artillery alone, more than 200 Pakistani officers attended American schools between 1955 an 1958, and there was an important American contribution in the form of periodic visits by American nuclear experts to the Staff College in Quetta. As the official history of the college notes, a 1957 visit by an American nuclear-warfare team ‘proved most useful and resulted in modification and revision of the old syllabus’ to bring it into line with the ‘fresh data’ given by the team. Present-day Pakistani nuclear planning and doctrine is descended directly from this early exposure to Western nuclear strategizing; it very much resembles American thinking of the mid-1950s with its acceptance of first- use and the tactical use of nuclear weapons against on rushing conventional forces.
Another important contribution was American philosophy. After long emphasizing caution and the conservation of men and material, Pakistan was exposed to mechanization, the lavish use of ammunition, and an informal personal style. To be ‘modern’ was to emulate the Americans in their breezy, casual, but apparently effective ways. It took the Vietnam War to demonstrate that the American approach might not always work; this lesson, plus the virtual end of the U.S.-Pakistan military relationship by the early 1970s, led to a renewed search for a particularly Pakistani strategic and organizational style.
Second, officers of the post- independence generation had no adult experience with India and did not know many of their Indian counterparts-except when they met abroad at foreign training institutions or worked together in UN peacekeeping operations
Third, officers of the American generation had an exaggerated estimate of their own and Pakistan’s martial qualities, with some believing that one Pakistani soldier equaled ten or more Indians. This seriously distorted the army’s professionalism. The ‘martial races’ myth developed by the British in the nineteenth century, grew out of European theories that jumbled racial, climatic, cultural, and religious notions. The British used the idea of a militarily superior ‘race’ to keep Indians out of the officer corps and to avoid recruiting from many Indian castes and regions said to be non-martial and hence unacceptable for recruitment. Pakistan adopted it as a way of demonstrating to foreign supporters and to Pakistanis themselves that a small amount of assistance to Pakistan could offset the Indian behemoth. If one Pakistani equalled ten or twenty Hindu Indian soldiers, then Pakistan could overcome the disadvantages of its apparent size and resources, and, if necessary, the Pakistan army could challenge India.
Elevating the ‘martial races’ theory to the level of absolute truth had domestic implications for Pakistan politics and contributed to the neglect of other aspects of security, including technological innovation and inter service cooperation. The army’s intoxication with its own mythology, excessive confidence in its strategic attractiveness to outside powers, and lack of interest in technology contributed to the country’s permanent strategic inferiority, making it increasingly dependent upon other states even as they grew more unreliable.
A powerful Motivation Program amplified the army’s illusions to a wider audience, transforming normal public relations into indoctrination. This apparatus targeted the Pakistani population, India, and the outside world- particularly the United States- but it also influenced the military’s judgement of its own competence and raised civilian expectations to absurd heights. When the military did falter (1965), the public relations (PR) programs were intensified, but when the army was broken (in 1971), the PR system collapsed, only to be revived in modified form under Bhutto. It is still in existence, and recently General Musharraf’s former inter services public relations (ISPR) director, Major General Rashid Qureshi, spoke with greater authority than any civilian on a wide range of political, economic, and strategic issues- indeed, greater than any other ISPR predecessor.
The American contact also led Pakistan down new strategic byways. Influenced by the United States, Pakistan undertook a detailed study of guerrilla warfare and people’s war. The American objective was primarily to suppress such a war, but Pakistanis studied it in terms of launching a people’s war against India, or developing a people’s army as a second line of defense. A Special Forces unit was established in 1959 with American assistance and the professional military journals explored the concept of low- intensity conflict in considerable detail. Studies were made of Algeria, Yugoslavia, North Vietnam, and particularly China; several of them concluded that guerrilla warfare was a ‘strategic weapon,’ a ‘slow but sure and relatively inexpensive ‘ strategy that was ‘fast overshadowing regular warfare.’ Maoist military doctrine was particularly attractive to many Pakistani officers because of Pakistan’s close connection to China and that doctrine’s apparent relevance to Kashmir. The prerequisites for people’s war seemed to exist: a worthy cause; difficult terrain; a determined warlike people (the Pakistanis); a sympathetic local population (the Kashmiris); the availability of weapons an equipment; and ‘ a high degree of leadership and discipline to prevent (the guerrillas) from degenerating into banditry.’
Some of these tactics and strategies were employed in 1947 -48 and 1965, although without much impact. Their first significant implementation was in East Pakistan, when civil war broke out in 1970-71. There, irregular forces were raised among non Bengalis and some Bengalis who were pro-Pakistan (primarily militant religious groups). The result of their brutal tactics was the further alienation of Bengalis and international notoriety. Pakistani veterans of that conflict point out, however, that they were subject to acts of extreme cruelty, including the torture and execution of prisoners by Bengali guerrilla forces.
Pakistan’s next attempt at what has acquired the euphemistic name ‘special operations’ was the massive 1980-89 US-Pakistan effort to dislodge Kabul’s communist regime and force the departure of Soviet forces- or at least to make them pay a high price of occupying Afghanistan. This was very successful in purely military terms and emboldened the Pakistan army. Its officers were deeply involved in supporting the Afghan mujaheddin, providing them with logistics and training, and serving as the prime conduit for American, Chinese, and other weapons. In 1984 there was a small operation, eventually terminated, that provided support for Sikh separatists in India. In 1989, however, after a major rebellion in the Indian-administered parts of Kashmir, the Pakistani strategy of support for a people’s war-Indians calls it simple terrorism- had a major impact.

America’s on -again, off-again relations with Pakistan and its periodic flirtation with the hated India had a deep impact on this generation of Pakistani officers. They had no doubt about their enemies but were less certain about their friends. As realists, they were aware of the difficulties of alliance with the Americans; on a private level, however, many retained affection for the country that was so intimately involved with their professional and personal development. Pakistani officers even today replay for Americans what is taught in the military schools: that there had been a historical ‘friendship’ between the United States and Pakistan, and it was the Americans who had abandoned Islamabad. They dismiss as ‘compulsions of state’ Pakistan’s deceptive behaviour regarding its own nuclear program, recent revelations about the nuclear and missile links to North Korea, and Pakistan’s support for Afghanistan’s Taliban. Had the United States not abandoned Pakistan, they argue, such activities would not have been necessary. Increasingly, Pakistan’s problems are blamed on conspirators: the devious Indians, the liberal and Zionists of American politics, or their own politicians. There is a touch of paranoia in the army’s assessment of its relations with the outside world, although it cannot be denied that this is a paranoid state with real and powerful enemies.

The Pakistan Generation, 1972-82
The outstanding characteristic of those who joined the Pakistan army in the post-Bangladesh years was that they were the most purely ‘Pakistani’ of all. They were more representative of the wider society in class origin, had less exposure to American professional influence, and believed the United States had let Pakistan down. They joined the Army when its reputation and prestige had plummeted, and their professional careers and world outlook were shaped by the 1971 debacle.
The experience of 1965 had not been subjected to critical analysis, and this lapse may have contributed to the disaster of 1971, as did the army’s involvement in politics. After 1971 the authority of senior officers was no longer accepted without question,  being openly challenged on several dramatic occasions. The 1965-71 period came to be known as the ‘sawdust years’,  during which military honour and professionalism slipped away from the Pakistan army. The myth of the army’s invincibility was shaken in 1965 and shattered in 1971,and its corollary, the corrupt ineptitude of the Indian army, was no longer taken for granted.
When Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto became prime minister, he systematically pointed out the failings of the senior military leadership, ridiculing those responsible. His goal was to create in Pakistan a kind of professional but docile army like India’s by reducing the power and prestige of the army without reducing its fighting capabilities. Bhutto also emulated the Indians when he tried to build up a paramilitary force- the Federal Security Force- that would stand between the army and the police but also serve as a foil to the military if necessary. His secret nuclear program was also intended to balance the power of the army by giving Pakistan a new way of offsetting India’s military superiority, and the bomb program was run by civilians until Bhutto was overthrown i1977.
Bhutto’s reforms were welcomed. The Pakistan army knew that professionalism had slipped under Ayub and deteriorated under Yahya. One officer who focused on reprofesionalism was General Muhammad Zia uL- Haq, whose tenure as chief of the army staff brought the military back to power, but also saw reforms at all levels. Zia began a program of sending combat officers to universities in Pakistan for postgraduate higher education in such non-military subjects as history, psychology, and political science, as well as strategic studies. A number of officers went to foreign civilian institutions for training, often on an ad hoc basis, and at the new National Defence College (NDC). Pakistani officers have close contact with a number of foreign officers, most from the Middle East and Islamic world. The NDC still runs two courses, one is purely military, dealing with higher military strategy; the other, lasting for ten months, is designed to educate Pakistani civilian bureaucrats and officials and has a mixed civilian and military student body.
While the education provided to officers is generally comparable to that of many western military schools (the Staff College is reportedly computerized and paperless), its presentation of India remains defective. India’s strategic objectives are said to be fixed, rooted in communal attitudes and illusions of great- power status. The syllabus is often factually inaccurate, and instructors do not encourage debate or discussion on the subject. The analysis drives home one important point: Indian intentions are subject to rapid change; hence the Pakistan military planner must focus only on the already substantial (and growing) Indian capability and not on the fluid nature of Indian intentions. Pakistan does have a real security problem in relation to India, but the Staff College and the National Defence College offer their students a stereotyped, reductionist theory of Indian motives and strategy.
Zia’s long tenure as chief of the army staff and president inevitably shaped the officer corps. Some argued that a Zia generation became embedded in the army, and that it was socially more conservative, more ‘Islamic’ in its orientation, and not too concerned about the army’s role in politics. Furthermore, inasmuch as this generation’s chief foreign policy experience was the 1971 humiliation, it was seen as vengeful as well.  In India it is widely and incorrectly believed that from about this date onward, all cadets at the Pakistan Military Academy were required to take an oath swearing revenge against India for the loss of East Pakistan.

There is no strong evidence that Zia’s tenure created a distinct group in the army. However, his influence was important in three respects: his emphasis on Islam, his stress on irregular war or low- intensity conflict, and his acceleration of the nuclear program, which permanently altered South Asia’s strategic landscape.

Zia’s emphasis on Islam, in an already conservative society, encouraged Islamic zealotry in the army. Several senior officers of the post-Zia era blame him for damaging Pakistan, and some close to President Musharraf insist that they do not want to repeat Zia’s experiment. They do not question his personal sincerity, but they do point out that Zia opened the door to intolerant bigots and fanatics; during his spell as army commander a number of subordinates suddenly ‘got religion.’ A harmful legacy of the Zia years was the attempted coup in September 1995, led by Major General Zahir uL Islam Abbasi, who spoke publicly about the need to ‘Islamize’ both Pakistan and its army. He wrote in the Staff College’s professional journal of the importance of ‘Islamisation’ and resisting the domination of an aggressive, sinister India and other foreign, anti-Muslim states.

Abbasi ‘s actions prompted a much closer watch on ‘bearded’ officers and those suspected of religious zealotry were weeded out by being put in posts with little prospect of promotion to higher command. Even before that, Asif Nawaz Janjua, who had been army chief from August 1991 to January 1993, had slowly pushed back politicized Islam in the army and reasserted the tradition of making Islam a component of professionalism, not a separate and equal criterion for making policies and judging officers. This, however, may merely have driven the more committed and shrewder Islamicist underground. As Hasan Askari  Rizvi notes, Pakistan’s middle and junior level officers were the product of an era when ‘public display of Islamic orthodoxy and conservatism was an asset’ and even a method of career advancement.

Zia’s second major contribution was the revival and legitimization of irregular or covert warfare, launched on two fronts: the major covert war in Afghanistan, blessed by a wide range of states, including America, China, and many Islamic countries; and the limited support provided to Sikh separatists after 1984. The latter program diminished as the Indians reestablished control over the state of Punjab but the army revived support for Indian dissidents in the late 1980s when India lost control over large parts of Kashmir,

In addition, Zia pushed Pakistan’s nuclear program ahead, bringing it under army direction. This was to give Islamabad the ultimate deterrent against Indian conventional and nuclear threats and also allowed Pakistan to engage in more intensive low- level warfare against India; it also led the army to develop new nuclear and low-intensity warfare doctrines.

The Next Generation
The officers who will occupy top staff and command positions over the next several years have a different orientation toward society. Many come from the middle class and joined the army simply to improve their standard of living. Comparisons are not easy, but socially they resemble their Indian army counterparts. Neither army attracts many individuals from families of high social status, but both are seen as a vehicle for social mobility; in Pakistan’s case, the army is also seen as a path to social and political power, as it claims to be the country’s ultimate savior-a role that no Indian army officer would dare contemplate. Some of these officers tasted power during the Zia years; others have managed a variety of civilian institutions- from airports to Pakistan’s power supply. They consider themselves to be less well off, but no less deserving than their generational predecessors, and they appear to be as professionally competent.
This generation entered the army in the 1970s, during a period of great agitation in the universities and schools of Pakistan, and like the broader society they did not share the idealism of the first generation of officers. The army is now considered just another profession, and the ablest members of Pakistan’s elite, including graduates of the best public and private colleges head elsewhere, especially for opportunities that lead to an education or a career overseas. Nevertheless, a core of fine officers remains.
The opportunities open to this generation of officers are not plentiful as they would have been twenty years ago. Few Gulf armies need them for training missions, UN peacekeeping are rare prizes (many other countries, including Bangladesh, actively compete for these tasks), and in Hasan Askari Rizvi’s judgement, the military will have to maintain a strong reward and benefit system ‘to keep them quiet.’ Rizvi, a close observer of the army, notes that the distinction between the public and private domains is fast disappearing, as senior officers misuse official transport, manpower, regimental resources and facilities. For junior officers, there is greater latitude to do the same, and the incidents of disregard for civilian laws are increasing.
This Zia and post-Zia generations stand on the brink of political and strategic influence. As with previous generations, those who will get to the top will be promoted on the basis of merit, but also by the informal and subtle criteria established by senior officers who tend to favour younger candidates just like themselves. For the most part, extremists, including those who are blatant in their Islamist professions, are not moved up, nor do officers have the opportunity to acquire demagogic skills.
However interactions between the army and. civilians have greatly expanded in two areas: in the management of various civilian institutions, and in the always- present but increasingly blatant behind- the -scenes manipulation of politicians. The difficulty is whether the next generation of officers has imbibed the notion of the Army as a corporate entity. If the sense of corporateness should weaken, it will be easier for civilians to divide the army along ideological, class, or personal lines. It will also increase the risk of an ideological split within the officer corps.

By courtesy: The Idea of Pakistan by Stephen Philip Cohen, Brookings Institution Press, Washington DC, 2004

Islam changes everything

The coup of 5 July 1977 ushered in the longest period of military rule in Pakistan’s history. Even when it was withdrawn on 30 December 1985, Zia unlike Ayub retained his post as Chief of Army Staff* and continued to exert power over the civilian Government through the office of the President.** Indeed on 29 May 1988 he dismissed his hand-picked Prime Minister Muhammad Khan Junejo.

* This followed an amendment to Article 47 of the 1973 Constitution which ruled that the President could not hold any other office of profit.

** He assumed this office following the December 1984 referendum

Pakistan during the period 1977-88 was not only authoritarian in political structure; it also aspired to be an ideological state. The official discourse swept to one side the ambiguities of the freedom struggle,  because of the goal of an Islamic state was deemed to be its main basis. Jinnah, the secularist became Jinnah the upholder of Islam in such writings as Karam Hydri’s Millat Ka Pasban (The Nation’s Sentinel- Karachi, 1981), while the ‘ulama’ whose influence had been marginal in the creation of Pakistan were elevated to a vanguard role. By making a hegemonic Islamic ideology the pillar of the state, Zia sought to solve at a stroke the identity problems which had beset it since 1947. The enterprise failed, partly because of the persistence of regional counter narratives based on plural, linguistic and ethnic loyalties and histories. In 1985 the Sindh-Baluchistan-Pashtun Front under the leadership of Mumtaz Bhutto came together to advocate a confederation of Pakistan.*

Sindhi nationalists went a step further than confederalism and demanded total independence. Mir Ghaus Bakhsh Bizenjo, the Baluch leader of the Pakistan National Party (PNP), argued less radically for a ‘loose’ federation reflecting the existence of the four nationalities in Pakistan. Zia’s attempt at nation-building was also doomed because the state-sponsored Islamization opened up sectarian fissures within a far from monolithic Pakistani Islam.

* the four confederating states of Sindh, Baluchistan, Punjab and the Frontier would enter into a treaty to establish the Republic of Pakistan to which would be assigned the five subjects of defence, foreign affairs, currency, communications and interstate transportation.

Zia’s longevity in power thus rested ultimately not on a hegemonic Islamic discourse but on the skill with which he both wrong-footed opponents and managed senior military officers through rotation and fixed appointments. Their career opportunities were greatly expanded both within Pakistan and overseas through postings in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Libya, Oman and the UAE. The main welfare associations for ex-servicemen, the Fauji Foundation (Army), the Shaheen Foundation (Air Force) and the Bharia Foundation (Navy) all greatly expanded their operations during this era. Furthermore, the period of rapid economic growth during the 1980s also dampened threats to Zia’s power, although it was based more on the bounty of remittances from overseas workers than on economic policies. Significantly Pakistan’s long term problems of poor infrastructural development and weak domestic resource mobilization remained unsolved.

Finally and most important, Zia profited from the redrawing of the geopolitical map in West Asia in the wake of the overthrow of the pro-American Shah Muhammad Reza Pahlavi of Iran (1941-1979) and the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan on 28 December 1979. This later dramatic development which ushered in the Second Cold War followed the violent internecine conflict between the Parchami and Khalqi factions of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) of Aghanistan which had originally seized power in a coup in April 1978. Zia was transformed overnight from an international pariah to America’s front-line ally in the fight against communism.

Zia was in many ways Bhutto’s antithesis as well as his nemesis. While his predecessor was flamboyant, excitable and sophisticated, Zia was homespun, cautious and down-to-earth. Bhutto’s brilliance and charisma had been both his strength and undoing; Zia compensated for their absence through his meticulousness and most notably his native cunning. His other overriding characteristic was his cold and calculating ruthlessness. This streak was demonstrated most clearly in his dealings with the deposed Prime Minister before his execution.

Zia remains as controversial a figure in Pakistan politics as Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. Admirers such as Shahid Javed Burki have stressed his personal traits of humility, courtesy and piety. In the realm of public affairs, conservative Western scholars and their Pakistani counterparts have praised his bold Afghan policy* which contributed to the collapse of the Soviet Empire, his halting of the country’s moral decay and the economic progress which occurred during his decade of power. Between 1977-78 and 1985-86 for example Pakistan’s GNP increased by 76% and per capita income by 34%, but the economy also benefited in this period from overseas remittances of $25 billion.

* The US Secretary of State George Shultz praised Zia at the time of his funeral as ‘a defender of Pakistan’s freedom and independence and a steadfast champion of the Afghan cause’.

To his detractors Zia will always appear an intolerant and vindictive ruler who illegally hanged the country’s Prime Minister, cynically manipulated Islam and during the eleven and a half-years of his repressive rule opened the floodgates to drug trafficking* and the widespread ethnic and sectarian violence which are the hallmarks of the so-called ‘Kalashnikov culture’. Indeed by the time his protege Nawaz Sharif designated 1993 a year of jihad against drug addiction, one in every sixteen Pakistani males was an addict. In some jails the figure rose to one in ever five inmates. On one occasion in March 1986, Government attempts to halt poppy planting met with armed resistance led by a National Assembly member.

*According to the United Nations Drug Control Program report there were 1.5 million heroin addicts in Pakistan by the mid-1990s, over three- quarters of whom were under thirty; if unchecked this figure would rise to 2.5 million by the year 2000-The News (Islamabad), 3 rd December 1995.

There are a number of striking contrasts between Zia and Ayub. Pakistan’s first military ruler encouraged modernizing impulses and attached great importance to economic development. Zia eschewed Ayub’s Islamic modernism for his Deobandi personal piety and scriptural-ism. He had no interest in economics or development and was happy to delegate the management of the economy to such technocrats as Ghulam Ishaq Khan, Aftab Qazj and Vaseem Jaffsry. Despite his initial purge, Ayub’s regime remained highly dependent on the bureaucracy and never acquired political legitimacy. In contrast Zia inducted army officers into many civilian bureaucratic posts by means of the introduction of a military preference in the federal quota system, as well as in giving them lucrative assignments in the autonomous corporations*.   General Fazle Raziq for example became Chairman of the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), in the period 1980-85, no less than 96 Army officers entered the Central Superior Services on a permanent basis, while another 115 were on contracts. Until Muhammad Khan Junejo was sworn in as Prime Minister on 23 March 1985, all the powerful provincial governors had been military men.

* General Zahid Ali Akbar for example was head of the Water and Power Development Authority(WAPDA).

Zia unlike Ayub, bent both the politicians and the bureaucrats to his will. He retained much greater authority than his predecessor when he made the transition from military to civilian ruler. The Army remained the pillar of his regime* and while Ayub was hounded from office, Zia was firmly in the saddle at the time of hi death. His popularity with certain sections of the population was demonstrated by the huge crowd of mourners at his burial on 20 August 1988 at the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad.

* There were only isolated signs of disaffection most notably at the time of an alleged plot to overthrow the government in 1985. Seven officers, all junior ranks were convicted in July after their trial in camera before military courts.

Despite Zia’s desire for a break with the past-symbolized by his unavailing wish to change the celebration of independence from 14 August to 27 Ramadan* in the Islamic calendar- it is important, as with the preceding Bhutto era not to lose sight of the historical continuities. One of these was Punjab’s continued importance in national political life. If the province had been disturbed during the 1983 Movement for the Restoration of Democracy (MRD) agitation, the regime would have been severely threatened**. Large sections of the population profited both from military rule and the expansion of employment opportunities in the oil-rich Middle East. During the 1970s and ’80s half of all Pakistan’s migrants to the Gulf Region came from Punjab. In 1979 skilled workers sent remittances home of around Rs. 30,000 yearly. Thus while the Punjab’s Western-educated elite chafed under the social and political restrictions of the Zia regime, the lower middle class and the emerging industrial class provided a solid backbone of support. Many members of these classes came from Zia’s native East Punjab and were especially receptive to his Islamic and anti-Indian discourse. In addition there was all-round support for the regime’s receptivity to Punjabi interests, as seen for example in the 1983 Haleem Commission recommendations on the apportionment of Indus water shares on the basis of 37% each for Punjab and Sindh and 12% each for the Frontier and Baluchistan. Such patronage of Punjabi interests increased the antipathy of the smaller provinces to what the saw as the long-term ‘Punjabisation’ of Pakistan.

* in 1947 Independence Day coincided with 27 Ramadan in the Islamic lunar calendar, i.e. the day following laylatal-qadr, the night during which Muhammad received the first revelation. At the beginning of the month of fasting in 1978, Zia suggested a change in the future celebration of Independence Day.

* * Another reason why the Punjabis did not heed Nusrat Bhutto’s appeals to join the campaign was their traditional animosity towards India. Mrs. Gandhi’s statement supporting all the democratio movements in Pakistan created a bad impression.

An even more striking continuity was the interplay between domestic and international politics. Whether or not one agrees with the contention that a foreign hand wrenched power from Bhutto, it is undeniable that the longevity of Zia’s regime was linked with the entry of Soviet forces into neighboring Afghanistan. At this juncture, Pakistan’s relations with the United States were at a low ebb. The Carter Administration was strongly wedded to both human rights and nuclear non-proliferation, and on both counts Pakistan seemed unworthy of assistance. Under the terms of the Symington Agreement (Section 669 of the Foreign Assistance Act)*, economic and military aid was suspended in April 1979. Relations reached their nadir on 21 November 1980 when the American Embassy in Islamabad was attacked following rumours of the US involvement in an assault on the Holy Kabaa in Mecca. The rumours were personally inflamed by Zia during his bizarre cycling tour of neighboring Rawalpindi on the same day.

* this barred military aid to non-nuclear states which imported enrichment technology or equipment and whose nuclear installations were not subject to international safeguards.

Within weeks of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, Carter despatched his National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski to Pakistan. This was prelude to an offer of a $ 400 million economic and military aid package. Zia disdainfully rejected this as ‘peanuts’ but eagerly accepted the incoming Reagen Administration’s offer of $ 3.2 billion which was to be spread over a six- year period*. As during the 1950s the resulting American military and economic largesse bolstered the unelected institutions of state power to the detriment of democratic forces.

* this was followed up by a $4.02 billion program which was negotiated in 1987.

Reagen’s preoccupation with Pakistan’s status as a front-line state in the struggle against the ‘evil empire’ ensured that his administration did not raise too many embarrassing questions either on the nuclear front or on the human rights issue. Robert Wirsing among others has chronicled the mounting ‘scorecard’ of Pakistan’s violations of non-proliferation policy during this period, which included some spectacular smuggling of nuclear components vital for its nuclear enrichment capability*. On 17 December 1987 Arshad Parvez, a Canadian citizen of Pakistani origin was found guilty by a Philadelphia jury of seeking to supply Pakistan with sensitive materials for uranium enrichment. According to the Carnegie Task Force report on non-proliferation and South Asian security of July 1986, Pakistan had stockpiled sufficient material to make from one to four nuclear bombs annually. India at the same time was estimated to have sufficient plutonium-producing capacity to make from fifteen to thirty weapons annually.

* Under Zia the enrichment route was favored over reprocessing in the race to achieve a. Unclear weapon capability.

Early in January 1982, Amnesty International charged the Pakistan authorities with torture, imprisonment and other human right abuses. The public flogging of political prisoners being carried out by bare-chested wrestlers remains one of the starkest images of the martial law era*. The Pakistan Human Rights Society in August 1983 registered its protest against the flogging of women as an Islamic punishment. In one reported case, Lal Mai was lashed by a man in front of a 5,000-strong crowd at Liaqatpur, Bahawalpur, as a punishment for zina (adultery). Despite Congressional opposition, the Reagen White House turned a blind eye to both human rights and non-proliferation violations on the grounds of the Soviet threat. However, once this had lifted at the beginning of the 1990s, Congress was to strike back with a vengeance.

* Martial Law Regulation #48 of October 1979 invoked a maximum penalty of twenty- five lashes for taking part in political activities, all of which had been banned.

Zia faced the same problems of reconciling regional political and cultural aspirations with imperatives of nation-building as had all his predecessors. In his first televised speech he declared that ‘Pakistan which was created in the name of Islam, will continue survive only if it sticks to Islam. That is why I consider the introduction of an Islamic system as an essential prerequisite for the country.

Islam was however less effective in providing a national cohesive force than Zia anticipated. The state sponsored process of Islamization dramatically increased sectarian divisions not only between Sunnis and Shias over the issue of the 1979 zakat Ordinance but also between Deobandis and Barelvis. Sunni-Shia clashes in Karachi were no  longer confined to the traditional tension-filled month of Muharram and also intensified in violence. Riots between 22 February and 19 March 1983 claimed twelve lives. There were further serious clashes in October 1984. Disputes over the department of Auqaf’s management of mosques and shrines led to major confrontation between the Deobandia and Barelvis at the Badshahi Mosque in Labore on 2 May 1984. The greatest tension of all was between the state’s legalistic imposition of Islam and the humanist traditions of Sufism. This was particularly explosive in Sindh where Sufism had always been an integral component of regional cultural identity. Significantly the pirs of Sindh played a leading role in the MRD agitation of August and September 1983, 50,000 disciples of the Makhdum of Hala successfully blocked the national highway on one occasion.

Less serious but nevertheless highly suggestive of the different conceptions of Islam was the legal challenge by the sajjada nashin (custodian) of Baba Farid’s famous Chishti shrine in Pakpattan to the ban of pigeon-flying in Lahore early in 1981. This practice along with kite-flying, had been banned in the district under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code on the grounds that they violated the sanctity and privacy of women. Not only were these favorite Pakistani pastimes, but keeping the pigeons was associated with many great Sufi saints and was a familiar feature of the leading shrines. Following the challenge the authorities withdrew their ban.

The need for stability in the strategic region of Baluchistan during the Afghan war led Zia to distance himself from the sectarian conflict between the heterodox Zikri community and the ‘ulama.’ The Zikris who form a large proportion of the population of Makran, are the followers of Syed Muhammad  (b. 1443) whom they consider to be a Mahdi. They regard themselves as Muslims although their doctrines are heterodox*

*The Zikris possess no mosques or prescribed prayers. Their place of worship are known as Zikrana where they recite the remembrance of the various names of Allah. Their greatest affronts to the orthodox are the belief that Syed Muhammad Mahdi was the interpreter of the Quran, and the practice of haj at the Koh-e-Murad in the city of Turbat in Makran.

In their drive to implement the Shariat law the ‘ulama’ founded the Tehrik Khatm-e-Nabuat (Movement for the Finality of Prophethood) in Baluchistan in 1978. Their intention was to demand that the state should declare Zikris to be non-Muslims, like the Ahmadis earlier. Significantly standing aside from the issue, Zia lent credence to critics’ claims that his call for Islamization was just a cover for his undemocratic regime rather than a genuine desire.

Baluch and Pashtun political opposition to the centre was muted during the Zia era. The Chief Martial Law Administrator began a process of co-opting Baluch nationalists by releasing as many as 9,000 prisoners who had been incarcerated during the Bhutto period. As in Sindh, energies were increasingly turned inwards in growing ethnic clashes. Quetta for example saw escalating Baluch-Pashtun violence in October 1986. The immediate catalyst was a transportation dispute, but the longer term causes reflected the relative economic predominance of the Pashtuns. They prospered not only in Baluchistan but also in their native Frontier which experienced considerable economic development. The co-option of the Pashtun elite through the Army into national power was also a marked feature of this period. Along with the government’s support for the Afghan jihad It played a major part in damping down the Pushtunistan movement.

However, Sindh could not be reconciled. The province missed out on the prosperity brought by both government-sponsored development programs and the export of labour to the Gulf. Army rule increased the traditional hostility towards Punjabi domination. The sense of alienation was completed by Zia’s hanging of Pakistan’s first Sindhi Prime Minister. The strong sense of Sindhi identity which fueled the opposition’s struggle in 1983 can be glimpsed in such poems as Naz Hamayooni’s ‘Love for Homeland.’ Massive repression was required to crush the MRD agitations in Sukkur, Larkana, Jacobabad and Khairpur districts. The Sindh Governor was forced to admit that in the opening three weeks of th struggle, 1,999 people had been arrested, 189 killed and 126 injured.

Resistance took cultural and literary forms. Writers and poets like Rahmatullah Manjothi, Naseer Mirza, Tariq Alan and Adal Soomro challenged Zia’s ideological state. Attiya Dawood opposed the oppression of women in her writings. The words of the poet Manzoor Solangi were frequently chanted at MRD rallies: ‘Manban, chhapran, ghar ghar mein golioon, fouji police chaway dharial paya goliyun’ (There are bullets over homes and huts but the Army and th police say they are searching for dacoits).

Unlike the mass movement against Ayub in 1968-69 or against Bhutto in 1977, the 1983 agitation in Sindh was not just an affair of the urban middle class and workers. The rural population of such districts as Thatta, Dadu, Larkana and Sanghar were heavily involved. Leadership was provided by the PPP and the ‘peasant’ based Sindhi Awami Tehrik of Rasul. Bus Palejo. The rural insurrection was finally quelled following the deployment of three army divisions backed up with helicopter gunships.

The later 1980s saw the emergence within Sindh of a mohajir ethnic identity. It reflected in part the general ethnicisation of Pakistani politics in the wake of banning of party organizations. However, it also reflected the alienation of mohajirs from power at the centre by the Punjabi-Pashtun combine. It’s economic consequences were felt as Chiniotis, Arians and other Punjabi industrialists gained a march on their Memon and Khoja rivals through access to generous loans from government-controlled financial institutions.

By courtesy: Pakistan,  A Modern History by Ian Talbot, St. Martin’s Press New York, 1998


The September War and the Tashkent Declaration; The Kashmir Dispute; Operation Gibraltar in Kashmir 1965

The September War and the Tashkent Declaration

Kashmir lies at the heart of the long and bitter conflict between India and Pakistan. Both nations have invested immense stakes in this territory, the last unsolved problem of the partition of India. For Pakistan, the denial of self-determination to Muslims in a Muslim- majority region contiguous to West Punjab cut at the root of the ‘two nation theory.’ The absence of Kashmir in the Pakistan dominions was a constant reminder to Pakistanis that their nation was still incomplete. To accede to the absorption of Kashmir into India would, for Pakistan, cast ‘doubt upon the legitimacy and permanence of the national homeland.’ For India, apart from the enormous strategic and economic value of the province, ‘to concede the validity of the two-nation theory would be a denial of the secular basis of the Congress Movement and a threat to the Muslim minority remaining in India. India has thus asserted the finality of her sovereignty in Kashmir, gained by the accession of a Hindu Maharajah. Despite Nehru’s original commitment to self-determination for Kashmir, India has backed away from a plebiscite which, as Krishna Menon admitted, ‘we would lose . . .’ Pakistani diplomacy has kept the dispute alive before the U.N. and other international forums, so much so that perhaps only India believes the problem is finally settled. In 1962 and 1964 Pakistan mounted major diplomatic offensives in the U.N. Security Council on the Kashmir problem, the latter personally led. by Z.A. Bhutto, but in neither case were any gains made in moving the dispute away from the stalemate. It is difficult to exaggerate the intensity of Pakistan’s sense of grievance on Kashmir, its belief in the justice of its cause, or its frustration at the failure of diplomatic methods to secure self-determination for Kashmir.
Pakistan had, in the past, considered and employed other than diplomatic methods in the Kashmir dispute, but these efforts had either been choked off by India’s effective intelligence network in Kashmir, or fallen afoul of the internal political situation in that province. The idea of supporting an insurrection in the Valley of Kashmir had been urged as early as 1949 by Major-General Akbar Khan, the commander of Pakistani forces in the 1948 hostilities in Kashmir.
In the early 1960s a number of factors began to converge that renewed the attractiveness of promoting an insurrection in and around the city of Srinagar. The first of these factors was the growth of civil unrest there and the resulting perception in Pakistan that the social and political conditions might now be ripe for a violent uprising. This unrest, having found a negative focus in the October 1963 announcement of constitutional moves to integrate Kashmir more fully into the Indian Union, exploded into major rioting when a relic of Prophet Muhammad was reported stolen from the Hazratbal Shrine near Srinagar in late 1963. Demands for a plebiscite and union with Pakistan were openly voiced during these disturbances. The release of Sheikh Abdullah, the ‘Lion of Kashmir’ and his dispatch by Nehru to negotiate a settlement of the Kashmir question with Ayub contained the unrest for a time. But these negotiations were hardly underway when they were cut off by the death of Nehru in May 1964. Kashmir suffered another period of disturbances and police firings in January 1965, after the post-Nehru leadership went ahead with th constitutional change.
The second factor in Pakistani calculations was the blossoming China-Pakistan relationship. During Chou En lai’ s visit to Pakistan in February 1964, China heretofore neutral on Kashmir, openly sided with Pakistan’s  position. We do not know what other, if any, agreements or understandings might have been arrived at on this occasion or later during Ayub Khan’s trip to Peking in May 1965. China, it seems clear, stood to make important strategic gains in Pakistan held Kashmir, particularly in the vital Aksai Chin area where it might be assumed Pakistan would not contest China’s claim. For its part, Pakistan might well have believed that, should it gain physical control of the Valley of Kashmir by some of combination of internal insurrection and military action , China would not permit any future Indian attempt to reverse such a fait accompli.
The third aspect that must have concerned Pakistan’s leaders was the situation in India. Again, from Pakistan’s point of view, the indications were favourable. India, at the death of Nehru, appeared to be on the verge of serious regional and linguistic strains, prompting some to speculate on the future ‘balkanization’ of India. One of the latter was Z.A. Bhutto, who, about this time, asked: ‘How long will the memory of a dead Nehru, inspire his countrymen to keep alive a polyglot India, that vast land of mysterious and frightening contradictions, darned together by the finest threads?’ The post Nehru leadership was seen as weak, divided by party factionalism and facing severe economic problems. Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, lacking the immense authority and political acumen of his illustrious predecessor, impressed Ayub as a small, ‘inconsequential fellow who could not be expected to meet the challenge of a crisis.’
Fourthly, in Pakistan the 1965 elections had ‘illuminated many of the mistakes and venalities of Ayub Khan’s government,’ and ‘greatly undermined, if not wholly discredited,’ him as a national leader. Though he won the election-with considerable help from the police and administration-Ayub ‘needed a spectacular success of some sort, and events in Kashmir in 1965 suggested that he might be able to gain it by reopening the issue through a localized military operation.’
Finally there were military considerations. By the early 1960s, having been reorganized, rearmed and retrained along the Korean War models, the Pakistani armed forces stood at the peak of their combat strength. In contrast, the Indian Army was still essentially a World War II force, having yet to complete the extensive reorganization and major build up begun after the debacle of 1962. The fact that Pakistan’s armoured forces were believed quantitatively equal and qualitatively superior to India’s, gave Pakistan’s officers the sense that they possessed the decisive breakthrough punch in a war with India. But, this was a temporary advantage for Pakistan and would disappear as India absorbed her new weaponry and completed training several new mountain divisions, which could be used in Kashmir as well as along the Sino-Indian boundary.
Optimistic Pakistani assessments of the relative military capabilities of India and Pakistan seemed to be confirmed in the Rann of Kutch hostilities in the spring of 1965. Begun in clashes between border police over disputed territory in February, the fighting escalated to brigade-sized actions between regular army units in April. Pakistani forces clearly bested their Indian counterparts in most of the actions and by late April Pakistan’s 8th Division under Major-General Tikka Khan was poised to defeat a comparable Indian force in the northern Rann. At this point, Prime Minister Shastri, under the most intense domestic pressure, told Lok Sahba that India would open hostilities on a battlefield more advantageous to itself, should Pakistan persist in advance in the Rann. At this time also, India’s divisions in the Punjab were gathered into offensive formations and her armoured division was ordered from the peace-time base at Jhansi to Jullundur. In the Rann, much against the urgings of his Foreign Minister, Ayub halted the Pakistani advance and, after a lull, permitted the dispute to go to negotiation and eventually international arbitration.
In the light of the September War, both sides looked back at the Rann hostilities as a probing action to test the other’s military and political reactions, and as a kind of proxy war for Kashmir. Inside the Government of Pakistan, Bhutto led a confrontationist group that pressed for a clear victory in the Rann in the belief that such a defeat would limit india’s military responses in the coming Kashmir conflict. As he later argued:
. . . the restraint exercised in not pressing these military advantages encouraged the Indians to believe that Pakistan would refrain from military action in retaliation to India’s plan to annex Jammu and Kashmir. At the same time, realizing that there would come an end to Pakistan’s restraint . . ., India took the precaution of simultaneously attacking Lahore to foreclose the Kashmir issue by the use of force . . . if Pakistan had taken advantage of its military successes in the Rann of Kutch . . .Indian Army would have regained her senses and not participated in another conflict only five months later.
To any neutral observer, however, these were not the lessons of the Rann hostilities. India always made clear its intention of attacking across the Punjab border if Pakistan made any military move against her vulnerable supply line ( the Jammu-Srinagar-Leh Road) into Kashmir. Pakistani planners among whom Bhutto had a pivotal role, evidently discounted such warnings and concluded that India would not risk an attack across a settled international boundary in response to conflict in a disputed region. On 6 September 1965, when India opened the Lahore front in reaction to Pakistan’s armoured thrust toward Chhamb in Jammu, Lahore was virtually undefended and managed to avoid capture largely because the Indian commander fearing a trap, failed to follow up his initial success. The other lesson of the Rann was that the weak Shastri Government was vulnerable to jingoistic public opinion and, even against its better judgment, might be forced to respond with massive force in the event an anticipated defeat in Kashmir or elsewhere. Shastri had expended virtually all of his political capital in trying to keep the Rann conflict limited and localized. When fighting erupted in Kashmir several months later, he had no option military or political, but to seek a wider war.
Bhutto’s comments on the Rann hostilities made when he was in the political wilderness, are shrewdly designed to to bolster his own activist role in the September War and to separate himself, as early as possible in the sequence of events from the overly cautious decisions that ended in Tashkent. There is little question that Z.A. Bhutto had the leading part in planning Pakistan ‘forward policy’ in Kashmir, indeed some have maintained it was he who revived Akbar Khan’s idea for an insurrection in the Valley of Kashmir. The policy envisioned the use of ‘controlled military power to produce political changes in India’s position on Kashmir, since all the diplomatic methods had failed. Central to the forward policy group’s plan was the internal insurrection, to be set off by para-military forces trained and armed by Pakistan and given political direction by radio station purporting to be broadcasting from liberated territory inside Indian-held Kashmir. Azad Kashmir and regular Pakistan forces would stand by to assist the insurrectionists, either by diversionary attacks along the cease- fire line (1948) or by moves against strategic points, and be prepared to exploit any major opportunities that developed. Certainly, the forward policy planners were prepared to accept the risk of a wider war with India because, even then, Pakistan’s minimal objective of getting serious negotiations underway on a plebiscite could still, it was calculated, be forced by international pressure and by Pakistan’s projected battlefield success. For the most part, the forward policy group believed India would confine its military response to Kashmir. In such an event, should all else go well for Pakistan, Kashmir could possibly be physically wrested from India.
In the spring of 1964, reportedly after Chou En-Lai’s visit, the forward policy planning was begun. This was kept within a small group of political (Bhutto), civil and military officials. Decisions were made without the customary practice of war gaming by adversary group of staff officers, a lapse Ayub Khan would later deeply regret. The first para-military units were formed in the fall of that year, with a projected two-year training period for complete readiness. The disturbances in Kashmir of January 1965 encouraged the planners, Bhutto in the main, to advance the operational timetable by a full year, much to the dismay of the general officer in charge of para-military training, who believed his men were yet too few and inadequately prepared. In early August, the first para-military mujahids ( freedom fighters) were sent to Kashmir- often, as it turned out, into the hands of Indian intelligence units. Serious political disturbances were reported from Srinagar in August, and later in October, but these evidently did not ‘take off’ into the Algerian type of sustained insurrection so crucial to the forward policy. Clashes along the cease-fire line increased in numbers and intensity, throughout August as Pakistan and India competed for advantageous positions along the infiltration routes. In September the conflict escalated rapidly. An armoured thurst by Pakistan toward Chhamb and Akhnur threatened the vital supply lines to Punch and Srinagar and was Indian aircraft. On 6 September, India generalized the conflict by attacking towards Lahore and Sialkot. India’s main armoured thrust was broken in the Battle of Chawinda, while Pakkistan’s vaunted armoured, slowed on ground flooded by breached canals, was mauled near Khem Karan by prepared anti-tank defenses. Thereafter, with neither side holding an hope of forcing the other to capitulate, the conflict settled into a war of skirmishing and limited assaults to gain territorial advantage. The generalized hostilities lasted seventeen days and all but exhausted the arsenals of both nations. Both sides made exaggerated claims, but most neutral observers agree the war was a draw.
On the diplomatic front, Pakistan diplomacy all but succeeded in isolating India. Turkey, Iran, and Indonesia provided substantial diplomatic and some logistical aid. Among the major powers, however, it was not the United States, Pakistan’s ally, that came to her aid, but China. On 8 September while the US was declaring its neutrality and cutting off all military supplies to both belligerents, China was obliquely , injecting itself into the dispute by formally protesting ‘successive violations of China’s territory and sovereignty by Indian troops,’ and by linking this ‘aggression’ with that against Pakistan. Bhutto would later tell Pakistan’s National Assembly that China’s veiled threat to take action on the Sikkim border near East Pakistan kept the eastern province free from Indian attack. On 17 September, China turned its protest into a three-day ultimatum, demanding the dismantling of Indian military structures on the Chinese side of th China-Sikkim border. The threat of Chinese military intervention though interpreted as a ploy by India, invigorated US and Soviet efforts to get a standstill cease-fire resolution in the Security Council. This was accomplished on 20 September.
In the diplomatic maneuvering to end the fighting, ‘Pakistan could win nothing from the war . . .unless she could attach the strongest possible political qualifications to a ceasefire.’ In mid-September President Ayub represented that a ‘purposeful ceasefire’ must provide for a self- executing arrangement for the final settlement of the Kashmir dispute which was the ‘root cause’ of the Indo-Pakistani conflict. India on the other hand, had the advantage in the maneuvering in that ‘its minimum requirements was an unconditional, non-political ceasefire which restored the status-quo ante.’ U.N. efforts tended to coincide with India’s requirements and Pakistan was extremely disappointed that none of the U. N. resolutions on the conflict ‘contained any promise that an effort would be made to solve the Kashmir problem in terms of the past resolutions of the United Nations. In the end, much to the surprise of its supporters, Pakistan accepted a standstill ceasefire, based on the resolution of 20 September which gave no promise of any real settlement of the Kashmir question. Bhutto arrived in New York to convey Pakistan’s acceptance on 22 September.

It was by no means a satisfied Bhutto who reached the U.N. As he later wrote, ‘Serious differences arose between me and the President during and after the 1965 war and subsequently at Tashkent.’ The forward policy group, along with a younger group of young army officers, had opposed the ceasefire and sought to continue the war with the Chinese material aid proffered during Ayub’s secret wartime trip to Peking. China’s renewal of the ultimatum to India on 19 September appears designed to bolster the Bhutto group within the counsels of the Pakistan Government. Ayub, however, still very much the master of the internal situation ( though there were rumours of a possible coup attempt), was under intense Anglo-American pressure to agree to the ceasefire. He was also well aware that the resolution of 20 September could be ‘read as a joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. warning to China not to widen the war by joining Pakistan.’ Moreover, the Ayub Regime, with its narrow political base, could not afford a drawn-out war and the mass politicization it would inevitably bring. For the Bhutto group, these considerations were not crucial. They viewed mass politicization not only as inevitable, but as a future political opportunity. They were particular angered by Ayub’s decision to accept a cease-fire without preconditions on Kashmir, believing that thereby Pakistan had thrown away its strongest card. They argued against accepting the offer of Soviet mediation and were bitterly critical of the Tashkent Declaration, which effectively restored the status-quo ante and meant that Pakistan had gained nothing from the war. With this result the forward policy was in shambles and a discouraged Bhutto ‘offered my resignation three times, once before the signing of the Declaration and twice after it, but was told that my leaving office would amounts desertion at a time when Pakistan was in the throes of a serious crisis and foreign troops were on our soil, and that solidarity was essential in the hour of crisis.’
The events of 1965 effectively ended the bond of trust between Ayub Khan and his Foreign Minister. Ayub believed he had been ‘greatly misled’ by the forward policy group and the Foreign Ministry came under severe criticism for its ‘grand miscalculation.’ Bhutto and Aziz Ahmad, then foreign secretary, and later Foreign Minister in the Bhutto Regime, it was felt would have to be removed once the situation stabilized. Bhutto’s removal was supported by the CSP moguls, Ayub’s ‘in- house’ intellectuals and his circle in the army. Prominent in this grouping was Altaf Gauhar, CSP, who would replace Bhutto in Ayub’s inner circle and who was thought to have ambitions to be Ayub’s successor. According to one account, Ayub conveyed this decision to his Foreign Minister at Larkana in February 1966, after which Bhutto supported by sections in the Army, made several unsuccessful attempts to have Ayub change his mind. For his part, a disillusioned Bhutto felt there had been no ‘grand miscalculation’ but an excessive ‘timidity’ on the part of Ayub in not pressing the conflict over Kashmir to a point of clear advantage for Pakistan. At Tashkent, moreover, Ayub had ‘unnecessarily capitulated’ national interests to international pressure. The President, as Bhutto observed to this writer,

was a master of half measures. He didn’t follow through on policies. He would start something at breakfast, and change his mind at dinner. In internal affairs this was all right, but it’s consequences were too severe in our foreign affairs.

Bhutto’s political position after Tashkent became extremely delicate, particularly after his opposition to the Declaration became public knowledge. Supremely conscious of the fact that he stood out as a politician in cabinet of technocrats, Bhutto was determined not to lose politically from the war. As early as in the spring of 1965, he had intimidated to a political confidant of the events shaping up in Kashmir and seemed to feel he could not lose from the situation:

If my policy wins in Kashmir, I will be respected more than Ayub Khan, if we lose, Ayub Khan and the army will be disgraced and I will emerge as the next man.’

Things did not turn out in exactly this fashion. The prestige of the armed forces was greatly enhanced by the war, which the public believed Pakistan had won. The war was the beginning of the end for Ayub Khan, though it would take several years for the political and economic consequences of the conflict, and the loss of the army’s confidence, to build up into his overthrow. For Bhutto, if the war did not bring him to power as the ‘next man’ it did give him an important base of support in the army, as well as the issue of Tashkent, which he would use to build a credible opposition.
During the month after Tashkent, Bhutto entered a period of political maneuver, both within and without the Government. He understood the depth of public shock and disillusionment with the diplomatic outcome of the war. Disbelief and riots had greeted both the cease-fire and the Tashkent Declaration in Lahore an Karachi. Unlike most of his colleagues, Bhutto had always maintained some friendly contacts with opposition leaders and appears to have had a hand from behind the scenes, in encouraging them to form an anti-Tashkent front of opposition parties. According to Malik Ghulam Jilani Khan, then President of the West Pakistan Awami League, Bhutto contacted him, and told him the cease-fire had been unnecessary-the army had been advancing and help was coming from China, – and that Tashkent had been a sell out to India. At this time, also, ‘he confided that there were secret clauses signed at Tashkent, and we believed him.’ Jilani is also adamant that he had Bhutto’s promise to join a front of opposition parties: ‘You arrange it and I’ll tender my resignation and join you.’ Jilani was a key figure in organizing a national conference of opposition parties, which met in Lahore on 5 and 6 of February 1966 in an effort to organize an anti-Tashkent front. Along with the Council Muslim League, the West Pakistan Awami League proposed the launching of a civil disobedience campaign to gain the abrogation of the Tashkent Declaration, but these proposals were rejected by the more conservative Islamic parties. After a feeble resolution on Tashkent, the conference broke up over the ‘Six Points’ demand of the East Pakistan Awami League, put, for the first time in a national forum, by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. Not surprisingly, Bhutto made no appearance.
On the question of his leaving the cabinet, Bhutto appears to have been somewhat ambivalent. Few politicians in Pakistan have willingly given up political position, for, to do so puts one outside the system of privilege and protection, results in pressure to join opposition forces, and usually thereby brings one into an antagonistic relationship with the state organs. Bhutto had not always agreed with the President’s decisions in the past-on his handling of the 1962 student demonstrations and on the concentration of industrial wealth in a few families. On these issues, out of ‘good faith’ and as a ‘responsible cabinet member,’ he put his views to Ayub Khan. Of his service in the Ayub’s Government, Bhutto noted:

At this time there was no political process outside the government system . . . Under the Basic Democracies system there were no other productive political avenues to which one could turn. I though I could do better by being in th Government.I was successful to some extent.

Nonetheless, after the September War, his differences with the President ‘assumed a different complexion’ and he began to ‘actively oppose’ Ayub’s foreign policy decisions inside the Government. As early as the 22 September 1965 Security Council meeting, he was aware that this opposition, and the expected public reaction to the cease-fire might require him to leave the cabinet. In the first weeks after the Tashkent Declaration of 10 January 1966, Bhutto was close to forcing his resignation, but Ayub, who was not about to give the students the leader who could impart momentum to the anti-Tashkent disturbances, was adamant that Bhutto stay on. It is unlikely that the President was aware, through the domestic intelligence services, of Bhutto’s contacts at this time with the opposition. It was in late January that the shooting incident occurred outside the home of Malik Ghulam Jilani Khan in Gulberg (Lahore), in which a prominent journalist, Zamir Qureshi was killed while standing in the dust beside two vocal opponents of the Regime, Mir Baqi Baloch and the aforementioned Jilani. Though this murder was never ‘solved,’ it was carried out much in the Kalabagh style and was interpreted b Jilani, among others, as the kind of message Bhutto would understand.

Insofar as his public behavior was concerned, Bhutto retired to Larkana immediately after Tashkent. Here, he issued two press statements which ostensibly supported the Tashkent Declaration, but which contained enough ambiguous language to be seen as a form of subtle criticism of Ayub’s policies. The second of this statement coming after the suppression of the disturbances and the failure of the opposition conference, was critical of the opposition leaders and stressed the need for a non-partisan foreign policy. Some have seen this as an indication that Bhutto now saw the wisdom of remaining in the cabinet and of working to reinsure himself with Ayub Khan. Even if this is the case, Bhutto was still not happy with Tashkent. On 16 March 1966, when he spoke in support of Tashkent in the National Assembly, he began by pointedly noting the Declaration was ‘a declaration of intent’ to settle outstanding Indo-Pakistan disputes, including Kashmir, not ‘a contractual obligation’ to do these things.
Whether or not Bhutto made efforts to keep his post, Ayub Khan, still very much in charge of his government, was determined upon his eventual removal. The. first public sign that Bhutto had fallen from favour came in April when he was removed as Secretary-General of the Convention Muslim League. This occurred after Bhutto had advocated-policy of debate and negotiations with the Six Points Movement in East Pakistan in direct opposition to Ayub’s hard line approach. This clash, which took place at the CVML meetings in Dhaka, further strained relation between th two men. Ayub’s policy had wider ramifications. His threat to ‘use the language of weapons’ in East Pakistan was widely interpreted as an attempt to distract West Pakistan from Tashkent. Another element in Bhutto’s removal as Secretary-General was the re-organization of the CVML, just getting started under a new party constitution. Many of those around the President had no desire to see Bhutto retained in a position from which he could turn the government party into his own power base.
Some dispute had arisen in Pakistani political circles over the circumstances of Bhutto’s departure from the Ayub’s cabinet. His detractors have stressed that he was dropped even as he sought to cling to power; his supporters assert that he left the government on an issue of principle. This is a conflict of emphasis, rather than of fact, as there is truth in both views. According to Bhutto’s version of events, he and Ayub had their last meeting on 16 June. After declining the blandishments of an ambassadorship and an industrial permit, Bhutto claims he was told to keep out of politics and warned by Ayub ‘that if I incurred his enmity, he would ‘follow me to the grave.’ On his refusal to be intimidated-‘my decision to take part in politics would be influenced by national interest and not by threats’-Bhutto maintains the meeting ended almost amicably and Ayub suggested a further discussion when Bhutto returned from his forthcoming private trip to Mecca and Europe. We do not have Ayub’s version of this meeting, though he did later deny ever having threatened Bhutto. On 18 June 1966, the public was informed that the Foreign Minister had been granted a two months leave ‘for reasons of health’ and that the President was assuming the Foreign Affairs portfolio. With this announcement, which came after several weeks of rumours about Bhutto’s impending resignation, few had any doubts that Bhutto and Ayub had come to a final parting of the ways.

Motivations in political disputes can often be complex. There is little question that Ayub and Bhutto had come to hold fundamentally opposite views on the course of Pakistan’s foreign policy and that in the normal course of things Bhutto should have resigned, perhaps earlier than he did. It is possible that more than foreign policy matters were involved, that Bhutto had come to doubt the fulfillment of his ultimate political ambitions if he stayed in the Regime. For some years he had been regarded as the most obvious successor to Ayub Khan, but in the aftermath of the war and Tashkent, his influence in the Cabinet and at the President’s House had ebbed rapidly. Speaking at Khairpur (Sindh) on 19 May 1970, Bhutto is reported to have said that he resigned when he learned that President Ayub had decided to bring his own son in as the next President of Pakistan. This report which does not seem to have been publicly denied by Bhutto, puts another angle on Bhutto’s resignation. It suggests that the Foreign Minister left the Regime when he saw his own inside track to the presidency being blocked. This does not really surprise one, nor does it necessarily conflict with other reasons, such as the conflict over policy. What it does do is to weaken the claims of Bhutto partisans that the Foreign Minister resigned purely on matters of principle, but then, in politics, one always had to be skeptical of claims to purity.

Conclusion: We have delved into Pakistan’s foreign affairs during the Ayub period because foreign and domestic affairs have never been far apart in the perceptions of most Pakistanis, including Bhutto. Indeed, the degree to which educated Pakistanis begin with international power politics in order to explain domestic policies takes the foreign observer by some surprise. Though this kind of approach is more prevalent on the left, it does indicate how much developing nations feel the pressures of international politics and the dominance of the super powers. What prior tendencies in this direction may have existed were enormously enhanced by the September War and its diplomatic outcome, in which, most Pakistanis fervently believe, great power intervention deprived them of the diplomatic fruits of their legitimate military victory. Among the educated and the common man, the prestige of both the Soviet Union and the United States sank out of sight, while that of China, the only major power to aid Pakistan in any way, rose to dizzying heights. The Soviet Union was able to recoup some of its influence- it had never been great in Pakistan- through limited arms aid in 1967 and 1968. Relations between the United States and Pakistan, improved during the last two years of Ayub’s administration and, at the official level, warmed considerably after President Yahya Khan served as an intermediary between the United States and China to help set up Kissinger’s breakthrough trip to Peking on 9 June 1971. But for more than a decade after the September War, the United States was the particular villain of the post-Tashkent generation in Pakistan.

Writers an spokesmen on the left skillfully used the Vietnam War and the impact of US aid policies on Pakistan’s domestic social and political structures to interweave anti-American themes almost indelibly into the consciousness of the newly politicized generation and the Pakistan People’s Party would be its first political home.

It is important to note that Bhutto came to domestic politics by way of foreign affairs. His experiences in the international arena deeply affected his perceptions of Pakistan’s domestic politics. It is certainly of interest that both the Chairman and the first Secretary-General of the Pakistan People’ Party (Z.A. Bhutto and J.A. Rahim) were men whose careers thus far had been spent in foreign affairs. Bhutto’s concept of limited or partial sovereignty was not confined only to the sphere of power politics, but included the area of international trade and aid relationships. Here, Bhutto early defined himself as an economic nationalist and proponent of ‘third world’ perspectives. He was sceptical of the value of foreign aid, particularly on the terms given by the western powers, asking the National Assembly in late 1962: ‘What is he good of economic or any other aid if Pakistan’s sovereignty is to be bartered away in the bargain?’ Once he was out of the Government, Bhutto’s criticism of foreign aid became more radical and he began to insist that the Aid- to-Pakistan Consortium be dismantled and the Government negotiate bilateral aid and trade agreements. He also began to note the domestic impact of aid- it was a tool to build up a indigenous capitalist class in Pakistan that would be subservient to outside interests and it burdened- indeed, enslaved- the nation with huge debts.
These perspectives linked Bhutto with important domestic constituencies and social groups, including elements of the bureaucracy, that had begun to question the whole system of aid at a time when aid inputs had begun to decline and the problem of debt servicing assume major proportions. One project tha aroused major criticism on the left was that of the huge Mangla Dam Project, a multi- purpose facility ( flood control, irrigation, and hydro- electricity) built between 1962 and 1967 at a cost of about Rs 400 cores on the Jhelum River in Punjab. It was largely financed through foreign loans and built by foreign contractors, who employed hundreds of foreign technicians and engineers. This required the creation of a small, temporary foreign enclave at Mangla with the overflow o foreign residents from this and other projects being absorbed by major cities like Rawalpindi and Lahore. Foreign residents became a significant and highly visible element in Lahore. Their numbers put pressure on the availability of housing and, more importantly, their demands were said to have had a distinct impact on food prices. It is not difficult to see how resentment would build up over these issues, particularly when many in the university and media communities pointed out that Pakistanis were really paying for the high salaries and expensive life styles of foreign experts. The critics of this project asked why Pakistan could no follow labour-intensive rather than capital-intensive planning models. Mangla Dam, he insisted, could have been built for a quarter of the cost by using the Chinese method of mass labour, rather than expensive earth-moving machinery, and by employing more Pakistani engineers, among whom there was a serious problem of unemployment. At the very least, this would have put wages into the pockets of many Pakistanis, rather than a few foreigners. They also insisted that the benefits of the Dam had been oversold to the Pakistani public, that the promised industrial development has not occurred and that Pakistan would be repaying the Mangla Dam loans for the next forty years, rather than the ten years originally estimated.

Certainly Bhutto agreed with most of these suppositions. It is interesting that engineers would organize as an interest group in the anti-Ayub Movement of November 1968 to March 1969, and that they would be an early entrant group in the Pakistan People’s Party. One of the most important founder members of the PPP would be Mubashar Hasan, a civil engineer with a Ph.D from Iowa State University. He was a strong voice for third world perspectives in the party and later in the PPP Government, where he served a Central Finance Minster. He supported Bhutto’s efforts to make Pakistan a leading nation in the Group of 77 and, at one point, delivered a widely acclaimed speech at the United Nations which demanded a total restructuring of world trade and aid relationships.

By courtesy: The Pakistan People’s Party by Philip E. Jones, Oxford University Press, Oxford, New York, 2003


 The Kashmir Dispute


The Kashmir dispute has bedevilled Pakistan-India relations for over five decades and no end appears in sight. Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan once, in 1948, said that he will not give up our struggle for Kashmir even if it takes ten to fifteen years. It has now taken us fifty-six years, and the dispute has not been settled. It would be well to examine its causes and mistakes that we have made, and to make a realistic appraisal of the situation as it exists today.

It is on record that Vallabhbhai Patel, the powerful minister in Jawaharlal Nehru’s government had offered to Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan in 1947 that Pakistan should keep Kashmir and let India have Hyderabad. This offer was rejected. Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, and presumably Mr Jinnah, felt that we could have both-Kashmir, because it had a Muslim majority and Hyderabad, because it had a Muslim ruler. It is also known that Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, the chief minister of Kashmir, asked to see Jinnah in 1947, but was not given an interview. It is also known that the Maharaja of Kashmir was indecisive about acceding to India or to Pakistan. Without making any efforts to make contact with him, Khan Abdul Qayyum Khan, the chief minister of NWFP, was allowed to unleash a tribal invasion of the state.

With the approval of the Pakistan government, regular Pakistan army officers and men were allowed to join the government sponsored tribal attack on the valley. When the tribesmen reached the valley, they began to loot and plunder, and after filling their vehicles, returned to the tribal area of the North West Frontier, leaving the small number of regular Pakistan army officers and men and a few tribesmen to mount an attack on Srinagar. Since the attack was delayed for about a week, and because of the return of a large number of tribesmen to their homes, the Indian army got the opportunity to rush troops to Srinagar and save the city from the tribal hordes. The Maharaja fled the city and acceded to India. The fifty-six years that followed have been spent in futile political debates and equally futile diplomatic efforts to convince the world that India should be forced to honour its commitment to hold a free and impartial plebiscite in the state, according to the UN Security Council’s resolution. By now, we should have been convinced that no plebiscite will ever be held.

General Ziaul Haq annexed the northern areas of the state into Pakistan and declared that these no longer formed a part of Jammu and Kashmir. By separating a hundred per cent Muslim area from Jammu and Kashmir, we in fact acknowledged that there was no possibility of the United Nations-controlled plebiscite in the state.

Fifty-six years after Partition, the position is that at least 80,000 people have lost their lives in Indian-occupied Kashmir, no meaningful progress has been made in solving this dispute, and the positions of the two countries have become harder. Pakistan’s official position remains that the Security Council resolution of holding a plebiscite should be implemented, and although India claims ‘Azad Jammu and Kashmir’ to be a part of Indian territory, it appears to be willing to recognize the cease-fire line as an international border. The various possibilities that have been talked about do not offer any real solution to the problem. The suggestion that the cease-fire line be converted to an international border is no solution, and no government in Pakistan could consider such a suggestion.

Another alternative is that the River Chenab be converted into an international border, and the territory of Leh on its right bank with the adjoining non-Muslim areas, as well as all the territory on its left bank should be part of India. This suggestion, talked about by some well meaning on both sides does not offer any real solution to the problem. Even by making the River Chenab the dividing line, some Muslim majority areas will still remain on the left bank of the river, and these will be a source of potential instability.  The struggle for their ‘liberation’ is, therefore likely to continue and this will bedevil relations between the two nuclear powers. Infiltration of the so-called Mujahideen will continue, and the river separating the two, although a less porous border, will not be able to solve the problem.

A third, and in my view, the only solution to the problem, is to recognize the state of Jammu & Kashmir as an independent country. The borders are contiguous with China, India and Pakistan. China’s border is virtually impassable, and China now has no claim to any part Jammu &Kashmir. India and Pakistan can jointly guarantee the inviolability of the borders of the new state, and Jammu and Kashmir would not then be required to have any armed forces of its own. Its internal security problems could be served by police force. This would save it the back-breaking expenditure of maintaining its own defence forces, giving it an opportunity to use its considerable resources for the welfare of the people and for the promotion of tourism- for which I has unrivaled potential.

India can argue that if Kashmir is granted freedom, it will open up a Pandora’s box for India and the demand of other people who are seeking separation from India will be strengthened. There is, however, no parallel between Jammu & Kashmir and other territories such as Nagaland or Mizoram. None of these involve any other country, and India has no dispute with its neighboring countries, such as China or Myanmar (Burma), regarding these territories. The narrow parochial interests of politicians and political parties, which exploit human weaknesses to gather electoral support, is likely, however, to come in the way of this entirely workable solution, indeed, it will be a test of leadership p both countries. If they can rise above their narrow interests, their place in history will be assured, and they will have given hope to over a billion people in the subcontinent.

The alternative is grim: continuous strife between the two countries and a rising tide of killings and massacres, with both countries in an unending arms race, and both spending billions in purchasing aircraft, ships, missiles and expensive arms from the United States and other Western powers, thus enriching these already rich countries and impoverishing themselves. The majority of the people of South Asia, whose population is likely to double in twenty five years, are already short of the bare minimum for survival, and at the present galloping rate of poverty, they will soon face starvation like millions in Africa. The chances are that if we persist in our folly, we, the people of the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent, will before long destroy ourselves, either by self-inflicted misery and hunger, and if not by these, then by the use of nuclear weapons, accidentally or intentionally, in which we appear to take so much pride.

By kind courtesy: We’ve learnt nothing from History by M. Asghar Khan, Oxford University Press Pakistan 2005


Operation Gibraltar in Kashmir 1965


While Pakistan sought to broaden the international debate over Kashmir, it also undertook an internal review of military options based on the assumption that India would shortly have an enhanced domestic ordnance capacity with new production facilities and new Western equipment and mountain troops that would give it greater forces to thwart any military moves by Pakistan in the future. Key players in the review of options were Bhutto (Foreign Minister), Aziz Ahmed (Foreign Secretary), Brigadier Riaz Husain (Director ISI), and Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik  (GOC of 12 Division and responsible for much of the Kashmir sector). Others who were involved in the thinking about Kashmir were Brigadier Irshad Ahmed Khan (Director Military Intelligence) and Brigadier Gul Hassan Khan (Director Military Operations).

A Kashmir cell had been established after Sheikh Abdullah’s visit to Pakistan in 1964 involving the secretary of the Foreign Ministry, Aziz Ahmed, the secretary of defence, director of Intelligence Bureau (a civilian body), the CGS, and the DMO of the Pakistan Army. Its remit was to “defreeze the Kashmir issue,” in terms of fomenting popular uprising and providing support for those activities from Pakistan, including the infiltration of irregulars. The commander of 12 Division, Major General Akhtar Hussain Malik was designated to prepare plans to this effect and train personnel to be infiltrated into Indian-held Kashmir.  A second plan named “Grand Slam” was to follow up on the success of Gibraltar, when Pakistani forces would cross the cease fire line and head towards Akhnur in the south with a view to cutting off Indian forces in Kashmir from overland contact with India.

Gibraltar was based on the infiltration of trained guerrillas under Pakistan Army officers into Indian-held Kashmir to help foment local dissent and uprising. The operation began around July 24 with the forces making their way to, and then across, the cease fire line over a four day period.

Pakistan’s underlying assumptions were based on the action in Kashmir staying within the boundaries of the disputed state. It had made all efforts not to provoke India to retaliate across the international border. Behind the very subjective reasoning on the part of the Pakistan policy- makers was their contention that there three types of boundaries that lay between Kashmir and parts of West Pakistan:

  •  the cease fire line,
  • a working boundary starting at a place called Abial Dogran (under dispute, because of the original partition of India that lay between  parts of Sialkot and Kashmir in the south-western tip of Kashmir),
  • the international boundary between India and Pakistan which ran south from Abial Dogran (that had a designated Boundary Post number 1) near Sialkot to the Arabian Sea.

Bhutto assured Ayub that India was not in a position “to risk a general war of unlimited duration.” Pakistan did not wish to cross the international boundary but they wrongly assumed that India agreed with their definition of the working boundary not being an international border.

It was clear that the army high command would not oppose any plan that Ayub had approved. However, the army did not take it upon itself to ensure that Gibraltar and then Grand Slam would have all the support it needed. “The Chief (Musa) and the CGS, General Sher Bahadur, had from its inception viewed Gibraltar as a bastard child, born of a liaison between the Foreign Minister (Bhutto) and General Malik.”–Gul Hassan

No wonder then that the ground was not prepared adequately for the “uprising” within Kashmir. An ill-conceived propaganda war against India and its “puppet government” in Kashmir was launched over the air waves, through Azad Kashmir Radio (that shared offices with Radio Pakistan), and through Sadaa-e-Kashmir, the so called Voice of Kashmir, a pirate radio station ostensibly operating out of Indian-held Kashmir, but in fact located in Race Course Ground, Rawalpindi. In the interest of secrecy there was no contact with Kashmiri leaders even in the part that was under Pakistan control. They were not alone in their ignorance. Even senior officers at the army headquarters were kept in the dark, as were formation commanders. No prior ground work had been done in Kashmir–leaders and ordinary people–would all rise up spontaneously.

Gibraltar had some serious flaws. Most of the commanders of the infiltrators, if not all, did not speak Kashmiri. Their local contacts had not been established, the assumption being that anyone whom they approached would be anti-India and pro-Pakistan. Even minor details such as the conversion of weights and measures had escaped them, so they would stand out when they approached anyone to make purchases with the Indian currency they carried for their operations. Many Kashmir peasants fearful of Indian reactions, turned in the infiltrators. Other guerrillas found themselves on the run from day one. Officers were captured and “spilt the beans”–in the words of Brigadier Irshad,  Director Military Intelligence.

By courtesy: Crossed Swords by Shuja Nawaz Oxford University Press  London 2008